A pedestrian bridge above US-1 at the University MetroRail station was recently approved by Miami-Dade County and is currently moving closer to an agreement. Though a state and federally funded project of $6 million, the University Centre mall owner has raised some concerns and is refusing to allow the county to build the bridge on its property. The bridge to channel university students, middle school students, metrorail riders, and others to the popular strip mall has been in the works for several years, joining the other existing US-1 overpasses. The Pedestrian Safety Access Committee formed with the long-term goal to build the pedestrian bridge in direct response to 3 student fatalities at the intersection since 1990, along with several accidents.
Looking at this situation at face value, this project makes perfect sense: people are dying on the intersection, so take the people off the intersection. But I challenge you to stand back and examine the bigger picture of crossing US-1 at this intersection and every other one in Coral Gables, South Miami, and beyond. Is the problem uniquely at this intersection, or along the entire stretch of the fast-moving, 6-lane highway? Due to very high speeds, awkward street-level pedestrian crossings, unbuffered and narrow sidewalks, and poor street lighting, I think we can agree that this stretch is hostile to non-motorists. Michelle Simmon, public involvement coordinator for Miami-Dade Transit stated back in 2007 that ‘the main purpose of the long-term bridge project is to encourage pedestrian safety while making the Coral Gables community more “walkable.” Yes, ‘channeling’ pedestrians into a bridge does have the potential of keeping pedestrians safe, but does it encourage walkability?
Pedestrian Convenience. A walkable community is possible when the built environment is convenient to the pedestrian, bicyclist, student, parent with baby stroller, etc. Making decisions that inhibit pedestrian convenience such as narrowing sidewalks, reducing crosswalks, ‘forcing’ people to go up and over a street – then these decisions make the built environment inconvenient and therefore, less walkable. But if we redesign the street to discourage speeding, add wider sidewalks buffered from vehicular traffic, pedestrian street lighting, and common-sense street-level crossings (and using a lot less than the $6 million) we could achieve both safety and walkability for all road users.
Neighborhood Unity. Instead of creating a street that welcomes its neighbors, we are making decisions (like numerous pedestrian bridges) that add up toward creating an automobile sewer. This is the root of the problem, and the reason for these vehicular deaths in the first place – we are literally trying to put a highway into the middle of a community. Why are we surprised that pedestrians, students, children are trying to cross the street in their own neighborhood? Instead of encouraging to further dissect this area, we need to consider the potential to transform this massive right-of-way into the safe neighborhood center the university, middle school, and residents deserve.
Traffic Priorities. The problem in this dangerous intersection is not the pedestrians, but the unobservant drivers. But who are we punishing? the pedestrians. And who are we prioritizing for dominion over the street even more? the drivers, observant or not. A walkable neighborhood is not void of cars, drivers, and traffic, but rather re-prioritizes its road space to accommodate a full range of transportation choices. Slowing traffic down does not guarantee more congestion either. In fact, some of the most efficient roads in the world are in slow-speed, walkable environments. By humanizing the thoroughfare with better street-level crossings, lighting, wider sidewalks, street trees, narrower traffic lanes, and even on-street parking, we can effectively slow traffic, and persuade drivers to be more alert, attentive, and vigilant, fostering a safer atmosphere for all.
If building this University Station pedestrian bridge could save just one life, then yes, its construction is more than worth it. But what’s next in encouraging safety and walkability? Are we going to continue constructing pedestrian bridges at every intersection over Dixie Highway – and with whose funds? And does that leave the people who will still cross at street level with a more dangerous thoroughfare? I challenge this community, the Pedestrian Safety Access Committee, Miami-Dade County, FDOT, and others involved to improve the pedestrian experience on the street level. In many ways the easiest solution is to build the pedestrian bridge. However, six million dollars can provide a lot of funding for this community if our residents and leaders are brave enough to tackle the root of the problem. We should not take these deaths lightly, but we do need to consider the full range of options to improve the safety, convenience, and value of the US-1 corridor. Just as Michelle Simmon from Miami-Dade Transit stated, “A livable community has to be a safe community.” By humanizing this dangerous, dissecting thoroughfare, we can not only save lives, but also our community.
Subscribe via Email
Find us on Facebook
- TransitDave on Venetian Causeway to be shut down – your input needed!
- Mike Moskos on Event: Donald Shoup-The Godfather of Eliminating Required Parking
- Matthew Toro on ‘Mixed’ Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- Adam Old on ‘Mixed’ Land-Use in Miami-Dade
- Mike arias on County Announces New Vision for Pedestrians and Cyclists: Vision Zero 305
- Matthew Toro on Commercial Land-Use in Miami-Dade
CategoriesAccident Architecture bicycles bike lanes Bike Miami Days biking Biscayne Boulevard Brickell bus Climate Change Coconut Grove complete streets Downtown Miami FDOT High Speed Rail Metrorail Miami Miami-Dade County Miami-Dade Transit Miami 21 Miami Beach Museum Park News Parking Parks Pedestrian Pedestrians Pic o' the Day Planning Real Estate Development Rickenbacker Causeway Sprawl Streetcar Traffic Transit Transitography Transit Oriented Development Transportation Tri-Rail Uncategorized Urban Design Urban Development Boundary Urban Growth Urban Planning Walkability
- Travel Back in Time with Google Street View April 24, 2014Clear your schedule: a new feature on Google Street View allows users to click through images from the past.
- Engage; Don’t Rage: Use a Design Charrette to Negotiate Your Next Development Proposal April 24, 2014Despite the investments required of a design charrette, Robert Freedman makes the case that the process can save time and money on complex projects by way of three primary benefits.
- Recovery of Washington Mudslide Area Turns to State Highway April 24, 2014On the one month anniversary of the mudside that wiped out much of Oso, Wash., President Obama came to tour the devastation. The death toll stands at 41, with two missing. Restoring the region's economic lifeline, state Route 530, is top priority.
- A Shot Across the Bow of the Shared Economy April 24, 2014New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman penned an op-ed for the New York Times that specifically calls out Airbnb and Uber—two companies at the forefront of calls to regulate the emerging sharing economy.
- Seattle Area Voters Resoundingly Reject Transit Initiative April 24, 2014With 55 per cent of the vote, King County voters on April 22 opposed increasing their sales tax by one-tenth of one per cent and increasing an annual auto registration fee by $60. 72 Metro Transit bus routes will be eliminated. […]
- Transportation Considerations for Aging Populations April 24, 2014An article on PlannersWeb details the considerations relevant to the needs of people over 65, who are growing more multi-modal and car-independent every year.
- What Millennials Want: A Multi-Modal City April 24, 2014A recent study finds evidence of an overwhelming desire by Millennials to live multi-modal, car-lite lifestyles. They're even prepared to move to find what they want.
- Big Data’s Victory Over Anonymity April 23, 2014A writer laments the advances made by data collection in cities—once a location where people could maintain or seek anonymity.
- Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Candid Take on the Foreclosure Crisis April 23, 2014The Boston Globe provides an excerpt from the new book by Senator Elizabeth Warren, wherein she recounts her troubled reaction to a conversation with then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
- 'A Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles' Elevates Public Health Among Planning Priorities April 23, 2014Available for public comment until May 13, Los Angeles is considering a new Health and Wellness Element for its General Plan, called “A Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles.” It’s an ambitious document for a large and diverse city.
- Travel Back in Time with Google Street View April 24, 2014