Transit Miami reader and Emerge Miami coordinator Leah Weston shared the following letter with us, containing some poignant feedback and observations from the new-ish Miami Trolley service in downtown Miami.

The new diesel-powered, rubber-tire, retro-kitschy busses.

Sent to TrolleyInfo@Miami.gov

Good morning,

I am writing because I would like to make some comments about the Miami Trolley Service. While I am happy to have the mobility from my apartment on the south end of Brickell to the Metro station, I have observed a few issues over the past month and a half that I have been using it and felt like I should give my feedback.

(1) The trolley is completely unreliable. The signs say every 15 minutes, but that is just dead wrong. Oftentimes what will happen is that I will wait for 30 minutes and see two or three trolleys going the opposite direction pass me before one going in my direction shows up. The B bus follows almost THE EXACT SAME ROUTE and it is MUCH MORE reliable. I’d rather pay $1.25 to get somewhere on time than to stand around indefinitely, holding a huge pile of heavy books (I am a law student) and sweating profusely.

(2) Why is there no way to track the trolley like you can with the Metrorail and the Metrobus? If the purpose of public transportation is to be able to get around without a car, I need to be able to plan my trip.

(3) Whoever designed the stops at Brickell Station lacks complete common sense. There are two stops–one for Northbound, one for Southbound. However, the two stops are VERY far apart. That’s fine, except for the fact that there’s nowhere on the FRONT of the trolley that indicates which direction the oncoming trolley is going. Both the North and Southbound trollies stop at the Northbound stop to let people off. I personally have to go Southbound in the afternoon when I arrive home. If I think a Southbound trolley is coming, but it turns out to be a Northbound trolley, I have to run back and forth like an idiot with a 20 pound pile of books. Also, there have been a number of occasions where I think a trolley is heading my direction, but it turns out not to be and, in turn, I miss the B bus back home and have to wait another 15-40 minutes (whenever the next trolley decides to come). Long story short: A 20 minute commute home turns into an hour commute. Might as well drive my car for that kind of efficiency.

(4) Finally, about a month ago, I dropped my work ID on a trolley. Shortly after this happened, I promptly wrote an e-mail inquiring about my ID. About a week later, I got a phone call from someone at your office, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner, but that they had shred my ID. That ID also happened to contain a $50 monthly student Metro pass which I had paid in full and which was nonrefundable. While I understand the policy, there are a few problems with this scenario: Why don’t you have someone regularly checking your e-mail account? Why doesn’t the fact that my name and the name of the judge I was working for appeared on the front of the ID merit a little bit of investigation? The woman on the phone also told me she would “see what she could do” about my Metro pass. Why did she never follow up with me?

I’m sorry for the lengthy diatribe, but I thought you should be aware that your service is sub-par and needs improvement. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what I have written.

Thank you,

Leah Weston

Miami, FL

What has your experience been with the Miami trolleys?

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Open Bridge

Open Bridge – Via GoboNdc’s Flickr

Around Miami:

  • Once and Future Metropolis. Our own Craig Chester takes cues from Miami’s past to discuss where success will lay in our future. It’s sad to know that Miami once boasted 11 trolley lines that crisscrossed the county from Miami Beach to the City of Miami and even out the then-suburb of Coral Gables. (Biscayne Times)
  • $2.8 billion transportation upgrade rolling (Miami Today)
  • Boca Raton politicians leading on transportation policy. The Sun Sentinel sits down with Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams and Boca Raton Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie to discuss their roles in reshaping local transportation infrastructure. (Sun Sentinel) Note: Commissioner Abrams was was elected Chair of the SFRTA at the July 27 meeting of the Governing Board. At the same meeting, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro was elected Vice Chair. (SFRTA)
  • Two new Rubber-Tired Trolley announcements in one week! South Florida’s Trolley Fever is raging. First:  Sweetwater to get new trolleys (Miami Herald) Then: Trolley cars may replace shuttle buses in Delray Beach (Orlando Sentinel)
  • $45 million PortMiami tunnel dig payment threatens Miami’s finances. Come January, the city is facing a $45M payment on a short-term loan that helped fund the PortMiami tunnel dig. (Miami Herald)
  • Parks Vie For Space In Miami’s Forest Of Condos. In Miami, neighborhood parks can be hard to find. The Trust for Public Land ranks Miami 94 on a list of 100 cities when it comes to park acreage per 1,000 residents — just 2.8 acres per 1,000 residents. (NPR)
  • Get on the Bus. The tale of one correspondent’s journey aboard public transit in Aventura. Despite the density and height of the condos in Aventura; it remains a driving city. (Biscayne Times)
  • Cities With The Worst Drivers 2012. No surprises here, Hialeah is ranked 4th while Miami is 9th. (Forbes) It’s no wonder that recent editorials call for enhanced driver education programs in South Florida. (Miami Herald)
  • Affordable housing developer: South Miami’s inflexibility violates federal law. The City of South Miami is facing a Federal Lawsuit from a developer seeking to build affordable housing adjacent to the metrorail station. As we noted on our Facebook page, this is precisely what is wrong with many of the communities that border Metrorail and the South-Dade Busway. Adjacent to existing rapid transit infrastructure is exactly where we should be building denser and reducing parking minimums. Instead, insular city politics allow South Miami, Florida commissioners to deny construction permits for an affordable housing development due to insufficient parking (the city was requesting a 2:1 Space to Unit Ratio!). (Miami Herald)
  • Back to School! Did you know that MDT offers discounts for students? The K-12 Discount Fare EASY Card and the College Pass are affordable options available to our local students.

Around the Sphere:

  • Smackdown-County vs. City: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble Over Gated Communities! (Miami Urbanist)
  • With Metrorail Open, Checking In On Miami Central Station. CurbedMiami drops in to check-up on the progress on the Miami Central Station. (CurbedMiami)
  • Miami Trolley. Alesh gets critical on the Miami Trolley. He’s got a point, the SFRTA’s Strategic Regional Transit Plan don’t mention Trolleys. (Critical Miami)
  • Miami Needs Less Planning, More Doing. (UEL Blog)
  • OP-ED: Miami-Dade Commissioner’s Resolution is Bad of Bicycling. (BeachedMiami)
  • Green Mobility Network has launched their new website – check it out! (Green Mobility Network)
  • Use of awnings for your historic house. (Miamism)

Elsewhere:

  • Cutting dependence on cars isn’t anti-car, it’s common sense. “As a matter of fact, not everyone can drive; and as a matter of principle, we want people to have other options.” Amen. (GreaterGreaterWashington)
  • Dynamic Pricing Parking Meters Climb Above $5/Hour in SF (TransportationNation)
  • Tennessee DOT Moves Past Road-Widening as a Congestion Reduction Strategy (Streetsblog DC)
  • They Totally Went There: GOP Outlines Extremist Transpo Views in Platform (Streetsblog DC)
  • Boston case shows declining car volume on major street. (Stop and Move)
  • Are Our Transit Maps Tricking Us? (Atlantic Cities)

Stay connected with Transit Miami! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter  for up to the minute Transit news and discussions. Got a tip, story, or contribution? Email us: MoveMiami@gmail.com

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We received some good news from County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa a few minutes ago in response to our email this weekend:

I would like to thank the cycling community for expressing their opinions and concerns about this item that is of importance to all the residents of Miami-Dade, as many of us rely or know of someone who relies on bicycles as a means of transport and/or recreation. My intent in sponsoring this resolution was not to prevent bike lanes from being created. On the contrary, I support and embrace establishing bike lanes Countywide. I acted out of concern for the safety of cyclists, particularly on SW 57 AVE from SW 8 ST to SW 24 ST, where customers of businesses along this stretch of road back their cars directly onto SW 57 AVE. I am concerned that this would create an unsafe environment for cyclists. Additionally, I sought greater cooperation between FDOT, Miami-Dade County, and Municipalities to make sure we create an atmosphere where bike lanes continue to be encouraged while ensuring safety.

In light of your concerns, I am requesting this item be temporarily deferred to ensure nothing in this item will negatively impact the cycling community. Your opinions are always welcome.

Commissioner Rebeca Sosa
Miami-Dade County, District 6

Transit Miami would like to thank Commissioner Sosa for pulling the item from the agenda. We look forward to working with her office to work through some of the issues we raised with regards to item #121569  while fostering a healthy redevelopment of 57th Avenue that both enhances the mobility of all roadway users and supports the needs of local businesses. While we do agree that greater cooperation is needed between FDOT, Miami-Dade County, and the local municipalities, we believe that this discussion should take place in a public manner and in a fashion that affords the communities greater say over FDOT roadway projects.

Miami-Dade’s Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to vote on legislative item 121569 this Thursday.  (The meeting was postponed from September 4 to September 6.)

Four specific bike lanes come under attack in this legislative item. They’re meant to demonstrate examples of “state roads in Miami-Dade County that may not be particularly suitable for bicycle lanes”.

One of those four lanes is that located on the MacArthur Causeway. Its supposed lack of suitability is due to the fact that, on this particular state road, “the speed limit is 50 mph”.

The lane on the MacArthur Causeway can indeed be a dicey one to traverse, especially with all of the on-going Port of Miami Tunnel construction, the South Beach partiers driving back from their nights of inebriation, and the overall speeding automobile traffic.

Nevertheless, even at 50mph, the bike lane on the MacArthur functions.

Even at 50mph, people use the bike lanes on the MacArthur Causeway. Make them better, and even more will ride over this critical connection between the mainland and the islands. Photo: 09/03/2012

Of course, it could function better — by making it wider, buffering it from automobiles, and some other possible retrofits — but it functions, nonetheless.

The people are hungry — not only for more bicycle facilities, but better bicycle facilities too. Please . . . feed us!

We are being told that the driver is from Miami…

 

Early last month, a seemingly pro-bicycle legislative item was introduced to the Board of County Commissioners. It goes up for vote this Thursday. The resolution appears well-intended. However, upon closer examination, one finds it saturated with contradictions that could actually harm the community.

On August 3, Rebeca Sosa, County Commissioner for District #6, introduced Miami-Dade Legislative Item #121569. Its extremely long title sums-up the ostensibly well-intended gist of the proposal:

“Resolution urging the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] to Work Cooperatively with Local Governments When Installing Bicycle Lanes on State Roads; Urging the Florida Legislature to Amend Applicable Statutes to Require Such Cooperation and Provide Greater Flexibility to the Florida Department of Transportation Related to Bicycle Lanes”

Sounds great, right? Indeed. Upon reading the resolution’s title appealing for a more cooperative, more flexible, trans-agency approach to planning for and implementing bike lanes on state roads, how could one not support this county resolution?

The body of the resolution goes on to highlight the myriad benefits of bicycle-based active transportation (including, among others, saving money and reducing ecological footprints). It emphasizes how long-standing, and on-going, planning efforts have been made to harness the power of bicycle ridership to improve the livability of our community. It even reminds the commissioners of the increasing price of gasoline (being driven even higher due to the closure of Gulf Coast refineries precipitated by Hurricane Issac), and how non-fossil-fuel-consuming modes of transportation are the ways toward a sustainable future. Importantly, it also reminds the county commissioners of FDOT’s legal obligations to improve bicycle facilities wherever possible on the roads they manage.


Great initiative, Commissioner Sosa! Now we just need to get the language right to encourage more — and safer, better, more rideable — bike lanes, not give FDOT and the cities more flexibility to back out of their responsibilities to create complete streets for all road users!

All of this language is extremely encouraging and is exactly how such a resolution should be written.  The problem, though, starts with how this resolution reads after all that good stuff. Beyond those points, the proposed resolution is littered with nonsense that would — with no far stretch of the imagination — actually curtail the expansion of bicycle facilities throughout our community.

Four specific bike lanes, intended to exemplify inappropriately located bike lanes, come under attack in the current language of the resolution. This is where it implodes, demonstrating the detachment of many of our elected officials to the non-automobile reality on the streets. Let’s have a look at some of the underlying complaints against these facilities:

“[the bicycle lanes conflict with] many storefront businesses with parking that requires vehicles to back out onto [the road]”

“[the bicycle lanes conflict with] vehicles travel[ing] at a high rate of speed, with a speed limit between 45 and 55 mph”

“[the bicycle lanes conflict with] curbside parking, limited space and considerable traffic”

Unbelievable! There’s so much to say here — too much! I’ll keep it short:

  • A huge part of bike facilities is about raising the profile of cyclists as legal street vehicles.  In addition to the more functional purpose of giving cyclists a physical space on the road, bike lanes also serve the function of raising awareness that cyclists belong (practically, ethically, legally) on the road.
  • Local storefront businesses should be catering to cyclists for all of the business they bring and revenue they create.
  • By allocating just one or two automobile parking spaces for bicycle parking, you could fit far more bikes and bring-in far more business.

Local governments would be doing small businesses a favor by writing codes that supported greater bicycle parking at storefront shops and restaurants.

  • It’s the responsibility of the motorists backing-out of the (oft-excessive) on-street parking to exercise caution to not hit cyclists. All road-users must watch-out for negligence, negligence by any type of road-user.
  • The point of bike lanes is to give cyclists a safe, separate space apart from motorists on the road, especially at roads where motorists drive quickly (i.e., “45-55 mph”).
  • If the roads weren’t so fast (35 mph or less), FDOT and the cities would try to get away with just painting some sharrows, giving themselves a pat on the back, and calling it a day. (As noted in a recent TransitMiami post, sharrows just aren’t cutting it for true bicycle network connectivity.)
  • “Considerable traffic”?! Has the steady expansion of the monthly Miami Critical Mass movement taught you nothing? WE ARE TRAFFIC!

Now, there are some very valid concerns embodied in the language of this proposed resolution. They hit at the irrefutable reality of many of our community’s bike facilities, even the most well-intended ones — many bicycle facilities in South Florida are sub-par. A bike facility is useless if it’s not actually designed to be used.

We all understand why many riders completely avoid the bike lane on the 50mph MacArthur Causeway and opt for the Venetian Causeway instead. We all know why some riders still ride on sidewalks, even when freshly-painted sharrows or bike lane stripes are on the road. These facilities weren’t properly designed for bicycle safety and accessibility. We’ve allowed FDOT and the cities to rest on their laurels by increasing the quantity of facilities while paying little regard to the quality of the facilities. Quantity is not quality.

Many lanes in our community adhere to the bare minimum design standards. They often provide the absolute minimum width, and rarely offer any sort of buffering between the bike lane and non-bike lane.

Rather than simply create more bike lanes, we must create better bike lanes! We need buffered bike lanes, cycle tracks (segregated bike facilities), and shared-use paths. We need to make the process of planning and designing bike facilities more participatory. And, most importantly, we need to stop designing bike facilities as lower tier or secondary to automobile facilities.  We must emancipate ourselves from our auto-centric notions of how our streets should function.

Give cyclists and motorists a buffer to make them both more comfortable on the road. If you build it (CORRECTLY), they WILL come! In fact, we’re already here!

Segregate the bike facility from the motorized lanes and/or on-street parking and you’ll see more usage. Again, if you build it (CORRECTLY), they WILL come! We’re already here!

The proposed County Commission resolution is not the path (pun unavoidable) to improving bikeability in Miami. As it currently stands, the language in the item would reverse the little progress we’ve thus far made.

Commissioners: A change of language is needed in Miami-Dade Legislative Item #121569. Please do not support any resolution that would allow FDOT and the municipalities to get even more slack on bicycle network safety, connectivity, and accessibility.

Citizens: Please contact your district’s commissioner and let her/him know how you feel about this seemingly innocuous, yet potentially detrimental, resolution. They’ll be voting on it September 6. You can find your district and commissioner at this interactive County Commission District map.

mayor@miamidade.gov, officeofthechair@miamidade.gov, bjordan@miamidade.gov, district2@miamidade.gov, district3@miamidade.gov, district4@miamidade.gov, district5@miamidade.gov, district6@miamidade.gov, District7@miamidade.gov, District8@miamidade.gov, DennisMoss@miamidade.gov, district10@miamidade.gov, district11@miamidade.gov, District12@miamidade.gov, district13@miamidade.gov

From our friends over at Green Mobility Network:

Action Alert

Sept. 4 Resolution is Bad for Bicycling—Please Act Now!

Dear friends of bicycling,

We realize it’s the Labor Day Weekend and most of you are relaxing, but your immediate action is needed.

The Miami–Dade County Commission is being asked on Tuesday, Sept. 4, to help erode a progressive state law that requires accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians on state roads in urban areas. There will be no opportunity for public comment during the commission meeting, so we’re asking Commissioner Rebeca Sosa to withdraw her resolution or postpone it until we can meet with her.

The law, section 335.065 of the Florida Statutes, provides that bike lanes and sidewalks be given full consideration in the planning and development of state roads in urban areas. When the state Department of Transportation (FDOT) repaves or redesigns an urban street, it must provide for walkers and bicyclists as well as for drivers — or show why cost or safety makes doing so impractical.

The law was virtually ignored in South Florida for most of a generation, and now that advocates have succeeded in getting FDOT to follow the law it’s meeting resistance — first in Miami Beach and now in the Sept. 4 resolution Commissioner Sosa, representing District 6. She’s responding to the upcoming repaving of SW 57th Avenue between 8th Street and Bird Road, where state engineers plan to include a bike lane and are encountering constrained road dimensions in some areas.

FDOT can choose from a variety of bike facilities on roads like 57th Avenue. This resolution will only hurt the cause of making Miami-Dade’s streets safer for all users. We strongly urge Commissioner Sosa to pull this item from the agenda and work collaboratively with the bicycle community to advance better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure throughout Miami-Dade County.

Please copy the following message and send it to the e-mail addresses below. Do it now! It’s not too late to stop this ill-advised resolution.

If you would prefer to register your concern by phone, please make two phone calls to request that the resolution be pulled from the agenda. You can call the following:

Mayor Carlos Gimenez: 305-375-5071
Commissioner Rebecca Sosa: 305-375-5696

BEGIN COPY-AND-PASTE–AND ADD YOUR NAME AT THE END OF THE MESSAGE

Re: Sept. 4, 2012, Agenda Item #121569–Bad for Bicycling–Please Pull From Agenda

To the Board of County Commissioners:

Agenda Item #121569 is bad for bicycling in Miami-Dade County and potentially the entire state of Florida. It would turn back the clock on significant progress in winning accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians in urban roadways. It was placed on your agenda without public input. I urge you to pull it from the agenda and make time for public discussion of this important matter.
END COPY-AND-PASTE

SEND TO THE INDIVIDUAL COMMISSIONERS–JUST COPY AND PASTE THE FOLLOWING E-MAIL ADDRESSES INTO THE “TO” LINE OF YOUR E-MAIL SOFTWARE.

mayor@miamidade.gov, officeofthechair@miamidade.gov, bjordan@miamidade.gov, district2@miamidade.gov, district3@miamidade.gov, district4@miamidade.gov, district5@miamidade.gov, district6@miamidade.gov, District7@miamidade.gov, District8@miamidade.gov, DennisMoss@miamidade.gov, district10@miamidade.gov, district11@miamidade.gov, District12@miamidade.gov, district13@miamidade.gov

Once you’ve written, how about letting us know at our Facebook page? Your example will be encouraging to others.

I sincerely love riding our community’s Metrobuses. They’re generally clean, safe, and comfortable. Mind you, it really depends on which route you ride: some buses, and the people you find on them, are a bit more pleasant than others. Nevertheless, for the most part, there is an underlying sense of camaraderie and a tacit respect for one’s fellow passengers which pervades the public bus-riding experience.

Public transit brings people together and engenders cohesiveness. Unspoken bonds are formed between strangers of all races, socio-economic statuses, and walks-of-life during the shared passage to their respective destinations. In a city as diverse and socio-ethnically/socio-economically segregated as Miami, we need more transit-facilitated social capital.

Sometimes, though, I can’t help but be overcome by indignation when encountering people on the buses (or trains) who seem to have no sense of basic transit etiquette.

You know who I’m talking about: those star-crossed lovers who want the whole bus to endure the loud, profanity-ridden telephone drama they’re having with their significant others; that obnoxious group of young, want-to-be rappers free-styling (poorly) to beats blasting out of their Smartphones; the girl who spills her soda and indifferently moves to a different seat to avoid the mess she just created; that sad homeless guy in unwashed clothes who, saturated by the smell of cigarettes and stale urine, just can’t resist to strike-up a halitosis-filled conversation about his past lives (only to then ask for money from any sympathetic listener) . . . the list goes on.

Among the very worst violations of transit etiquette, though, is the most common to find, and that’s what makes it the most infuriating. Some people just don’t understand the principle of one-seat per person. On packed buses, this is intolerable.

You’ve already taken up more than one full seat for your body, must your bags take the other two next to you?! Where’s the basic transit etiquette?

So please, when you have a bag — or two, or three, or four — with you on transit, please volunteer to remove it from the seat. Place the item(s) on your lap, under the seat, or, when available, in the overhead luggage rack.

Nobody should bear the burden of actually having to ask permission to occupy a seat covered by bags, or your extended feet, or your left-over slice of pizza, etc. The burden shouldn’t fall on the person looking for a seat. The seat(s) should be graciously offered by the person whose articles occupy it by removing them invitingly as those in need of a seat board the bus.

Please occupy only one seat until you’re absolutely sure you’re not denying any other passenger a place to sit. It makes the whole public transit experience better for all . . .

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You can get with THIS, or you can get with THAT . . .


You can get with THIS, or you can get with THAT . . .

I think you’ll get with THIS, for THIS is where it’s at.

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This is not a bad joke, but an actual Miami Herald headline from this morning. Let’s put aside this insensitive headline.

I’m working on the assumption that the “dead man that is blocking traffic” was a pedestrian that was struck by a vehicle.  The Herald is reporting that Northeast 79th Street from Biscayne Boulevard to Miami Avenue has been blocked off.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with 79th Street it is another classic FDOT road that is designed to move cars as quickly as possible without considering the safety of pedestrians or cyclists-an urban highway if you will. Case in point: 79th Street has three lanes going west to east and one lane going east to west.  Needless to say, west to east traffic is moving in excess of 50 mph through the middle of our city! This is not an acceptable safety standard; never has and never will be.

There are approximately 10 blocks between Biscayne Boulevard and Miami Avenue; however we only find crosswalks at three intersections within these 10 blocks. This is also not an acceptable safety standard for pedestrians either; we need crosswalks at just about every one of these intersections. Does the FDOT expect pedestrians to walk six blocks out of their way just to get across the street? It’s no coincidence that Florida has the highest pedestrian fatality rate when you have streets designed like NE 79th Street.

The Miami Herald later updated the article and headline “Person in wheelchair hit by car and killed on Miami street”. Clearly this road is not suitable for a person in a wheel chair.

Please send an email to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Sarnoff and let them know that this street is not suitable for pedestrians and cyclists. Click here to send an email to both gentlemen.

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Tuesday nights my wife and I often ride the Fort Lauderdale Urban Ride with the South Florida Bike Club, the same ride recently featured on the Sun-Sentinel. It’s a fun 20 mile ride with a mix of fast and slow riders and fat and skinny tired bikes. Tonight we rode with a group of about 20 riders and witnessed the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac, sand piled up around the Fort Lauderdale beach wall and onto A1A. Below is one of the cleaner areas, with sand only covering the bike lane. Some areas had sand piled into the travel lane as well that we picked our way around.

I am used to being harassed by motorists, especially when I ride outside the bike lane to avoid the door zone. I generally ignore them and just assume they are ignorant of safe riding techniques. But on a day like this, with sand piled everywhere, you would think drivers would be a little more understanding. Maybe the tropical storm winds cooled off some of the hot heads around here? Nope, not in South Florida. First we had a Broward County Transit bus honk at us while the driver ran a red light in his desperate quest to pass us. Then a motorist trying to sound nice passed us slowly in the other lane, saying, “shouldn’t you be over there in the bike lane?”

Right. Might as well ride on the beach if I wanted to ride on sand. Life goes on in South Florida, and bicyclists are quickly put back in last place where the motoring public believes they belong.

 

What can we learn from the Miami of the past?

With some extra ‘indoor time’ over the past few days due to tropical storm Isaac (when I wasn’t bike riding or taking photos of the devastation), I spent a good deal of time looking at old photos of Miami on FloridaMemory.com. It’s fascinating to observe the evolution of Miami and it’s environs; how some areas drastically transformed while others stay remarkably similar though the years. What’s also captured here is the insidious destruction the automobile wrought on downtown Miami through the 50′s and 60′s after the streetcars were town out, historic buildings were razed and parking lots sprouted like mushrooms after a spring rainfall.

I’ve been posting a few photos on our Facebook page, but without further adieu, here is a collection of my favorites.

Which are yours?

Staff and crew of the Florida East Coast Railway by the streamliner “Henry M. Flagler” in 1939. The Railey-Milam hardware store in the background was founded in 1902 and was a prominent Miami business for decades.

Downtown on East Flagler Street. December 20, 1935. Notice the streetcar, and the Ritz Hotel (building still stands) in the background. Credit: Fishbaugh, W. A.

View of the Brickell family home at Brickell Point on the Miami River in 1898. Today, this site is home to the Icon condominiums, Viceroy Hotel and Miami Circle park. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Gentlemen in the Coral Gables streetcar during its first day – April 30, 1925. Mayor of Miami, E.C. Romph is at the controls. Credit: Fishbaugh, W.A.

City officials inspecting the “STOP” sign on N.E. 2nd Street at Biscayne Blvd. December 9, 1926. (They haven’t given road safety the same level of attention since) Credit: Fishbaugh, W. A.

Trolley car 109 eastbound on 5th Street, Miami Beach. Station doubled as the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce. 1921 Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Part of the “Dirty Dozen” in the old Royal Palm Hotel garden. Downtown Miami, 1916. Were these guys the first Miami hipsters? I don’t know who the ‘Dirty Dozen’ were, but one of them is sporting a massive chainring on his single-speed steed! Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Classic picture from 1927 of a Coral Gables express trolley on Flagler Street, with another following close behind. These trains used to speed down Coral Way at speeds of close to 75 mph, connecting downtown with Miracle Mile in under 12 minutes. Credit: Gleason Waite.

Miami’s first Critical Mass? Bicycles on Biscayne Boulevard, 1948. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

New diesel locomotives, downtown Miami. 1938. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

People at the bandshell in Bayfront Park enjoying an evening concert. downtown Miami, 193-. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Young women making fun of sign at beach requiring full bathing suits – Miami Beach. July 4, 1934. Credit: Gleason Waite

Soldiers performing training exercises on the beach during WWII – Miami Beach, sometime between 1939-1945. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Motorcycle cop directing traffic on County Causeway (now MacArthur) – Miami Beach, Florida. Nice to know speed limits were actually enforced once upon a time on this roadway.

Brickell Avenue, looking north. Photographed on September 25, 1947. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Uh oh. Here comes the construction of 1-95, plowing it’s way through downtown….forever transforming the city. Looking east from Flagler street. Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Egads! Bayfront parking lagoon for First National Bank, downtown Miami in 1962. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Aerial view of downtown Miami and Bayfront Park in 1963. Look at all the ‘missing teeth’ in the streetscape – aka parking lots. Many of the buildings razed in this era would today be considered ‘historic’ and thus, lovable and worth caring about. Check out a forested Claughton Island (Brickell Key) in the distance.

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Crash on NE 57th and Biscayne Blvd on Aug. 25, 2012. Third crash in the past 10 days in a 10 block stretch of Biscayne Boulevard. Clearly speeding is a problem.

Just this past week two more crashes occurred on Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo Historic District. That brings the total crashes to three in the past ten days and 14 in the past two years. Ten days ago I reported about a crash that occurred near NE 54th Street and several MiMo residents sent emails to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and to Commissioner Sarnoff. You can read their emails here.  I wonder if they received a reply from either gentleman?

Crash on Biscayne and NE 60th (8/24/2012). Three crashes in the past ten days within 10 blocks.

Ignoring the problem of the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard is no longer an option. It is only a matter of time before a fatality occurs and it is clear that something needs to be done. Biscayne Boulevard isn’t safe for pedestrians, cyclists or drivers, nor is it a business-friendly street.

Crash on Biscayne and NE 48th Street. This previously unreported accident occurred on June 15th. Source: Transit Miami informant known as agent “B”.

This situation will only get worse if the flawed high-speed design of this road is not immediately resolved. Fourteen crashes, in a two year period, within a twenty-five-blocks isn’t an acceptable safety standard.

Please send an email to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Sarnoff and ask them to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for everyone. Click here to send an email to both gentlemen.

Check out how Biscayne Boulevard should look. Can you imagine a business and pedestrian-friendly MiMo with on-street parking?  Wouldn’t it be nice if cars moved slower through the historic district?  This is all possible- a team from the University of Miami developed three alternative streetscape designs for Biscayne Boulevard. Which alternative do you prefer?

 

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Enjoy the latest  from Transit Miami Films – the final stretch of my bike ride home from downtown Miami to South Miami Avenue in Brickell.

Turn your speakers up, have a great weekend and get out and ride, Miami!

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Coral Gables Advertisement - The Miami News - Aug 23, 1925

Coral Gables Advertisement – The Miami News – Aug 23, 1925

87 years ago today, an advertisement ran in the Miami Daily News promoting the sale of property in the Biltmore and Country Club VI Sections of Coral Gables. This ad offers a unique view of Miami’s first planned community, Coral Gables, designed by George Merrick during the 1920′s land boom. Coral Gables was developed entirely upon the City Beautiful movement, featuring grand civic spaces, public monuments, and prominent architectural symbols such as the Biltmore Hotel.

While at the time of publishing the Coral Gables Trolley line already linked the suburb with Downtown Miami via Flagler Street, Merrick had grander transit visions:

“These two fine sections will be linked inseperably with the center of Miami, and with the Riviera Section of Coral Gables, by the proposed Coral Gables Rapid Transit Electric Line which will run through the center of both sections.”

The Rapid Transit Electric Line was eventually built, and offered a faster route, along Coral Way, into Central Miami. Perhaps what is most interesting about this advertisement is to read Merrick’s vision for Biltmore Way:

“The outstanding feature of the Biltmore Section is Biltmore Way – an impressive 100 foot Boulevard leading off from Coral Way, at its Northeast corner and running into DeSoto Boulevard, the main drive to the Miami-Biltmore Hotel and Country Club on the West.”

“Biltmore Way from Coral Way to Segovia Street is traversed by the rapid transit rail line. It is one-half mile in length and is planned as the Fifth Avenue Business Street of Coral Gables.”

“Biltmore Way is planned as the shopping center for the discriminating women buyer or Coral Gables and Greater Miami. No stores in the Metropolitan district of Miami will excel in beauty or display the stores to be established on this boulevard. …such a thoroughfare could well be a composite reproduction of Fifth  Avenue of New York, Michigan Avenue of Chicago, Rue de la Paix of Paris, and Old Bond Street of London.”

Merrick’s Vision is brimming with optimism. Influenced by grand boulevards across the world. Its no wonder that property in Coral Gables today remains one of the more sought after in the region. While Biltmore Way never achieved its full potential, he laid the foundation for a community that could grow and adapt to future growth, which is more than can be said for the current development ailing our urban fringes.

Biltmore Way, Coral Gables

Biltmore Way, Coral Gables

 

 

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