Last Wednesday morning over 250 people gathered for a ULI sponsored panel discussion about development opportunities along the FEC in Ft. Lauderdale. For years the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority has been trying to bring commuter rail service along the FEC corridor from Palm Beach County to Downtown Miami. Shamefully, not a single elected official from Miami Dade County attended this event; nor did any officials from Miami Dade Transit or the Miami Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization .
I’m not sure in what bubble world our Miami Dade elected officials live in, but this is not acceptable. Events like this should be well attended by Miami politicians as well as by Miami Dade Transit and MPO officials. It seems like our South Florida neighbors in Broward County and Palm Beach County “get it”; there was solid representation by elected officials from Broward and Palm Beach County.
It’s time for Miami to start taking a more regional approach to public transit with our neighbors in Palm Beach County and Broward County. This “go-it-alone” strategy doesn’t cut it. In fact, it’s embarrassing.
Please Register Online by:
Friday, April 12, 2013
Online at seflorida.uli.org
Local biketivists from across Miami and Broward joined around 200 more transportation planners, engineers and bicycle professionals in Tampa yesterday for the first National Bike Summit, hosted by USDOT. The event kicked off a campaign that USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood promised to do for bike safety what ‘Click it or Ticket’ did for seat belt use and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have done for DUI. It has no catchy name yet but the idea is simple: We need a cultural shift in this country so that nowhere is it socially acceptable or legal for motorists to disrespect cyclists. LaHood and other speakers promoted more bike lanes, more tickets for those who pass cyclists too closely and an aggressive education campaign targeting people who ride and drive on proper, safe behavior.
There is more at Streetsblog but Transit Miami thanks all who traveled to Tampa to represent Southeast Florida. Special shout out to Bike SoMi, the City of Fort Lauderdale, Broward Complete Streets, Green Mobility Network, Atlantic Bike Shop, Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass, and many others I may have missed. There were also three of us from the Broward B-cycle program, including myself.
Florida Bicycle Association Executive Director Tim Bustos sent us this recap of the event:
“When we first got the official notice that there would be a bike summit in Tampa, we were ecstatic! Although many of us are already actively engaged in trying to improve the dismal bicycle crash record in Florida, we really felt like this kind of exposure, and the support of USDOT would be very helpful. The only catch was that it was happening in 10 days! Wow. Having put on many events like this over the years, I knew that most conference planners require at least six months – and a year is preferred. However, USDOT staff vowed to make it happen, and, since Secretary Ray LaHood has already announced that he would be stepping down soon, I can only guess that he wanted to be sure it happened before he left. So, no problems – just opportunities!”
“First steps were to contact all of our members possible – as soon as possible, as well as colleagues and affiliate organizations. This blitz was followed with a conference call between USDOT and FHWA staff to offer our assistance with planning efforts in Florida, and to suggest speakers.”
“Given the incredibly short window of opportunity, the bike summit actually came off very well. USDOT was hoping for at least 150 participants, and there were almost 200 in attendance! The speakers were also very well qualified and engaging, and spoke to the issues of community design, traffic engineering countermeasures, law enforcement, and current bicycle education efforts in the state. The only area I felt was lacking was the subject of funding programs. Given that MAP-21 (the new transportation funding bill) is still relatively new, and many people are still trying to figure it out – including FDOT, we felt this could have been a welcome addition to the line-up of presentations, but to me, it seemed to be conspicuous by its absence.”
“Still, Secretary LaHood should be commended for his intent to pull off this conference before he left office, and his staff gets bonus points for pulling it together at warp speed. And, as I mentioned at the end of my presentation on bicycle education, I look at this event not as a one time effort, but the beginning of a renewed effort throughout Florida to make bicycling safer and more enjoyable effort in Tampa, and throughout the state.”
The FDOT Alton Road project has officially begun. While the impact is still rather manageable as only the North part of Alton Rd is undergoing construction, this massive project is soon to take on more importance as South Beach’s major and one and only North-South highway will be shut down in parts. The complete construction schedule for April 8 – 25 can be found here.
While resident groups such as the Flamingo Park Neighbourhood Association and the West Avenue Neighbourhood Association have raised major concerns of the project and expressed them to the City of Miami Beach, there has been no response from City Hall. I recently emailed Mayor Matti Bower and all commissioners asking for their stance on this project and expressing my concern of the impact to those who walk or bike along West Ave:
I am extremely concerned about the FDOT construction plans for the Alton Road project [...] I am afraid that it will no longer be possible to safely take my daughter for a walk or to school. I am worried about noise, pollution, congestion [...]. Furthermore, we are shocked that Alton Road is going to offer “sharrows” for bicycles. Sharrows are not a safe option on Alton Road. We also understand that no bike lanes are planned for West Ave either and feel very disheartened that a city that aims to provide bike alternatives to residents simply ignores this alternate mode of transportation for such a long foreseeable future.Please provide me with your thoughts on how the City plans to ensure that West Ave will still be a livable place for the next 2.5 years.
The only answer I received was from Gabrielle Redfern, a former Transit Miami writer and current Chief of Staff to Mayor Bower: “The mayor is also concerned about how this construction will effect traffic. The City has done its best to work with FDOT to make the project as painless to the residents as possible. However, a complete road reconstruction, with the addition of much needed drainage, will not be without some inconvenience to us all.”
Mayor Bower sent her own answer in her e-mail newsletter today, providing a beautiful example of the true art of double-think so masterfully employed by politicians. Double-think, is, of course “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… “. Here goes her version:
“This week I traveled to Tallahassee to participate in Dade Days. This organized lobbying trip is undertaken to ensure that your feelings are made clear to our legislators in our State Capitol. I focused my meetings on economic development, sand replacement and making our streets safer for our children as well as protecting our ability to establish living wage ordinances and offer domestic partnership benefits in our community.”
And then, further down in the newsletter:
“DEATH, TAXES,…AND ROAD CONSTRUCTION. Faced with the trials and tribulations of our Alton Road, no doubt Benjamin Franklin would have added “road construction” to his list of life’s unhappy certainties. While we can all look ahead to the benefits of the current FDOT Alton Road project, putting to work thirty-two million in gasoline tax dollars: a safer Alton Road with better drainage, upgraded water delivery service, and pedestrian lighting along with new landscaping, I’m pretty sure no one is looking forward to the two and a half years it will take to complete the work.
Next week, work will be concentrated from Dade Boulevard to Michigan Avenue, with construction crews working between 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. weekdays. During this period, one south-bound lane will be closed, and there will be no left hand turns southbound onto Dade Boulevard. Intermittent lane closures will also occur from 10th Street to Bay Road.
Additionally, one eastbound land of the MacArthur Causeway will be closed as part of the ongoing Port of Miami Tunnel project, at the same time that Alton Road below 5th Street, from South Pointe Drive to Commerce Street remains closed to allow for installation of a new larger sewer pipe.
Dade Boulevard eastbound, from Alton Road to Convention Center Drive, may be closed at times for continuing work on a new seawall and multi-use pathway; and lastly, Collins Avenue, north of Lincoln Road as far as 26th Street will also experience some intermittent lane closures.”
What gives, Mayor Bower? If it is the children you are concerned about – shouldn’t the Alton Road project features wider sidewalks to make walking there safer? Are sharrows on Alton Road really safe options – for kids or adults? And lastly – all this construction – and what do we get out of it? MORE ROADS. MORE CARS. MORE TRAFFIC. MORE CONGESTION. Not exactly what I think of when I envision “making our streets safer” for kids! Continue reading »
Continue reading »
Here we go again with these ridiculous fences. I just received an email informing me that tomorrow night (April 2nd) @ 7pm the Morningside Civic Association will hold a meeting to discuss perimeter fencing around Morningside. The meeting is open to all and will start at 7:00pm at the offices of Morningside Park (NE 55th Terrace, east of the tennis courts).
Some of you may recall that several months ago, the City of Miami bankrolled $50,000 of public funds on a fence for Belle Meade. I really hope the city isn’t coughing up the money to build a fence for Morningside too. The Belle Meade fence was a complete embarrassment and a waste of money. Even if Morningside residents decide to finance the fence on their own dime, the County and City should not allow fences to be built, much less support this type of silly urban planning that won’t reduce crime.
I think our video about the Belle Meade fence says it all. Hopefully, most of the residents of Morningside understand that fencing will not deter crime.
Yup, time to celebrate the River! The Miami River Commission will be hosting its 17th annual Miami River Day 2013.
Saturday, April 6 @ 1:00pm – 6:00pm
Lummus Park Historic District
250 NW North River Drive
- Boat Rides along the Miami River
- Historical Tours & Re-Enactments
- Environmental Education
- Kids Activities
- Bike Valet
- Paddle Board & Kayak Races
We just received some excellent news from a Transit Miami sleeper cell from deep within the FDOT machine. Apparently, going forward, FDOT will integrate a new “complete streets policy” in all future projects. Transit Miami’s anonymous FDOT source had this to say:
“FDOT will no longer design streets that encourage speeding. We recognize that since no one else can hold us accountable, we will begin holding ourselves accountable for designing roads that have made Florida the deadliest state in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists”.
The senior FDOT official also had this to say…
“No longer will we treat pedestrians, cyclists, the disabled and parents with strollers like second-class citizens. From now on FDOT will design streets with all users in mind. We won’t design streets for the sole purpose of moving cars as quickly as possible. FDOT’s mantra will no longer be “Level of Service”, but rather ‘Level of Safety”.
When pressed as to why FDOT has now decided to adopt a complete streets policy the senior FDOT official has this to say…
” It’s just common sense. We should have had a complete streets policy 10 years ago. We have tasted the complete streets Kool-Aid and we understand that complete streets are good for people and for businesses.
Needless to say, we here at Transit Miami could not be happier.
The University of Miami Urban Studies Program (College of Arts & Sciences) and School of Architecture will be hosting a one-day mini-conference titled “Cities 2030″ covering the topic of urban futures.
Twelve renowned international scholars and architects will discuss and reflect on the future of cities and urban sustainability in 2030. Cities and regions to be discussed include Accra, Ghana; Dubai, UAE; Mumbai, India; Beijing, China; New York, USA; Nairobi, Kenya; and our own Miami, USA; among others.
The all-day program runs from 8:30am-5:30pm.
The keynote speaker will be Professor Alejandro Portes, co-author of City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami.
There will also be an evening event at 6:00pm featuring a talk by Shohei Shigematsu, Architect and Partner at OMA/AMO, based out of Rotterdam, NY, USA.
The entire event is free and open to the public. Spaces are limited and allocated on a first come, first serve basis.
University of Miami School of Architecture
April 5 @ 8:30am-7:30pm
What do you love or hate about Miami? That’s what The Miami Herald and WLRN want to know, recently announcing a call for Miamians to create a poem about their city – the ‘That’s so Miami’ poetry project.
Poem submissions are published each day on ThatsSoMiami.tumblr.com and some of the best poems will be chosen to be read on the air on WLRN 91.3 FM, South Florida’s NPR news station. They must be under 100 words and begin or end with the phrase ‘That’s so Miami’. You can also submit photos and poems from Instagram and Twitter, respectively, tagged with #ThatsSoMiami to go up on the website as well. Check out all the rules and how to enter your poem here.
Now for my poem…..
A safety crisis hard to ignore
and a part of Miami I really deplore
Is the danger of walking or crossing the street
To merely survive, you must have quick feet.
The pedestrian crisis is very real here
Miami a leader in deaths, year after year.
Because speeding, tailgating and failure to yield
Are normal behaviors behind the windshield.
An embarrassing failure of our local officials
and FDOT, to use their initials
By not providing the streets that are safer for walking
Years of inaction – we only hear talking.
Unhealthy for kids and especially Granny
Our dangerous streets? #ThatsSoMiami.
- Craig Chester
If this is the FDOT’s idea of safety, looks like all cyclists are pretty much screwed in Miami. FDOT is now encouraging cyclists to ride a bicycle on 195. The design speed of 195 probably exceeds 65mph and this so called “unprotected bike lane” is also a shoulder. Seriously? FDOT will have blood on their hands soon enough. If a cyclist is struck on this highway, it is very unlikely he or she will survive.
FDOT held public information meetings last week to present their Alton Road reconstruction project. The project is scheduled to kick off just 1 week, April 1st 2013, and lasts until “summer 2015″ and costs an estimated $32 Million. The presentation by FDOT touched on the main work items, in particular the 3 pump stations and drainage system that will be installed, as well as the reconstruction (repavement) of Alton Road. The project Fact Sheet gives an overview of the project.
Residents and business owners listened attentively as FDOT presented the project. Almost everyone agrees that the project is necessary as flooding has been a huge issue in this area of Miami Beach. However, the project includes re-routing Alton Road traffic onto West Avenue for the majority of it’s duration. For this purpose, West Ave is reconfigured into a 3-lane road (currently 2 lanes with a turning lane). For a period of at least 6 months, all Alton Road traffic will be North-bound-only, and all South-bound traffic will be re-routed to West Ave.
As a resident of West Ave, this certainly caught my attention. West Ave is a rather residential street that is home to large condominiums such as the Mirador, the Waverly, the Floridian and many smaller buildings. According to the 2010 Census, over 30,000 people live within 10 blocks of this 15 block section of Alton Road. As opposed to busy Ocean Drive or Washington Ave, West Ave does not host many tourist-geared businesses, and the few restaurants and shops are mostly frequented by locals. People enjoy walking their dogs and strollers on West Ave, stopping by Whole Foods or Epicure for some groceries, or linger over a coffee on Starbuck’s patio. There is a lot of Decobike usage on West Ave. So when the FDOT representative announced without a blink of his eye that this same West Ave would be “reconfigured to allow for alternate traffic flow” – my heart skipped a beat.
I began wondering what it will be like to have the street I live (and bike, and walk, and run, and take my daughter for walks) on turned into a one-way 3-lane highway from one day to another. As it is, cars are rather disrespectful on West Ave and, despite beautiful little reminders posted in the intersections that it’s the LAW to YIELD to pedestrians, I am usually forced to speed-walk across West Ave when there is a short pause in traffic. How will this be when delivery trucks, county buses, tourists, taxis, and simply everyone else that needs to get on or off the beach will be driving past my front yard? Examples of other one-way 3-lane highways such as “Calle Ocho” in Miami prove this setup is deathly to the neighbourhood (when is the last time YOU decided to stroll on Calle Ocho for fun?). Let alone the pollution and noise caused by such a major highway – now I am worried that I won’t even be able to exit my condo without actually risking my life. As one speaker at the public forum begged FDOT to understand – “we live here. And - we paid a lot of money for it…”.
But wait, there is more! If at least this massive project provided some safer options for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate Alton Road in the end, it might all be worth it, right? After all, as was previously pointed out by Transit Miami, “Miami Beach bikes and walks to work“, and Miami Beach claims that “the City and residents of Miami Beach have identified bicycle improvements and programs as part of their strategic plan and as a priority goal“. So surely, some improvements must be planned for Alton Road to meet this “priority goal”! Perhaps Alton Road will boast broad tree-covered sidewalks, with a bike lane, and patios for restaurants? This would give us something to look forward to at the end of all the years of noise, traffic, congestion, and pollution…perhaps Alton Road will look something like this, as envisioned by the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association?
One can always dream…well, in short: this is not what Alton Road is going to look like. Alas, there is no grand plan by FDOT (suprise!) and there will be no bike lanes on Alton Road. However, FDOT is kind enough to include sharrows on Alton Road. Yes, you read that right. According to Daniel Iglesias, the engineer in charge, given studies and research from their side, sharrows are “the safest option“. Let that sink in for a moment. Now – there may be some lunatics crazy enough to bike just about anywhere – on mountain tops and in river beds – but I challenge anyone to actually bike on an inner-city highway heavily frequented by buses, trucks, and careless Miami drivers – on a sharrow. This thought would be funny – if it weren’t so terribly sad.
The Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association has expressed significant opposition to the FDOT plan for the reconstruction of Alton Road. In their view, “Alton Road reconstruction is a once in 50 year event to properly address the multiple needs of all user groups – multi-modal mobility options for pedestrians, bikers, autos, and transit users, contribute to a functional environment for business and with trees, landscaping and street furniture foster an attractive and safe neighborhood for our residents and visitors [...]. This ill-formed Alton Road project is going to create safety issues for all types of transportation (pedestrian, motorized and non-motorized vehicles) and create a detrimental impact on the businesses and property owners along this essential commercial corridor. [...] Join us in our outrage over a plan that emphasizes speed at the expense of safety, economic vitality, and quality of life.”.
The West Avenue Neighbourhood Association has also expressed concerns with the project, stating that “FDOT is placing an undue burden on a highly residential neighborhood“.
We will keep monitoring this project closely and provide status updates.
NE 79th is unequivocally Miami’s worst urban street. The street is awkwardly configured with 3 lanes going west to east and 1 lane going east to west. Sometime in 2013 FDOT will begin a resurfacing project from I95 to the Biscayne Bay.
I’m plugged-in with what’s happening in my neighborhood and I happen to live 4 blocks away from 79th Street. About two months ago I found out that FDOT would be resurfacing NE 79th Street and apparently the FDOT has been conducting a series of meetings with “neighborhood stakeholders” in the last year. I am on the board of the MiMo Biscayne Association. Over the past two years we have met with FDOT officials on several occasions to discuss making safety improvements along Biscayne Boulevard. Not once during any of our meetings did FDOT mention that NE79th Street was due to be resurfaced. Where’s the community outreach? Why didn’t FDOT reach out to the MiMo Biscayne Association or Transit Miami?
With respect to Biscayne Boulevard, the MiMo Biscayne Association has been rebuffed by FDOT and they make every excuse not to make any safety improvement although I have documented over 15 crashes in less than a three-year period in which cars usually end up on the sidewalk. Basically, FDOT officials have said to us is “ Biscayne Boulevard was just recently resurfaced, so speak with us again in 20 years when we resurface again”. FDOT officials have also said “ safety is matter of perception”.
So let’s put outside FDOT’s lack of community outreach for now. I’ve heard that the current resurfacing project is only a “temporary solution”. WTF does “temporary solution” mean? Sounds exactly like the I395 “Bait and Switch” which FDOT just pulled with the “signature bridge” construction project. I’m very happy to see that Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff have filed a lawsuit again FDOT.
My fear is that FDOT will pull the same “Bait and Switch”. They’ll do this resurfacing project with a promise to come back soon and we won’t hear from them again for another 20 years. Meanwhile, 79th Street will likely see a new train station along the FEC corridor in the next 7 years. There is a lot of new development happening in this area and pedestrian activity is increasing everyday, yet FDOT continues to design their roads as if it were 1960. They are clearly not planning for the future
My sources from within the city have informed me that FDOT has not conducted a traffic study or traffic count for 79th Street in 10 years. So I’m going assume that they haven’t conducted any pedestrians on cyclists counts either. Not that it matters since FDOT plays by their own set of rules and standards; they have little regard for anyone not in a vehicle.
FDOT’s current proposal is the equivalent of putting “lipstick on a pig”. Thanks to pressure from the North Palm Grove and Shorecrest neighborhood associations FDOT has agreed to add some lighting and 5 additional crosswalks in the scope of this project. But this is not good enough. FDOT can and should do a lot more.
The MiMo Biscayne Association’s has adopted a resolution regarding NE 79th Street. Transit Miami fully supports this resolution:
79th Street: Miami’s Worst Urban Street:
WHEREAS, the Florida Department of Transportation will begin
resurfacing 79TH Street beginning in August, 2014, and
WHEREAS, the FDOT Plan will do very little to improve safety for
pedestrians along this poorly design street, and
WHEREAS, 79TH Street from Biscayne Bay to I-95 has 3 lanes going west
to east and 1 lane going east to west, and
WHEREAS, little parking is available for the 79th Street small shop
owners aside from on-street spaces, and
WHEREAS, the eastbound lanes have a design speed of 45 MPH through
the heart of the city, and
WHEREAS, 79TH street is the focal point of the Upper Eastside
WHEREAS, the 79th Street merchants have joined with MiMo Boulevard
Association for support of their Urban Streets, and
WHEREAS, Both 79th Street and MiMo Boulevard merchants are
promoting the revitalization efforts taking place on those streets, and
WHEREAS, 79th Street and MiMo Boulevard are the two vital
commercial roadways that affect the economic redevelopment of the
Upper East Side,
THEREFORE, THE MIMO BISCAYNE ASSOCIATION AND THE 79TH STREET
BUSINESS ASSOCIATION CALL FOR THE FOLLOWING CHANGES AND
ADDITIONS TO THE PROPOSED FDOT ROADWAY PLAN:
1. CHANGE THE 3/1 EAST/WEST LANES ON 79TH TO 2/2 LANES
GOING EAST AND WEST.
2. CREATE AN 8’ PARKING LANES ON BOTH SIDEs OF 79TH STREET (Off-SET PARKING)
3. PROVIDE MINIMUM SAFETY STANDARDS BY PLACING
CROSSWALKS AT EACH INTERSECTIONS OF 79TH STREET AS WELL
AS MID-WAY BETWEEN THE INTERSECTIONS AT 7TH AND 10TH
4. REDUCE THE DESIGN SPEED OF 79TH Street to 30 mph.
The FDOT will be presenting their plans to North Palm Grove Neighborhood Association on Wednesday March 27 at 7:00 PM at Legion Park. This meeting is open to the public. Whether you live in the area or not, please consider attending this meeting. It’s important that Miamians take a stand against FDOT. Miami’s worst street can very easily become one of Miami’s best signature streets. FDOT will make every excuse in the book why they cannot make the improvements that are being recommended. It all boils down to BS excuses. If we can put a man on the moon, we can figure out a way to make our streets business and pedestrian friendly. Lack of will and vision from FDOT prevents any of this from happening.
Feel free to send an email to District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and let him know that FDOT’s current plan for 79th Street is not acceptable to anyone but FDOT.
(Community Commentary) It’s time for the
Lipton Sony Ericsson Open Nasdaq Key Biscayne Grand Prix Miami Masters Tennis Tournament! If you live, work, ride, beach, etc anywhere near the entrance to Rickenbacker Causeway… we recommend bicycling or mass transit. Or, at least, podcasts. With Miami-Dade County Bear Cut Bridge renovations already underway, event organizers are urging drivers to be extra careful. They reached out to TM directly and asked us to share the following with you: In short, organizers suggest you GET THERE EARLY. They don’t want anyone missing their Tennis. Also,
- Expect new traffic patterns to and from the Crandon Park Tennis Center.
- Bear Cut Bridge will continue to have two lanes traveling in each direction, just as in past years, however the outermost westbound lane of the bridge will be open to pedestrian and cyclist traffic only. As a result, westbound drivers headed toward Miami may be required to change lanes before crossing the bridge. The eastbound traffic pattern toward Key Biscayne will remain unchanged.
- Eastbound pedestrians and cyclists will be guided across Crandon Boulevard by a uniformed police officer. Drivers are urged to share the road with additional care.
- Consider taking the bus! Route B/ 102 will make regular stops at the Tournament’s main entrance, as well as the Brickell Metrorail Station, Brickell Financial District, Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami Seaquarium, the City of Key Biscayne, and Cape Florida State Park.
- Patrons who park in the Tournament’s General Parking lot, located on Arthur Lamb Road across the street from the Miami Seaquarium, will board free shuttles to the main entrance. Shuttles will run continuously throughout the day and up to an hour after the last evening match has been completed.
Florida traffic information is available by calling 511 or visiting www.fl511.com.
You can read more about these traffic modifications in our earlier blog post here. However, wherever you go, be safe. If you witness something that you think should be here, please try and get a photo plus any related information and contact us here.
The following post comes to us from TransitMiami reader Emily Eisennhauer. Emily is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. She is working on her dissertation titled “The Construction of Socio-Ecological Vulnerability to Climate Change in South Florida”, which is examining how governance networks and residents are thinking about Miami’s future under the threat of climate change, particularly sea level rise. Emily writes her own self-titled blog on the sociology of sustainability and climate change in Southeast Florida, where the following was originally posted.
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