Currently viewing the tag: "bicycles"

My wife and I moved to Belle Meade about two months ago.  We fell in love with this neighborhood on the Upper East Side because of the walkability to the Mimo district and because the area has some beautiful historic homes (we purchased a 1940’s bungalow).

Belle Meade today is a semi-gated community. It lies east of Biscayne Blvd and is wedged between Biscayne Bay, NE 6th Court, NE 72nd Terrace and NE 77th Street. It is only accessible by car through a guard gate on NE 76th Street. Bicycles and pedestrians can enter and leave the community through any one of the streets that connect to NE 6th Court.

There has been a bit of a crime wave going through the area. A few weeks ago the police busted a house in Belle Meade that was dealing drugs. Yesterday there was an armed robbery/home invasion one block from my house. Residents are upset, and rightfully so. But now there is talk about closing off all the bicycle and pedestrian access points on NE 6th Court, thereby creating a totally gated community.

I am not a fan of gated communities.  I believe that erecting concrete walls sends the wrong message to the greater Miami community. For a community to be truly integrated barriers should not be erected to separate the haves from the have-nots. In addition, research suggests that gated does not equal safer. One thing is certain; they give a very false sense of security to the individuals living within these communities. Creating a proper neighborhood watch program is the answer and will show far greater results then erecting walls.

In The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), author Jane Jacobs suggested that crime could be reduced by having “eyes on the street.” We can increase eyes on the street by forming a neighborhood watch program. We can also keep the existing eyes on the street by encouraging people to walk or bike, rather than forcing Belle Meade residents to get in their cars every time they need to run an errand on Biscayne Blvd. Erecting walls will only reduce the eyes on the streets of Belle Meade.

We must keep our neighborhood walkable. There is considerable evidence and research which proves that homes in walkable neighborhoods command a premium over non-walkable neighborhoods.

My hope is that one day the guard gate on NE 76th Street can come down too. We should work with the surrounding neighborhoods to make them better, thereby reducing crime and making the entire Upper East Side a more vibrant community.

You can check out how walkable your neighborhood is on Walkscore.

A special thanks to the Adrianne Arsht Center for organizing the first annual Fall for the Arts festival.  After today’s success this event will now become a yearly occurrence meant to kick-off the the season for Miami’s burgeoning arts scene. Downtown Miami came alive today as thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds showed up for this free concert.  Ozomatli rocked the Magic City and several other bands had everyone dancing and in good spirits. Events like this are great for our city and really bring our diverse community together. Over 100 community groups and cultural organizations participated to make this event an overwhelming success.

We would also like to thank the Green Mobility Network for providing a much needed free bicycle valet service. It was very much appreciated.

Perhaps next year we could coordinate this event with Bike Miami Days?  Just throwing it out there…

Sorry for the delay in my response folks. As you may know, we here at Transit Miami were unable to attend the Cycling Town Hall Meeting co-hosted by Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez several months ago. We received a lot of feedback from those who attended and we have reviewed the recommendations for improvement which were presented to the public.

We are pleased that new safety improvements are being considered, as they are long overdue. However, it seems that there is no coherent plan for how these improvements will be implemented. Indeed, details regarding the improvements remain absent.

What we do know is that the Rickenbacker Causeway is the premier recreation destination in the City of Miami, if not all of Miami-Dade County. Thus, we must think of the entire corridor as a big linear park. The area hosts many parks and attractions. They include:

  • Miami Seaquarium
  • Crandon Park/Tennis Center
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
  • Mast Academy
  • Alice Wainright Park
  • Hobie Beach

In addition, the Miami Marine Stadium is slated to be renovated and Virginia Key will be converted into a major urban park, which will also include several miles of mountain bike trails. With a plethora of attractions/parks in such close proximity, it is imperative to provide safe connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists.

With the diversity of users and the number of related destinations, a coherent Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan should be developed in order to bring all the major stakeholders to the table, including the Village of Key Biscayne.  This would be an immensely important undertaking, and the County Public Works Department should not be solely responsible for making these improvements without the input of the public and the Village of Key Biscayne and City of Miami.

Ideally, the Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan would specify the details of the proposed improvements and analyze the proposed phasing already associated with the list of improvements slated for the Causeway.

Below is the summary of projects slated to be implemented over a 5-year period.  The proposed projects listed below are all pedestrian/bicycle safety oriented improvements for the Causeway and would be funded through the use of the 25 cent allocation of every toll collected.  Below each project you will find my commentary in bold.

Summary of Projects:

FY 10-11

Hobie Island Signalized Pedestrian/Cyclist Crossing and Turnaround $630,000

Description: Design and install a cyclist/pedestrian traffic light crossing at Hobie Island (Windsurfer Beach). The installation of a traffic light, striping, and signage will allow cyclists to turn from Eastbound to Westbound prior to reaching the toll plaza.

Does this require bicyclists to dismount? How is the traffic light activated? Where will it be placed? We need more details.

Rickenbacker Speed Limit Study $ 5,000
Description: PWD will conduct and evaluate results of speed study in order to determine whether the speed limits need to be modified and implement necessary signage changes.

Reducing the posted speed limit is very important, but it will have little to no effect on the actual speed of traffic without reconfiguring the roadway for slower speeds (signal timing, narrowing vehicular lanes, etc.)

Permanent “Vehicle Speed” Information Sign $ 80,000
Description: Install permanent ”Your Speed” information signs/speed radar light boards along causeway, to alert vehicles to their traveling speeds.

Not a priority (these are very expensive) if you design a roadway with a design speed not to exceed 40 mph. Money could be better spent elsewhere.

Improvements to Roadways Leading into Toll Plaza Phase 1 $ 160,000
Description: Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road/Rickenbacker Causeway from Brickell Avenue through the toll facility to Hobie Island, to accommodate and improve access to bicycle lanes.

The entire intersection before the toll needs to be redesigned. Crosswalks also need to be dramatically improved. Do we have drawings?

Total expenditures: $875,000

FY 11-12
Improvements to Roadways Leading into Toll Plaza Phase 2 $376,000
Description: Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road from Brickell Avenue to South Miami Avenue, and on South Miami Avenue from US 1 to S 25 Road, to accommodate bicycle lanes.

See comments from above.

Crandon Boulevard Lane Modification Phase 1 $507,750

Description: Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path.

What is the width of the proposed bike lane? More importantly, what is the new width of the travel lanes and will there be a soft or striped barrier between the bike lane and travel lanes?
Total expenditures: $883,750

FY 12-13
Crandon Boulevard Lane Modification Phase 2 $492,250
Description: (Continued) Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path.

See comments above.

Bicycle/Pedestrian Lane Mod West Bridge to Brickell Avenue $400,338
Description: Re-design, widen, stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.

How wide will the path be? What about those users who are never going to use the path, those heading to points south and west of Brickell?

Total expenditure: $892,588

FY 13-14
Bicycle/Pedestrian Lane Mod West Bridge to Brickell Avenue $99,662
Description: (Continued) Re-design, widen, stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.
See above.

Multi-Use Path along North Side of Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key $450,000
Description: Provide multi-use trail along north side of causeway from Bear Cut Bridge to William Powell Bridge. Cyclists can use Mast Academy signal to cross causeway, then use aforementioned path to reach Sewer Beach Road.

We welcome an extension of the multiuse path.  Although we would like to see drawings of the Mast Academy signal to cross the causeway.

Pedestrian/Bicycle Grade Separation across the Causeway $351,851
Description: Perform a study to evaluate the best location for a pedestrian/bicyclist grade separation from motor vehicles across the Causeway; Design and construct.

This is an expensive proposition that may be better spent getting roadway improvements for cyclists and pedestrians at grade, namely in signalization and improved crosswalks.

Total expenditure: $901,513

FY 14-15
Pedestrian/Bicycle Grade Separation across the Causeway $910,529
Description: (Continued) Perform a study to evaluate the best location for a pedestrian/bicyclist grade separation from motor vehicles across the Causeway; Design and construct.

See above.

Total expenditure: $910,529

We write this with great respect for the County Public Works Department, as this is a major project that is symbolic of a larger sea in recognizing the needs and rights of bicyclists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, there remain many missing details, including how we address safety on the bridges. Thus, we need a Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan that looks comprehensively at the necessary improvements to furthering the success and safety of this recreational corridor. Going at it piecemeal is how we got into this mess in the first place. So, let’s not repeat the same mistake; let’s do it right for once and for all.

You can find more information about the proposed improvements here

Source: Huffingtonpost.com

Kudos to the Germans, they shut down 37-miles of the Autobahn between Duisburg and Dortmund.  The result: 3 million people turned out amid fine weather, one million of them with their bicycles. The highway, which crosses North Rhine-Westphalia state, is normally one of Europe’s busiest. Check out more pictures here.

If the Germans can shut down a major highway for six hours, I don’t see why we can’t close a lane of traffic on the Rickenbacker Causeway on weekend mornings for a few hours.

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Unscientific Transit Miami research says “yes”.  On my morning ride today, I decided to count cyclists and cars during 5 minute periods.  If you may recall, I shot a five minute video a few weeks ago and I counted about 180 cyclists.  Here are the results of today’s handle bar research:

Number of Bikes and Cars Counted in 5 Minutes on the Rickenbacker Causeway
Bike count #1 124
Bike count #2 153
Bike count #3 87
Average # of bikes in 5 minute period
121
Car count #1 87
Car count #2 128
Car Count #3 101
Average # of cars in 5 minute period 105

It seems that bicycles alone outnumber cars.  I did not count pedestrians, but there were a lot of them out there. I think it would be fair to assume that pedestrians and bicyclists outnumber cars on the Rickenbacker Causeway on weekend mornings.

So when is the county going to start closing down a lane of traffic on the weekends for pedestrians and cyclists to exercise safely?  I don’t have the answer to that question, but I can say with all confidence,  this initiative is long overdue.

I came upon two separate bike accidents on the Rickenbacker Causeway this morning. Both cyclists did not appear to be seriously injured, and I don’t believe cars were involved in either accident.  Both accidents occurred in the south bound bike lane/shoulder; the first accident occurred on the William Powel Bridge and the second one near Crandon Park.

Luckily no one was seriously injured, but the margin for error here is very small. With cars whizzing by at 45-55 mph someone could have easily been killed today.

A special thanks to Miami-Fire Rescue, MDPD and MPD.

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The South Florida Bike Expo takes place this weekend and supposedly it will be the largest expo and sale of bicycles and bicycle accessories in South Florida’s history.

The South Florida Bicycle Coalition will also be there spreading the bike gospel.  Please stop by and say “hello”.  SFBC is looking for volunteers, so if you are interested in helping out for a couple of hours on Sunday please send me an email. For what it’s worth, the event promoter has promised the SFBC a good view of the large screen showing Stages 13 and 14 of the Tour!

The event will take place this Saturday from 9:00am to7:00pm and on Sunday from 9:00am to 6:00pm at the War Memorial Auditorium in Ft. Lauderdale.  Admission is free.

Well folks, yours truly, is moving from Brickell to Belle Mead. I’ve just purchased a home with my wife and we should be moving into the neighborhood in a couple of weeks.  So don’t be surprised to hear a lot more about issues affecting the Upper East Side on this blog.

I’ll start by saying this, “Biscayne Boulevard is a disaster”! There ain’t no two ways about it. The recent FDOT resurfacing project, for the most part, was designed solely to move cars faster. Pedestrians and cyclists were not given much consideration while designing this roadway. I consider myself an experienced cyclist, but even I will tell you to avoid riding your bike on Biscayne Boulevard. And if you are a pedestrian then forget about it, crosswalks are few and far in between and of poor quality. Biscayne Boulevard is extremely wide, making it difficult for anyone that is not in tip-top shape to cross the street.

Travel lanes are extremely wide, which encourages cars to speed. The speed limit is 35mph, but the design speed of the roadway is closer to 45-50mph. Needless to say, not pedestrian or cyclist friendly either.

That being said, we have a chance to ask FDOT to design a roadway at a more human scale.

FDOT is conducting a Pedestrian Mobility and Safety Study along Biscayne Boulevard at the request of area residents. The limits of the project extend from NE 77th Street to NE 87th Street.

Possible upgrade include the restriping of crosswalks for greater visibility, enhancing signals and adding traffic control devices to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road.

A public information meeting is being held on Thursday, July 15, 2010 from 6-8 p.m at Legion Memorial Park, located at NE 7 Ave, Miami, FL for more information contact Gus Pego, District 6 Secretary”.

Hope to see you there!

Busted!

Busted!

Some cyclists just don’t seem to get it. Why do some continue to run red lights in Key Biscayne; especially the Crandon Boulevard and Harbour Drive intersection which is extremely dangerous?

Kudos to the Key Biscayne P.D. for rightfully enforcing the law; recently I have seen more and more cyclists respecting red lights in Key Biscayne. Unfortunately, there are a few bicyclists that give us all a bad name.

For some reason there are bicyclists that believe a special set of rules has been written for them while they are on the bicycle.  I can assure you that no such rules exist. Grow up and start respecting the rules of the road.

Keep up the great work KBPD!

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Call me a dork, but I decided to take five minutes out of my morning ride to shoot a video of the Rickenbacker Causeway on Saturday.  The video shows about 180 cyclists riding within this 5 minute period. Amazing!

It seems like every weekend there are more and more cyclists riding. Bicycles easily outnumber cars. When are we going to begin closing down a lane on the Rickenbacker Causeway on weekend mornings for cyclists, runners, and rollerbladers? Please ask Commissioner Gimenez by sending him an email.

We here at Transit Miami are really happy about the initiative the County has shown to improve safety on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  The suggestions for improvement are much appreciated and we look forward to seeing them implemented. Our only hesitation is perhaps the actual implementation of the improvements.  We must have a long term vision and a master plan for the Rickenbacker Causeway. We will discuss all of this in an upcoming post. Regardless, we are very encouraged and would like to thank Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez and the County Public Works Department for their excellent work.

Below is a summary of suggested improvements:

  • “Bike Only” lane at toll plaza will be 365 days a year, no longer available to motorists during hours of high volume traffic.
  • PWD will conduct and evaluate results of speed study in order to determine whether the speed limits need to be modified and implement necessary signage changes. Volume and speed test will commence after July 4th.
  • Installation of permanent electronic ”Your Speed” information signs/speed radar light boards along causeway, which will alert vehicles to their traveling speeds.
  • Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path. Both 12′ car lanes will be reduced to 11′ thus widening the 5′ bike path to 7′.
  • Multi-use trail along north side of causeway from Bear Cut Bridge to William Powell Bridge. Cyclists can use Mast Academy signal to cross causeway, then use aforementioned path to reach Sewer Beach Road. (Rusty Pelican / Marine Stadium)
  • Re-design, widen to 12′, stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.
  • SunPass only lanes will be added with a barrier at the entrance to Key Biscayne. The county emphasized that SunPass lanes would not encourage speeding and stated “the Rickenbacker is a causeway NOT an expressway”.
  • Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road/Rickenbacker Causeway from Brickell Avenue through the toll facility to Hobie Island, to accommodate and improve access to bicycle lanes.
  • Design and install a cyclist/pedestrian traffic light crossing at Hobie Island (Windsurfer Beach). The installation of a traffic light, striping, and signage will allow cyclists to turn from Eastbound to Westbound prior to reaching the toll plaza. (Cyclists will no longer be allowed to make a U-turns near the toll plaza, they will be expected to make U-Turns at new light crossing or under the West Bridge. Expect this enforced Winter/Spring 2011.)

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A Transit Miami-Shout Out to La Carreta on Key Biscayne for putting up a new bicycle rack.  La Carreta is a popular pit stop for cyclists and on any given weekend you will find hundreds of cyclists refueling with pastelitos and coffee. Thank you La Carreta!

New Bicycle Rack at La Carreta on Key Biscayne

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Unfortunately, we here at Transit Miami were unable to attend the Cycling Town Hall meeting hosted by Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez.  If you were able to attend please use the comments section and let us know how it went. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

A special thanks to Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez, as well as the County Public Works Department, for holding this very important meeting.

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The below email was forwarded to Transit Miami this afternoon:

Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and I are hosting a cycling community meeting concerning the 25 cents set aside for safety improvements on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The meeting will be held on Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 6:30 PM at the Coral Gables Youth Center auditorium located at 400 Anastasia Avenue. Please pass this message along to members of the cycling community. Hope to see you there.

Ralph Cabrera

Commissioner

City of Coral Gables

Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez have a long track record of being very supportive of the cycling community.  I have personally seen Commissioner Ralph Carbrera on a bicycle wearing spandex. I believe Commissioner Gimenez used to be a roadie, but currently does not ride (we need to convince him to come out of retirement!).

Please tell, bring, and drag fellow cyclists to this meeting. The cycling constituency is getting stronger, but conditions for cyclists will only improve if meetings like these are well attended. Let’s make it happen.

Transit Miami received this email regarding Euclid Avenue from Gabrielle Redfern, on behalf of BASIC (Bicycle Activists for a Safe, Integrated City)

Another day, another bicycle facility on the chopping block in the City of Miami Beach.  Current plans call for dedicated bike lanes on this road when it gets reconstructed in the nearer future. Even with out the new curb and gutter that the avenue is programmed to get, this 70 foot behemoth of a local road could benefit today from a little TLC, in the form of a small coat of paint, say running down each side of the lanes of traffic to narrow the car roadway to slow traffic and make more room for bikes.  But no.  The neighbors will have none of it!

Long story short:  what say you?  If you cannot make it tomorrow, no worries.  This is just the first skirmish in what looks like a long war, and this battle will pay out in other conference rooms, and perhaps the Commission Chambers before all is said and done.  BASIC objects to all this plan revision in the City of Miami Beach that involves removal of bicycle facilities.”

The extra large lanes, with no bike lanes, currently encourage a speedway effect from the foot of the Macarthur to Lincoln Road.  Few lights, very residential, no trees, it is the perfect street to use in your car when traveling north south, avoiding Alton or even the scenic park-side Meridian. (If you never knew, and I blew it for the neighbors, I am sorry.)  Something needs to be done, that is certain. I spent much time riding it yesterday, and this road is ugly, unsafe and hot! And thank God plans are in the works to make it so much better.  But reconstruct a roadway, with 70 feet of ROW and not add dedicated bike lanes?  Bike lanes currently called for in the City’s own Master Plan?  That is what the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association plans to argue for in their streetscape sections before the committee on Wednesday. No bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.

To be fair, the neighborhood is proposing extra wide sidewalks they think will be good for sharing between pedestrians and bicycles.  However, we disagree on this, the nature and manner of providing for bicycles.  They see bicycles as recreation only.  BASIC demands bicycles be given equal attention to cars in the transportation grid.  We need a complete street that accommodates pedestrians, bicycles and cars.  In that order.  On that, the neighbors and I agree.  How we get there, well, that is another battle brewing….

So how do we meet them halfway?  (I pray daily to avoid war with folks I respect and admire).  In the hope we can come to common ground, BASIC proposes a street section that includes two foot swales in front of all properties; providing for 12-foot sidewalks, clear of signs and other obstructions; a five foot street-side swale for landscaping and signage; two, one way, 15 foot travel lanes, with sharrows, separated by a two foot landscaped median. Currently all properties program right up to the sidewalk.  Providing those landowners with two feet of green space running the length of their property will increase their property value.  It would make for a beautiful street, in our opinion.”

MIAMI BEACH MAYORS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE ON BIKEWAYS IN MIAMI BEACH

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2010 2:00 p.m. (although this item may be a time certain 3:00 p.m)

MAYOR’S CONFERENCE ROOM

FOURTH FLOOR MIAMI BEACH CITY HALL

666 17TH STREET

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA 33139

The good people over at Spokes ‘n’ Folks are reporting that a cyclist was struck and killed by a car last night in Coral Gables while riding with his two children. Luis Adolfo Meza was hit by a car at Segovia Street and Alhambra Circle. City Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, who visited the scene last night, said Meza was riding behind his two kids when they crossed. It is being reported that Mr. Meza ran a stop sign and was hit in this residential neighborhood. He was not wearing a helmet and did not have lights on his bicycle. No word if the driver was speeding.

Our condolences go out to the family.  This is a very sad accident for the entire family. Please be safe.

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