Currently viewing the tag: "Miami"

The following post comes from a new TransitMiami-partner blog initiative I started last month: Miami Geographic.

The Editors here at TM were kind enough to give this new Miami Geographic initiative a boost and permit me to re-post the article here.

One can find the original article “Understanding Miami’s Metrorail Land-Use” on Miami Geographic.

Thanks for the support, TM!

Miami’s rapid transit Metrorail train system currently consists of 23 stations running along a nearly 25-mile elevated, heavy-rail, dual-track corridor.

Opened in May 1984, Metrorail is operated and maintained by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT), an agency of the Miami-Dade County administration.

Miami's Metrorail System and Traversed Municipalities. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.
Miami’s Metrorail System and Traversed Municipalities. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

With Metrorail turning 30 years old this very month, Miami Geographic will be celebrating the anniversary with an in-depth look at how the system works.

Toward that end, I’ll be starting here today with what is arguably the single-most important feature of any major public transportation system: land-use.

Land-use is simply the economic purpose for which land resources are utilized, or, stated even more simply, the way humans use land.

Land-use represents the geographic anatomy of a region. It determines the spatial structure and performance of human settlement systems.

To understand the way Miami’s Metrorail train system works — in terms of its capacity to move people throughout the metro region and connect them to the various destinations required for them to make a living and sustain their lives — it’s critical to understand the land-use configurations surrounding and served by the train corridor.

We’re talking about places where people live, work, and play.

A bit more specifically, we’re talking about origins and destinations like homes; places of employment; schools, colleges, and universities; grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and other retail locations; churches, mosques, and temples; parks, open-, and green-spaces; sites of extraction, manufacturing, production, and waste management and disposal; and government buildings such as city and county halls, courthouses, and other facilities administering public services; etc.

So let’s imagine that the Metrorail transit corridor is actually a large artery for distributing the life blood of the city (people) to Miami’s organs (the city’s various land-use amenities), each of which contributes to the system’s urban metabolism.

Which land-use organs are most supported by flow of people through the Metrorail artery? How well connected are the different organs of the urban system?

Before we jump right into it, let’s quickly go over how Metrorail land-use was assessed.

I delineated 1-mile areas surrounding each of the 23 Metrorail stations in two ways:

  1. Euclidean (“As-the-Pigeon-Flies”) Area: regularly-shaped circular areas defined by Euclidean, absolute distances from each Metrorail station, uninterrupted by the on-the-ground impedance realities like disconnected streets, water bodies, and buildings, etc.; in other words, areas defined by distances “as-the-pigeon-flies”
    Metrorail System 1-Mile Euclidean ("As-the-Pigeon-Flies") 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.
  2. Network (“Along-the-Street-Network”) Area: irregularly-shaped areas defined by the design and pattern of a particular network, in this case the street network, which more accurately reflects on-the-ground impedance realities like disconnected streets, water bodies, and buildings, etc.; in other words, areas defined by distances “along-the-street-network”
    Metrorail System 1-Mile Network ("Along-the-Street-Network") 2014 Land-Use Corridor. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

The graphic below illustrates the very different geometric outcomes produced when each of these two area-delineation methods is employed. Metrorail’s Government Center Station, in the heart of downtown Miami, was used in this example.

1-Mile Euclidean ("As-the-Pigeon-Flies") & 1-Mile Network ("Along-the-Street-Network") Area-Delineation Methods. Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Land-uses in Miami-Dade County were reclassified into the following 11 generalized classes:

  • Agricultural
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Institutional
  • Multi-Family Residential
  • Office
  • Park
  • Single-Family Residential
  • Transportation & Utilities
  • Undeveloped
  • Water

Land-use data for 2014 came from the Miami-Dade County Land-Use Management Application (LUMA), accessible from the Miami-Dade County GIS Self Services platform.

Within each of the two 1-mile area-delineation types – as-the-pigeon-flies and along-the-street-network – the proportion of each of these 11 land-use classes was calculated.

In the station-by-station descriptions below, I make reference only to the along-the-street-network land-use proportions, although those for the as-the-pigeon-flies areas are reported in the maps too.

Let’s start at Metrorail’s southern terminus.

Dadeland South is the second busiest station after Government Center. The Datran office complex, along with the other offices in the downtown Dadeland area, is represented within the 4.9% of office use. Dadeland Mall, as well as the various other retail and restaurant sites within downtown Dadeland, account for the 13.3% in commercial use. Single-family residential dominates at 31.9%, while multi-family apartments and condominiums occupy 15.6%.

Dadeland South Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Dadeland North station shares in much of the same land-use amenities as its moniker-sharing counterpart to the south. However, the share of single-family residences is nearly 10% greater. Multi-family residences correspondingly decrease, and despite the presence of the Dadeland Station shopping center, commercial use remains slightly less in Dadeland North than in Dadeland South. Interesting to note is the small, less than 1% agricultural land-use here, as well as the slightly larger proportion of undeveloped parcels.

Dadeland North Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

South Miami station is surrounded predominantly by residential use: 37.7% for single- and 7.9% for multi-family. The City of South Miami’s downtown business core is found just across US-1 from the South Miami Metrorail station. Boutique clothing shops, pleasant restaurants offering a range of tastes and price-points, and some popular bars are found adjacent to the Sunset Place open-air shopping center. Even with all that, commercial use comes in at just 6.6%. Offices amount to 4.6%. Assessed at both absolute (as-the-pigeon-flies) or relative (along-the-street-network) 1-mile distances, South Miami station includes the western edge of the City of Coral Gables, including a sizable chunk of the University of Miami’s primary campus. That, along with some public, charter, and private schools in area, account for the more than 10% of institutional use.

South Miami Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

University station is dominated by two land-use types: residential (especially that of the single-family variety: 33.2%) and institutional (primarily for the University, schools, and religious buildings).

University Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Douglas Road probably has one of the best distributions of land-uses of any Metrorail station south of the downtown core. This part of the urban region, where the City of Miami meets the City of Coral Gables, is one of its most transformative pockets. It’s dynamism comes not only from its land-use mix, but also the rapidly transforming real estate and streetscape realities. Construction crews are actively building new condominium/apartment buildings in the area. Currently undeveloped land sits at 3.3%, but that number will be reduced significantly within this year. The immediate proximity to the ultra-luxurious, elite-endorsing Village of Merrick Park outdoor shopping mall has made the neighborhood an increasingly attractive site of investment. This commercial plaza hosts, among other high-end shops, The Collection, where the super-rich can purchase Ferraris and Aston Martins. Commercial accounts for 5.2% of the land-use composition. Coral Gables Senior High School is also within the vicinity, accounting for part of the the 6.9% of institutional use.

Douglas Road Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Coconut Grove station is over 55% residential (single-family: 29.5%; multi-family: 27.4%). The near even split of single- versus multi-family homes is remarkable to witness along SW 27th Avenue. On the ground, one can find residential structures on both sides of the avenue. However, on the west side of SW 27th, there are large numbers of one- and two-story duplexes. The City of Miami’s City Hall on Dinner Key is just within the as-the-pigeon-flies 1-mile area, making the share of institutional use at that geographic unit over 1%  higher than for the network-based unit.

Coconut Grove Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Vizcaya station is adjacent to the single-family neighborhood known as The Roads, the historic mansions along the bay and in south Brickell, some high-rise condos, the soon-to-be-relocated Miami Museum of Science, gorgeous City of Miami Alice Wainwright park and, of course, lovely and historic Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

Vizcaya Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Brickell is one of three Metrorail stations serving the downtown core of the Miami megalopolis (the others being Government Center and Overtown). Don’t be too alarmed by that 6.0% of undeveloped land; much of that is actively being eaten-away by the rising, city-redefining juggernaut that is to be Brickell City Center. Multi-family, office, and commercial space will increase as the phased project continues to materialize before our eyes (and to our collective wonderment). With Brickell serving as the financial business district of our urban core, it’s no surprise to find significant commercial (9.6%) and office (7.8%) space. It’s an increasingly residential area too, with nearly 20% dedicated to condos and apartments, comprising the largest land-use class in the area: multi-family residential.

Brickell Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Government Center is the station most people know, even those who have rarely ridden the train, if ever. As its name suggests, it’s where one can find, well, government. The Miami-Dade County courthouse is there; the US Federal District Courthouse is there; lots of a little court houses and related legal agencies are in the vicinity; all of these government or quasi-government buildings account for the 8.8% of institutional use. Requiring comment is the nearly 10% of undeveloped land in the area, in this, the very heart of the Miami region, the core of the core. That amount of undeveloped land in the center of one of the United States’ most important cities, and perhaps the most important city for intra-hemispheric relations, is astounding. However, just as with the current and on-going transformation of undeveloped land surrounding the Brickell station just to the south, most of that surrounding Government Center station is already, or will soon be, undergoing major development.

Government Center Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Overtown is the third Metrorail station offering passage to and from Miami’s core downtown, where the distribution of land-uses is about as equal as you’ll find anywhere else along the system. Here institutional use (11.3%) occupies slightly more space than multi-family residential (9.5%) and commercial (8.0%). Refreshingly, parks become a bit more significant (6.9%), but one wonders if that’s a sufficient amount of public recreation and leisure space for the heart of downtown. For the first time since moving our way through the Metrorail corridor, we start to see Miami’s industrial space (3.0%) emerge.

Overtown Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Culmer is an under-utilized gem of a station. Its land-use configuration is also dominated by institutional use (20.9%), most of it being the various medical-educational facilities comprising the de facto and increasingly formalized Miami Health District.

Culmer Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Civic Center station defines the center of, and is most readily associated with, the Health District. The Health District hosts such staples of the community health and local medical industries as Miami-Dade County-operated Jackson Memorial Hospital, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, as well as the UM-owned “UHealth” brand of medical care, not to mention the UM Life Science & Technology complex to further advance UM’s aggressive pursuit of a medical and biotechnology empire. The Veteran’s Affairs (VA) hospital as well as the Miami-Dade College Medical campus are also both located in the Health District, among many other health-related institutes and organizations. Important to note about the Health District is that it also serves as a secondary government and legal district, second only to that found nearest to Government Center station. Still, significant multi-family units dominate the spaces surrounding these institutional uses. The industrial side of Miami — in the form of solid waste processing, factories, and especially fruit import warehouses — begins to become more apparent as one moves toward the Santa Clara station to the north.

Civic Center Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Santa Clara station can be used to access the industrial sector of Allapattah. This station also seems to be the preference for many Miami-Dade Medical Students whose campus is found just off of NW 20th Street.

Santa Clara Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Allapattah station is a Metrorail system node serving the residential heart of the Allapattah neighborhood, whose single- versus multi-family residential split (24.1% versus 18.4%) isn’t too drastic. Standard Miami, along-the-arterial commercial use applies; in this case accounting for 5.7%.

Allapattah Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Earlington Heights station is surrounded by a land-use arrangement very similar to that of Allapattah. Notable, though, is the relatively high percentage of undeveloped space: 5.5%.

Earlington Heights Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Brownsville station has an even greater excess of undeveloped land: 7.7%. Continuing with the line of medical analogies: one questions whether an urban system is as healthy as can be when significant pockets of it’s space are left unproductive, effectively contributing nothing to the well-being of the system. Undeveloped land so near the heart of the city, and so well connected (via the Metrorail artery) to other urban organs, virtually begs for investment (either public, in the form of say, parks, or private, in the form of business and economic stimulation).

Brownsville Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. station is where we begin to see more clearly that the notion of a purely service sector economy for supposedly post-industrial Miami is a myth. Industrial land-use occupies an even 12% at the 1-mile network unit. The amount of undeveloped space here is also striking at 7.8%.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Northside station is just over 20% industrial. Another fifth is allocated for commercial use (9.0%) and to, well, essentially nothing (in the form of undeveloped land: 10.%). Yet another fifth is allocated for the people living in the single-family homes (21.8%) in the area.

Northside Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Tri-Rail station is surrounded by industrial (21.1%) and single-family residential (29.6%).

Tri-Rail Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Hialeah station is located just south of the Hialeah Park Race Track & Casino, which accounts for the bulk of the 15.6% commercial use in the area. Otherwise, it’s mostly single- and multi-family residential (24.5% and 18.4% respectively). Industrial use (5.1%) remains significant up in these northwest reaches of the Metrorail line.

Hialeah Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Okeechobee station is surrounded by still more industrial use (18.1%) and the standard Hialeah mix of single- and multi-family residences.

Okeechobee Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Palmetto station brings us to the end of the Metrorail line, at least the end of the Green Line. Industrial use is overwhelmingly highest here at a whopping 49.6%.

Palmetto Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

Miami International Airport station, the newest station in the Metrorail system, is dominated by transportation-based uses of land (i.e., the Miami International Airport and associated facilities). There is indeed a significant percentage of greenspace, which is classified as park (15.5%), but its important to note that this open greenspace is actually a large golf course and country club.

Miami International Airport Metrorail Station Land-Use, 2014. Data Source: MDC Land-Use Management Application (LUMA). Map Source: Matthew Toro. 2014.

So what can be taken away from these maps and pie charts?

Well, for one, there is a strikingly high percentage of single-family residential space surrounding many Metrorail stations, especially those south of the urban core.

There’s also a less-than-expected share of commercial use immediately surrounding the region’s primary rapid transit train system.

Park space isn’t as abundant, or accessible via Metrorail, as one would expect in a city as predisposed to outdoor recreational activities as Miami.

As the Metrorail system deviates from its primary north-south orientation through Miami and begins it’s more east-west movement in the northern sections of the line, we see very high percentages of industrial land-use, not the type of use that is most amenable to facilitating the movement people through an urban system to connect them to their destinations.

While industrial spaces can and do serve as important sites of employment, they don’t generate the necessary flow of people needed to optimize major investments in public transportation infrastructure.

The Transportation & Utilities category of land-use is consistently the most, or among the most, dominant land-use classe surrounding each of the 23 Metrorail stations. This is reflective, of course, of the fact that the Metrorail train system is itself categorized as a transportation-based use of land.

However, it also reflects an undeniable land-use reality for the entire region, not just those areas surrounding Metrorail: streets (i.e., impermeable paved roadways, designed, in Miami’s case, primarily for automobiles) consume a disproportionate amount of all space in Miami’s land-use mosaic.

Again, thanks goes to TransitMiami Editors for permission to re-post this piece from my new partner blog Miami Geographic!

- Matthew Toro

Today we’re looking at those spaces that breathe life into a city: parks.

Park Land-Use in Miami-Dade County, Florida -- 2013. Source: Matthew Toro

Park Land-Use in Miami-Dade County, Florida — 2013. Source: Matthew Toro

I kept it simple: only beaches, municipal-operated, and county-operated parks were included. These criteria effectively excluded the following uses, which are part of Miami-Dade County’s default “Park” category:

  • Recreational Vehicle Parks/Camps
  • Private Recreational Facilities Associated with Private Residential Developments
  • Private Recreational Camps/Areas
  • Cemeteries
  • Golf courses
  • Other Nature Preserves and Protected Areas, which, for the most part, are completely inaccessible for public recreation/leisure
  • Marinas

And, significantly, this map doesn’t show Biscayne National Park, our local, primarily aquatic national park covering the bulk of central and southern Biscayne Bay.

What do you think? Where are more parks needed in our community?

The South Florida Community Development Coalition will be hosting a discussion on

Complete Streets in Miami

Thursday, March 6

8:30am -10:30am

Complete Streets

The speaker line-up for the event should make for some good, substantive discussion. They’ve got:

  • Jose (“Pepe”) Diaz, Miami-Dade County Commissioner,
  • Cesar Garcia-Pons, Sr. Manager, Planning + Design at Miami Downtown Development Authority,
  • Tony Garcia, Principal at the Street Plans Collaborate and former TransitMiami.com Editor,
  • Joseph Kohl, Principal at Dover, Kohl & Partners, and
  • Marta Viciedo, Transportation Action Committee (TrAC) Chairperson

There is a fee ($20 in advance, $25 at the door) to attend, but the SFCDC will be using those proceeds for streetscape improvement projects, including tree planting and bike rack installation, on the 79th Street Corridor — a worthwhile investment of your Andrew Jackson.

Be sure to register for the event through the official registration page.

Miamians are taking to the streets on bicycles as they once did prior to the automobile era. Our street spaces and corresponding roadway culture aren’t changing as quickly as they should. This contradiction, marking the growing pains of an evolving transportation culture, will continue to result in unnecessary frustration, violence, and misery. . . . All the more reason to ride more: to make the change come faster.

TransitMiami would like to introduce you to our friend Emily. We wish it were under better circumstances though . . .

While riding her bicycle for her basic transportation needs, Emily Peters had a run-in with a car door. Photograph by Blair Butterfield Jan. 27, 2014.

While riding her bicycle for her basic transportation needs, Emily Peters had a run-in with a car door. Photograph by Blair Butterfield Jan. 27, 2014.

You see, Emily is one of those intrepid Miamians who — like an increasing number of Miamians across every neighborhood in the metro region — prefers the invigorating freedom of the bicycle to move around the city. Cycling is Emily’s transportation mode of choice.

That’s great news, of course; something to be celebrated.

Apart from her significantly reduced carbon footprint and her heightened physical and mental well-being, Emily’s choice to use her bicycle as her primary means of transport is also advancing a gradual transformation of our roadway culture.

As a practitioner of regular active transportation, Emily is helping to re-humanize an auto-centric Miami whose residents exploit the relative anonymity of their motorized metal boxes to manifest road rage and recklessness with virtual impunity. She’s contributing to the much-needed, yet ever-so-gradual, cultural transformation toward a shared, safer, more just roadway reality.

The more cyclists take to the streets for everyday transportation, the more motorists become accustomed to modifying their behaviors to honor cyclists’ incontrovertible and equal rights to the road. Likewise, the more cycling becomes a preferred mode of intra-urban transport, and a regular, everyday feature of social life, the more cyclists become conscious of and practice the behaviors expected of legitimate co-occupants of the road.

Indeed, it takes two to do the transportation tango.

And, of course, the more experience motorists and cyclists have occupying the same, or adjacent, public street space, the more they will learn how to operate their respective legal street vehicles in ways that minimize the incessant collisions, casualties, destruction, and death that have somehow morphed into ordinary conditions on our streets.

How exactly did this happen? Who knows, just another day in the auto-centric prison we've built for ourselves. Source: Martin County, FL Sheriff Office.

How exactly did this happen? Who knows, just another day in the auto-centric geography we’ve created for ourselves. Source: Martin County, FL Sheriff Office.

This cultural shift is one that will take place over several years. Just how many, though, is up to us.

It’s no secret: Miami has a long way to go before a truly multi-modal transportation ethos becomes the norm.

Any delay in the inevitable metamorphosis is due partially to the rate of change in Miami’s physical environment (i.e., its land-use configurations, street layouts, diversity of infrastructural forms, etc.) being slower than the speed with which Miamians themselves are demanding that change.

So what happens when some of the population starts to use its environment in more progressive ways than the environment (and others who occupy it) are currently conditioned for? Well, bad things can sometimes happen. The community as a whole suffers from growing pains.

Take our friend Emily, for example. . . .

Emily was a recent victim of a painful dooring accident. These sorts of accidents mark an immature multi-modal transportation landscape. Photograph by Blair Butterfield Jan. 27, 2014.

Emily was a recent victim of a painful dooring accident. These sorts of accidents mark an immature, underdeveloped multi-modal transportation landscape. Photograph by Blair Butterfield Jan. 27, 2014.

On a beautiful Miami afternoon a week and a half ago, Emily was riding her bike through Little Haiti (near NW 2nd Ave and 54th Street), near Miami’s Upper Eastside. She was on her way from a business meeting to another appointment.

A regular cyclist-for-transportation, Emily knows the rules of the road. She was riding on the right side of the right-most lane. She is confident riding alongside motor vehicle traffic and understands the importance of also riding as traffic.

Emily’s knowledge still wasn’t enough for her to avoid what is among every urban cyclist’s worst fears: getting doored by a parked car.

Depending on the speed, intensity of impact, angle, and degree of propulsion, getting doored can be fatal. Image source: City of Milwalkee (http://city.milwaukee.gov/).

Depending on the speed, intensity of impact, angle, and degree of propulsion, getting doored can be fatal. Image source: City of Milwalkee (http://city.milwaukee.gov/).

Photography by Blair Butterfield Jan. 27, 2014.

Photography by Blair Butterfield Jan. 27, 2014.

In Emily’s own words:

 I was riding at a leisurely pace and enjoying the beauties of the day and the neighborhood.

I suddenly notice the car door to my right begin to open, so I swerved and said, “Whoa!” to vocalize my presence in hopes that the person behind that door would stop opening their door.

For a split second I thought I was beyond danger of impact, but the door kept opening and it hit my bike pedal. I knew I was going down, and I had the strangest feeling of full acceptance of the moment. In the next split second I saw the white line of paint on the road up close in my left eye.

My cheek hit the pitted pavement with a disgusting, sliding scrape and my sternum impacted on my handlebars which had been torqued all the way backwards. My body rolled in front of my bike and my instincts brought me upright.

The time-warp of the crash stopped; my surroundings started to come into perspective and as I vocalized my trauma. The wind was knocked out of me, but I hadn’t yet figured out that my sternum had been impacted.

I was literally singing a strange song of keening for the sorrow my body felt from this violation and at the same time singing for the glory and gratitude of survival and consciousness.

In all fairness, one could argue that Emily committed one of Transportation Alternatives nine “rookie mistakes” by allowing herself to get doored. She should have kept a greater distance from the cars parked alongside the road, the argument goes. A truly experienced urban cyclist doesn’t make such careless and self-damaging mistakes.

Perhaps . . . but we cannot overlook the errors of the inadvertent door-assaulter either. . . . There was clearly a lack of attentiveness and proper protocol on the driver’s part too.

Who parks a car on a major arterial road just outside the urban core without first checking around for on-coming traffic prior to swinging open the door?

Motorists and bicyclists both have a responsibility for practicing proper roadway behaviors and etiquette.

Motorists and bicyclists both have a responsibility for practicing proper roadway behaviors and etiquette.

It’s hard to really to lay blame here. And my point is that it is pointless at this stage to even try.

The whole blaming-the-motorist-versus-the-cyclist discourse only exacerbates the animosity that is so easily agitated between the cycling and car-driving communities. The irony is that they’re really the same community. Cyclists are drivers too, and vice versa.

At this stage in Miami’s development trajectory, our efforts should be focused on pushing our leaders to ask one question: How can we change the transportation environment in ways that will minimize troubling encounters like this?

Photograph by Blair Butterfield Jan. 27, 2014.

Photograph by Blair Butterfield Jan. 27, 2014.

We can start by creating physical street conditions that encourage more cyclists onto the streets, where they belong, operating as standard street vehicles.

Show me a city where the monopoly of the automobile has been dismantled and I’ll show you a city where everybody’s transportation consciousness is elevated.

Best wishes on your recovery, Emily.

We’ll see you out there in our city (slowly, and sometimes painfully) advancing a more just transportation culture by riding on our streets as you should, even if the streets themselves aren’t quite ready for us.

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Are Miami’s proliferating pedestrian overpasses transforming the city into a hamster’s paradise?

Hamster_Tunnels_Concept__Juan_Navarro_20130601

The more we bow our heads in submission to the automobile, the more we lose our city … the more we lose our humanity.
[TransitMiami is hugely grateful to the incredibly talented Mr. Juan Navarro for contributing his artwork to this piece. Thank you, Juan!]

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.

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You may pass, you pedestrian peon, but only after ascending to the tunnel above, traversing through the cage, and descending yet again. Then, and only then, may you cross the street.

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This wasteful, massive piece of infrastructure makes sense only after you’ve been indoctrinated by the dogma that cars take precedent over people. Pedestrian overpass at US-1 and Douglas Road (SW 37th Avenue), between the City of Miami and City of Coral Gables.

20130602_134354

Is this the sense of “security” we wish to give to our children? In order to simply cross a street, young child, you must seek refuge in the cage above the unbridled auto traffic below!

Trapped_in_the_Douglas_Road_Cage_20130603

Inside the pedestrian/hamster cage at US-1 and Douglas Road (SW 37th Avenue), between the City of Miami and City of Coral Gables, on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

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!

A relatively complex pedestrian overpass (Coral Way / SW 24th Street & the Palmetto / 826 Highway). In addition to human-sized hamsters, maximum security prisoners would feel right at home.

Apart from the monstrosities in the City of Hialeah, this is one of the more complex hamster tunnels in unincorporated Miami-Dade County (Coral Way & the SR 826 Highway). It evokes scenes from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

Up, up, up, little hamster! Up  and around, around and up, across and over, down and around, down and around! You made it!

Up, up, up, little hamster! Up and around, around and up, across and over, down and around, down and around! You made it!

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.

The overpass at Vizcaya is one of the few warranted ones. A collective sigh of sympathy is nonetheless breathed for that poor cleaning woman tasked with cleaning this hamster path.

The overpass at Vizcaya is one of the few warranted ones. A collective sigh of sympathy is nonetheless breathed for that poor cleaning woman tasked with cleaning this hamster path.

Through the tunnel you go, little hamsters. While this particular tunnel actually makes sense (because it crosses the point where US-1 turns into I-95, at Vizcaya Metrorail Station), these ped overpasses should be very few and far between.

Through the tunnel you go, little hamsters. While this particular tunnel actually makes sense — because it crosses the point where US-1 turns into I-95 at Vizcaya, where a street level crossing would be particularly difficult to engineer — these ped overpasses should be very few and far between.

The caged view from the overpass at Vizcaya. While this is one of the warranted pedestrian overpasses in Miami, the entire notion of such a bridge should be used extremely sparingly.

The caged view from the overpass at Vizcaya. While this is one of the warranted pedestrian overpasses in Miami, the entire notion of such a bridge should be used extremely sparingly.

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.

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What if Miami’s vibrant light-rail system of the past existed in the Miami of today?

Let’s explore how the historic Miami Beach trolley route of the early 20th century would look through the Miami of the early 21st century.

MiamiBeachTrolleyRoute_Intro

Click on the video below. You’ll be taken on a virtual fly-through of the the no-longer-existing Miami Beach trolley line through the streets and neighborhoods of today. Please do enjoy for yourself and share with others!

Just imagine if this trolley were still up and running! Light-rail Baylink, anyone?

Also, be on the look-out for more TransitMiami geovisualizations in the near future!

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!

Location: Brickell Bay Drive & 12 Street. Thanks to TransitMiami reader Keith Lawler for sending this one in!

Location: Brickell Bay Drive & 12 Street.
Thanks to TransitMiami reader Keith Lawler for sending this one in!

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 . . .

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Nearly six months ago, TransitMiami was proud to offer the broader public an exclusive first glimpse of the renderings for some of the potential designs for our new Metrorail train cars.

As we described back in December 2012, the three models are:

  • SPOON
  • RING
  • SHIELD
Vehicle: Spoon  |  Livery: Neon  |  Interior: Blue/Magenta

Vehicle: Spoon | Livery: Neon | Interior: Blue/Magenta

Vehicle: Ring  |  Livery: Shark  |  Interior: Yellow, Grey-Blue

Vehicle: Ring | Livery: Shark | Interior: Yellow, Grey-Blue

Vehicle: Shield  |  Livery: Status  |  Interior: Red, White

Vehicle: Shield | Livery: Status | Interior: Red, White

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!

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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!AllAboard_Arriving_web

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!

RTC

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.

Take action now: Urge the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to include a trail alongside new rail service as part of All Aboard Florida.

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.

jxvl-baldwin_rt_bloving225x175Let’s make our voices heard: Write a quick, passionate, powerful message to the Federal Railroad Administration in support of a 230-mile trail from Miami to Orlando!

 

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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”.

Miami Transit in Perspective

Go ahead and click on it. The enlarged version is much better.

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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.

Go By Streetcar

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

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Panelists:

  • 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

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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.

By choosing to site its new bar in the part of downtown dominated by boring institutional land-uses, The DRB chose to bring some vibrancy and character to an otherwise lifeless part of downtown. The very phrase itself — “lifeless part of downtown” — is an unfortunate contradiction, an oxymoron of a poorly planned urban milieu.

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.

Chicago's McDonald's Cycle Center. Credit: Triposo.com

Chicago’s McDonald’s Cycle Center. Credit: Triposo.com

washington-dc-bike-transit-center

Washington DC’s Bike Station

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.

MiamiDDA_BikeCenterFactSheet_2013

Don’t forget to take the survey, especially all the folks who live and/or work in downtown.

http://urbanhp.wufoo.com/forms/downtown-miami-bicycle-center-survey/

 

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As has been reported in multiple local news sources, including The Miami Herald and Huffington Post, travel lanes on the Bear Cut Bridge are being closed.

The Bear Cut Bridge connects the island Village of Key Biscayne to the Miami mainland via the Rickenbacker Causeway.

A graphic of the Bear Cut Bridge by Miami Herald staff artist Marco Ruiz. Source: Miami Herald

A graphic of the Bear Cut Bridge by Miami Herald staff artist Marco Ruiz. Source: Miami Herald

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:

Good Afternoon,

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

305-361-2833 Phone  305-361-5338 Fax   305-979-3470 Cellular

Be sure to contact Mr. Martincak with your thoughts on the matter.

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