Currently viewing the tag: "Miami Beach"

On Monday, February 3rd 2014, The City of Miami Beach is launching a new free trolley bus that serves Alton Rd and West Ave between 5th St. and Lincoln Rd. The purpose of this trolley is “to help you get to Alton Rd and West Ave businesses” during the FDOT construction project of the same streets.  The Alton/West Loop trolleys will travel from 5 Street to Lincoln Road, along Alton Road and West Avenue, with 21 stops along the way.

TROLLEY ROUTE

The service will run approximately every 10 minutes from 8 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Sunday. The trolley has a capacity of 25 passengers and has an external bike rack and free Wi-Fi (coming soon). In addition to the free trolley, the City is providing Free Four-Hour Parking at Fifth & Alton Garage with the Trolley Voucher.

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While I am not usually one to criticize public transportation projects, especially FREE ones of any sort, I do have some concerns about this particular trolley. Since the goal is to get people to shop at Alton Rd/West Ave businesses, the City seems to have assumed that the reason people are currently staying away from this area is because there is not sufficient parking available. However, this is, at least for me, not at all the reason I do not shop on Alton Road. I thought I would enlighten the City with my TOP 5 REASONS I’M NOT SHOPPING ON ALTON RD RIGHT NOW (and won’t even if the City sends me a free limo).

1. It is more scenic to walk in the trash dumpster alley between West and Alton than on Alton Rd.

Alton Rd is just plain ugly right now. It has always been ugly but now it’s uglier than ever. It’s just not a pleasant walk looking at all those construction signs and the torn up road. Why would I sit in a coffee shop on Alton, looking at a ripped-up street if I can enjoy a coffee on pleasant, pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Rd just a few blocks away? I guess I am not the only one to think this way since the local Latin cafeteria next to my building on Alton Rd recently closed shop.

Miami Beach's main drag isn't quite as scenic as NY's 5th Ave or the Champs Elysees.

Miami Beach’s main drag isn’t quite as stunning as NY’s 5th Ave or the Champs Elysees.

Nice and quiet! No traffic! No one is speeding! I'll walk right here.

Nice and quiet! No traffic! No one is speeding! I’ll walk right here.

2. It isn’t safe to be on West and Alton or Alton Rd.

I would rather not die like this. And you?

Just another accident on West Ave, the second in this very spot since the construction began

Just another accident on West Ave, the second in this very spot since the construction began

3. I’d rather not subject my lungs to breathing in the combined exhaust of 10,000 cars.

Yep, it looks like that around here lately. A lot.

Cars, exhaust, pollution. Welcome to West Ave.

Cars, exhaust, pollution. Welcome to West Ave.

4. The traffic lights suck for pedestrians.

Wait, I have to wait 3 minutes for the light to turn green for me, and then I get 22 second to spurt across the street? Nah, that sucks. I don’t even know how someone without my athletic abilities will achieve this (elderly, handicapped…). Pedestrians are really made to feel like second-class citizens with this kind of treatment. That’s why so many of them simply disrespect the lights and decide to cross anyway.

Fed up with waiting for a light that never changed.

Fed up with waiting for a light that never changed.

5. There is no bicycle infrastructure on Alton Rd/West Ave

So, as you can see from above, it’s kind of impossible, or really annoying, to be around Alton Rd by foot right now and since driving is not an option right now, there is really only one other alternative. Biking. Needless to say, the treatment for cyclists is even worse than the one for pedestrians since there is simply no infrastructure at all. No bike lane, no bike parking, not even a cutesie sharrow (I say cute because I like the little bike paintings on the street but consider them completely ineffective – but that’s another topic).

So instead of showing you a really great bike lane on Alton Rd, since there is none, I’ll show you one of the Ciclovia held in Bogota, a weekly event where the main street in Bogota is entirely shut down to traffic. This event is a huge success and is attended by thousands of people walking, biking, scooting, and running through downtown Bogota. It seemed to work real well for the local businesses to, as it is held on a Sunday morning which would otherwise not generate such a large crowd. As it turned out, to get people to downtown, no free trolley busses had to be installed by the city. People say Miami is South America – I can only hope this will be true one day.

Ciclovia in Bogota

Ciclovia in Bogota

Having said that, I still love to shop on Lincoln Rd so I will from now on refer to this trolley as the free Lincoln Rd shuttle. I’m sure tourists will be delighted they have a free connection between Ross and Lincoln Rd now. And of course, the homeless will be grateful for an air-conditioned place to rest their weary bones. However, I’m not sure it’ll do anything at all for those businesses suffering along on Alton Rd.

So long, little Lincoln Rd shuttle.

So long, little Lincoln Rd shuttle. The tourists will love you. The locals, not so sure.

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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.

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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!

Is the optimal place for bicyclists really between speeding traffic and swinging car doors or is bicycle planning in most cities still just an afterthought? Can it really be the case that major arterial roadways planned for reconstruction like Alton Road in Miami Beach which are between 100′ and 120′ really have no room for bicycles?

The plan for Alton Road which the City of Miami Beach approved is still the wrong one but neighborhood organizations are not accepting that the plan is set in stone until the concrete is poured and dry.

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Though Miami Beach is in the top 10 cities in the nation for biking to work according to the US Census, a perfect storm of Department of Transportation heavy-handedness, local bureaucratic impassivity, and ineptitude on the part of elected representatives has led to a hugely expensive design no one endorses. Alton Road, expected to become a showpiece of island multi-modalism, will instead become a wide-lane, high-speed, completely-congested Department of Transportation boondoggle say residents. If Miami Beach can’t get a multi-modal design with its committed and educated pedestrian and cycling advocates is there any hope for the rest of the country?

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Thousands of major arterials around the country are in the process of reconstruction right now as the first roadways of the Highway Act of 1956 are being rebuilt. And despite the amazing strides made in a few exceptional places, the default design on the traffic engineer’s books is still the wrong one. The difference now is that residents know better. This is making the job of elected officials who have always trusted the DOT very difficult. Something’s got to give.

Residents are available to discuss this important issue further.

Click here to visit the official website for the initiative.

On Facebook: Alton Road Reconstruction Coalition.

On the web:

Thanks,
Jason King
Miami Beach Resident and Urban Planner

The following post comes to us from TransitMiami reader Emily Eisennhauer.  Emily is  a PhD Candidate in the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. She is working on her dissertation titled “The Construction of Socio-Ecological Vulnerability to Climate Change in South Florida”, which is examining how governance networks and residents are thinking about Miami’s future under the threat of climate change, particularly sea level rise. Emily writes her own self-titled blog on the sociology of sustainability and climate change in Southeast Florida, where the following was originally posted.

In the first part of this post I highlighted Census data released last fall which shows that Miami Beach is the 10th city in the nation for biking to work. Approximately 7% of workers regularly use a bicycle for the longest part of their commute. That’s about 3,000 people in our city biking regularly to work, and I was curious – who are they?
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With Miami’s bike scene growing like crazy lately– thousands showing up for Critical Massnew bike facilities in the works for Downtown, etc.– it would be easy to assume that these bicyclists-to-work are bicycle activists, young urban professionals, or the like. But the data indicate something else.
On Miami Beach those most likely to bike to work are service industry workers with median annual earnings of about $21,000 per year, well below the citywide average of $32,597. Here are the top 10 industries:
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While I was at it, I decided to look at those who walk to work too, and found much the same thing. Fifty-three percent of those who walk to their jobs work in accommodation, food service, arts or entertainment, and median annual earnings are $14,622. And while three-quarters of commuters have at least one vehicle available, less than half of those who walk or bike do.
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This isn’t a surprise really, since there are a lot of low paying jobs in the tourism and hospitality industries which dominate Miami Beach’s economy. But it does make Miami Beach unique, especially among walking cities. For walking to work Miami Beach ranks 10th in the nation among cities with at least 65,000 residents, which is especially remarkable because Miami Beach is the highest ranking non-university city on the list. If you take out the places with colleges, we’d be number 1.
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In order to have people walking to work, you need a few things. People have to live close enough to walk, and the streets have to be pedestrian friendly. Miami Beach accomplishes this through preserving the residential, urban character of historic sections of South Beach and North Beach which were built in the early 20th century with walking in mind. Maintaining a supply of housing affordable for those who work in the nearby service industry jobs is more challenging in desirable areas, but the Miami Beach Community Development Corporationhas been able to restore and preserve nearly two dozen buildings since 1981 for affordable housing programs. The organization’s chair, Jack Johnson, said at a recent planning meeting for the upcoming Sustainable and Authentic Florida meeting to be hosted by Miami Beach, that the MBCDC “has worked to maintain a mix of income levels by using historic buildings in their ‘native habitat’.” In doing so it has accomplished a key tenet of New Urbanism that otherwise frequently gets overlooked when it comes to those in low wage jobs.In a very real way the availability of affordable housing in Miami Beach takes cars off the streets, reduces the city’s pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to a better quality of life for everyone.
One other interesting fact: those who walk or bike to work are much more likely to leave home in the evening, anywhere between 4pm and midnight. 21% of walkers and 17% of bicycle/motorcycle/taxicabbers leave for work during that time, compared with only 9% of all commuters. All the more reason for safe, separated, lighted pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians to be part of every infrastructure and transportation plan.

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Blarke Ingels will  hold a lecture on the architectural works of BIG in Miami Beach that is free and open to the public — space is limited so please RSVP to email: RSVP_SI@edelman.com

March 26, 2013 @ 6:30pm (doors open at 5:30pm)

Colony Theater

1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach


BIG

Bjarke Ingles founded BIG to develop designs that are programmatically and technically innovative as they are cost and resource conscious. Recently named one of the lead designers for the Smithsonian Masterplan, Bjarke was also named Wall Street Journal’s Innovator of the Year. He is among Fast Company’s Topo 100 Most Creative People in Design and has received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, as well as two National AIA Awards. In addition to overseeing his New York-based practice, he has taught at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Rice Universities. Bjarke is an honorary professor at the Royal Columbia and Rice Universities and is an honorary professor at the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen. He is a frequent public speaker at venues such as TED, WIRED, Google’s Zeitgeist, and the World Economic Forum.

Value Engineering. What does the term mean to you?

Think about it. Let’s decompose the term before seeking out a formal definition. To us, the concept of value engineering when applied to transportation projects, includes the pursuit of cost-effective methods to achieve a desired end result. It includes a suite of tools that would enable project managers to work with engineers and architects to lower the overall cost of the project without sacrificing a particular end goal. In more obscure words, the FDOT defines value engineering as:

“…the systematic application of function-oriented techniques by a multi-disciplined team to analyze and improve the value of a product, facility, system, or service.”

So, if we were to tell you that FDOT was actively seeking to value engineer the structure that will soon replace I-395, how would you feel? Let’s take a look back at the designs presented last year before we dive into our argument on why we shouldn’t cut corners on such a critical piece of infrastructure.

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I-395_Miami_Bridge3

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I-395_Miami_Bridge

For the unacquainted, over the past several years FDOT initiated the process to replace the 1.5 mile structure that links SR 836 east of I-95 to the MacArthur Causeway. As the main artery between MIA, the Port of Miami, and South Beach, millions of visitors traverse this scenic stretch annually on the way to a cruise or the beaches. The byproduct of 1960’s urban renewal, I-395 ripped apart neighborhoods and displaced thousands from historic Overtown, today the structure continues to thwart efforts to unite our major public institutions including: The Arsht Center, Art and Science Museums (both currently under construction), and the AA Arena. As such, FDOT’s plans for I-395 will play a critical role in Miami’s ability to reshape the urban core and reunite Downtown, Parkwest, Omni, and Overtown districts.

Side note: Imagine what could become of the corner of N. Miami Avenue and 14th Street if the neighborhood were united with Downtown to the South or the Arsht Center to the east? The Citizens Bank Building (above), built during Miami’s boom years in 1925 could serve as a catalyst for growth in a neighborhood that has largely remained abandoned since urban renewal gutted Overtown. 

In this context, the concept of value engineering contradicts the livable, “sense of place” we’re working to achieve in Downtown. As it currently stands, I-395 and all the other roadways that access our barrier islands are utilitarian structures, serving little purpose other than to move vehicles from one land mass to another.

The challenge with I-395 is that it must satisfy numerous conflicting needs. I-395 isn’t just a bridge (or tunnel, or boulevard). It should serve as an icon; a figurative representation of Miami’s status as the Gateway to the Americas. A new I-395 will, should once and for all, eliminate the physical barrier that has long divided Downtown Miami from the Omni and Performing Arts Districts, encouraging more active uses below while maintaining the flow of traffic above. Not an easy feat. While the DDA and City of Miami recognize the economic value in designing an iconic structure at this site, our experience tells us that FDOT is more likely to think in the terms of dollars and LOS rather than the contextual and neighborhood needs. Simply put, this isn’t an ordinary site where a no-frills structure will suffice.

Cities all across the nation are eliminating derelict highways that for the past 40-50 years have scarred, divided, and polluted neighborhoods. Boston’s big dig for example submerged a 2-mile stretch of I-93 that had cut off the North End and Waterfront neighborhoods from downtown and the rest of the city. The Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5 mile public park now stretches its length. Where the highway tunnel ends, an iconic structure, the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge takes over, leading traffic over the Charles River to points north. Adjacent to the TD Garden (home of the Celtics & Bruins) the Zakim Bridge is now synonymous with the Boston Skyline. Other notable examples include:

  • San Francisco’s Embarcardero Freeway
  • Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct
  • Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct

While no decision has been made on what final shape I-395’s replacement structure will take, our sources inform us that FDOT is beginning to explore more “cost effective” alternatives. We’ll keep eye on this project as it unfolds and will reach out to the City of Miami, DDA, and FDOT to ensure that Miami receives a replacement structure at this site worthy of its location in the heart of our burgeoning urban core. Moreover, we’ll remind FDOT that their third proposed objective for this project (3. Creating a visually appealing bridge) includes considering the aesthetics of the structure from all perspectives, especially the pedestrians and cyclists we’re trying to lure back into downtown streets.

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Last night, the City of Miami Beach hosted the first of two “Bicycle Summits” to discuss efforts on updating the Atlantic Greenway Network Master Plan (AGN), which includes most bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure throughout Miami Beach.

Mike Lydon and Tony Garcia from the Street Plans Collaborative, led an informative presentation on the value of bicycle and pedestrian activity and what other cities around the country are doing to encourage active transportation. Street Plans will be taking the lead in assisting Miami Beach in updating their bicycle master plan. All week, Lydon and Garcia will be undertaking “handlebar surveys” around town to document current conditions and outline the possibilities for infrastructure improvements, including buffered bike lanes, cycle tracks, enhanced sharrows, bicycle parking and more. The recommendations will be made available on a web application, where residents can also add feedback and pose questions.

Coming soon to Miami Beach? Streetplans Collaborative are on the case.

The city of Miami Beach anticipates hosting a second round of public workshops in the fall, so residents can discuss neighborhood specific projects. The AGN Master Plan, like most master plans, was intended to be a visionary and dynamic plan that was expected to evolve as the city changes. As such, the City’s Transportation Division is in the process of updating the current AGN Plan.

On October 17, 2007, the Miami Beach City Commission adopted the Atlantic Greenway Network Master Plan. The goal of the AGN master plan was two-fold: to create a safe and continuous multimodal network along the city’s streets, beachwalks, and greenways allowing for alternative transportation and community enhancement in the city; and to provide connectivity with the county’s and state’s regional bicycle network.

Summit #2 will be held on Thursday, June 7th from 5 pm – 8pm at 1755 Meridian Avenue, 3rd floor conference room.

One of the most telling images from the presentation was an infographic (below) showing the percentage of trips taken by bicycle and walking in countries around the world – with their corresponding obesity rates. By re-engineering walking and cycling back into American communities by making them safe, attractive options, we can begin to improve public health and strengthen our communities. Transforming Miami Beach to become more people-friendly will take some sacrifice at the altar of the automobile, but the benefits are clear and proven.

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The City of Miami Beach will be hosting two public meetings next week (June  5 and June 7) to kickoff the process of updating the bicycle network plan (officially titled the Atlantic Greenways Network Master Plan).  The meeting will include a discussion of the update process and a presentation the Street Plans Collaborative on the latest best practices in bicycle and pedestrian street design  from all around the country. (NOTE: The time for the June 5 meeting was moved to 6 pm!)

 

You’re Invited to MIAMIBEACH’s Bicycle Summits

Atlantic Greenway Network Master Plan Update

The City of Miami Beach will be hosting two (2) public summits to discuss efforts to update the adopted Atlantic Greenway Network (AGN) Master Plan. The summits will focus on obtaining input from Miami Beach residents on the bicycle component of the adopted AGN Master Plan in order to assist the City in updating the plan.

Summit 1
Date: Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Time: 6:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.
Place: North Shore Park and Youth Center,
501 72 Street
Miami Beach, Florida 33141

Summit 2
Date: Thursday, June 7, 2012
Time: 5:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Place: 1755 Meridian Avenue Building, third floor conference room
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
Contact: Jose R. Gonzalez, P.E., transportation manager, 305.673.7080

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At the City of Miami Beach’s Neighborhoods and Community Affairs Committee meeting today, City staff attorneys were directed to challenge the Florida State Statutes that require the inclusion of bicycle facilities on state roads, and protested the inclusion of bike lanes on the Alton Road reconstruction project on the same safety grounds that require the facility contained in the Statute.

You might remember that Transit Miami has been pushing the department to consider alternatives to a traditional bike lane since the first time FDOT ventured on the island back in June of 2008 . We later reported on the progress of the project here and here, all the while hoping that FDOT would try using more that one tool in their bicycle planning toolbox. Finally, after years of lobbying and advocacy, FDOT presented several alternative options for a bicycle facility on Alton Road at the quarterly progress report on the $40 million dollar project.

Too bad Miami Beach City Commissioner’s told FDOT to take their bike lanes and put them, well, somewhere else.

Not only that, Commissioner Gongora  convinced his fellow policymakers of the idea to attack the law requiring FDOT to consider other users for the roads they build and maintain.  The Commission added to the Legislative Agenda of their paid Tallahassee lobbyist  to get the provision of the Florida Statutes 335.065 removed or changed by giving the municipalities the ability to opt out of bicycle facilities required by the DOT. (Mind you we are talking about Miami Beach  - arguably some of the best urbanism in the entire State of Florida, and the one place most poised to take advantage of a well designed bicycle network.)

So today FDOT comes back.  The Mayor had said that the bike lanes should not be next to the flow of traffic but between the curb and the parked cars  - a parking protected cycle track.

FDOT showed that.

That required a three-foot buffer between the four-foot bike lane and the 8-foot parking lane, reducing the sidewalk to six feet.

Then Commissioner Ed Tobin, who used his power while he sat on the MPO, asked for a physically separate cycle track.

FDOT showed that.

That resulted in an Alton Road with 10-foot sidewalks and a four-foot bike lane separated with a four-foot jersey wall from the traffic, but no parking lane.

FDOT then showed an option with a 16-foot sidewalk and four-foot bike lanes, and again with no parking.

For it’s part the City’s Public Works Department showed their alternative which was to make West Avenue an alternative to having a bike lane on Alton Road. FDOT responded by requiring that all the numbered east-west streets between Fifth and Michigan Avenue be retrofitted with bike lanes, which would require millions of dollars the City would have to borrow and permanent removal of 56 parking spaces.

The kicker is that work would have to be done before FDOT gets started on Alton Road.

So we’re back to  Alton Road.

You have the heap on the credit to FDOT. We are used to giving them hell here on Transit Miami, but we have to give credit where credit is due. They have done a lot of work and shown they can see a different type of road in the future for many of our city’s streets. They should make certain that all of their projects get such attention to detail in nurturing the mix of users. FDOT is realizing it’s responsibility to make getting from one place to another as enjoyable and safe as possible for everyone.

Not just those in cars.

And that’s what we need.  We need to stop building the same old roads that provide for only one type of mobility.  Alton Road needs more people walking, taking transit, and riding a bike- not driving in their cars.

Commissioners Jerry Libbin, Michael Gongora and Jonah Wolfson disagree and voted to challenge whatever design FDOT plans to build on Alton Road that includes a bike facility – on safety grounds.

It was one of the most twisted uses of the law I have ever seen. 40 years of research and data supporting the safety and efficacy of bike lanes by the Federal Highway Administration and the current work of Dr. Jennifer Dill dismissed by two lawyers and a politician.

The City is doing its best NOT to have FDOT build a complete street. I pray every night the City would use half the effort it puts into fighting bike facilities, into building them along with better sidewalks and crosswalks.

Where were these same politicians when FDOT used the Baylink infrastructure promised to us when they rebuilt the Macarthur for the port tunnel?

And with everything in South Beach going down the tubes,  except the water, faster than you can say Atlantic City, the only hope we have for a stable economic future and decent quality of life is to allow for more mobility on this tiny island through as many modalities we can offer, not just expecting everyone to get around Miami Beach in a car.

We need this Alton Road reconstruction project – but we also need better mobility on Miami Beach. I am dismayed at the lack of vision in this community.  Everyone on a bike or on foot, on a board or on skates or in a stroller or wheelchair or scooter is a person not in their car.

What a wonderful place this could be.

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25 people showed up to the public meeting Tuesday night at the Miami Beach Regional Library.  It was an open format, with the project laid out on two long tables and key personnel available to answer questions and take comments.

One table featured a visual summary of the crash data, and one table showed the proposal from a bird’s eye view.

Mayor Matti Bower thanked everyone for coming, even if, “they [FDOT] never do anything I ask.”

There were several members of Miami Beach City Staff there:  two engineers from Public Works, Rick Saltrick and Diane Fernandez.  Fred Beckman, the Public Works Director was there, as well as Assistant City Manager Duncan Ballantyne and Community Outreach maven Lynn Birnstein.

Beckman, Bernstein and Ballantyne were there mainly to facilitate the participation of Marlo Courtney of Goldman Properties and Michael Comras, of the Comras Company, two prominent developers, who along with Realtor Lyle Stern and other property owners in the area have formed the Collins Avenue Improvement Association, (CIA).

CIA in turn, has hired engineering consultant Ramon Castella of C3TS in Coral Gables. It is heartwarming to see civic leaders like these gentlemen take such an active role in making our streets better.  I, for one, am grateful for their efforts.

The CIA is working with the City Managers’ office, who has pledged to use quality of life funds to enhance the project. This extra cash will amp up a once vanilla RRR (Road Resurfacing and Reconstruction) project into a “mini mod” with new sidewalks, new curbs, landscaped bump outs and an additional amount of drainage.

Oh yes, and the addition of the 10 foot left turn lane.  But I digress.

As merchants, the CIA are really focused on sidewalks.  The sidewalks along this corridor are not only old and broken, but are really small. Between 5 and 6.5′.  Add to that the massive amount of regulatory and way-finding signs, street furniture and café seating plus the large numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists, and it doesn’t take the other CIA to figure out Collins Avenue needs more sidewalks.

FDOT, happily, is committed to making the sidewalks as wide as possible, without moving the curbs.  This means they will have to aggressively pursue encroachments.  We wish them well.  On Miami Beach, we sometimes loose 5-6 feet of public right of way on any given corridor to private landscaping or even hard construction due to these types of encroachments.  The CMB policy, for the most part, has been one of  “Don’t ask, don’t take.” This works well to quell the fear of construction for adjacent property owners, but does little to enhance transportation.

Unfortunately, CIA is so focused on picking out streetlamps and placing parking stations, trashcans and benches, that they have lost sight of the big picture. Addressing the congestion on Collins Avenue that makes the entire experience of being there unpleasant and unsafe for everyone.

FDOT is addressing the unsafe conditions –   at least for cars. In the July 2011 Safety Study done by CH Perez and Associates, they document how unsafe Collins Avenue is for cars.  They looked at reported crash data for a three-year period, (2007-2009).  1,152 crashes in three years gets you on FDOT’s High Crash List.  84% were property-damage only crashes. 29% of crashes were rear end, 23% sideswipe and 18% involved a park car. 6% of all crashes involved a pedestrian (2/3) or bicycle, (1/3) and of those 67 crashes, 85% resulted in injuries.

Good news is there were no fatalities during the study period. Bad news is we know how under reported bicycle-car accidents are.

The report names aggressive driving as the number one probable cause for the crashes, and believes the lack of a left turn lane is to blame.

And so, the hardworking and dedicated engineers, project managers and safety specialists who are working on this project use the extra ten-feet (gained by narrowing the parking lane and travel lanes) to add an extra lane of traffic.

In reality, the added travel lane will only make the problem worse by adding to the congestion of Collins Avenue, which will ramp up the aggression, which will cause more accidents.

Anyone who has ever been on Collins Avenue knows the score, especially at unsignalized intersections.  Cars wait in the travel lane to make that left-hand turn.  And wait and wait because of the congestion.  Cars two and three behind them whiz around on the right when then can, often grazing the parked cars, shouting expletives and showing the finger.  The driver waiting to make the turn finally sees an opening and makes a dash, only to be stopped short by the pedestrian or bicyclist he did not see because he was so focused on the cars coming at him in speeds that range from the posted 30 to 35 MPH.  When the waiting driver makes his move, either a pedestrian or bicyclist gets hit or a chain reaction of rear-end collisions happen behind him. (As an aside, this craziness of the modulating posted speed limit should be addressed immediately, bringing the posted speed limit to 30 throughout the corridor.  I would like to see 25, but that’s just me.)

The left turn lane allows traffic to continually move through the corridor while allowing three cars to stack up waiting to make that elusive left turn.

This will induce latent demand and add capacity – and traffic – to the roadway. More cars on Collins Avenue are not the answer. More pedestrians are key to restoring the economic preeminence of this retail district.  You do that by making the sidewalks safer by moving the bicycles into a dedicated lane.

Additionally, the bike lane will help encourage users of Collins Avenue who are not in cars.  More people biking and walking equals more choices for people to get around.

The best part is that in 20 years when we get a wholesale reconstruction of the corridor, we will have shifted the travel mode from 90% percent cars to 20% cars.  Justifying removing the turn lane and extending the sidewalks and adding landscaping.

Adding bike lanes now is the seed required to achieve that future. Unfortunately none of the project managers ride a bicycle.  I have invited them all to try it: on Collins now.  Or ride the sharrows on Washington Avenue and see how that feels.  They need to see there is more than one way to solve the problem they have defined, and there is a better solution is to deal with the root cause, not just add too it.

Please send an email to the man in charge, Harold Desdunes at harold.desdunes@dot.state.fl.us.  He assured me he would have the engineers take another look at the study, but they need to put their bike helmets on to do it.  Send an email asking for their support. My City Manager, Jorge Gonzalez said he direct staff to ask for the bike lane.  It’s a start, but the Department is rushing to complete the plans.  Time is of the essence!

All is not lost, but your help is needed to prod FDOT in the right direction.

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Call  me crazy, but I am the type of girl who likes to go to public meetings about road construction. They speak to me about the promise for a better future.  I especially like the ones when I know at the end of the awful, dirty, dusty, jarring process, a new bike lane will be born.

So I was excited about the FDOT upcoming meeting to roll out the $2.5 million dollar project on A1A in Miami Beach,  from Fifth Street to Lincoln Road.  I have been waiting for this project for years, watching the funding shift to and fro from year to year in the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP, yes I get excited about them too!)  I was happy because last spring, the Department came up with a Bicycle Master Plan for all of A1A in District 6 that called for a bike lane on almost all of Collins Avenue!

Be still my heart!

I was thrilled to see in this project moving forward, with a projected start date of May 2013.   They plan to narrow the parking lanes, narrow the travel lanes, reconstruct a few blocks to gain ROW, all the right moves……  BUT

My heart stood still…..

THEY DID NOT INCLUDE THE BIKE  LANES.

So where oh where did the bike lanes go? And for whom will the ROW be?

Looks like that gained right of way is being added to allow for an exclusive left turn lane throughout the whole segment, i.e. MORE  CAR TRAFFIC!

You can make a difference in putting this project back on proper footing!

Send an email to any of these FDOT officials and ask them to include a bike lane in Project Numbers 250236-1-51-01 and 250236-3-52-01.  SRA1A/Collins Avenue from 5th Street to Lincoln Road. You may even want to remind them they already said they would!

Heidi.Solaun@dot.state.fl.us

Rita.Bulsara@dot.state.fl.us

Gus.Pego@dot.state.fl.us

Copy the local elected officials in Miami Beach:

MayorBower@miamibeachfl.gov

Michael@miamibeachfl.gov

Deede@miamibeachfl.gov

Jorge@miamibeachfl.gov

Ed@miamibeachfl.gov

Jonah@miamibeachfl.gov

Jerry@miamibeachfl.gov

COME TO THE PUBLIC MEETING

MONDAY, October 25, 2011

Miami Beach Regional Library

227 22nd Street, Collins Park, Miami Beach

6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

This is more than a RRR.  This is a chance to enhance mobility by improving modality for bicycles by designating a lane in which to build the share.

Hope to see you there.

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The City of Miami Beach will unveil the region’s first bicycle sharing system here on Wednesday, March 15th, with the introduction of Deco Bike. When complete the system will cover all of Miami Beach south of 85th street with about 1,000 bikes and 100 stations. Deco Bike President Colby Reese gave me a tour of his factory recently, and talked about the challenges presented in being the first to roll out a bike share system in our region.

Phase 1 of implementation will include 50 stations and up to 500 bikes sprinkled throughout Miami Beach south of 43rd Street. Each bike station can hold 12 bikes, and takes the space of two parking spaces.

 

Lost parking shouldn’t be a concern, says Reese, who notes that Miami Beach has added over 1,000 spaces over the past several years, including the much discussed Herzog and de Meuron designed sculptural garage. Stations will be located in key locations around the city, with more bikes and stations to come in Phase 2, which Reese hopes will come as soon as 60-90 days after the initial rollout. Plans for phase 2 call for expanding the network up to 85th Street, totaling 100 stations, and approximately 1,000 bikes.

One challenges Reese noted was negotiating with FDOT over locating stations in FDOT right-of-way. According to Reese, station locations at the corner of 5th and Alton were relocated because FDOT was requesting financial concessions for their approval of Deco Bike’s station permit. Never mind that the right-of-way is publicly owned and that this system will help expand bicycle mode share – FDOT  just wanted their cut of the pie. Luckily, most streets in Miami Beach are not maintained by FDOT, so the crisis was averted, but it does go to show the priorities of our Department of Transportation.

Beach residents will be able to get an unlimited $15/monthly pass, while tourists and other beach visitors will have hourly and daily options as well. Already one of the most walkable and bikable places in South Florida, Miami Beach is uniquely poised to take advantage of the the benefits of a city-wide bike share system. With the implementation of sharrows on Washington and elsewhere in the beach, upcoming revised bicycle parking standards, and now the implementation of a city-wide bikeshare program, Miami Beach is making big strides to expand bicycle use around the city. If successful, other cities in the region like Miami and Coral Gables would be smart to look to Deco Bike as a partner in creating a regional bike share network.

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Netherlands based West 8 has finally released their proposed design for Lincoln Park adjacent to the New World Symphony building by Frank Gehry.  More than a year after changing Frank Gehry as the park designer, West 8 has released an exciting design for the urban park in the heart of Miami Beach.

According to the architect’s website:

The Lincoln Park site is small — less than three acres in size. In European public space tradition, a site this small might be composed entirely of hard plaza surface, such as the 3.25-acre Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.  Even in American park design, urban parks can have a substantial amount of paved surfaces. Union Square Park in San Francisco is almost the same size as Lincoln Park, and equally positioned in the heart of its city center. It’s a place of gathering and activity and a place of relaxation for residents and visitors. But while Union Square Park has some patches of lawns and small gardens, most of the surfaces are paved plaza.

Given this precedent for urban parks, a question emerged early in the design process for Lincoln Park: should this public space feel like more like a plaza or be “green,” like a park?  What is appropriate for this site, with its future use as a place of gathering, its openness to the intense sun, the availability of a pallet of tropical vegetation, its relationship to a stunning new piece of architecture, and its position within the activity of Miami Beach?

West 8 felt strongly that our mission is to deliver a green park, not a plaza. A park that feels intimate, shady, and soft.  A park that will support the world-class attraction provided by the projection wall on the New World Symphony Building.  A park that reflects the spirit and vitality of Miami Beach.  And a park that will support a multitude of day and night uses, either under the shade of the trees or a starlit sky.

Lincoln Park will also have the wonder of some totally unique features that are one of a kind.  First, there will be several pergolas that embrace the park edges, whose shape is inspired by the puffy cumulous clouds in this tropical climate. This will not only provide shade but will support the bright blooms of bougainvillea vines.  High quality artwork is equally important here, and the projection wall is an ideal “canvas” for video projection artists, an emerging and exciting discipline of art.  Both local and international artists could provide an ever-changing exhibit that would occur outside the walls of a traditional museum experience.

Lincoln Park will actually convey the illusion of a larger park than its small size actually is. This will be achieved by careful manipulation of the topography for a gentle undulation underfoot; by establishing “veils” of palm tree planting that conceal and reveal views; and by creating a mosaic of meandering pathways that lure you through all corners of the Park.

When realized, Lincoln Park will be a unified expression of recreation, pleasure and culture. Combined with the momentum of the New World Symphony’s uses and outstanding architecture, the campus will be a world class destination that marries music, design and experience.

 

Be sure to check out more images at the West 8 website.  We would love to know your opinion?  Does it standup to the original Frank Gehry design?

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