Are Miami’s proliferating pedestrian overpasses transforming the city into a hamster’s paradise?Cities should be built for people, not cars. It’s an irrefutable, almost cliché maxim that still, despite the seeming consensus around the notion, somehow gets lost in the city design and development process.
Greater Miami is a city whose incipient design and development occurred during the apex of the automobile era, an era which is slowly, but surely, dissipating. Our city’s auto-centric legacy thus predisposes planners and engineers to maintain that eroding model of spatial form and function.
The underlying fallacy comes from their failure to recognize the dynamism moving through the city, the revolutionary societal forces changing the way Miamians and metro-dwellers across the planet wish to live in, and interact with, their urban habitats.
Rather, these designers of dystopia look to the increasingly obsolete conditions of the past and — instead of embracing the change around them with innovative design solutions — seek to merely perpetuate the already expired status quo.
To our collective detriment, this status quo expresses itself with bipedal human beings relegated to the bottom of the mobility food chain. In Miami, and with a bit of irony, this demotion often manifests itself upward, where people wishing to get around on their own two feet are forced to ascend up to and move through so-called pedestrian overpasses.
In essence, though, these overpasses are really nothing short of hamster tunnels designed to accommodate and un-impede the movement of cars at the expense of people.
These overpasses reify the misguided mid-20th century notion that the automobile reigns supreme. All other modes of transport must make way for, and bow their heads to, the tyrannical king of the road.
Through these pedestrian overpasses, the built environment is effectively screaming at people who choose to use their own energy to get around the city: Step aside, petty pedestrians! Out of the way, bumbling bicyclists! The automobile is coming through!
These are not the messages we should be physically inscribing into the nature of our city. This is not the infrastructure needed to support a socially, economically, and ecologically thriving urban geography.
As our children and grandchildren inherit from us this little bit of Earth called Miami, they’ll be far more grateful to gain a livable place where they can enjoy the pleasures of the city on their own two feet at the ground level, rather than surrendering to the oppression of the automobile by scurrying through elevated mazes and tunnels.
You want to keep the streets safe for pedestrians? There’s only one real solution: Make the streets safe for pedestrians!
Be on the look-out for a follow-up article where TransitMiami looks at some of the broader social implications of building the proposed pedestrian overpass at US-1 and Mariposa in Coral Gables. Also, be sure to read TransitMiami’s previous piece on that particular proposal, written by TM writer and professional architect Jennifer Garcia.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words. This particular photo speaks to the state of pedestrian safety in Miami — beat-up and run-down!
According to Keith Lawler, the Brickell denizen who submitted this photo, this well-intended, yet seemingly ineffective, pedestrian safety signage is now, as of May 29, gone completely . . .
Something’s got to give . . .
As we described back in December 2012, the three models are:
Each comes with its own distinctive livery. (Note that there’s also a variant, predominantly yellow, livery for the “RING” model that can be seen in the original post.)
We also want to bring your attention to AnsaldoBredo’s spiffy little 3-minute computer-animated video giving a cordial (albeit far from riveting) view of how these potential new train cars might look on the inside.
SHIELD is the train model featured in the video . . . Have a look! Share your thoughts!
Ladies and gentlemen: We present to you an important, visionary opportunity to support the creation of not only the first private railway network linking Miami and Orlando via the All Aboard Florida initiative, but also a recreational trail along that same 230-mile stretch!
All Aboard Florida is the ambitious project intended to link Miami and the greater Southeast Florida region with Orlando and the greater Central Florida region. It’s something we at TransitMiami are particularly excited about, and, frankly, you should be too!
What’s even more exciting, though, is the vision being advanced by the non-profit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. With our (meaning the people’s) support, Rails-to-Trails hopes to make a small but significant modification to the All Aboard Florida railway plan: ADD A TRAIL!
That’s right, along with connecting Miami to Orlando with a much-needed railway, why not add a multi-use trail connecting these nodes (and everything in between) too?!
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is asking for our help in this regard with the following message:
Imagine traveling from Miami to Orlando by rail-trail!
It could happen, thanks to a new rail expansion project called All Aboard Florida. But your voice is needed to make sure rail-trail opportunities are included in the plan.
All Aboard Florida is a proposed rail connection between Miami and Orlando. This rail line will be America’s first privately built, privately maintained inter-city rail services since the creation of Amtrak.
The best part is that the 230-mile rail corridor also provides an excellent opportunity for trails alongside the railway.
Right now, the FRA is in the early stages preparing an environmental impact study of All Aboard Florida — and they’re accepting public comments through Wednesday, May 15. It’s the perfect time for you to speak out for the inclusion of rail-trails in the plan!
The window for submitting public commentary on this possibility is about to be closed, so be sure to submit your message of support for the addition of a trail alongside the All Aboard Florida railway as soon as possible.
Friend of TransitMiami.com and the Purple Line | U+Transit pop-up installation, Leah Weston, put together a fantastic map that puts Miami’s rail transit into national and international perspective. Have a look!
As Weston says, “the image speaks for itself”.
Go ahead and click on it. The enlarged version is much better.
A busy holiday weekend reminds me that Miami is trying to be a “real” city – but is it yet? I’m sure we all wish it could be as easy as a Pinocchio fairytale of making a wooden puppet into a “real” boy with just the touch of a wand. But in reality, our city needs a whole lot more than just some magic stick. We host all these weekend events – Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Miami Boat Show, and other President’s Day weekend activities – to showcase our Magic City to our visitors. And yet what we end up with are packed busses with long headways; clogged highways; and other congestions making our city, well, far from magical to our visitors.
Its not the events, its the experience. Despite a little rain on Friday and Saturday, this weekend’s events were a success – attracting people from all over the state and country. But how was their time actually in our city? Special events are a reason to come to the city, but the experience is what attracts people back. We need to offer reliable transportation options so they can really experience all of Miami.
Its not the funding amount, its the investment. We all know times are rough, and money is tight. But yet its obvious that we are still focusing our funds into tired highway transportation that literally gets us no where. Of course we don’t have the funds to plop NYC subway system on Miami – but we can start our smart investments incrementally.
Its not the mode, its the freedom of choice. Transportation, transit, transport, or whatever you want to call it is a broad category – as are the choices it should provide. The priority shouldn’t be on one particular mode of transportation, rather a priority to provide a wide variety of options. Its about the freedom of choosing bus, rail, bike, car, walk, skate, etc to get around.
Not that we need to put up a false front for our brave visitors on special weekends, nor care more for our tourism than our own livability – because we already know these are facts that we have been discussing for years. Its about revisiting our city from another viewpoint. Just think how many visitors we could transport between Miami Beach and downtown if Baylink existed; or the improved bus experience if we had shorter headways at least on event weekends; or the number of DecoBike rentals if the M-Path was cohesive; or the successful storefronts and valuable real estate if the streets were more pedestrian-friendly.
Is Miami ready to be a “real” city and cradle a wide-mix of diverse groups. If so, lets see the real investment in multiple transportation options – or where is that fairy with the magic wand when you need her?
Until the 1960s Miami’s African American teens attended high school at segregated facilities. Join the History Miami community for a discussion featuring students from Miami’s five historically black high schools. Learn how they experienced segregation and how integration impacted their lives and their schools.
Saturday, February 23 @ 2:00pm
101 West Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33130
FREE TO THE PUBLIC
- Dr. Wilbert “Tee” Holloway, Northwestern HS, Class of 1966
- Dr. Mona Bethel Jackson, George Washington Carver Sr. HS, Class of 1965
- Ms. Frederica Simmons Brown, Booker T. Washington HS, Class of 1950
- Ms. Wesley Dallas, Mays HS, Class of 1966
- Mr. Alvin Miller, North Dade Sr. HS, Class of 1964
TransitMiami can’t help but give a great neighborhood bar, The DRB, some unsolicited praise for its ingenious selection of an otherwise neglected downtown office building for its new location.
The building in question — situated on NE 5th Street and 1st Ave. — is surrounded almost exclusively by institutional land-uses (occupied by, e.g., federal courthouses, a community college, a church, etc.) and lots of shamefully vacant and/or completely undeveloped, prime-for-mixed-use-development downtown parcels.
When New Urbanists and other community design-oriented folks refer to the evils of homogeneous land-use configurations, the image most typically invoked is that of miles upon miles of single-family residential land-use. Indeed, monolithic residential land-use embodies the notion of ‘urban sprawl’.
Elected officials, planners, and developers must also recognize, though, that large areas of homogeneous institutional land-use in the downtown core is at least as toxic (if not more so) for our city as sprawling single-family cookie-cutter houses along the periphery.
We need more transit-oriented development (TOD) in Miami’s de facto government-institution district. That area already has a great combination of Metrorail, Metromover, and Metrobus access. We must augment this healthy transportation configuration with a healthier land-use configuration.
And we must certainly continue to push our elected officials to expand the public transit network. However, we must also push them to better incentivize more commercial in-fill near the highly viable sections of public transit we already have, especially in downtown. It’s the hustle and bustle of downtown that build’s a city’s personality.
Kudos to you, Democratic Republic of Beer, for selecting a site so wonderfully accessible by transit, foot, and bicycle. Now all those bureaucrats and college students have a nice neighborhood spot in which to enjoy one of your exotic specialty brews from one of the corners of the globe.
(This author recommends the Sri Lankan Lion Stout.)
The Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is studying the feasibility of establishing a “Bike Center” facility in downtown Miami.
It would provide secure bike parking, showers and a locker room, bike repair, and retail. As recognized by the DDA, “Other cities across the nation have built these bike hubs to help those seeking an alternative to driving.”
Sound appealing? It does to us! Please take the Miami DDA’s Bike Center Survey as soon as possible to let them know how you too think a downtown Miami Bike Center would be great for our city!
Here are a couple pics of bike centers in Chicago and Washington DC.
Here’s a quick factsheet the DDA put together describing what bike commuter stations are, as well as a few of the many benefits they bring.
Don’t forget to take the survey, especially all the folks who live and/or work in downtown.
The Bear Cut Bridge connects the island Village of Key Biscayne to the Miami mainland via the Rickenbacker Causeway.
The following public message just came to TransitMiami from Jimmy Martincak, the Road & Bridge Maintenance Superintendent for Miami-Dade County’s Department of Public Works & Waste Management:
Emergency lane restrictions have been implemented on the Bear Cut Bridge along the Rickenbacker Causeway. The Public Works and Waste Management Department is routing vehicular traffic in a counter flow manner on two lanes of the current eastbound portion of the bridge (toward Key Biscayne).
One lane will be used for eastbound vehicular traffic and the other will be used for westbound vehicular traffic (leaving Key Biscayne). This will reduce traffic flow to one vehicular lane in each direction over the Bear Cut Bridge.
Eastbound bicyclists in the bike lane are being directed onto the off road path. Westbound bicyclists in the westbound bike lane are unaffected [emphasis added].
Should you have any questions or concerns, kindly contact our office.
Thank You, Jimmy
James Martincak, Road & Bridge Maintenance Superintendent
Miami-Dade County – Public Works And Waste Management
4299 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, Florida – 33149
Be sure to contact Mr. Martincak with your thoughts on the matter.
Will 2012 be regarded as the year Critical Mass penetrated Miami’s mainstream culture?
There’s no denying it, ladies and gentlemen: The monthly assemblage of what is now consistently 1000-2000 cyclists for Miami’s Critical Mass has hit, or is at least beginning to hit, the mainstream.
Yes, of course, we have the brouhaha generated by certain celebrity athletes’ participation at recent rides. If you’ve missed it, here’s just one tiny sample of the coverage of recent Critical Mass appearances by the likes of basketball idols Dwayne Wade and Lebron James.
As with all cities, but with Miami in particular, the presence of high-profile figures makes things buzz just a bit more loudly and brightly. Their presence has undeniably elevated the event’s public profile in a positive way. Thank you, basketball superheros!
As a quick aside, though, in the opinion of this humble author, if we wish to see these guys at future rides — which would be great for the Miami biking community — we should probably not hound them with fanatical human-worshiping behavior. Let them embrace the ride in its raw, unadulterated-by-celebrity-fixation glory like any other Miamian.
Twenty-twelve was critical for Critical Mass in ways that go beyond the mere presence of famous athletes, though. Most importantly, the past year saw a virtually exponential increase in ridership.
I don’t have any solid data (does anyone?), but there’s a distinct impression that the number of riders averaged around 500 in 2011 while averaging around 1000 in 2012 (plus or minus a few hundred, depending on the month, weather, and maybe even the alignment of the planets — who knows!?)
What’s important to understand, though, is that Critical Mass reached a certain threshold in 2012. Throughout the course of the past year, word has spread farther and wider than ever before on the wonders and excitement of this cherished celebration of cycling and community.
It’s penetrated beyond the sub-cultural circles of fixie-riding hipsters; latex-wearing roadies; cruiser-riding beach bums; blinged-out, low-riding gangsters; your grandma and grandpa; and all other bicycle geek squads of various sorts (including nerdy blog writers).
Indeed, it’s now even reached the radars of Miami’s basketball legends-in-the-making.
The point, however, is that Critical Mass brought D-Wade and King James; they didn’t bring Critical Mass.
Dare I also go so far as to posit that in 2012 Critical Mass even served diplomatic purposes by further consolidating bilateral relations between the United States and at least one of its European allies?
We all remember the epic April 2012 Go Dutch! Orange Bike-In Festival!, celebrating Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) and sponsored by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
As with all Miami Critical Mass rides, this righteous event was unofficially organized by the The Miami Bike Scene (at least to the extent that such an inherently organic and self-regulating event can even be ‘organized’ at all).
There are also other qualities marking the Critical Mass rides of 2012 from all previous years. In the preceding years, and even in early 2012, Critical Massers would convene directly beneath the Metrorail and Metromover tracks at the Government Center transit station, where the administrative offices of Miami-Dade County are located.
Now, however, the rendezvous point has reached, well, a critical mass. We now regularly occupy not only the ground floor of Government Center station, but also nearly all of NW 1st Street from NW 1st to 2nd Avenues, with pockets of riders filling other adjacent areas as well. The meeting spot has now become the meeting block.
The city’s public safety crews are now much more sympathetic and cooperative with the event too. I personally remember my earliest masses when I would hear rumors floating through the crowds that cops were vigilantly ‘giving citations’ and that riders needed to ‘watch out for cops’.
Such hearsay, whether legitimate or not, cast a sort of perceived antagonism between cops and mass cyclists. These days, though, I don’t hear any of that nonsense, and I’m glad for it too! In fact, the only interaction I witnessed between the cyclists and cops at this past weekend’s ride was quite heartening: patrol cars waited patiently for 10-15 minutes for the bulk of the mass to get through.
Also, as was recently reported on an extremely prestigious, high-profile news source, our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man was seen protecting Critical Mass riders as they made their way through the city.
With public defenders like Spidey (or at least a cool firefighter dude dressed-up like him) climbing street-lamps to demonstrate their good-will toward cyclists, one finds it difficult to deny that Critical Mass has indeed made it to the big leagues of Miami’s collective consciousness.
So, our dearly beloved readers, we ask you to give us your reflections on the past year of Critical Mass . . .
Will you remember 2012 as the year Miami’s Critical Mass went mainstream?
Whatever the case, while 2012 was unquestionably a great year for Miami Critical Mass, I’m pretty sure it’s only going to get better in 2013.
Happy New Year, Miami!
Are you a beginning cyclist and think Critical Mass is only for hard-core riders?
If so, you’re absolutely wrong. Critical Mass is for riders of all skill-levels and all ages. There is no club or organization that runs the show. There are no membership fees or special invitations required. In fact, if you’re looking for an invitation, here it is: You are invited!
We meet the last Friday of every month at Government Center Metrorail station — you won’t miss us. Arrive between 6:45 and 7:00pm. We leave at 7:15pm. Check out The Miami Bike Scene for details on the monthly ride.
There is, however, one group who we strongly advise NOT to attend Critical Mass: super villains and bad guys!
That’s right, you read it correctly, all you crime-seeking punks! Want to test your luck? Ha! Well, I’d give it a second thought if I were you.
‘Why’, you ask? I’ll tell you why! As a matter of fact, I’ll show you why!
Dear City of Coral Gables,
I love you. You truly are the City Beautiful, a title and reputation well deserved and well maintained. (Well, at least when you’re not knocking out your own teeth by forfeiting precious building space for a parking lot).
Despite my deep affection for you, you lovely gem of a greater Miami municipality, you disappointed me today.
I love riding along your M-Path curves, but I will not tolerate one of your very own Public Works Department employees coming between us like this.
If this is going to work out, you’ll have to promise that you’ll never again allow one of your city employees to violate our relationship. I better not encounter a motor vehicle on the M-Path ever again, especially not one bearing your city seal and colors.
I strongly doubt you’d allow one of these guys to block one of your motor vehicle lanes. Who do you think you are allowing them to block a multi-use path?!
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