We often hear that Miami is becoming a world-class city, but the sad truth is that Magic City is quickly becoming the country’s first gated city. What’s even worse is our elected officials are championing and using public funds to build walls and fences along the public right-of way, reducing mobility options for the general public and dividing communities in a futile attempt to reduce crime.  This type of reactive urban planning is being used by elected officials to appease their constituents, but the truth is there is no evidence that gated communities are any safer than non-gated communities.

Meanwhile, Miami has one of lowest police–to-residents ratios of any major city in the United States.  I’ve lost count, but we’ve had at least 2 or 3 police chiefs in the last four years.  The city has failed to provide enough officers to patrol the streets of Miami and now the city is scrambling to add 33 officers to the police force this year.

A few years ago, the city coughed up about $1,700,000 to build a wall for the Coral Gate community.  Here are the pictures of our elected officials celebrating their ugly tax-payer funded wall.  What’s even worse is that these pictures are posted on the city of Miami’s website as if this is something to be proud of; it’s not. Quite frankly, it is an embarrassment. A world-class city should not support gated communities, much less pay for them.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of.

Sorry fellas, but celebrating a wall that divides communities and reduces mobility options is nothing to be proud of. Especially when the city foots the bill.

About 6 months ago Commissioner Sarnoff ponied up another $50,000 for Belle Meade to build a fence. See for yourselves how ridiculous and infective this fence is:

Now Morningside residents are considering a fence around the perimeter of their neighborhood as well. No word yet if the city will pay for Morningside’s fence too.

No elected official should be proud of this piecemeal ineffective urban planning strategy.  Quite the contrary, the city should not even allow walls or fences to be built.  I’m not sure why the city’s Planning Department allows this to happen.

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The Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is hosting the following workshops to solicit public feedback on the future of transportation in Broward County. For more information on Commitment 2040 watch this video. You can also submit feedback online by following this link to a survey.
Broward MPO Commitment 2040 LRTP Update Workshops

 

We’re posting this on short-term notice, but better than nothing.

The City of Miami is hosting a Public Information Meeting for residents and business owners in the community to discuss plans for the Baywalk project, which would run along Biscayne Bay from Alice Wainwright Park (just south of the Rickenbacker Causeway) all the way north to the Julia Tuttle Causeway, nearly all of the City of Miami’s coastline. The City (and TransitMiami, of course) wants as much community participation as possible. (Unfortunately, though, it also conflicts with this month’s regular Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meeting, so mobility advocates will have to decide where their voices will have most impact.)

Tuesday, April 23 (TODAY!) @ 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Residencia Jesus Maestro

717 NE 27th Street, 6th Floor

Miami, Florida 33137

CityOfMiami_PublicInformationMeeting_Baywalk

For more information about the meeting, please contact Public Informatoin Specialist Jeannette Lazo at 305 573 0089 or Email her at: Jeannette@iscprgroup.com

 
Standing room only, but the 305 is not in the house. No elected officials from Miami Dade County attended this event.

Standing room only, but the 305 is not in the house. No elected officials from Miami Dade County attended this event.

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.

FEC Program-April 17

 

FEC Program-April 17

 

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 »

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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.

 

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Yup, time to celebrate the River! The Miami River Commission will be hosting its 17th annual Miami River Day 2013.

MiamiRiverDay2013

Saturday, April 6 @ 1:00pm – 6:00pm

Lummus Park Historic District

250 NW North River Drive

Featuring Free:

  • Boat Rides along the Miami River
  • Historical Tours & Re-Enactments
  • Environmental Education
  • Kids Activities
  • Bike Valet
  • Paddle Board & Kayak Races

 

modal priority

 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.

Cities2030_UrbanFutures_UM

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
Glasgow Hall

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

 
FDOT paints a new green bike lane leading onto I195 heading west.

FDOT paints a new green bike lane leading onto 195 heading west.

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.

impact-of-speed2

 

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.

Alton Road FDOT

 

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?

Alton Road Vision

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.

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Ladies and Gentlemen- Let’s get Ready to Rumble!

It’s the fight of the century. David vs. Goliath

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 7.42.02 PM

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 7.30.49 PM

Legion Park

6447 NE 7th Ave
Miami, FL 33138

I have a feeling we may see a couple of Superfly Snukas from Upper EastSide residents and businesses at this event. FDOT better come prepared.

 
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