For today’s Metro Monday, we once again direct you over to our friends at Streetsfilms to view an exceptional piece on Melbourne’s pedestrian facilities. It is simply amazing to see how quickly a city can change with the right policy, perhaps Miami 21 will serve as our saving grace.
There is an invaluable lesson here. In the early 90s, Melbourne was hardly a haven for pedestrian life until Jan Gehl was invited there to undertake a study and publish recommendations on street improvements and public space. Ten years after the survey’s findings, Melbourne was a remarkably different place thanks to sidewalk widenings, copious tree plantings, a burgeoning cafe culture, and various types of car restrictions on some streets. Public space and art abound. And all of this is an economic boom for business.
Miami 21 Update: On Thursday the City of Miami commission approved the continuation of the Miami 21 project with the mapping of the quadrants. Interestingly, the only mention of this in the Herald was a recent editorial two days before the actual vote by Daniella Levine… Perhaps this is a contributing factor for much of the confusion regarding Miami 21…
I’m feeling the bicycle love right about now. Not only did we have a local and state bicycle month with a bike to work week, but we also have a national bicycle month with a national bike-to-work week. That’s this week, May 12-16. Friday the 16th is bike to work day for those who can’t do it every day. The League of American Bicyclists promotes this event, so check out their site here. But most important of all, get on your bicycle this week and rest easy about the near $4/gallon gas prices because you won’t need to fill up as soon. Take that, Big Oil!
I’ve been waiting for this moment, probably for too long; it arrived rather uncerimoniously as I passed the Chevron at 72nd Av. on SW 24th Street in the unincorporated neighborhood of Westchester. Now, I’ve seen diesel being sold at $4.25 or so for at least the last month, but until this morning, I had not seen gasoline selling at more than $4.00 per gallon. That all came to an end as I noted the price of self-service premium at $4.09. I, on the other hand, paid a paltry $3.859 per gallon for self-service regular. It still cost $72.00 to fill up the tank on my mini-van.
Has anyone else out there experienced this soon-to-be usual sighting?
If Senators Clinton and McCain have their way, this summer Americans might be duped into thinking that a “gas-tax holiday” will help alleviate the financial strains of filling up. The gas tax holiday undermines the principles of supply and demand and is little more than a cheap political gimmick. If imposed, the holiday would only save the average American consumer $30 throughout the course of the summer.
The gas-tax holiday continues the flawed mentality that the rise in oil prices is a temporary matter. FYI- oil prices nudged past $125 a barrel today, the fourth day this week of record highs. America needs to realize that there isn’t going to be a “quick fix” to this critical problem. The era of whizzing around carefree in gas powered vehicles is coming to a close and we must now turn our focus to more sustainable forms of making the most out of our available land. This shift will not be easy. It’s not that simple to turn back 6 decades of automotive mindset and policy in a country whose infrastructure largely revolves around oil.
As James Howard Kunstler put it in this week’s Businessweek:
It’s not that we’re driving the wrong cars. It’s that we’re driving cars of any size, incessantly.
To view the Gas Tax petition, visit Gas Tax Scam…
Imagine the kind of reaction we’d see if I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike were to be closed in the Tri-County area on weekends, holidays, late nights, and you could only drive on them a handful of times during weekdays. Sound crazy? This is what Tri-Rail is facing.
While we all stand to lose tremendously from the proposed Tri-Rail service cuts, it may not be entirely clear who stands to lose the most. I’ve outlined below the stakeholders who should be fighting tooth and nail to save Tri-Rail:
–> Commuters traveling north-south in all three counties: Of course this is a no-brainer, but it has to be mentioned. Tri-Rail is currently averaging 14,000-15,000 weekday boardings, which translates to maybe 6,500 round-trips and roughly 1,500 one-way trips. Cuts in service would alienate these thousands of commuters, not to mention stifle anticipated future growth. As gas prices continue to rise (forever), more and more people would switch to commuter rail at current service levels. The service cuts could compromise this, forcing commuters to suffer in traffic congestion and definitely in the wallet.
–> Airport users of FLL: This is probably the second most popular use of Tri-Rail other than commuting to work. Tri-Rail provides great service to FLL. I use it almost every time I fly (what can I say, FLL has great deals to NYC and Philly) and I save a ton of money on airport parking and don’t have to worry about paying off friends to drive 40 miles round trip…twice. Also, let’s not forget about the thousands of employees at FLL (and MIA for that matter), that could use Tri-Rail to get to work. Airports are major employment centers — they should be served by reliable transit.
–> The City of Miami Beach and its’ residents: As it currently stands, tourists flying into oft-cheaper FLL en route to Miami Beach can use Tri-Rail instead of renting a car. This saves tourists money, which will be spent on the Beach. More importantly, it means less traffic congestion on South Beach. Given the current levels of congestion there and forecasts for increases in the future, Beach residents and officials should be doing whatever they can to keep cars out, which means supporting Tri-Rail.
–> Anyone who commutes on I-95 or Florida’s Turnpike: That’s right — if you drive north-south on I-95 or Florida’s Turnpike to and from work each weekday, you definitely stand to lose big with Tri-Rail service cuts. The Tri-County area continues its explosive population growth, which means those traffic jams you face everyday are only going to get worse. Tri-Rail is currently averaging between 14,000-15,000 weekday boardings, and ridership continues to grow. This offsets the effect of population growth on north-south highway congestion. If a significant number of these 6,000 people or so decided to abandon poor service on Tri-Rail and get behind the wheel, you’d notice your daily commute sucking even more.
–> Low-income households that rely on Tri-Rail: Believe it or not people with low-incomes have a right to travel between counties in the metro area. It just so happens that it’s likely weekends and holidays that they would be most likely to make this travel, whether it’s to see family, friends, or just for travel. Eliminating this service would frankly be discriminatory.
If the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority is forced to cut trains, the authority — and even the state, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — could face a $275 million lawsuit by the Federal Transit Administration, Tri-Rail officials fear.
Only in Miami/South Florida does a transit agency face a lawsuit from the Federal Transit Administration for reduced local funding for transit. How do we think this decision will affect Miami-Dade’s attempts to secure funding for the north corridor? Let’s ask “Pepe” Diaz what he thinks:
“If we’re cutting routes locally,” ["Pepe" Diaz] said, “where are going to get the funding for Tri-Rail?”
That’s the spirit, justify the Tri-Rail cuts with our own local stumbles.
Follow this link to send emails to our local senators in support of Tri-Rail…
The Herald is reporting that the county commission overturned Mayor Alvarez’s veto in favor of moving the Urban Development Boundary for a Lowe’s at 8th St and 137th Ave and a retail center at Kendall Drive and (gulp), 167th Avenue (i.e. the Everglades). More sprawl, more self-interests, more incompetence. We’ll have lots more on this later.
In case you haven’t heard, Tri-Rail is in big trouble.
Larry Lebowitz wrote a piece a couple days ago (sorry for the tardiness in reporting) outlining the impending doom for the Tri-County commuter rail line:
Tri-Rail may be facing no weekend service and a 60 percent cut in weekday trains in the fall after the state Legislature failed Friday to pass a major commuter rail bill that jeopardizes funding for the South Florida train.
Tri-Rail has been battling for years to get the Legislature to approve a dedicated funding source so it doesn’t have to seek money annually from Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.
Without dedicated funding, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), which operates Tri-Rail, is preparing for massive service cuts starting in October.
Tri-Rail executive director Joseph Giulietti said the agency would have to kill its entire Saturday, Sunday, and holiday service — about 15 trains a day — and reduce weekday commuter service from 50 trains down to 20.
SFRTA had been hoping two years ago that the Legislature would pass a measure that would allow Tri-Rail counties to hold a referendum on initiating a $2 a day fee on most rental cars that would provide a dedicated funding source to Tri-Rail. The result? Transit-hater Jeb Bush vetoed the bill. This year, two more bills pushing the $2 rental car fee passed the House, but died in the Senate without a vote a few days ago.
So this is how it will likely go down now: Palm Beach County will cut its share of funding down to the legal limit of $4.23 million. Of course, Miami-Dade and Broward will follow suit, resulting in an $18 million dollar loss for Tri-Rail.
This is almost unfathomable considering the following:
- Tri-Rail is one of the fastest growing transit systems in America
- A $440 million doubling-tracking project was completed less than two years ago
- Ridership is up 28% from this time last year, largely stemming from service increase
- Tri-Rail provides the only regional north-south transit service between Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties
Can it get much worse for transit in South Florida? We finally have a successful transit system that serves a critical role in the regional transportation network, it’s seeing rapid growth every year, and that’s not even good enough? Shameful, embarrassing, moronic — these words that immediately come to mind don’t even do justice here.
The Boston (MBTA) Silver line illustrates the proper way transportation should be integrated into up and coming areas, not yet ready to be serviced by regular rail transit. The Silver line will eventually create an “Urban Transit Ring” connecting much of the transit in the city of Boston and establishing a BRT to service areas which could sorely benefit from regular fixed transit. The Buses used on the silver line operate using engines on regular streets, but operate under electrical power (transferred by overhead wires) when operating in tunnels or streets with existing electrical infrastructure (similar to streetcars and LRT.) The eventual objective of the silverline is to serve as a placeholder for future rail expansion while cultivating proper transit oriented development and ridership along the route…
Miami Beach is inherently bikeable. It has a well-connected grid of small blocks, a mixed-use pattern of land uses and several key destinations reachable within a short ride. In addition, the City now has a bicycle master plan adding bicycle lanes and bicycle parking. This fact, however, does not prevent the city from having a few terrible examples of bicycle parking. This weekend I chose to document what I find to be the three worst specimens. In descending order:
# 3. The second-runner up goes to this “Wave” style bicycle rack located at Lucky Strike on Michigan Avenue. Although wave style racks can be useful, they must be placed so that both the wheel and the frame can be locked to the rack. In this particular location, the rack is about six inches too close to the wall, meaning that the tire hits the wall before being able to properly fix the bicycle to the rack. This results in a bicycle more apt to fall over, or a bent tire in the event that a thief decides he/she wants the bicycle more than you do.
# 2. The first runner-up goes to this unused rack located behind a bus shelter at the Miami Beach Post Office on Washington and 13th. Like the rack above, this rack is too close to the railing/wall. In addition, this style of rack gets the “ambiguous use” award. Does one put their wheel in the wide slots, or the narrow? Do you lift the bike over the top of the rack and let it rest at a 45 degree angle? I have seen all three maneuvers performed, but actually suggest none of the above. Go find a street sign, as this one is useless.
And the worst bike rack on Miami Beach goes to…
…this ridiculous wave rack located at the Bank of America on Alton Road. I think the images speak for themselves.
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