In a city where nearly everyone and everything is from somewhere else, inequality is Miami’s most native son. Like sunshine and sex appeal, inequality is stuffed into every corner of this city. We make little effort to hide it or avoid it, and in the case of one advertising campaign we even flaunt it. Along Southwest 2nd Avenue in Brickell, there’s a bus stop advertisement for Miami’s latest luxury development touting “Unfair Housing,” a play on the Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discriminatory housing practices in the United States*.

Photo credit: Jordan Nassar

Photo credit: Jordan Nassar

But this bus stop ad isn’t the only evidence of the gaps dividing our city; there’s the bus stop itself. It can be dirty and overcrowded, just like the buses themselves, which also run late, if they ever come at all. The sidewalks on blocks around the stop are narrow and they’re often obstructed either temporarily by construction or permanently by signage and utilities. It is the typical second-class experience of pedestrians and transit riders around the United States that results from minimal public investment in any form of transportation infrastructure that does not cater to cars.

This is a common condition around the world, and in a few cities it has received the attention that it deserves: as an inequality so flagrant that it offends our notions of democracy. In Bogotá, former mayor Enrique Peñalosa made this idea of transportation as a matter of democracy central to his governing philosophy. “If all citizens are equal before the Law,” Peñalosa is fond of saying, “then a citizen on a $30 bicycle has the same right to safe mobility as one in a $30,000 car, and a bus with 100 passengers has a right to 100 times more road space than a car with one.” Gil Peñalosa, who is Enrique’s brother and former Commissioner of Parks, Sport, and Recreation in Bogotá and is now Executive Director of Toronto-based 8-80 Cities, recently wrote, “Bus lanes are a right and a symbol of equality.” In Copenhagen, Mikael Colville-Andersen, photographer and founder of Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Copenhagenize, has argued that, “we have to re-democratize the bicycle.” In order words, we must recast cycling from a niche subculture for environmentalists and fitness buffs to a viable form of transportation for all citizens who value it because, as Colville-Andersen stresses, “it’s quick and easy.” Since the early 1990s, Vienna has embraced “gender mainstreaming,” the practice of ensuring that public works projects, including transportation, benefit men and women equally.

Carrera 15 in Bogotá before Peñalosa (left) and after Peñalosa (right)

Carrera 15 in Bogotá before Peñalosa (left) and after Peñalosa (right)

At its core, government by representative democracy, our chosen form, demands that our leaders pass laws and set policies based on the wishes, opinions, and needs of the citizens without sacrificing what Edmund Burke called their “enlightened conscience.” In other words, our leaders must govern in accordance with the will of the majority, the rights of the minorities, and their own judgment informed by their position as a representative of all citizens. When we examine the transportation policies under which we live, we can observe simply and clearly that Miami is not a transportation democracy.

In a transportation democracy, governed by notions of equality, resources are allocated so that all citizens no matter their form of transportation have equal access to safe, effective, dignified mobility. How we travel between point A and point B is a question as critical as any other to the functioning of society and how we answer that question speaks volumes about what we value and whose voice is heard.

Transportation resources are not allocated equally in Miami. Federal, state, and local funding for transportation projects in Miami-Dade County, aviation and port activity excluded, totaled roughly $1.7 billion during the 2011-2012 fiscal year**.  Of that amount, over sixty percent went to road, highway, and parking infrastructure. The remaining minority is split between sidewalks, buses, trains, bike lanes and racks, and other pedestrian and intermodal infrastructure.

It’s a grossly unequal distribution in light of how citizens travel in practice. Twenty percent of Miami-Dade residents are not eligible to drive based on age. Another 20 percent of residents age 18 and over live in poverty, making car ownership an impractical financial burden. Of Miami-Dade’s more than one million workers, eleven percent commutes to work by bus, train, bike, or on foot. Still another six percent have ambulatory disabilities that require use of a wheelchair, walker, or other assistive device. Surely there is some overlap among these and still other groups, but the lesson is that in excess of fifty percent of Miami-Dade residents have no or minimal direct need for or access to an automobile; yet the vast majority of our transportation spending at all levels of government goes to automobile infrastructure. Add to these totals the vast numbers of Miamians, both older and younger, who drive out of necessity but who would prefer to travel by transit, bike, or foot, and the balance of transportation spending becomes even more unequally skewed in favor of a privileged minority***.

We may not typically frame it this way, but what we have here in Miami with respect to our transportation is another instance of inequality, a failure of our democracy. This is a concern larger than the cleanliness of our buses or the scarcity of bike lanes. This is an example of a majority facing alienation and segregation to such a degree that they appear the minority; and this manufactured invisibility is used to justify vast, unequal expenditures in favor of a privileged class. If we are to reclaim our transportation democracy, we must begin with an honest discussion about how our citizens travel around our city; we must push back against an approach to transportation that adequately serves so few of us; and we must, as they’ve done in Bogotá, Copenhagen and Vienna, recognize transportation as an issue that extends deep into the heart of our democracy. Only then can we ensure that all voices are heard, all wishes considered, all rights protected, all interests acknowledged. It is a prerequisite to providing safe, effective, dignified transportation options to all and to staying true to our most inherent values of government. Only then can we ensure that Miami becomes a transportation democracy.

*The campaign has been successful, though; the development is nearly sold out before it has even broken ground.

**This is a rough estimate that includes budget figures from USDOT, FDOT, MDX, MDT, and 35 municipal governments, among others. Unsurprisingly, some figures are easier to come by and interpret than others.

***It is also worth noting the increases in housing prices that developers must charge to subsidize minimum parking requirements.

 

 

MiMo Old

MIMO BISCAYNE ASSOCIATION PRESENTS :

A BUS TOUR OF THE HISTORIC MIMO DISTRICT AND A LITTLE BEYOND

SATURDAY MORNING  NOVEMBER 23, 2013    10AM – 1PM

PROGRAM:

  1. MEET AND PARK AT SOYKA’S/ 55 ST. STATION – INTRODUCTION TO THE MIMO DISTRICT- PRESENTATION BY JOHN BACHAY MIMO TOUR GUIDE AND PRESENTATION BY MARK SOYKA-DEVELOPER OF 55 ST. STATION
  2. LEGION PARK – PRESENTATION BY JOHN BACHAY ON THE HISTORY OF THE PARK
  3. VAGABOND HOTEL – PRESENTATION BY AVRA JAIN- DEVELOPER OF THE HOTEL – COMMENTARY ON COPPERTONE GIRL SIGNAGE – JOHN BACHAY
  4. MANATEE BEND PARK – PRESENTATION BY SKIP VAN CEL – FORMER OWNER OF THE PROPERTY
  5. LITTLE HAITI CULTURAL CENTER- PRESENTATION BY CENTER STAFF
  6. DISCUSSION ON GOALS AND ISSUES IN THE MIMO DISTRICT – MEET WITH SOME OF THE MIMO BISCAYNE ASSOCIATION’S BOARD MEMBERS.THIS IS AN UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY,ARCHITECTURE,AND CURRENT ISSUES IN THE MIMO DISTRICT AS WELL TO HEAR PRESENTATIONS FROM PROMINENT OWNERS AND DEVELOPERS IN THE AREA.

SPECIAL THANKS TO MIAMI MAYOR TOMAS REGALADO FOR FUNDING THE TRANSPORTATION PART OF THIS TOUR.

INFORMATION: JBACHAY@AOL.COM

$25 PER PERSON     RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED:

SEND PAYMENT TO: MIMO BISCAYNE ASSOCIATION

ATTN. : JOHN BACHAY

9328 NE 9 AVENUE MIAMI SHORES, FL 33138

SEATING IS LIMITED TO THE FIRST 25 PAID PERSONS

 
Taxi cabs drivers waiting for a fare at Miami International Airport: Source: Miami Herald

Taxi cabs drivers waiting for a fare at Miami International Airport: Source: Miami Herald

Written by Leah Weston

If you follow local headlines at all, you may have noticed that Miami’s taxi system has been under intense scrutiny for the last few months. The media has cited a litany of complaints from residents and tourists alike about the conditions of cars, poor customer service, and the lack of credit card machines in taxis. At present, the Miami-Dade County Commission has several reform proposals on the table that would significantly change the for-hire transportation market. These changes include among them mandated credit card machines in all cabs servicing Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami, a sweeping reform program called “Ambassador Cabs” for those same two areas supported by Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and an overhaul of the limousine ordinance to make way for digital dispatch services like Uber to operate in Miami. Proponents of these ordinances argue that these are necessary reforms to bring Miami’s taxis into the 21st century.

What has been consistently absent from the coverage on this issue, however, is the voice of taxi drivers. Since the beginning of this summer, I have been a legal intern with the Community Justice Project of Florida Legal Services, which provides legal support to grassroots community organizations in Miami’s low-income communities.  My work here has exposed me to the incredible struggles of Miami’s taxi drivers, who are largely low-income immigrant workers, many of whom have families to support. Without meaningful improvements to the working conditions of taxi drivers, we cannot even begin to contemplate a 21st century taxi system in Miami.

In order to fully grasp the difficulties facing taxi drivers, it is important to understand how the industry actually functions. Our taxi system runs on a “medallion” system. A medallion is a for-hire license, which is required by the county in order to operate a taxi. Miami-Dade County sets a limited number of medallions in order to restrict the number of taxis that are on the streets at a given time. The County issues through a lottery a limited number of medallions based on population size for $25,000 each, though the price at which the County has sold these medallions has differed over the years. In addition, medallions may also be sold on the secondary market, which drives their value up tens of thousands of dollars higher. Due to limited supply, medallions have sold for as high as $400,000 on the secondary market. While some drivers own medallions, the majority are owned by absentee third party investors who have nothing to do with the taxi industry.

Passenger Service Companies (PSCs), or taxi companies—what we all know as Yellow Cab, Super Yellow, etc.—serve as the intermediary between drivers and medallion owners. Drivers are required to contract with PSCs in order to buy insurance. Most drivers must also lease a medallion through PSCs. While Miami-Dade County caps the fare a taxi driver may charge a passenger, state law prevents the County from regulating the amount PSCs can charge drivers to lease the medallions. As a result, drivers pay $500-$700 per week—a whopping $30,000 per year—to PSCs while sometimes making only a few dollars per hour. In addition to paying these exorbitant lease prices, drivers must purchase their cars and pay for gas, repairs and upgrades. Many have to work 16-hour days just to break even. When $30,000 per year goes to a Passenger Service Company, however, there is little left over for even basic necessities.

With that background in mind, it is crucial to consider how proposed changes to the taxi industry will affect drivers, who are already squeezed by Miami-Dade’s unfair regulatory framework. Consider, for example, the proposal to require a credit card machine in all taxis. As written, the proposed ordinance is silent on who bears the cost of installation and maintenance. The proposal also regulates the type of credit card machine all taxis must have—and, of course, it requires one of the most expensive kinds: a back-of-the-seat credit card machine. In addition, drivers will be barred from passing on credit card processing fees to passengers, which effectively lowers the fare they collect whenever passengers use their credit cards.

Mayor Gimenez’s proposal, sponsored by County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, creating the “Ambassador Cabs” program is even more onerous on drivers. In addition to requiring a credit card machine, GPS, a Sun Pass, and a digital security camera, this program would require all taxis serving Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami to comply with strict vehicle requirements. Effectively, every taxi driver who serves the airport or seaport—the most important areas of business for taxis in Miami—would be forced to purchase a new car in order to be eligible for the program. Drivers are concerned that with the large sums they already are paying to taxi companies, they will not be able to afford the vehicle and technology upgrades required by this program, essentially giving an advantage to those individuals or entities who can afford such upgrades—medallion owners and taxi company owners—to operate in the most active hubs of taxicab business in Miami.

In the end, there is nothing wrong with having a more modern fleet of taxicabs. I welcome the convenience that credit card machines and other modern technologies offer. But the conversation about creating a 21st century transportation system must begin by eradicating medieval working conditions for drivers and taking into account the realities of the way the taxi industry works in Miami.

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texting-and-driving-jesusAs of tomorrow, October 1, it will be illegal to text while driving. Advocates for safer streets have been lobbying for this for years (nod to Florida Bicycle Association, CommuteOrlando), but we’ve only now joined the 41 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgina Islands to make it illegal. There are still some glaring loopholes that set us apart.

In Florida, texting while driving is only a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement can’t pull you over solely for the action. The ticket itself is only $30, but multiple offenses become moving violations and add points to your license/ raise your insurance premiums.

In Florida, it remains just fine to text or drop an email when you’re at a red light – which sounds okay until you realize that motorists are obliged to check for people still in crosswalks as well as green lights. It’s also fine to take calls, change your Pandora station or use Google Maps.

If you’re like most people, you think you’re better than the average driver and don’t know you’re four times more likely to get into a serious collision (re: hurt yourself, not just your car) when you reach for the phone. Be careful out there. And please, put the phone down.

More fun infographics here.

 

 

 

The Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has another bicycle and pedestrian mobility survey for us.

Express your mobility needs and desires. Let your voice be heard.

DDA_Bike_Ped_Survey

Take the survey!

 

Coral Gables Bike Day

 

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Mayor Regalado and City of Miami staff will be in attendance to answer all of your questions and concerns related to the City of Miami.

The meeting will take place at Legion Park on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 7:00pm

Legion Park is located at 6447 NE 7th Ave.

Here are a couple of topics worth speaking about:

What can the city to do make Biscayne Boulevard and 79th Street more pedestrian and business-friendly?

Why does it take 5 weeks to build a crosswalk in Belle Meade?

 
IMG_1644

This crosswalk in Belle Meade has been under construction for nearly three weeks.

For the past 6 months my neighbors and I have been trying to get the county and city to calm traffic on our street. After the County rejected several proven and sensible traffic calming alternatives  which Transit Miami proposed (raised crosswalks, raised intersections, and speed tables) the County decided that the best they could do to calm traffic on our street was to add two crosswalks with two “Stop For Pedestrian” signs in the middle of the street.

These would be a great addition to Wynwood. They are effective and help calm traffic.

These signs alone will do very little to calm traffic on NE 76 St. 

It took the nearly 6 months for the County to come up with this half-baked idea. Construction began about three weeks and we still don’t have a crosswalk. See for yourselves how asinine the process to build a crosswalk in Miami is. I received an email from my neighbor Frank Rollason describing the on-going process and what it will take to complete:

“The City has done their first part by installing the ramps.  The County will now come and install the crosswalk stripes and then the City will install the sign in the center of the intersection advising drivers that they must stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk.”

You have got to be kidding me? Why isn’t either the City or County solely responsible for taking this project from A to Z? A project that should have taken no more than a few days to complete is now in it’s fourth week.

Meanwhile, cars continue to speed down my street everyday. The County’s traffic calming plan for my street will prove to be a total failure and we’ll continue to find ourselves with cars speeding down our street with no end in sight.  Clearly the County does not seem to think that speeding is enough of a problem that it needs to address the issue quickly and effectively. It’s no wonder that Miami Dade County is the 4th deadliest metropolitan area in the United States for pedestrian and cyclists.

If you feel like this whole crosswalk boondoggle is a disgrace, please click here to send an email to County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson and County Public Works and Waste Director Katheleen Woods- Richardson.

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TEDxCity2.0 Viewing + Discussion + Happy Hour will occur from 6pm – 8pm on Friday Sept 20th. Hosted at Elwoods Gastro Pub, this event will broadcast three (3) TEDxCity2.0 talks. Each talk will be followed by a short discussion session based on how the information presented relates to Miami.

Join us in thought sharing, discussing and visioning a better Miami. This event is free.

About TEDxCity2.0:
TEDxCity2.0 is a day-long initiative that gathers TEDx communities from around the world to host events highlighting local urban innovators, organizers, stewards and builders. Speakers at these events will focus on City 2.0 themes including Art, Education, Food, Health, Housing, Play, Public Space and Safety.

Coinciding with TEDCity2.0 — a TED-hosted event that will focus on how bright urban ideas turn into collective impact — TEDxCity2.0 gathers TEDx communities across the globe to envision the cities of our future and share big ideas about sustainable solutions and collaborative action.

TED-Flyer

 

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Attend the Sustainable Authentic Conference, October 23-25, 2013 in Miami Beach. The conference will bring together leaders from Greater Miami and throughout Florida to examine the work in preservation/conservation, arts and culture, green building/sustainability practices, economic development and quality of life.

Conference themes:

  • · How has the 35-year-old story of creatively inspired economic renewal of Miami Beach influenced the Mia mi mainland and elsewhere in Florida?
  • · What becomes the metro Miami narrative when viewed through 2,000 years of history from the Miami Circle to Art Basel?
  • · At a time when Florida’s main markets for tourism and investment grow increasingly urban, place-focused and creative driven, how might urban Florida better tell its own authentic story?

Also, please be sure to check out the session titled:

Views on the Miami Metro Narrative, featuring:

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, FAIA, principal, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk FAIA is a global practitioner of smart growth, sustainable development, community planning, and a founding board member of the New Urbanism, already in 1993, the year of the movement’s founding, characterized by The New York Times as “the most important phenomenon to emerge in American architecture in the post Cold War era.”

Join the inquiry. Improve our outlook. Improve Florida.

  • · Register today
  • · Spread the word
  • · Attend and engage

Members of local co-sponsoring organizations are eligible for a special three day conference rate of $125, including the entire program, hosted meals and special offerings and events.

 

For further information and sponsorship opportunities, contact:
Denis Russ
Phone: 305-672-4782
Email: Denis@MiamiBeachCDC.orgFor more information: sustainableauthenticflorida.com
To register click here

 

 

ArtDays13_650x650

 

Looks like it’s going to be a pretty cool event, DecoBike will be there so you can check out all the art on two wheels.  Here’s some more information we received about the event…

After a successful inaugural year, the Miami Downtown Development Authority (Miami DDA) is working once again in tandem with a variety of arts and cultural institutions to highlight the area’s cultural renaissance through its second annual DWNTWN Art Days Event. The Miami DDA, through Creative Curator Claire Breukel and the Cultural Advisory Group, is partnering with virtually every major art and culture institution in Downtown Miami for a three-day celebration that will incorporate numerous free events and exhibitions for the community to enjoy.

 The events will take place around all of Downtown with one central informational hub at Grand Central Park at Miami Worldcenter where attendees can pick up a full list of activities and begin their tour of Art Days events.

This year, Car2Go and BeachedMiami are partnering with DWNTWN Art Days to host tours around Downtown Miami venues and the exhibitions. Car2Go will host a tour by vehicle for quick and easy access to Art Days events. BeachedMiami along with Deco Bike will be providing bicycles and arranging bike tours of temporary Art Days art projects as well as permanent Downtown artworks.

Artist Thom Wheeler is also conducting a series of walking tours around some of Downtown Miami’s most exciting artist studios and exhibition spaces. Wheeler will give visitors an insider look in to the work of artists at the DWNTWN Art House at Miami Worldcenter, the Artisan Lounge, and to individual studio spaces.

In addition to the tours, the Miami Trolley will make stops at several key Art Days venues in Downtown. The Trolley route will be published on the Art Days website www.dwntwnarts.com closer to the event.

The following events are taking place during DWNTWN Art Days:

  • ·         Miami Children’s Museum: “Now Read This” Stories through Drama and Design, September 20-22 from 10am-6pm.
  • ·         PAMM: “Discussing the Architecture of the Perez Art Museum Miami presented by AIA and PAMM”, Friday, September 20 at 6pm
  • ·         Freedom Tower: “Activate: MDCulture”, Friday, September 20 from 6-9pm.
  • ·         McCormick Place: “2nd Annual Art Days Fair @ McCormick Place”, Friday, September 20 from 6pm-12am.
  • ·         Dimensions Variable: “Psychogeography Opening Reception”, Friday, September 20 from 6-10pm.
  • ·         Wine by the Bay: “September’s Storm” – A California Wine Tasting and Cultural Event, September 20-21 at 7pm.
  • ·         The Vagabond: “DWNTWN Art Days I – Launch Party” Friday, September 20 at 10 pm.
  • ·         PAMM: “PAMM Family Art Making”, Saturday, September 21 from 12-3pm.
  • ·         Around Downtown: “Beached Miami DWNTWN Art Days Bike Tour”, September 21-22, limited space.
  • ·         Bayfront Park:  “National Redbull Flugtag”, Saturday, September 21 from 12-5pm.
  • ·         CIFO: “Water-Balloon Kickball, Round Two / Cannonball vs. CIFO”, Saturday, September 21 from 1-4pm.
  • ·         Olympic Theater at the Gusman Center: “Miami Lyric Opera: Cavalleria Rusticana and Suor Angelica”, Saturday, September 21
  • ·         The Vagabond: “DWNTWN Art Days II – After-Party”, Saturday, September 21 at 10pm.

This year, Art Days debuts the Fringe, a series of temporary public artworks around Downtown curated by guest curator Amanda Sanfilippo. Six projects have been selected from a call to artists that received 55 national proposals. These public artworks or ‘site activations’ aim to insight public interaction in a variety of Downtown venues including Grand Central Park, DRB bar, the Christ Fellowship Church as well as 600 Brickell’s fountain.

For the most up to date information please visit www.dwntwnarts.com.

WHEN:           Friday, September 20 – Sunday, September 22
WHERE:         DWNTWN Art Days Information Hub
                         Grand Central Park at Miami Worldcenter
                         700 N. Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33136

 

This is my first post as an official Transit Miami contributor, but this post is actually a follow-up to an earlier piece that I wrote but which was published under Felipe’s name. In that post, which appeared earlier this summer, I made a case for extending Metrorail out to FIU. That case was essentially this: two intertwined, near-term policy priorities announced by Miami leaders are to solve the problem of the region’s brain drain and to establish Miami as a prominent player for technology start-ups. By better integrating FIU into a comprehensive transit system, we’ll be building the physical infrastructure to cultivate greater personal and professional connections between the university community and the broader South Florida region, particularly its business community; these connections, I argue, will be instrumental in reversing Miami’s brain drain and catalyzing the entrepreneurial culture necessary for a start-up scene.

In that piece, I discussed the nearly universal trend in the United States over the past ten years of cities connecting their colleges and universities to their transit systems. That trend is founded upon two crucial propositions of economic development. Those propositions are:

  1. City centers and universities represent two of the most productive hubs of innovation, and by improving the physical connections between them, we can facilitate connections between the people, ideas, and resources of each.
  2.  When people, ideas, and resources are well connected, economies thrive.

It is these propositions that have influenced transit planning and economic development in cities throughout the United States, and which I believe should also influence transit planning and economic development in Miami. The transportation case for mass transit stands on its own; mass transit is unquestionably the most efficient technique for transporting people and any serious transportation policy has mass transit as its backbone. Yet, there is also the economic case for mass transit, represented in part by the propositions outlined above. This post will address some of the data that back up those propositions and the assertion that building transit connections to universities like FIU can foster business start-up activity and mitigate and reverse brain drains.

 

Downtowns and universities represent a disproportionately high share of start-up activity. The days where suburban landscapes, such as Silicon Valley and Route 128, dominate the start-up scene are unsurprisingly over. According to data from the National Association of Venture Capitalists, downtown San Francisco now produces more tech start-ups than Silicon Valley. In the New York metro area, among the ten zip codes that received the highest amounts of venture capital dollars, nine of them were in Midtown or Lower Manhattan. In the Boston area, seven of the ten zip codes receiving the most VC investment are in downtown Boston or downtown Cambridge; only three are in the Route 128 corridor. In all, urban areas received three-fourths of all VC investment in New York, seven-tenths of all VC investment in Boston, and two-thirds of all VC investment in Washington, DC.

In addition to downtowns, universities represent the other major generator of start-up activity. According to data from the Association of University Technology Managers, universities generated 705 spin-off companies in 2012. That number was up from 671 spin-offs in 2011. In 2011 and 2012, 73 percent and 79 percent, respectively, of these spin-offs retained their primary place of business in the university’s home state. This is significant in that is shows that not only to universities generate new businesses, but those businesses tend to stay in that community and remain a long-term contributor to the local economy. Four schools – MIT, Harvard, Tufts, and Boston University – accounted for 35 (or twenty percent) of the 179 start-ups established in Boston last year. In Philadelphia, university spin-offs represented over forty percent of all start-ups.

 

High transit ridership and low car usage correlates with increased start-up activity in metropolitan areas. Using the PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree Report, the most well-known quarterly study on venture capital investment activity in the United States, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, I compiled data on all 123 metropolitan areas in the United States that recorded at least a single dollar of VC investment in 2011.

On the graph below, I plotted the percentage of residents commuting to work by public transit along the X axis and the total value of venture capital investment activity along the Y axis for each of the 123 metropolitan areas. Because the graph gets rather cluttered with 123 data points, for aesthetic reasons I removed the individual data points and just left the trendline. The resulting graph shows that higher transit ridership is correlated with higher VC investment.

TR2VC

Here’s the same graph with the trendline calculated using only those mid-sized metropolitan areas, like Miami, with a population between two million and eight million people. We can see that the correlation is similar even when just looking at similarly size metro areas.

TR2VC2-8

When we compare venture capital investment activity to the percentage of residents commuting to work by automobile, we find the reverse correlation to be true. Here’s the data once again from all 123 metropolitan areas. The resulting graph shows that higher car usage correlates with lower VC investment.

CU2VC

And for just mid-sized metro areas of two million to eight million people as well. Again, the correlation is similar among similarly sized metro areas.

CU2VC2-8

 

High transit ridership and low car usages correlates with higher start-up activity at universities. In addition to looking at the amount of venture capital investment, there are other ways to measure start-up activity. It makes sense to look at these other ways, as well, because venture capital investment does not always tell the whole story. Often times, for example, start-ups are launched in one location, but they move to another location, particularly the Bay Area and New York, once they are ready to begin seeking larger investments. For this reason, it makes sense to look at other metrics, and at the university level, there are a few good ones. We can look at the number of start-ups that a university generates, for example. We can also look at the licensing income that a university receives. Fortunately, the Association of University Technology Managers maintains a robust database of all this information. Comparing data from the AUTM’s annual survey from 2012 with zip-code data from the American Community Survey, we can get a sense of the relationship between commuting habits and the start-up activity at 141 American colleges and universities.

For the first cluster of graphs below, I plotted the percentage of residents in each university’s zip code area who commute to work by public transit along the X axis. Along the Y-axis in the first graph is the total value of licensing income received by each university for each of the 141 universities. Again, I cleared the individual data points and kept just the trendlines. What we see is that as transit ridership rates increase so does university licensing income.

TR2LI

Along the Y-axis in this graph is the number of start-ups generated by each university. Likewise, as transit ridership rates increase, the number of start-ups generated by a university increase as well.

TR2SU

Once again, when we compare the same variables to the share of car commuters, we find a negative correlation. Here’s the share of car commuters to each university’s licensing income. Increased car usage correlates with decreased licensing income.

CU2LI

And here’s car commuters to the number of start-ups generated by each university. Likewise, increased car usage correlates with fewer start-ups generated.

CU2SU

 

The data here are not a grand slam – these are just correlations – but they begin the paint a picture that supports our central premise: that transit can play a role in building the professional and social connections that are essential to a robust, productive entrepreneurial landscape.

Entrepreneurship is as much a culture as it is a single act. Developing policy to facilitate entrepreneurship requires recognition that more is involved than simply the isolated decision to establish an enterprise. It must also consider the multitude of conscious and unconscious factors that make such decisions possible and likely as well as those factors influencing rates of success. Those include, of course, establishing economic incentives such as subsidized incubators, mentoring programs, and tax benefits for business owners. But these are only helpful once a prospective entrepreneur has made a relatively firm commitment to pursue his or her own business. They do not offer much in the way of giving people the ideas and resources that prompt them to make such a commitment in the first place. Entrepreneurs are not created overnight, just as cultures are not fostered overnight. Cultures are layered and complex and sophisticated, and building an entrepreneurial culture requires more than a few well-targeted incentives packages. It necessitates approaching entrepreneurship from a wide array of directions, including immigration policy, education policy, and even transportation policy. The correlations presented in the charts above should not come as a surprise to anyone who understands how the flow of people and ideas bring about economic innovation and opportunity. And they offer evidence in support of the vital propositions that downtowns and universities are key drivers of our economies, and that by connecting downtowns, universities, and entire regions by transit, we foster greater entrepreneurship.

For Miami, this would be a game changer. We are facing a brain drain and we have the opportunity to reverse that trend and create economic growth by building a technology sector in South Florida. We’ve identified the problems and potential solutions, but without a comprehensive, long-term path for reaching those goals, we won’t succeed. We must recognize that while we cannot centrally plan entrepreneurship from a command tower, we can and must put in place the supports that encourage organic entrepreneurship. This includes developing the infrastructure that facilitates connections between people, ideas, and resources, particularly at hubs of innovation, such as city centers and universities. What we see from the data above is evidence that supports that mass transit is a piece of this infrastructure puzzle.

Special thanks to Jodi Talley from the Association of University Technology Managers for providing me with access to AUTM’s robust database without which this piece would not have been possible.

 

 

 

Biscayne Boulevard and 53rd Street  Crash occurred  on Saturday night on August 24. As of two days ago the light pole was still on the ground a week after the crash.

Biscayne Boulevard and 53rd Street. Light pole still remains on the sidewalk after nearly two weeks.

There is something seriously wrong with our local government. It’s been nearly two weeks since this light pole was knocked down in a car crash. As of last night the light pole was still on the sidewalk. This is unacceptable. And we are a world class city right?

You can read about the 22 crashes that have occurred in Biscayne Boulevard over the past three years by clicking here.

 

 

During the past three years I have documented at least 22 crashes along Biscayne Boulevard from 36th Street to 79th Street.  The majority of the crashes have resulted in cars riding up on the sidewalk and at least three innocent pedestrians have been seriously injured. The reality is that with so many crashes there is no explanation as to why more pedestrians are not injured or killed in these crashes. The dangerous speed in which these drivers are traveling is clearly evidenced by the numbers of light poles, bus shelters and signs that have been knocked down (the majority of these crashes have been photographed and posted on this blog).

Biscayne Boulevard and 53rd Street  Crash occurred  on Saturday night on August 24. As of two days ago the light pole was still on the ground a week after the crash.

Biscayne Boulevard and 53rd Street. Crash occurred on Saturday night on August 24. As of two days ago the light pole was still on the ground a week after the crash. Where’s the cleanup crew?

Twenty-two crashes in 36 months along a 43-block stretch of one road isn’t an acceptable safety standard. Clearly there is something innately unsafe in the design speed of this road. Yet the FDOT continues to ignore the fact that their very own design standards enable and encourage motorists to move as quickly as possible.  Everyone loses with Biscayne Boulevard’s design, especially pedestrians and the businesses that operate along Biscayne Boulevard.

Two weeks ago an SUV drove off of Biscayne Boulevard onto the sidewalk and into the INS building.  These are the damaged bushes.

Two weeks ago an SUV drove off of Biscayne Boulevard onto the sidewalk and into the INS building. These are the damaged bushes. Luckily no one was injured.

We have a serious safety problem and the FDOT, the county and the city are collectively ignoring this issue that not only affects Biscayne Boulevard, but all of Florida. This is evidenced by the fact that Florida leads the nation as the deadliest state for pedestrians and cyclists.  I think its fair to say that FDOT deserves most of the blame for this bleek honor due to their faulty design standards that emphasize “level of service”, rather than “safety for all road users”. At the county and city level the complacency has earned Miami Dade County the #4 spot in the nation for pedestrian and cyclists fatalities.

Four weeks ago I was told that a pedestrian was hit in the "FDOT Death Walk" on 85th and Biscayne Boulevard. Putting a crosswalk on an urban highway with a design speed of 40+mph is irresponsible. I use these crosswalks daily and drivers more often than not don't yield to pedestrians.

Four weeks ago I was told that a pedestrian was hit in the “FDOT Death Walk” on 85th and Biscayne Boulevard. Putting a crosswalk on an urban highway with a design speed of 40+mph is irresponsible. I use these crosswalks daily and drivers more often than not don’t yield to pedestrians.

The combination of lack of leadership in Miami Dade County with FDOT’s inability to make streets safer for all users has created the perfect disastrous storm for pedestrians and cyclists. If the FDOT and our local elected officials don’t begin to change their ways, Florida and Miami Dade County will continue to lead the nation in pedestrian and cycling fatalities.  In Miami we can virtually guarantee more pedestrian fatalities along Biscayne Boulevard as new residential and commercial development bring more density to the neighborhood.

Unprotected narrow sidewalks and cars moving at 45mph is a recipe for disaster. It's beyond my comprehension how the FDOT actually believes this to be perfectly safe.

Unprotected narrow sidewalks and cars moving at 45mph is a recipe for disaster. It’s beyond my comprehension how the FDOT actually believes this to be perfectly safe.

Sadly, none of our local elected officials seems to want to do anything to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for pedestrians and cyclists, nor does FDOT.  The County and City are now pointing the finger at Senator Gwen Margolis; apparently only Senator Margolis has leverage with the FDOT. The County and City always seem to claim they have no leverage with the FDOT.  Apparently the FDOT can do as they please and don’t have to really answer to our local elected officials, or residents for that matter.

We don’t want to let anyone of the hook.  So please click here to send an email to the following people to hold them accountable to make Biscayne Boulevard more business and pedestrian-friendly:

FDOT District Six Secretary Gus Pego
Senator Gwen Margolis
Mayor Regalado
County Mayor Gimenez
County Commissioner Edmonson
Commissioner Sarnoff

Here are two other crashes that occurred in the past month:

In the past 5 months 2 other light poles have been knocked down: Biscayne and 37th Street and Biscayne and 54th Street.

 

 

We received this email from Andrew Frey:

Folks, this coming Thurs is a Little Havana community meeting, see below and attached.  Many leaders will be there, including hopefully the City district commissioner.  It will be a great opportunity to spread the word about promoting fine-grain urban neighborhood development — in the heart of Miami’s largest expanse of T4 zoning — and about necessary zoning changes to make smaller sites developable, for example eliminating required parking.  
The Little Havana Merchant Alliance (LHMA), in conjunction with a variety of other local organizations, invites you to the first ever Little Havana Open House.DATE: Thursday, Sept. 5
TIME: 6:30 – 11 pm
PLACE: In the courtyard behind Mansini’s Pizza House 541 SW 12th Ave.

  • MEET local community leaders and organizations working to help Little Havana through projects like making our streets more pedestrian friendly, assisting local small businesses and organizing community events.  We won’t bore you — this is casual networking, but we will have info available about each organization.
     
  • ENJOY free slice of pizza if you’re one of the first 75 attendees, as well as complimentary refreshments like mojitos, provided thanks to Miami Club Rum.
     
  • DISCOVER local volunteer opportunities and projects: get involved in local organizations! Do you already belong to a group? Find out what other organizations are working on the same issues, so we can collaborate and partner for a BIGGER IMPACT!
     
  • LEARN about LHMA’s FREE upcoming workshops for local businesses and entrepreneurs, thanks to a partnership with the Kiwanis of Little Havana.
     
  • PARTICIPATE in a raffle and, if you want, give a donation to the 6th Street Dance Studio, a nonprofit studio that offers free dance classes for local kids every Friday.
     
  • VISIT the 6th Street Dance Studio and local art galleries in the “village” around the courtyard.

In addition to LHMA, organizations participating in the Little Havana Open House include:

  • Acción / Little Havana Community Action Committe
  • CAMACOL
  • Camara de Comercio Latina Calle Ocho
  • ConnectFamilias
  • Kiwanis of Little Havana
  • Miami River Commission
  • Miami Shenandoah Neighborhood Association
  • Viernes Culturales
  • AND MORE!

PLEASE JOIN US – and please bring a friend who wants to get involved. 

To RSVP, please email lhmamiami@gmail.com or call Raissa at (786) 255-4664.

 
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