Exactly how long does it take to cross Coral Way safely?
In the below video, I am at the Lady of Lebanon Church at 2055 Coral Way in Miami. My destination is the eastbound bus stop located directly across the road. As a reminder, this church was the location of a recent Florida Department of Transportation Public Information Meeting we covered to review a proposed re-paving project on Coral Way – a project that includes minimal pedestrian improvements and zero new crosswalks.
Here is the current situation…..
9 minutes, 52 seconds – even with crossing against the stuck pedestrian signal.
The disingenuous excuse for not adding more crosswalks is that the latest FDOT ‘study’ did not measure a sufficient number of pedestrians or cyclists to warrant more accommodations.
Let’s explore that notion.
1. There are plenty of pedestrians, as seen in the clip.
2. The experience of being a pedestrian on Coral Way is so inhospitable to begin with, rational people simply avoid it if they can. No FDOT study can measure human decision-making.
3. Even more pedestrians are present during lunch and “rush hours”. This clip was filmed at around 10:00 am.
This is a classic example of how the FDOT diminishes value from an urban neighborhood by dictatorially imposing arcane, auto-centric design standards and their stubborn adherence to them. Coral Way has all the makings of a vibrant, walkable neighborhood – a healthy mix of medium-density residential and commercial buildings that interact well with the street, including offices, restaurants and shops, beautiful shade trees and room for on-street parking.
But the FDOT’s 40 mph traffic-sewer configuration of Coral Way unquestionably stifles this potential. Their objective is to move cars as fast as possible – a one-dimensional perspective that asphyxiates the economic potential and simple enjoyment of being on Coral Way. As one of the FDOT project managers said to me in the earlier meeting, “Well, some of these cars are going from downtown to West Kendall and they have to be accommodated too.”
Let’s take that theoretical (and farfetched) car commuter into consideration for a second. How many times have they sped past the Greek or Spanish restaurants on Coral Way and never knew they existed? How many times has that person never realized the new clothing boutique, hair salon or bicycle store? Cars and their drivers move through Coral Way like submarines move through water; semi-consciously passing through, hermetically sealed off and disassociated with their actual surroundings. It is pedestrian life that is essential to economic development in an urban neighborhood, not how many trivial seconds you can shave off someone’s commute.
Roaring traffic is simply not compatible with pedestrian enjoyment – and with enjoyment comes time and money spent in a place worth caring about.
The Coral Way neighborhood is one that could actually be quite special to a larger number of Miamians. But when it takes 10 minutes to merely cross a street, who in their right mind would want to be there? With ‘acceptable’ roadway design like this inflicted across the entire state, is it any wonder why Florida is the deadliest state for pedestrians in the nation?
For Coral Way to truly thrive, the FDOT needs to apply context sensitive solutions including a 30 mph speed limit, additional crosswalks, wider sidewalks, improved lighting and more on-street parking.
E-mail FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and demand the application of sensible design standards that will add – rather than diminish – value to our neighborhoods.
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