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.

An all too common sight. Pedestrians on Coral Way are not treated with dignity.

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.

 

24 Responses to The Demeaning Experience of Being a Coral Way Pedestrian

  1. Brandt A. says:

    I agree with everything being said here, and it doesn’t just apply to Coral Way. However, I’m getting tired of sending emails – they’re falling on deaf ears/blind eyes. I think the FDOT reps are just ignoring them, and I know why – they haven’t gone through the experience of being a pedestrian or cyclist. So they’ll never understand what we’re saying until they do.

    There has to be another way of getting things to change.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Transit Miami is also blocked from FDOT offices..

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  3. Mike Moskos says:

    Sometimes I wonder why the businesses on traditional downtown blocks like this (and Miracle Mile and many others) don’t ask for the streets to be closed to car traffic on the weekends to stimulate business? If they could show how much more vibrant the area might be on the weekends, it could lead to all the traffic calming they’ve done on the streets in downtown Hollywood. What city doesn’t want their own version of Lincoln Road (if for no other reason that the massively increased tax base)? Of course, if the residents of this area were in charge of funding the street (not the FDOT) they might not be so inclined to spend their money to rapidly move cars only passing through their area.

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  4. BR says:

    Keep in mind the difference between Miracle Mile and Coral Way is Miracle Mile is owned and maintained by Coral Gables, and Coral Way is owned and maintained by FDOT.
    If cities want to make streets livable, they have to take them off the hands of FDOT. Cities are often not interested in taking over the roads as it is very expensive.
    Perhaps that is the take we need to have when we want roads to be more livable. Go to Mayors and tell them they need to take over the roadway.

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  5. Craig Chester says:

    Mike – excellent point. I too have wondered the same thing.

    BR – The City of Miami supports many of the things we are recommending for Coral Way, and the FDOT is standing in the way. Municipal control has actually come up as a solution, but given the City’s financial condition, it’s unfortunately not so realistic yet.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    That’s right your comments are falling on deaf ears. Secretary of Transportation Ananth Prasad decreed pedestrians should be ignored in a tight economy, and the districts are doing their best to uphold his policy and ignore the fact that Florida ever had a Complete Streets policy set into law.

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  7. Sabrina says:

    I’ve often wondered whether the revenues the state receives from gasoline sales has anything to do with the FDOT’s attitude towards pedestrians and cyclists, especially in a large metropolitan setting, and if this constitutes a sufficiently worrying conflict of interest as far as their policies are concerned. If I remember correctly, the state of Florida receives between 25 and 30 cents of taxes per gallon of gasoline sold, depending on the county. The state also receives revenue from automobile purchases, I believe? At the very least, sales tax paid on a car is far more than sales tax paid on bikes or shoes, and you don’t need to pay to register your sneakers or bike with the state to travel! Keeping people in their cars has financial benefits for the State of Florida, where there are few other sources of state revenue without a state income tax; we have to pay the state for every mile we need to drive, in effect. On the other hand, walking and cycling generate no tax revenue for the state. It might be worth looking into the amount of revenue generated by gasoline sales for the state in, say, Miami Dade County and considering whether or not this influences the FDOT’s treatment of our local circumstances for pedestrians and cyclists.

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  8. Walter Ward says:

    You forgot one item…You would probably still be waiting for the green to cross.

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  9. Rima says:

    It is abominable. As others have pointed out above, this is not just Coral Way, this is how the US works by and large with evry few, small pockets of exceptions such as New York and San Francisco. Who knows, the gallon of gas might have to cost $10 for people to demand change.

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  10. Brandt A. says:

    The only people from the FDOT who actually are responsive (or at least partially) in my experience are Marta Rodriguez (very responsive) and Ken Jeffries (does not answer follow-up emails). No one else has been answering my emails.

    When the FDOT does include a bike lane on one of their roads, it’s like an insult. The one of the biggest insults I’ve seen are the bike lanes on the MacArthur Causeway, NE 163rd Street, and Opa-Locka Boulevard. It’s like putting a bike lane on an expressway – no one is going to ride on those stretches.

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  11. John says:

    Completely agree with this post. Already sent out an e-mail. We can never give up the fight for better urban design. The more we push, the greater the voice.

    Coral Way is an awesome, vibrant, urban neighborhood but the street is ridiculous to cross. Coral Way is treated as a thoroughfare and not a destination, when in fact it could be one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the city.

    Unfortunately, this same problem exists on all our major roads. Some are better than others, but at the end of the day, the vast majority of our streets simply don’t have enough crosswalks, speed limits are too high, and no bike lanes.

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  12. Brandt A. says:

    I’ve also noticed that an email to the FDOT is more likely to be answered when they feel like it was sent from someone “important”. Who am I? Just a humble engineering student, but when I send an email to them with my FIU employee account and begin with what my position is (or was) at FIU, then I usually get a response, even if it’s not what I want to hear.

    I guess when I use that tactic, I don’t get dismissed as some annoying pest who read an article.

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  13. Devin says:

    I would love to be on the design team of a Coral Way streetscape initiative… My comment for the downtown – Kendall commuters, METORAIL! In ten years time our population density will make it impossible to negotiate vehicles through such neighborhoods. There is no reason for this road and Miracle MIle to be used as such a commuter road. The fact that FDOT makes this statement shows their ignorance when it comes down to designing (or lack thereof) streets and sidewalks. Coral way can be such a special corridor if designed appropriately as a transitionary element binding together Brickell and Miracle Mile and catering to its existing neighborhood. Also, Coral Way carries its own unique identity and attempting to mimic other streetscape plans (i.e. miracle mile plan) can have its consequences too.

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  14. Jimbo99 says:

    I don’t know, within the first few seconds of the video you could’ve crossed where you were standing. Since you claims that there are no crosswalks marked, guess crossing anywhere when it’s safe to proceed and wherever you desire makes it safe & legal ? I prefer not to have my street crosses legislated, because certainly there will be complaints when that is enforced. The world is an interactive one, take responsibility for you life and dare I say it, cross the street. Otherwise, walk to and wait for a crossalk.

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  15. Craig says:

    Jimbo – I could not have crossed with a wheelchair or stroller – there is an impenetrable concrete and planted median. Also, I would be jaywalking. Of course, plenty of people cross through the planted median, as the picture shows. Again, that is hardly an appropriate way to cross a street in a major city.

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  16. B says:

    The claim about having to accomodate Kendall commuters is a major cop-out. You can never do 40 on Coral Way in rush hour, heck, you’d be lucky to get up to 30 most of the way! If you live out west, the fastest way is still to take US1 and Don Shula, or perhaps Bird or Miller.

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  17. anonymous says:

    “Also, I would be jaywalking. Of course, plenty of people cross through the planted median, as the picture shows. Again, that is hardly an appropriate way to cross a street in a major city.”

    You’re an idiot!

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  18. R says:

    Sabrina,
    Cost savings to Florida tax payers from people walking and biking are not counted, but health costs, congestion reduction, and long term environmental savings should at least be thought of when talking about the cost of a system.
    Also, negative externalities from auto-centric systems should be considered as well. Stress, obesity, time, environment, there are many elements which go uncounted.
    Let’s think about the bigger picture too.

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  19. Felipe Azenha says:

    Folks,
    Jimbo is a County Public Works employee. He is trying to do everything in his power to discredit Tranit Miami. Jimbo please disclose that you are a CPWD employee.

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  20. Brooke says:

    Got my response from FDOT today:

    Thank you for your interest in bicycle and pedestrian facilities along the Coral Way corridor. FDOT is currently preparing design plans for a repaving project along Coral Way from SW 37th Avenue to east of SW 13th Avenue to extend the corridor’s service life.

    FDOT gives bicycle and pedestrian facilities full consideration as required by the Florida Statutes. This involves providing a balance between mobility for all modes of transportation and livability in addition to ensuring that features do not hinder public safety and cost is not excessive. Pedestrian and bicycle features must also conform with professionally accepted engineering standards to ensure their successful integration to the maximum extent practicable.

    Coral Way’s project will include shared lane (sharrow) pavement markings from SW 37th Avenue to SW 32nd Avenue connecting Coral Gables’ urban center and sharrows along SW 32nd Avenue. Unfortunately, federal guidelines prevent us from implementing sharrows from SW 32nd Avenue to SW 13th, which are only permitted in areas where the posted speed limit is 35 MPH or less. Furthermore, FDOT reviewed the current posted speed limits as part of this project and we found them to be appropriate.

    Lastly, FDOT is currently conducting a pedestrian study to help us identify the need for additional crossings on Coral Way or upgrades to existing ones. We expect to have the results of the study ready soon, so we may build them at the same time as we repave the road.

    Should you have further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Jorge Gomez, Project Manager, at (305) 470-5183.

    Sincerely

    Harold A. Desdunes, P.E.

    Director of Transportation Development

    Florida Department of Transportation

    District VI

    Phone # (305) 470-5464

    Email: Harold.Desdunes@dot.state.fl.us

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  21. Devin says:

    When are we going to see a real streetscape design implemented along our streets… Streetscapes should be valued just as important as any other parcel of land that is open for fresh ideas through design competitions. A Sharrow for five blocks, really. You people know they will not remove the third lane from vehicles or even consider what can happen between the curb and property lot line. Until bold action is taken to make room for all forms of transportation this project will be more of the same… wasted money on projects with no foresight. I want to see people ride this sharrow with as much traffic as coral way gets in the world texting and driving… I’ll be riding my bike on the sidewalk and deal with the occasional pedestrian.

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  22. Brooke says:

    I asked for references and a copy of the study if anyone is interested:

    Per your request, the applicable Florida Statute regarding the consideration for bicycle/pedestrian facilities is F.S. 335.065. In accordance with Florida Statute 335.065, FDOT projects must adhere to the standards outlined in the FDOT Plans Preparation Manual (PPM) and the FDOT Traffic Engineering Manual. Refer to PPM Chapter 8 and Chapter 25 regarding the applicable criterion for pedestrian/bicycle facilities in a Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation (RRR) projects such as the Coral Way project. Links to these documents are provided below:

    http://www.dot.state.fl.us/rddesign/PPMManual/PPM.shtm

    http://www.dot.state.fl.us/trafficoperations/Operations/Studies/TEM/TEM.shtm

    Please note that Section 8.4.5 of the PPM and the FHWA’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices provides standards for the use of Sharrows. A link to the MUTCD is provided below. Refer to Section 9C.07 of the MUTCD regarding the use of Sharrows.

    http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/

    As previously mentioned, the City of Miami Bicycle Facility Master Plan designates Coral Way as a bicycle route and does not call for a bicycle facility beyond the appropriate routing signage. A link to the master plan is provided below.

    http://miamigov.com/bicycleInitiatives/pages/bicycleMasterPlan.asp

    This is the link to download the “Final Speed Zone Study for SR 972/SW 22 Street/Coral Way between SW 37th Avenue and SW 13th Avenue”.

    File(s) will be available for download until 21 March 2012:

    File: SR_972_-_Coral_Way_Speed_Zone_Study_from_SW_37_Ave_to_SW_13_St.pdf, 27,461.86 KB

    Let me know if you have any questions, my telephone number is 305.470.5445 and my e-mail address is ken.jeffries@dot.state.fl.us.

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  23. [...] every corner. It sounds ridiculous that I have to say that, but you go to so many cities and that’s not the case. I’d like to see people of all ages on the street as well — a really dynamic atmosphere [...]

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  24. [...] every corner. It sounds ridiculous that I have to say that, but you go to so many cities and that’s not the case. I’d like to see people of all ages on the street as well — a really dynamic atmosphere [...]

       0 likes

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