The article comes to us via the South Florida Bike Coalition and was written by Markus Wagner.
Miami-Dade County is facing a tricky situation on Bear Cut Bridge. Predictably and sadly, it is choosing to prioritize motorized traffic at the expense of the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. This much became clear at the January 2013 BPAC meeting. Given current plans, it will almost be inevitable that the bridge be close to pedestrian and cycling traffic during construction (except for those cyclists going with traffic, which they are allowed to do).
As many may have heard, parts of the Bear Cut Bridge have become so dilapidated that they have to be replaced. This is not the time or place to go into details why it is that such a situation suddenly springs upon the County – blame is already being passed around. More news reports here, here and here.
The County Public Works and Waste Management Department has gone through several iterations of planning. The latest approach – and the most detrimental to safety for pedestrians and cyclists wishing to enjoy Crandon Park or other destinations on the Key – is to take away the pedestrian and bike path heading east to create more throughput for cars and trucks. The current plans call for re-routing pedestrians and cyclists to the north side of the bridge via a signalized crosswalk by UM’s Rostenstiel campus, where cyclists and pedestrians going both ways are supposed to share the space. Then, should you desire to return to the south side, you would use the marked crosswalk where pedestrians and cyclists have been constantly ignored by drivers in the past.
If you are now scratching your head, you are not alone. The reaction of BPAC members appeared to be rather unanimous: it was negative. The entire operation does not appear to be well thought out regarding the treatment of pedestrians and cyclists. And that is an understatement. There are so many things wrong with the current plans that it is difficult to figure out where to start. It is unclear how separation between fast and slow cyclists, runners and walkers going in two directions is supposed to be managed. According to the Miami Herald, the County even considers closing the roadway for cyclists and pedestrians entirely. According to Interim County Engineer Antonio Cotarelo the county “would have to figure out if there’s any impact, and how bad it is with traffic, and take whatever necessary action to adjust it or close it if necessary — meaning closing the bridge to all pedestrians and cyclists.” It is apparently perfectly fine for the County to close down the only access for pedestrians and recreational cyclists to Crandon Park entirely while vehicle traffic to and from Key Biscayne is allowed to flow through four lanes, just as before.
What county personnel did not state clearly and were rather guarded about is the following: if current lane usage is to be maintained (two lanes in each direction) and with the existing ped / bike path removed, it will be impossible to maintain the ped / bike path on the northern side once construction begins. It is hardly conceivable that the county – having decided to close down the footpath at this point – will restrict motorized vehicle access once construction begins for purposes of reinstating the foot path.
There was talk of more law enforcement, but when pressed on whether the Miami-Dade Police Department would actually enforce the rules on the unsignalized cross-walk on the east side of the Bear Cut Bridge, the officer present seemed to be taken aback.
It comes down – as is the case so often – to a question of prioritization. If the County wants to go beyond the usual lip service, it is time to step up to the plate. Over the last years, we have seen people get killed on the Causeway and numerous people getting injured. The County under the leadership of Mayor Gimenez has done little to nothing to improve the situation. Along comes a tennis tournament and it appears that the County snaps to attention rather quickly. The bridge is in dire need of repair from everything we can ascertain. There is no doubt about that.
The question is whether the County should prioritize the needs of car drivers at the almost complete disadvantage for families and individuals that want to be pedestrians, runners or cyclists. This episode shows how little the County – and its mayor – support non-motorized traffic. Not only is the situation made more difficult, but rather it is also made more dangerous. And it does not seem to matter to decision-makers. Those decision-makers sometimes take part in bicycle rides when it suits their needs of being elected. When it comes to having to make decisions over whether find a suitable balance that interest seems to wane entirely.
While the county plans are still in flux, the removal of the foot path seems to be the option that the county has chosen. It is also the only way from what we can tell (and we are happy to stand corrected) to not have to close pedestrian and a lot of bicycle traffic. Yet again, the county and its leadership has chosen motorized traffic over the interest of other users. While touting bicycling in other forums and using such opportunities to create the image of being supportive for bicyclists, county leadership on this and many other projects is sorely lacking.
You should let Mayor Gimenez know that you are against current plans(firstname.lastname@example.org). Our attempts to reach out to his office so far have been futile. More voices may be necessary.
The Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is studying the feasibility of establishing a “Bike Center” facility in downtown Miami.
It would provide secure bike parking, showers and a locker room, bike repair, and retail. As recognized by the DDA, “Other cities across the nation have built these bike hubs to help those seeking an alternative to driving.”
Sound appealing? It does to us! Please take the Miami DDA’s Bike Center Survey as soon as possible to let them know how you too think a downtown Miami Bike Center would be great for our city!
Here are a couple pics of bike centers in Chicago and Washington DC.
Here’s a quick factsheet the DDA put together describing what bike commuter stations are, as well as a few of the many benefits they bring.
Don’t forget to take the survey, especially all the folks who live and/or work in downtown.
Transit Miami alumnus Mike Lydon will be back in the 305 and presenting at UM this week. This should be a great event.
Cities and Citizens: How Tactical Urbanism Is Changing the American City
Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 6:00 p.m.
Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center Glasgow Hall, 1215 Dickinson Drive, Coral Gables Campus.
Mike Lydon is principal in the Street Plans Collaborative, a planning, design, and advocacy firm based in Brooklyn and Miami. He launched the firm in 2009 after working with Duany Plater-Zyberk and Company, where he collaborated with Andres Duany and Jeff Speck in completing The Smart Growth Manual, honored by Planetizen as one of the top planning books of 2010. He is also the primary author of The Open Streets Project and Tactical Urbanism 2: Short-Term Action Long-Term Change, two research efforts contributing to Pattern Cities, a project about cities and the ideas they incubate. Lydon received a B.A. in American Cultural Studies from Bates College in Maine and a Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.
Lecture: Sponsored by the University of Miami School of Architecture
Free and open to the public. For more information, visit our website at www.arc.miami.edu.
This article appeared in LPFM and was written by Leah Weston.
A functioning media holds democratic institutions accountable. That is why I feel compellled to post my open letter to Tallahassee in the wake of this week’s development in the tragic hit-and-run death of bicyclist Aaron Cohen, just one of many such incidents in South Florida. The dangerous and deadly status quo on our streets is unacceptable.
Check out the Miami Bike Scene’s piece, “Business As Usual in South Florida” to read more on the Aaron Cohen tragedy. If you feel moved to do something about our deadly driving culture, consider joining Emerge Miami on Monday in Brickell for a Pedestrian Safety Walk. Please feel free to share this letter.
* * *
There is a culture of violence on our streets.
No, I am not talking about guns. I am talking about cars.
This week, many of us reeled in shock, disgust, and sadness as we learned the fate of 26 year-old Michele Traverso in court. After a late night of partying at the bars in Coconut Grove last February, Mr. Traverso hopped into his car. While driving with a suspended license, Mr. Traverso struck and killed 35 year-old Aaron Cohen, a businessman and father of two young children, who was riding his bicycle on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Rather than stop, Mr. Traverso fled the scene of the crash, called his lawyer, and left Mr. Cohen to die. He turned himself into police the following evening.
This week, our justice system rewarded Mr. Traverso for this cowardly act of selfishness. By waiting 24 hours to sober up and turn himself in, he rendered DUI charges against him impossible. Mr. Traverso pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license. Based on the guidelines by which he is bound, the judge sentenced Mr. Traverso to 364 days in jail and two years on probation for killing a man.
I want to bring this story to your attention, not because it is outrageous, but because it is typical. This is the story of the carnage we see on our roads every single day when someone dares to ride a bicycle or cross the street. This is not just a transportation problem—it’s an institutional problem. Our system perpetuates carelessness and selfishness on our roads.
It is time for the Florida legislature to take swift and bold action to address this public safety crisis. The public streets are for everyone. Riding a bicycle or walking should not be a death wish. If the House Transportation and Highway Safety Subcommittee has time to consider a bill to convert low-speed electric vehicles to golf carts, surely it can work on changes to address the motor vehicle-related carnage, including harsher penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident and safer, more inclusive street design policies for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Do not allow 2013 to be a rerun of this devastating tragedy.
This article originally appeared in the South Florida Bike Coalition blog and was written by Markus Wagner.
In February of 2012, Aaron Cohen was fatally struck by Michele Traverso while riding with close friend and fellow cyclist Enda Walsh on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Today, he was sentenced to 364 days in prison and two years of house arrest.
Our first thoughts go out to his family and friends. We understand that today’s hearing was an emotional moment for them. This is most likely even more so after what can only described as a lenient sentence. It is but one more example how those who are already traumatized feel that the community (in the form of the court system) is unable to provide at least some remedy to the death of a loved one.
It is safe to say that this sentence is nothing short of a farce – on many levels. This is not to blame the judge. His hands are tied by sentencing guidelines that provide incentives for exactly the behavior that Traverso exhibited. Remember that Traverso drove without a license and was on probation for cocaine charges. Accusations that he was driving under the influence could not be proven, though he was seen in a bar in Coconut Grove and seen staggering when he arrived in his home in Key Biscayne. He subsequently pled guilty to the following charges: leaving the scene of an accident involving death, leaving the scene of an accident involving great bodily harm, and driving with a suspended license.
One can ask why it is necessary to have a hearing that lasts almost six hours when the outcome appears to almost be predetermined without being able to take account of the individual act in its full horror, as was the case here.
What is to blame is a system that incentivizes individuals who commit such a horrific act to flee the scene of an accident and hide out long enough so that blood alcohol levels are no longer in play. Whether this was the case or not (and there are many indications that this was indeed the case), the message that is being sent into the community is one that the state shouldn’t send. It is a gaping hole in a system that is rigged against cyclists and pedestrians from the get go. Combine this with a car-centric infrastructure and drivers who continuously disregard cyclists and pedestrians (and police who do little to enforce existing laws) and you have a perfect storm for situations like the one we are facing to continue.
The question is what to do about this? Some suggest to challenge the state attorney’s office, others blame the police. None are without fault in the bigger picture. But it appears at this point at least that the real challenge and the correct target is a legislative change in Tallahassee. We will be working on this and will certainly need any help we can get. I am sure that the SFBC will not be the only one in this – other groups in this area (such as our friends at Green Mobility Network and others) and elsewhere in the state will hopefully join us.
If you would like to get involved, please let us or the group of your choice know. We don’t have any concrete plans yet, but the cycling community will need as many voices as possible to push local elected officials to do something about this public safety crisis.
The verdict is in, Michele Traverso will serve ONLY 364 days in jail followed by two years of house arrest for the death of Aaron Cohen last year on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Stay tuned for more information.
Follow #AaronCohen for a recap of today’s 6 hour deliberations.
Matthew Tucker, from the University of Minnesota College of Design and a former Senior Associate at Hargreaves, will be visiting Florida International University (FIU) and giving a presentation on the design and construction of South Pointe Park and discussing the topic of paradigm shifts in landscape architecture.
Tuesday, January 22 — 6:15pm
Paul L. Cejas Architecture (PCA) Building, Room #175
11200 SW 8th Street , Miami, Florida 33199
FREE TO THE PUBLIC
Matthew Tucker’s professional background and reasearch interests focus on re-purposing contaminated urban sites, with particular emphasis on waterfronts, as generators of public and private re-investment, and emerging definitions of urban nature. He will also discuss the design and construction of South Pointe Park as a part of his talk.
Join History Miami’s Artist-in-Residence, Serge Toussaint, for this special tour of Little Haiti. Visit his murals and sign art, and learn about the rich cultural life of this vibrant neighborhood.
Saturday, January 26 — 1:00pm
Little Haiti Cultural Center Courtyard
212 NE 59th Terrace
FREE TO THE PUBLIC
Born in Haiti, painter Serge Toussaint is a Miami-based muralist and sign artist. His creations can be found in several parts of Miami-Dade County, including Little Haiti, a neighborhood that boasts a long-standing street art tradition. Serge’s murals include portraits of prominent figures such as President Barack Obama and Miami Heat basketball players, and his painted signs grace the exteriors of numerous local businesses.
Here is a link with all the info: http://emergemiami.com/
This post was submitted to us this morning by Patricia Peña.
Dadeland mall is probably one of the biggest landmarks that Miami has, right next to South Beach and the Triple A (well, at least in my opinion). When it first opened in the 80s, it was the beginning of Miami’s eternal love with suburban sprawl, which has resulted in Kendall, a place that most Miamians have a love/hate relationship with. You can’t wait to get out of Kendall, but you’ll rep it until the day you die, in true Miami style! Sunset Knights, wha what?! Sorry, that was a momentary lapse…
Back to Dadeland. In the last few years, they have tried to revitalize the area, rebrand it as Downtown Dadeland (it’s unincorporated Miami-Dade, let’s not kid ourselves) and try to make it into a small, bustling metropolis with multi-use buildings, restaurants and shops. And try as they might, it just isn’t happening. When my husband and I moved to the area about five years ago, we did so because my job at the time offered me a free monthly pass to the Metro-Rail, so we became a one car family and I was thrilled with the idea that I could walk to Target or Publix to get what we needed whenever he was away at work with the car. I got one of those little carts that you see old people walking around with. A lady at work offered to bedazzle it. It was fabulous, don’t judge me. So here I go, all excited to get my groceries. And then…. BAM!! I encountered Kendall Drive. Now, for those of you that are not familiar with this lovely thoroughfare, it’s a pedestrian’s worst nightmare. Think of George in the episode of Seinfeld when he gets the Frogger machine.
The Dadeland area has the potential of being a truly amazing area to live, work and play in. It’s flanked by two, count ‘em: two, Metro Rail stops. There are apartments galore, some that are still mostly empty, the mall is currently undergoing a massive renovation to add more restaurants. And yet, you can’t get anywhere walking without saying five Hail Mary’s, two Our Father’s and crossing yourself the entire time. I’ve seen old ladies, moms with strollers, dad’s dragging kids and tourists all trying to cross unscathed. As expected, this is a three-lane road, that feeds into the Palmetto (don’t even get me started on that disaster!) and speeding is not only rampant, it’s expected! Now, we all know that reducing the number of lanes will in turn reduce the speed, increase walkability, and increase traffic into stores, etcetera. But, I’m a simple woman, I don’t ask for much. I know that that probably won’t happen in my lifetime. So I’m asking for smaller things. You know what I would like? I would like a crossing light that lasts more than 10 seconds. I can’t even get halfway before the flashing hand stops! I would like the streetlights to be synchronized in a way that makes sense, so people can feel safe crossing from their hotel to the mall. I know if it makes sense, we don’t do it here in Miami-Dade County. But once, just once, can we try? South Miami did it, and look how great it’s working out for them. I would just like to be able to go the Target at the Dadeland station, without fearing for my life and getting honked at every five seconds (which is more to do with the fabulous drivers we have here, but that’s another topic for another time). Seriously, I’m not asking for much, just some good old fashioned common sense and to think of the people that are outside of the metal boxes, who are worth just as much as the ones inside. That and world peace. Oh, and some Louboutins!
This email was sent to us this morning by a Transit Miami reader…
Hello, fellow riders! I am an avid reader of your blog. It makes me feel more connected to the town, more aware of what’s going on in terms of being green, helping the environment, and being safe as a bicycle rider.
I try to do my part and try to limit the use of my car, so I ride my motorcycle to work every day (much better gas mileage!). Today I did an experiment and rode my bicycle to work. While the ride was very pleasant and took only 5 minutes more than my regular commute (I live 20 blocks away), when I arrived at my work building (Miami Center, 201 S Biscayne Blvd), I found a very resistant, rude attendant at the loading dock, which is the only place of entry I could find someone, since the garage is off limits.
The woman went on to ask me what I was doing there, which I replied, ” I work here”. Then she asks, ” Are you new?” To which I replied, “No, I just decided to come to work in my bicycle today.” After looking at me as if I was an alien, she went on to say that I was not allowed in the loading dock, that they do not have places to park bicycles, that I could put it next to a rail in the back, but they were not responsible for it. Super nice experience!
I have tried in the past sending emails to the building management, to my general manager, asking him to request that we have a place for motorcycles in the building, to no avail. All the building management replies is that right now they don’t have plans to give tenants that type of facility.
I have worked at the One Biscayne Tower, where they did have a place for bikes and motorcycles, and now I resort to park my motorcycle at the 200 S Biscayne Blvd building (Wells Fargo), where they also have a reserved placed for bikers, with very nice and cordial full time security guards. I park there by using social engineering and telling them I work in their building.
Here at Miami Center we used to be able to park outside, and then one day they decided we couldn’t anymore, started threatening all of us with tow notices, and never gave an alternative.
It would be great if you could give us a voice and make management get with the program, and help their tenants be green!
Earlier this week, the Vero Beach City Council joined Indian River County’s decision to exclude themselves from the Southeast Florida regional plan initiative, Seven50 (Seven counties, 50 years). The reason being: fears of a correlation to the 20-year-old “Agenda 21.” Local groups like the Taxpayers Association of Indian River County and the Indian River Tea Party conveyed their concerns in the council chambers that this is a federal government plan that would eventually force undesired regulations, with ideas from the UN. While some of their concerns may be valid, the solution is not to pull out of the plan, but to engage with it. Growth will happen whether we plan for it or not, but by planning and communication we can influence how and where that growth takes place.
The Second Summit for Seven50 is being held in Miami on January 24. What should we expect? Why should we attend? How should we feel about such an event happening in our neck of the woods?
Let Our Voice be Heard. With citizen engagement as a key factor in this regional plan, we should jump at the opportunity to give our input. Who else should know more about our communities? Lets take advantage of this regional planning process and voice our opinions.
On the Local Level. The people best equipped to plan for the future of our region is a motivated group of locals and community individuals that both know the area intimately and want the best for future growth.
Less Waste. Lets face it, regional investments happen with or without our input. By compiling a cohesive plan together with our neighboring cities and counties, we can decide together. Determining our future investments out in the open will lead to smarter decisions and less waste of funds.
The Second Summit is quickly approaching to give each of us the opportunity to share our ideas, opinions, and plans for a better Miami. We know we have plenty to say about our communities and the county. Make sure to register and even bring some friends. This is our regional plan, and this is our time show it!
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