It’s not often that something leaves me without words in Miami. But this does it.

It's hard to believe, but someone at Miami-Dade County has managed to find a way to make the Rickenbacker Causeway even less safe for cyclists. Photo by Ruben van Hooidonk.

It’s hard to believe, but someone at Miami-Dade County has managed to find a way to make the Rickenbacker Causeway even less safe for cyclists. Photo by Ruben van Hooidonk.

Yes, that’s the Rickenbacker Causeway bike lane. Yes, that’s a giant sign blocking it, forcing bicycle riders into fast moving traffic. This is also located on arguably the most dangerous existing segment of the Powell bridge, where cyclists traveling downhill at higher speeds must be aware of merging traffic on the right (and vice versa).

This picture is all the more appalling considering that in the past few weeks alone, safety concerns along the Causeway have become even more urgent. A number of local media outlets again reported on the issue following an ugly incident earlier this month in which a drunk driver struck multiple cyclists. These reports included editorials in the Miami Herald, a WPLG news segment highlighting the dangerous conditions, and a public response from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez only nine days ago.

How in the world can anyone believe that Miami-Dade County is taking this issue with any grain of seriousness? As one commenter on Transit Miami’s Facebook page said, “You can’t complain about the common sense in this town because there isn’t any.”

Sigh.

Our invitation is still on the table for Mayor Gimenez to come out with us for a ride and see the situation first-hand.

Special thanks to Transit Miami reader Ruben van Hooidonk for the picture. See something we should post? E-mail us or let us know on Facebook.

via the Knight Foundation

ipad, dis, doorgirl, basel, miami

Andrew Frey is executive director of Townhouse Center, a not-for-profit that promotes fine-grain urban neighborhoods. Below, he writes about a studio course in architecture at Florida International University, produced in collaboration with Townhouse Center, that is receiving $60,000 in new support from Knight Foundation. Photo credit: FIU College of Architecture + The Arts

Make a list of your three favorite urban neighborhoods in the world, complete neighborhoods with residents, jobs and stores. Maybe Little Havana in Miami, the North End in Boston and the West Village in New York. Maybe the historic centers of Savannah, Ga., Cartagena, Colombia, and Penang, Malayasia. Now in your favorite neighborhoods, picture the buildings they are made of: most likely many small buildings, each low- or mid-rise, and mixed-use.

Compared to your three favorites, every urban neighborhood in Miami deserves to be just as remarkable in its own way. Focusing on key steps can dramatically increase the probability of greatness, for example, most vibrant urban neighborhoods are made of many small mixed-use buildings, not large towers. Unfortunately, few of these small buildings have been built in Miami in recent decades, and the development community is out of practice: developers, architects, contractors, etc.

To help Miami build great urban neighborhoods, one of the key steps is that the next generation of architects relearn how to design small mixed-use buildings. Knight Foundation support made such a course possible at the FIU Department of Architecturein the spring semester of 2013, and the results were encouraging, enough so that the foundation recently extended its support for an additional two years: the current semester and spring semester of 2015.

Directed by Department of Architecture Chair Jason Chandler in collaboration with Townhouse Center, the course leads each student through documenting an existing small mixed-use building in Miami, visiting Savannah for a long weekend to study and draw urban prototype buildings different from Miami, and, for the remainder of the semester, designing a new small mixed-use building. The best student work is curated into anexhibit and book (paperback or free e-book).

Knight Foundation’s new support will also give us more capacity. The course will expand from 75 students to 125, and add an additional day in Savannah. The Department of Architecture is also requiring the course for all first-year master’s degree students, demonstrating FIU’s commitment to building great urban neighborhoods in Miami. After three years, the course will have trained more than 300 young architects for the challenges and opportunities of small mixed-use buildings.

The course builds on other collaborations between the Knight Foundation and Townhouse Center to promote better urban neighborhoods in Miami, such as the South Florida’s Best Block photo competition and the Hi-Res Miami free building plans. Best Block, presented with the Miami Herald and WLRN, generated broad community debate about what makes a great urban block.  Hi-Res Miami is award-winning Interface Studio Architects’ design for the typical small site in Miami, which anyone can download and share.

Why is it important to promote fine-grain urban neighborhoods? Convenience and economic opportunity are part of it, but it also helps people develop deeper attachments to their cities. Charles Montgomery writes in “Happy City” that people feel happier and more engaged on crowded, messy blocks than they do near large buildings with blank facades. And Richard Sennett writes that “The Holy Grail” is to build “mixed-use environments in order that the inhabitants develop a more complex understanding of one another.” Any way you say it, it’s a formula for successful communities.

Frey is also a development manager at CC Residential, a developer of luxury rental apartment communities.  

 

This is a free event.  Please RSVP here.

Click here for the list of all the sexy real estate professionals that have already RSVP’d

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To honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will offer free exhibition tours featuring the theme of social justice at 11am and 2pm. The tours are led by trained museum guides and last 45 minutes.

The new Museum Park MetroMover station is awesome, and the new Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is truly a sight to behold. It'll remind of you how lucky we are to live in the best city on the planet.

The new Museum Park MetroMover station is awesome, and the new Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is truly a sight to behold. It’ll remind of you how lucky we are to live in the best city on the planet.

Visitors who arrive to PAMM by Metromover on January 20 will receive FREE museum admission. A PAMM visitors services staff member will be at Museum Park Station with museum passes, good for Monday, January 20, only.

We’re supposed to have a sunny and cool (72 degree F) day.

Go out, honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and contributions to civil rights and social justice, and visit our city’s spectacular new art museum on a gorgeous January day.

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Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez sent us an email yesterday in response to our post last week where we questioned his commitment to safety on the Rickebacker Causeway because of several recent crashes on the Rickenbacker Causeway that involved cyclists being struck by cars. As the Mayor noted in his response, we would like to acknowledge that one of the crashes (crash #2 below) that we highlighted did not happen on December 31, 2013 as we had stated. The Mayor’s office correctly pointed out that this particular crash happened nearly a month earlier. Transit Miami, and I personally would like to apologize for this oversight; our source was incorrect and we failed to validate the claim provided to us, perhaps due to our disbelief regarding the circumstances of the original crash that occurred that morning.

As for the third crash, however, while there was no police report (as validated by Mayor Gimenez’s Office), it did occur. In fact, Mayor Gimenez received an email about the hit and run from a respected Miami attorney shortly after the crash occurred.  Transit Miami was forwarded this email and we believe that the source was credible and that the crash was valid (but not reported to Police).

Regardless, our position remains the same: there have been too many crashes on the Rickenbacker Causeway and an insufficient response on the part of our elected officials.  From our perspective, not enough is being done in the short-term to prevent crashes. In his email Mayor Gimenez stated that 1,447 citations have been issued in the past year. To put that in perspective, that is an average of 4 citations per day. As evidenced by this video, which shows at least a dozen cars speeding on the Rickenbacker Causeway within a 5-minute period, there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to enforcement. If we want to send a strong message about speeding, we should issue 20 citations per day, not 4.

We would like to acknowledge that there are some improvements in the pipeline, however most improvements are likely 5-10 years away. More can be done now, but the County fails to recognize that the major flaw of the Rickenbacker Causeway is its design. A facility like the Rickenbacker warrants a grade-separated bicycle lane adjacent to the roadway.  In it’s current design, the Rickenbacker is akin to a highway with a design speed of 50+mph. Unfortunately, until the County can come to terms with this very basic and simple concept, we can expect more deaths and serious injuries on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  From our perspective, the County has done a fantastic job of discouraging cyclists from riding the Rickenbacker Causeway. I no longer ride there and I know of many other cyclists that have quit riding the Rickenbacker Causeway because it is unsafe.

I think it is fair to say that the County has not been proactive when it comes to truly making the Rickenbacker safer.  The real crux seems to be that the Mayor and his administration do not understand the real problems with the Causeway. They fail to recognize that an unprotected bike lane adjacent to a highway with a design speed of 50+mph is not safe. Yes, there are improvements with the building of wider sidewalks on Bear Cut Bridge, but what about the Powell Bridge were many cyclists have been injured? The proposed improvements are welcome, but they fall short of actually addressing the real problem.  The County can narrow the lanes all they want, but the wide-open perception creates the illusion of a highway.  The Rickenbacker needs to be rethought.

Although I do not ride the Rickenbacker Causeway, I am willing to put my life at risk and would like to extend an invitation to Mayor Gimenez and his family to ride the Rickenbacker Causeway with me, but I sincerely doubt he’ll take me up on the offer. Any logical human being can see that the Rickenbacker Causeway is not a safe place to ride a bicycle - this shouldn’t be the case.

impact-of-speed2 (1)

 

Below is the email we received from Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez:

Thank you for your email.  The safety of all users of the Rickenbacker Causeway is a priority to Miami-Dade County (County).   I have reviewed all the emails received along with the proposed short and long term goals outlined in Mr. Azenha’s posts of January 5, 2014 onwww.transitmiami.com and, most recently, Ms. Fabiola Santiago’s Miami Herald column on January 10, 2014.  We have been working hard to keep the public informed of the improvements being made along the Causeway, but before outlining the County’s efforts, I would like to clarify information regarding the three (3) recent accidents involving cyclists on the Causeway, which have been misrepresented:

1.            The police report detailing the accident that occurred on the William Powell Bridge in the pre-dawn hours of December 31, 2013 indicated that the driver was operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and was therefore arrested.  There was no roadway or traffic engineering defect which contributed to this tragic accident.

2.            The second referenced accident occurred on Wednesday November 6, 2013,  not two (2) hours later on December 31, 2013 as reported in Mr. Azenha’s post.  That accident involved two (2) cyclists who were struck by a driver making a left turn into MAST Academy.  The police report indicated that the driver failed to yield the right-of-way to the cyclists, and was therefore cited for the accident.  Again, no engineering defect or roadway design created conditions which contributed to the accident.

3.            The third accident was referenced in Mr. Azenha’s second post and Ms. Santiago’s column regarding a BMW striking a cyclist on Monday January 6, 2014 while leaving Key Biscayne.  County staff has not been able to identify any records of an accident report filed by either the Village of Key Biscayne, City of Miami or Miami-Dade police departments for this date and alleged by Mr. Azenha or the other resident who wrote to the Herald.

Unfortunately, there is no amount of roadway design or safety improvements that can be implemented to mitigate a driver’s failure to follow basic road rules or to address reckless, irresponsible behavior on the part of a motorist.

Please be advised that over the last several years, the Public Works and Waste Management Department (PWWM) has taken proactive steps to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety on the Causeway, and other major roadways throughout the County. The County’s commitment to cyclist and pedestrian safety is clearly evidenced by the inclusion of new 14-foot wide bicycle/pedestrian paths at a cost of approximately $8.5 million as part of the ongoing repairs to the Bear Cut Bridge.  To implement these improvements the bridge is being widened by 20 feet.  Additionally, all new roadway improvement projects include dedicated or shared bicycle and pedestrian paths where possible in compliance with the Miami-Dade County Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) and State and Federal guidelines.

Finally, with respect to the short and long-term goals outlined by Mr. Azenha, the County offers the following:

Short Term Goals for the Causeway

•             Enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit and regular DUI checkpoints – Over the last year the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) has conducted periodic traffic enforcement in conjunction with the City of Miami and Village of Key Biscayne Police Departments.  This has been done utilizing speed control signs and uniformed and motorcycle officers to conduct traffic enforcement and education.  During this period, MDPD has issued more than 1,447 citations and more than 500 verbal warnings.   MDPD will continue its efforts to ensure the safety of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike along the Causeway in partnership with the City of Miami and the Village of Key Biscayne.

•             Reduce speed limit to 35 mph – PWWM proactively reduced the speed limit on most of Crandon Boulevard inside Crandon Park from 45 mph to 40 mph many years ago. Also, based on a PWWM speed study conducted approximately 5 years ago, PWWM requested regular enforcement of posted speeds from the Police Departments referenced above and installed 14 speed feedback signs to assist motorists in self-policing their speed.  In addition, staff reviewed all of the speed limits along the causeway in preparation for the construction of the Bearcut and West Bridges and as a result adjusted the speed limits to 35 mph and 25 mph in the construction areas.

•             Close the right lane of traffic in both directions on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00am - This would not be feasible since the daily placement of cones each weekend would create new falling hazards for bicyclists and present significant maintenance challenges.  Furthermore, the causeway is mostly made up of two lanes going each direction and therefore shutting down a lane during the weekend would cause traffic delays and more safety issues.

•             Better signage – In 2007, PWWM milled and resurfaced the Causeway from the Crandon Marina west to the mainland.  The work included the installation of bicyclist height handrails on the north side of the three (3) bridges and the conversion of the roadway shoulders into bicycle lanes with appropriate bicycle related traffic signage and pavement markings, in compliance with State and Federal standards.    As new federal traffic sign and pavement marking standards are developed, PWWM reviews them to determine appropriate locations for implementation of the new standards.  For example, as a result of updated standards, PWWM modified the markings on Hobie Island alongside the eastbound bicycle lane.  In 2012, PWWM installed wide vibratory lines to alert drivers moving into the bicycle lane.   More recently, new signage has been implemented on the Bear Cut and West bridges and updated frequently based on construction conditions and feedback from the Causeway users including bicycle groups.

 

Click here to send Mayor Carlos Gimenez an email and let him know that the Rickenbacker Causeway needs to be made safer for everyone.

 

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Fit City Invite

 

Five years after moving to Miami to start working at UM, it is a good time for a quick recap: the good and the bad. And while what happens (and crucially: doesn’t happen) on the Rickenbacker Causeway is important, it is symptomatic of much larger systemic issues in the area.

The Good

Let’s start with some of the good developments. They are easier to deal with as unfortunately they aren’t that numerous. Miami-Dade Transit has – despite some questionable leadership decisions and pretty awful security contractors – put into place some important projects such as a decent public transit connection from MIA and while the user experience leaves a number of things to be desired, it generally works; so do TriRail and the express buses to Broward and elsewhere; a number of cities have local trolley systems and while not a great solution in some places, it’s a start; Miami Beach has DecoBike and it seems that it is being used widely – and the service is slated to come to the City of Miami some time in 2014; Miami is finally becoming a city, albeit an adolescent one with a core that, while still dominated by car traffic, is more amenable to foot and bike traffic than it was five years ago (and there are plans for improvement); and at least there is now a debate about the value of transportation modes that do not involve cars only.

The Bad

Yet at the same time, it seems like Miami still suffers from a perfect storm of lack of leadership, vision and long-term planning, competing jurisdictions which makes for easy finger-pointing when something goes wrong, civic complacency and the pursuance of self-interest. Add to that a general disregard for cyclists, pedestrians and those taking public transit. All of this leaves the area as one of the most dangerous places to bike and walk in the country. And instead of actively working towards increasing the safety of those – in an area where many drivers are behaving in a dangerous manner – that do not have the protection of the exoskeleton of 4000 lbs of steel or aluminum, infrastructure is being built without regard for the most vulnerable.

impact-of-speed2 (1)

Poor Leadership and Lack of Political Will

At the top of the list is the rampant lack of genuine support for the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians as well as public transit. The area remains mired in car-centric planning and mindset. While other places have grasped the potential for improving the lives of people with walkable urban environments, we live in an area whose civic and political leadership does not appear to even begin to understand this value (and whose leadership likely doesn’t take public transit).

This starts with a mayor and a county commission (with some exceptions) whose mindset continues to be enamored with “development” (i.e. building housing as well as moving further and further west instead of filling in existing space, putting more and more strain on the existing infrastructure). How about building a viable public transit system on the basis of plans that have existed for years, connecting the western suburbs with the downtown core? How about finally linking Miami Beach to the mainland via a light rail system? How about build a similar system up the Biscayne corridor or, since the commission is so enamored with westwards expansion, connect the FIU campus or other areas out west? And while we’re at it, let’s do away with dreamy projects in lieu of achievable ones? Instead of trying to build the greatest this or greatest that (with public money no less), one could aim for solidity. What we get is a long overdue spur (calling it a line is pushing it) to the airport with no chance of westwards expansion.

Few of the cities do much better and indeed Miami consistently ranks among the worst-run cities in the country (easy enough when many city residents are apathetic in the face of dysfunctional city government or only have a domicile in Miami, but don’t actually live here). When the standard answer of the chief of staff of a City of Miami commissioner is that “the people in that street don’t want it” when asked about the installation of traffic calming devices that would benefit many people in the surrounding area, it shows that NIMBYism is alive and kicking, that there is no leadership and little hope that genuine change is coming.

Car-Centric, Not People-Centric, Road Design

One of the most egregious culprits is the local FDOT district, headed by Gus Pego. While the central office in Tallahassee and some of the other districts seem to finally have arrived in the 21st century, FDOT District 6 (Miami-Dade and Monroe counties) has a steep learning curve ahead and behaves like an institution that is responsible for motor vehicles rather than modern transportation. Examples include the blatant disregard of Florida’s legislation concerning the concept of “complete streets” (as is the case in its current SW 1st Street project where parking seems more important to FDOT than the safety of pedestrians or cyclists – it has no mandate for the former, but certainly for the latter) or its continued refusal to lower the speed limits on the roads it is responsible for, especially when they are heavily frequented by cyclists and pedestrians. All of this is embodied in its suggestion that cyclists shouldn’t travel the roads the district constructs. According to their own staff, they are too dangerous.

The county’s public works department – with some notable exceptions – is by and large still stuck in a mindset of car-centricism and does not have the political cover to make real improvements to the infrastructure. Roads are still constructed or reconstructed with wide lanes and with the goal of moving cars at high speeds as opposed to creating a safe environment for all participants. Yes, that may mean a decrease in the “level of service”, but maybe the lives and the well-being of fellow humans is more important than getting to one’s destination a minute more quickly (and if you have decided to move far away from where you work, that’s just a factor to consider). The most well-known example is the Rickenbacker Causeway which still resembles a highway after three people on bicycles were killed in the last five years and where speeding is normal, despite numerous assurances from the political and the administrative levels that safety would actually increase. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make things much better and that is all that has happened so far. But even on a small scale things don’t work out well. When it takes Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami months to simply install a crosswalk in a residential street (and one entity is responsible for the sidewalk construction, while the other does the actual crosswalk) and something is done only after much intervention and many, many meetings, it is little wonder that so little gets done.

(Almost) Zero Traffic Enforcement

It continues with police departments that enforce the rules of the road selectively and haphazardly at best, and at least sometimes one has the very clear impression that pedestrians and cyclists are considered a nuisance rather than an equal participant in traffic. Complaints about drivers are routinely shrugged off, requests for information are rarely fulfilled and in various instances police officers appear unwilling to give citations to drivers who have caused cyclists to crash (and would much rather assist in an exchange of money between driver and victim, as was recently the case).

The above really should be the bare minimum. What is really required – given the dire situation – is for public institutions to be proactive. But short of people kicking and screaming, it does not appear that those in power want to improve the lives and well-being of the people that they technically serve. I view this issue as an atmospheric problem, one that cannot easily be remedied by concrete action, but rather one that requires a mindset change. A good starting point: instead of trying to be “the best” or “the greatest” at whatever new “projects” people dream up (another tall “luxury” tower, nicest parking garage [is that what we should be proud of, really?], let’s just try not to be among the worst. But that would require leadership. The lack thereof on the county and the municipal level (FDOT personnel is not elected and at any rate, is in a league of their own when it comes to being tone-deaf) means that more people need to kick and scream to get something done (in addition to walking and biking more). Whether this is done through existing groups or projects like the Aaron Cohen initiative (full disclosure: I am part of the effort) is immaterial. But if there is to be real improvement, a lot more people need to get involved.

 

A Transit Miami shout-out to the Village of Miami Shores and the Miami Shores Police Department. Everyday should be bike to school day if only the County and the FDOT could get their act together and design streets that are safe for children to ride on.  Unfortunately, they only way to ride safely is with a police escort.

 

 

Open Transit: Transit Design for Urban Living

By studying transit landmarks like Grand Central Terminal, visited by 750,000 commuters, diners, and shoppers daily, and Rockefeller Plaza, essentially a large subway transit concourse, guest speaker Peter Cavaluzzi shares his Key Principles of Open Transit.

  • Learn what’s essential to successful contemporary urban design and redevelopment.
  • What makes successful iconic urban spaces and discover how to apply these principles to any building development.
  • Leverage and position transit facilities and infrastructure to create iconic designs without dominating the view.

PeterCavaluzzi-Flyer_OpenTransit

 

A white BMW hit a cyclist going out of Key Biscayne at Bear Cut Bridge this morning. The driver didn’t stop. Fortunately, the cyclist was not seriously injured. This is the sixth cyclist in a week that has been hit on the Rickebacker Causeway.

Click here to send Mayor Carlos Gimenez an email and let him know that the Rickenbacker Causeway needs to be made safer for everyone.

Here are our recommendations to improve safety on the Rickebacker Causeway:

Short Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway
• Enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit and regular DUI checkpoints
• Reduce speed limit to 35 mph
• Close the right lane of traffic in both directions on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00am.
• Better signage
• Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

Long Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway
A major capital improvements project needs to happen and all users must be considered. Below are a few of the major improvements that need to occur:
• Paint bicycle lanes green (see below: intersections should include peg-a-traking and Chevron arrows)
• Create a 3 foot unprotected buffer between the roadway and the bicycle lane
• Major road diet. Narrowing of traffic lanes to discourage speeding (11 foot lane)
• Proper crosswalks, with stop lights, that can be activated by pedestrians.
• A separate path for pedestrians (pedestrians and bicyclist should not coexist)
• Consider physical separation as a feature in dangerous areas such as bridges and marked buffers along trajectory of bike lane
• Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

impact-of-speed2 (1)

 

A total of five cyclists were injured in two separate incidents on December 31-both incidents involved cyclists being struck by cars.

Before we go any further the buck stops with MAYOR CARLOS JIMENEZ- we are holding him accountable for the existing unsafe cycling conditions on the Rickenbacker Causeway. There have been too many broken promises by the County and he needs to be held responsible.

The first incident occurred on the William Powell Bridge at 6:05 am . A group of about 20 cyclists were riding up the bridge when a drunk driver struck 4 of the cyclists from behind. Luckily no one was killed, however one of the cyclist suffered two broken ribs. The driver admitted to drinking and driving and was arrested at the scene. He was so drunk that he was throwing up at the scene. See picture below.

Driver was drunk and throwing up.

Driver was drunk and throwing up.

About two hours later another cyclist was struck in front of Mast Academy according to CBS4. Fire Rescue took the cyclist to the hospital and there is no word on the cyclist’s condition. The driver stayed on the scene.

As many of you know, we have been advocating for safer cycling condition on the Rickenbacker Causeway for the better part of half a decade and the County has done virtually nothing to make it safer. There have been at least 3 deaths on the Rickenbacker Causeway and countless other serious injuries that have not garnered any media attention whatsoever, such as this incident involving the drunk driver.

Every time someone is killed on the Rickenbacker, the County comes up with some half-baked idea (i.e. placing mile markers, rumple strips) in a failed attempt to say they have done something to make this urban highway safer; all  the so-called “safety improvements” have proven to be a  complete failure. Quite frankly, I’m tired of all political grandstanding that happens every time a cyclist is killed. I don’t want more bike summits, meetings and broken promises of improvements to come.  How many more cyclists need to be killed before Mayor Gimenez does something to make the Rickenacker Causeway safer for everyone?

Once again, here are our recommendations. They were made nearly 4 years ago:

Short Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway
• Enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit and regular DUI checkpoints
• Reduce speed limit to 35 mph
• Close the right lane of traffic in both directions on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00am.
• Better signage
• Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

Long Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway
A major capital improvements project needs to happen and all users must be considered. Below are a few of the major improvements that need to occur:
• Paint bicycle lanes green (see below: intersections should include peg-a-traking and Chevron arrows)
• Create a 3 foot unprotected buffer between the roadway and the bicycle lane
• Major road diet. Narrowing of traffic lanes to discourage speeding (11 foot lane)
• Proper crosswalks, with stop lights, that can be activated by pedestrians.
• A separate path for pedestrians (pedestrians and bicyclist should not coexist)
• Consider physical separation as a feature in dangerous areas such as bridges and marked buffers along trajectory of bike lane
• Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

Speeding is clearly an issue that has not been adequately addressed by the County as is clearly demonstrated by this video:

As long as the design speed of the Rickenbacker Causeway exceeds 35 mph we can expect many more deaths and injuries.

impact-of-speed2

btw: Several months ago friend of Transit Miami, June Savage,  invited both Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner Xavier Suarez to join her for a bike ride after she met with them because she was nearly run over on Bear Cut Bridge and threatened to sue. Both agreed to ride, but so far have not.  I double-dog dare them to ride and I would invite them to bring their children and grandchildren to join them. After the ride, I’d like to see them to tell the cycling community that the Rickenbacker Causeway is safe for biking and that they would encourage parent’s to bring their children along with them. As an experienced cyclist, husband and father, I no longer ride the Rickenbacker Causeway because I feel it’s too dangerous.

Miami Dade County is  the 3rd most dangerous metropolitan area in the US for pedestrians and cyclists and our elected officials are doing virtually nothing to make conditions safer;  in fact the County is doing the opposite-they are doing an excellent job of discouraging even seasoned cyclists like myself from riding. The whole situation is just embarrassing. There is no leadership at the County level when is comes to making our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

My last suggestion:  Call former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  He just launched an urban consulting firm, Bloomberg Associates, which will dish out free advise to communities looking to make their streets safer. We can use all the help we can get.

According to the NYT:

“The organization, to be called Bloomberg Associates, will act as an urban SWAT team, deployed at the invitation of local governments to solve knotty, long-term challenges, like turning a blighted waterfront into a gleaming public space, or building subway-friendly residential neighborhoods.”

 

Click here to send Mayor Carlos Gimenez an email and let him know that the Rickenbacker Causeway needs to be made safer for everyone.

 

 

 

FDOT Collins

When the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced that they were simultaneously performing major road work on Miami Beach’s two main thoroughfares, Collins Ave and Alton Road, most beach residents shook their heads in disbelief. Was it really wise to shut down half of Collins Ave from summer 2013 – 2014 (1 year) and also detour all of Alton Road’s southbound traffic to West Ave during the same time and beyond (2013 – 2015)? After all, these are the main roads that allow tourists, trucks, busses, and locals to navigate Miami Beach from it’s Southern tip towards the Middle and North areas. Not to mention, there are major events happening during the winter months, from Art Basel, South Beach Wine and Food Festival, the Boat Show to NYE, something is always happening that requires people to, well, drive to the beach since there is no public transportation to Miami Beach to speak of. Some locals worried about a “carmaggedon” and started pressuring the city government and FDOT to provide some better alternatives for those who need to get in and out of Miami Beach.

Little did those worriers know about FDOT’s master scheme. You see, FDOT is not simply blind to the traffic gridlock that hit Miami Beach since the construction started. Neither are FDOT’s engineers and project managers insensitive to local’s concerns over pollution and congestion. In fact, FDOT is simply helping us out by finally providing ample parking spaces that were badly needed. Everyone knows that parking in Miami Beach is a mess. Now, you no longer need to hunt around the beach looking for that elusive spot, only to find that it’s in a Tow Away Zone (don’t mess with Beach Towing). Simply drive to Miami Beach, and conventiently park your car right on West Ave.

FDOT West Ave

Convenient Parking right on Miami Beach thanks to FDOT

FDOT West Ave

Safe during day and night, just park and go

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From here, you can explore the area, dine in one of our neighborhood restaurants, and take a pleasant walk (don’t mind the smell of exhausts, or do like Sarah Palin and learn to simply love the smell of it).

If you like, you could also park right on Venetian Causeway (as mentioned in yesterday’s post), this comes in handy during those busy weekends when you just cannot wait to get to your event and simply need to park right away.

FDOT Miami Beach

Ample Parking on the Venetian Causeway

The great thing is that your car will be in the exact same spot even hours later.

Best of all? The parking is completely FREE of charge! (Residents agreed to chip in a bit by putting up with a the extra noise and pollution, but what is that compared to FREE PARKING in Miami Beach??)

Isn’t that something to be grateful for? Little by little, FDOT is not only fixing our streets, but is also addressing our parking problem without the need to hire any starchitects at all, just using our existing, previously underused, streetscape. Now, if that was not a stroke of genius, I don’t know what is. Thank You, FDOT!

 

Although no pedestrians have died or been critically injured on the Brickell Avenue “Death Curve”, it’s just a matter of time before someone is.  These pictures and commentary come via a Transit Miami reader. The crash happened several weeks ago. I’ve lost count on the number of crashes that have occurred here, but there have been at least 7 crashes in the past 4 three and a half years.

“Yet another one last night or early today. The new streetlight in front of Echo site was hit straight on and is very damaged, also lots of smaller car parts littered immediate area today.

Also there was one large fender piece in median in front of St Jude’s

PS: as of last night that light pole does NOT work, so corner is now dark”

 

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The Echo Brickell project has recently been announced and construction will begin soon at the exact location where all these crashes have occurred.  This project will have 175 units with retail on the ground floor.  If the design of the road remains the same, we can expect a nasty crash with a lot of injuries once the project is completed. FDOT and the city of Miami have been put on notice. If nothing is done immediately both will have blood on their hands.

You can also send an email to FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to see if they plan to do anything to address the design speed on Brickell Avenue.  I think it’ pretty evident that we have a problem here.

 

One year ago, I moved away from Miami to Washington, DC. Just last week, I took my first trip back to the Magic Ciy – and here’s what I saw.

When I arrived at MIA around 5pm on Monday, an Orange line train was already waiting to depart the new Metrorail Station. After an unintelligible announcement over the loudspeaker, the train pulled away from the station with my car completely empty aside from me. A quick glance around confirmed that no 50 State Security guards were on board, so I managed to snap this picture without getting Carlos Miller’d and taken off the train. (Reminder: photography is legal on the Metrorail despite what some security guards think)

From Government Center, I hopped into a nearby Car2Go and was sitting at one of my favorite bars, The Corner, within minutes. The total travel time from the airport to downtown barstool was less than 30 minutes. Pretty terrific considering those options didn’t exist only a few months ago, but where is Decobike for the city of Miami already?

Here’s a makeshift bus station bench downtown I passed. Not sure this qualifies as a tactical urbanist street seat intervention.

The rest of my trip consisted of a smattering of pan con bistec, cortadito, bicycling and walking around. Of course, there were the demeaning reminders of Florida’s auto supremacy. Like at this new mid-block crossing on NW 36th Street dividing Midtown and the Design District, where FDOT reminds us to Thank the Driver.

Thank the driver? For what, exactly? Not running me over? Following the law? Perhaps they should include direction #5: Call 911.

Oh hear ye royal motorists of Miami! Allow me to offer my sincere gratitude for permitting me to cross your streets!

After a few minutes of watching pedestrians try and use this crosswalk, I’ll concede it’s definitely an improvement over nothing. Some drivers actually did stop for the flashing beacon. But it was mid-afternoon and traffic was relatively light. I can imagine it’s a different story during a weekday rush hour where a bonafide traffic signal would work better.

Most people go to the beach on their vacation to Miami. I watched people trying to cross a street. Sad, I know.

Most people go to the beach on their vacation to Miami. I watched people trying to cross a street. Sad, I know.

Friday evening, I rode the monthly Miami Critical Mass ride though Little Havana, Downtown and Coral Gables with about 2,500 other bicyclists, tricyclists, skaters and wheeled riders of all sorts. The rain kept the numbers down a bit but the pace was slow and the group stayed together. It was one of the better rides I’ve been a part of.

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The next day, the eastbound car traffic on the Venetian Causeway was so heavy, I must have passed over 200 idling cars on my way to the beach. The bicycle traffic on the other hand, was not an issue.

Whizzing by so many people entombed inside giant climate-controlled SUV’s while it’s a perfect 78 degrees outside with gentle on-shore breeze always makes me feel a bit sad and a bit smug at the same time. The only real downside is having to breathe in the fumes from all of these clumsy machines on what is otherwise a pleasant, scenic and relatively safe route to the beach.

Below is a picture of arguably Miami Beach’s most famous building.

I’ve expressed my disdain for Miami Beach’s ‘starchitect’ parking garage addiction on here before, which serve as narcotics for cars that only encourage more driving and more traffic, degrading the experience on Miami Beach for everyone. Former TM writer and author Mike Lydon adds it’s “another lauded building destined to be reviled.” At least DecoBike is a viable way to simply opt-out of the motordom.

Newsflash: We’ve been trying to build our way out of traffic congestion for almost 100 years now. Guess what? It’s never worked – and it’s time for a different approach.

A visitor from New York that I follow on Twitter, the Newyorkist, also noticed that Miami Beach has their priorities all out of whack when it comes to making space for people over cars.

He even spoke to a few local residents on the street about the issue…

Newyorkist also noticed that we don’t have many parks and suggested some underused parcels be transformed.

It’s a valid observation, considering Miami is losing more parks than it’s gaining. Miami is already ranked #94 out of the top 100 US cities for acres of parkland per resident – and that number is set to fall. A number of city parks have been closed due to toxic contamination and the temporary lease for downtown’s Grand Central Park expired this week as well.

Speaking of Grand Central Park, I rode by this tragic scene on Saturday morning…

Like the band that played on the deck of the Titanic until the ship went down, the skaters stayed until the last remaining pavement was ripped up from under their wheels.

Ah Miami. For all of it’s problems and weirdness, a sublime breakfast at Casablanca along the Miami River is the perfect place to forget about it all and just enjoy the moment.

Until you pull up the news on your iPhone and find out this happened the night before…

I was soon off to the airport, where I deftly avoided taking one of Miami’s infamous taxi cabs in favor of another Car2Go trip.

Soon I was 10,000 feet in the air snapping this picture – thanks to the new American Airlines policy allowing electronic devices at takeoff.

¡Hasta Luego, Miami! Until next time…when hopefully there will be some new bike lanes.

 

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