Currently viewing the tag: "Pedestrians"

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

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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.

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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!

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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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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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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

A pedestrian bridge above US-1 at the University MetroRail station was recently approved by Miami-Dade County and is currently moving closer to an agreement. Though a state and federally funded project of $6 million, the University Centre mall owner has raised some concerns and is refusing to allow the county to build the bridge on its property. The bridge to channel university students, middle school students, metrorail riders, and others to the popular strip mall has been in the works for several years, joining the other existing US-1 overpasses. The Pedestrian Safety Access Committee formed with the long-term goal to build the pedestrian bridge in direct response to 3 student fatalities at the intersection since 1990, along with several accidents.

Proposed Pedestrian Bridge - Rendering courtesy Miami-Dade County

Proposed Pedestrian Bridge at US-1 and University MetroRail Station: Note the bicyclist hugging the curb… (Rendering courtesy Miami-Dade County)

Looking at this situation at face value, this project makes perfect sense: people are dying on the intersection, so take the people off the intersection. But I challenge you to stand back and examine the bigger picture of crossing US-1 at this intersection and every other one in Coral Gables, South Miami, and beyond. Is the problem uniquely at this intersection, or along the entire stretch of the fast-moving, 6-lane highway? Due to very high speeds, awkward street-level pedestrian crossings, unbuffered and narrow sidewalks, and poor street lighting, I think we can agree that this stretch is hostile to non-motorists. Michelle Simmon, public involvement coordinator for Miami-Dade Transit stated back in 2007 that ‘the main purpose of the long-term bridge project is to encourage pedestrian safety while making the Coral Gables community more “walkable.” Yes, ‘channeling’ pedestrians into a bridge does have the potential of keeping pedestrians safe, but does it encourage walkability?

Pedestrian Convenience. A walkable community is possible when the built environment is convenient to the pedestrian, bicyclist, student, parent with baby stroller, etc. Making decisions that inhibit pedestrian convenience such as narrowing sidewalks, reducing crosswalks, ‘forcing’ people to go up and over a street – then these decisions make the built environment inconvenient and therefore, less walkable. But if we redesign the street to discourage speeding, add wider sidewalks buffered from vehicular traffic, pedestrian street lighting, and common-sense street-level crossings (and using a lot less than the $6 million) we could achieve both safety and walkability for all road users.

Neighborhood Unity. Instead of creating a street that welcomes its neighbors, we are making decisions (like numerous pedestrian bridges) that add up toward creating an automobile sewer. This is the root of the problem, and the reason for these vehicular deaths in the first place – we are literally trying to put a highway into the middle of a community. Why are we surprised that pedestrians, students, children are trying to cross the street in their own neighborhood? Instead of encouraging to further dissect this area, we need to consider the potential to transform this massive right-of-way into the safe neighborhood center the university, middle school, and residents deserve.

Traffic Priorities. The problem in this dangerous intersection is not the pedestrians, but the unobservant drivers. But who are we punishing? the pedestrians. And who are we prioritizing for dominion over the street even more? the drivers, observant or not. A walkable neighborhood is not void of cars, drivers, and traffic, but rather re-prioritizes its road space to accommodate a full range of transportation choices. Slowing traffic down does not guarantee more congestion either. In fact, some of the most efficient roads in the world are in slow-speed, walkable environments. By humanizing the thoroughfare with better street-level crossings, lighting, wider sidewalks, street trees, narrower traffic lanes, and even on-street parking, we can effectively slow traffic, and persuade drivers to be more alert, attentive, and vigilant, fostering a safer atmosphere for all.

If building this University Station pedestrian bridge could save just one life, then yes, its construction is more than worth it. But what’s next in encouraging safety and walkability? Are we going to continue constructing pedestrian bridges at every intersection over Dixie Highway – and with whose funds? And does that leave the people who will still cross at street level with a more dangerous thoroughfare? I challenge this community, the Pedestrian Safety Access Committee, Miami-Dade County, FDOT, and others involved to improve the pedestrian experience on the street level. In many ways the easiest solution is to build the pedestrian bridge. However, six million dollars can provide a lot of funding for this community if our residents and leaders are brave enough to tackle the root of the problem. We should not take these deaths lightly, but we do need to consider the full range of options to improve the safety, convenience, and value of the US-1 corridor. Just as Michelle Simmon from Miami-Dade Transit stated, “A livable community has to be a safe community.” By humanizing this dangerous, dissecting thoroughfare, we can not only save lives, but also our community.

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.

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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?

On October 30th, a dramatic crash caused by a careless motorist sent a parked SUV flying 30 feet and onto the sidewalk, seriously injuring the ankle and leg of Monica Larcada, a female jogger that lives in the neighborhood.

Transit Miami has obtained a complete copy of the police report from the Miami Police Department regarding this crash.

Click the link in the above paragraph for the full police report.

The driver of the vehicle causing the crash was Dr. Amy Buchman, 60, of Brickell Key. She was cited for careless driving – failure to maintain control of vehicle.

Dr. Amy Buchman, 60, of Brickell Key (pictured on left)

What is bewildering is that the police report says her estimated speed was 25 miles per hour, though multiple witnesses to Transit Miami report she was moving closer to 40-50 mph in the 30mph zone. The parked Nissan Murano SUV that Buchman smashed into traveled about 30 feet, indicating a much higher speed than 25 mph.

Felipe Larcada, Monica’s father, wrote the below note to us in November. If you have any information on this crash, please contact him. The area has been the scene of eerily similar crashes over the past few years.

Monica is doing better every day and hopefully will have her stitches removed this week and a cast placed on her leg. Thank you all for your concern and prayers.

I have a request. The authorities are receiving conflicting stories on how this event happened. If anybody reading this blog actually witnessed the event as it happened or right before it happened, please contact me. We really need your help. My email again is flarcada@me.com. Thank you.

Felipe Larcada

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Armando Garcia, a Transit Miami reader from Oakland, CA took the time to write this excellent response following the Wynwood Arts District Association rejection of the idea for a ‘open streets’ event during Second Saturday’s ArtWalk.

I’m glad you guys are making progress. I want to write a detailed comment in your support.

The suggestion made by Mr. Lujambio that closing off the street for Art Walk will cause confusion for motorists is questionable. I admit to being native but not local to Miami, and I have not attended Art Walk. But in my new home of Oakland, CA, we have a similar event called Art Murmur.

Art Murmur has grown astoundingly from a night for neighborhood gallery openings, to a humongous monthly event closing several city blocks, hosting over twenty mobile food vendors and several DJs and bands performing. The fact is that before streets were closed, the sidewalks were becoming VERY overcrowded. Walking up the sidewalk felt like pushing your way through the crowd at a Crystal Castles show. Pedestrians sporadically spilling onto the major avenue that flanked the event created accident risks for themselves and motorists, and major confusion was caused for any motorists trying to make their way through the smaller downtown streets. The swarm of pedestrians jaywalking was very difficult to navigate.

I believe the initial response was to close off one block or two, but I know as the event grew, their response was to close several streets to motorists, and provide temporary traffic controls (police officers, flaggers, parking attendants, cones, clear signage, etc) to appropriately guide motor traffic through and around the event and control the flow of pedestrians.

A typical Art Walk experience.

My point is that as attendance grew, closing streets and controlling motor traffic helped PREVENT confusion and provide clear traffic routes, not the opposite. It was before they closed streets that driving through this event was a confusing nightmare. The WADA needs to watch their event closely as attendance grows, and recognize that if attendance continues to grow, they will be forced to eventually consider closing streets. It will be the only way to provide maximum safety for Art Walkers on foot, and minimum frustration for motorists.

The benefits of open street space shouldn’t be ignored, either. Our event in Oakland now hosts large art projects and art cars in the streets, as well as many more local merchants and mobile food vendors. Closing the streets allowed the event to grow into a diverse and intense representation of Oakland’s culture. You can imagine that the economic benefits of managing and stimulating the event’s growth haven’t been condemned by anyone.

Miami is a city that needs more outlets for its rich culture and I want to see it one day. I hope that the vision for Art Walk is as big and exciting as Miami’s true potential is.

Armando Garcia

Thanks Armando for your letter.

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Felipe Larcada, the father of Monica Larcada, the jogger injured while on the sidewalk after a dramatic crash sent a parked SUV flying 30 feet and onto the sidewalk, is seeking witnnesses from the incident on October 30th.

Monica is doing better every day and hopefully will have her stitches removed this week and a cast placed on her leg. Thank you all for your concern and prayers.

I have a request. The authorities are receiving conflicting stories on how this event happened. If anybody reading this blog actually witnessed the event as it happened or right before it happened, please contact me. We really need your help. My email again is flarcada@me.com. Thank you.

Felipe Larcada

I’ve spoken with Felipe and we are in the process of obtaining the police report from the crash. Monica has a serious ankle injury from the tire of the parked SUV that hurtled onto the sidewalk. We have some information about the driver of the vehicle that caused the crash, but will wait until we have the police report to post about it.

Stay tuned for more updates and we wish Monica a quick recovery.

Scene of the crash on Brickell Bay Drive on October 30th.

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Yesterday afternoon, a serious car crash on Brickell Bay Drive by the Four Ambassadors Condo Building sent an SUV flying onto the sidewalk and a young woman to the hospital. Transit Miami reader and eyewitness Mark Batey sent us this report:

Having witnessed the aftermath of yet another accident on Brickell Bay Drive, I decided enough was enough and went online to try to find some statistics and contacts. I came across your site TransitMiami.com which is great. The crash was about the third such accident I have seen on almost the very same part of Brickell Bay Drive in the last 6 months or so. It followed the same pattern, according to information from another eye-witness in my building.

Apparently a black vehicle was traveling “way too fast” from south to north on Brickell Bay Drive. It lost control, hit a parked car which was propelled straight into a pedestrian and the pedestrian was knocked to the ground. The attached image is a blurred one out of respect for the pedestrian – a young lady who just happened to be passing by wearing running clothes.

What the photo shows is the black car on its side, the other vehicle fully mounted on the pavement from the impact, and the poor young lady lying on her back, bleeding and with serious injuries. I was alerted to the crash by the sound of the impact and the screams of the young lady which I will never forget.

A few months ago, I was walking by that same spot and saw the aftermath of an almost identical accident, this time with an older lady lying badly injured on the ground. Shortly after today’s crash I watched another lady walking by pushing a baby in a stroller. She has no idea how lucky she was.

From my vantage point I have a perfect view of the chaos of Brickell Bay Drive. It makes my blood boil when I see drivers driving straight by pedestrians on the pedestrian crossing – often at high speed.

I read the posts and comments about the traffic situation on Brickell Avenue and, having lived here for 8 years, and being a frequent pedestrian on Brickell, I can only agree with what I read. It is nothing short of a disgrace.

I would welcome your advice about the best way to make my voice heard on this issue.

Regards,

Mark

Thank you for the excellent report Mark. We agree that even though Brickell Avenue itself receives the brunt of the criticism, the surrounding roads are equally as deplorable for pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists. Brickell Bay drive from SE 8th Street south is in desperate need of traffic calming and enhanced pedestrian and cyclist measures. With 4 lanes of traffic here, vehicle speeds are often completely inappropriate for a dense residential neighborhood. We recommend a ‘road diet‘, reducing the road to two travel lanes and use the reclaimed space for a buffered bicycle lane. (Brickell Bay Drive at 14th street goes back to two lanes and traffic seems to flow just fine).

How many more people out for an evening jog have to be maimed by motorists until some serious action is taken?

Street level view of the aftermath after the jogger had been taken to the hospital.

Update: Reddit has an active thread on this crash. One eyewitness reported: “I was across the street when this accident happened. The black SUV hit the woman jogger and her lower leg snapped. I watched her look down and start screaming. I called 911 then bailed, that s*** was freaking me out.”

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The following is an article from Elsa Roberts from Emerge Miami.

“What are you doing?”
“Thanks.”
“I almost get hit every time I cross the street with my daughter.”
“Get a job!”
“Thank you for doing this.”

These are just a few of the comments we heard in 40 minutes walking the crosswalk for pedestrian safety in Coral Gables on October 20. One older gentleman complained that he doesn’t feel safe crossing the street and said that he couldn’t sprint out of a car’s way anymore – he is 77. Another woman crossing with her children thanked us and proceeded to explain to her daughter why we were demonstrating for safer streets.

Motorist reactions were mixed. There were many instances of driver misbehavior and disrespect. Several drivers illegally blocked the intersection trying to turn left after their green arrow was gone and many making right turns came within inches of our legs; angrily demanding with their vehicles that we yield our space. The strangest comment we received was from a woman in an SUV trying to make a right turn while we were lawfully crossing the street, she rolled down her window, stared into our faces and our signs urging drivers to take care and reminding them that we are all pedestrians, and shouted angrily, “Why don’t you get a job!” Three of us looked at her and simply stated, “We have jobs.” “In fact, we’re here on a Saturday, raising awareness about an issue that kills and injures hundreds of people in Miami every year.”

Unfortunately, too many people care more about getting to a destination a little quicker than they do about looking both ways and yielding to pedestrians, and that is why Miami is the 4th most dangerous city in the U.S. for pedestrians and cyclists; a dishonor shared by three other metropolitan areas, all located in Florida (the Orlando-Kissimmee area is 1st, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater 2nd, and Jacksonville is 3rd). Our cities are not designed to facilitate safe travel for pedestrians, an issue that has repeatedly been brought before the FDOT multiple times (see TransitMiami’s archive), but which they are reluctant to acknowledge as a problem.

This is an issue that will only be solved by repeatedly bringing it into the public eye. Each time a pedestrian or cyclist is injured or killed, the public must cry out and encourage media coverage. We must continue with walks like this to engage the community in Miami; together we can raise awareness and make our streets safer. We will be planning another Walk for Safety in December. Stay tuned to details!

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After this past Saturday’s ArtWalk in Wynwood, the movement for a temporary street closure became more relevant than ever.

Over on the campaign’s Facebook page, supporters have been sending in pictures and video from Saturday’s event, highlighting the obvious and sometimes scary conflict between people and vehicles on NW 2nd Avenue in the Wynwood Arts District.

During one particularly chaotic moment, a parade of glowing stilt-walkers made their way down NW 2nd Avenue, drawing the attention of onlookers and the ire of police. Predictably, the illuminated troupe drew a curious crowd which promptly filled the street. Idling cars were surrounded by a phalanx of smartphone photographers as the motorists tried to nudge their way though the crowd.

Patience wearing thin and tensions running hotter.

All the while, I was standing beside Officer Simmons from the Miami Police Department, discussing the need for temporary street closures, to which she was in complete agreement. Officer Simmons continued to take detailed notes to present to her commander about the situation on NW 2nd Avenue and suggest a temporary street closure to vehicles.

One major concern for the Miami Police officers I spoke with was the very real problem of delayed response times for an emergency in the most congested areas. Citing the road was virtually ‘impassable’, this is a significant public safety hazard that trumps any other benefit of the campaign. Street art and sustainable transportation are just fringe benefits when we are discussing the well-being and safety of the general public.

Don’t think for a moment the safety concerns are overblown. At ArtWalk in Los Angeles almost exactly a year ago, a toddler was struck and killed by motorist that jumped the curb while attempting to park next to a crowded sidewalk. If the possibility of that scenario re-playing exists anywhere, it’s Miami, where motorists seem to incessantly launch their vehicles off the pavement daily. The LA incident sparked a successful ‘open streets’ petition, but let’s not wait for tragedy to play out in Miami.

A motorist nudges though the crowd. Lookout! Too much space for cars, not enough for people.

There is overwhelming support from most local business owners for the campaign, though not all are on board. Some have a mentality that ‘it won’t benefit me’. It’s time to put the petty selfishness aside and support open streets to ensure public safety and foster the successful evolution and success of Wynwood’s ArtWalk.

We are still targeting September – next ArtWalk – for an open street event along a small section of NW 2nd Avenue. We’ll continue to keep you posted via Facebook on any developments or ‘calls to action’.

If you have pictures from ArtWalk, upload them to our Facebook page or send to Craig@TransitMiami.com.

Join the movement at our Facebook Page, follow @WalkWynwood on Twitter and use the hashtag #WalkWynwood to continue the conversation!

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We could not be more grateful for our loyal Transit Miami followers and readers. While we often enjoy spirited conversion on the issues we cover, the dialogue is always civil, educated and thought-provoking. It’s our readership that makes Transit Miami the agent for change we strive to be in moving Miami forward. Below is a collection of quotations from our readers in light of this weekend’s tragic crash outside of Marlins Park via our Facebook page and here.

“Whether this was a freak accident is beside the point when human traffic is an afterthought. If you step back and think about it, it is absurd that 4 inches (maybe) of elevated concrete is supposed to be safe.” – Leah Weston

“No matter the causes behind the vehicular deaths, it is still made so much worse by being so vehicular-oriented. A person suffering a heart attack or other medical crisis on a train, bike or foot would not only cause less trouble to others, but also be more likely to survive themselves.

And then you get into secondary harm. Orienting to the automobile destroys our economy, ecology and society. Autos should be tools, not careless gods.” – Karja Hansen, Barrio Workshop

“I think of truly great baseball stadiums like Wrigley Field, where thousands gather before and after games to fill the streets, purchase merchandise, food and drinks. This Marlins stadium is nothing like it. I’ve already made up my mind to never go there and to boycott this ridiculous waste of taxpayer money and now, to save my life.” – Rima Gerhard

“The departments that are responsible for such roadway designs defend those designs on the grounds that they are “safe.” If we demand street trees, on-street parking, fewer curb cuts, wider sidewalks, they say “those are unsafe” or “those features worsen congestion.” We should be ashamed of ourselves. I’m sickened to call myself a Miamian when I read such reports. We should shame the decision-makers into providing more layers of protection for our pedestrians and cyclists. If we don’t, we are less than human.” – Andrew Georgiadis, Dover Kohl and Partners

“Our straight and wide streets encourage speeding and reckless lane changes that often lead to motorists losing control of their machines. This needs to change.” – Roger Williams

“As nice a venue as the new stadium is, the infrastructure in that community is not designed for the masses of humanity that attend an event.” – James Camp

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Two separate motor vehicle crashes claim the lives of 5 pedestrians, 6 total in Miami this weekend.

City, County and Marlins officials must address shocked, saddened and angry community regarding unbridled vehicular chaos.

The 4th of July will not be a day of celebration for the friends and families of the 5 victims killed by out-of-control motorists in Miami this past weekend. In one of the bloodiest and saddest days I can recall, Saturday June 30th will be remembered as one of the ugliest and most tragic in 21st century Miami.

The worst of the carnage took place on Saturday evening in the shadows of the sparkling new Marlins Park. Shortly after leaving the Marlins game, three family members from Georgia were killed on the sidewalk walking to their car when a red Dodge minivan driven by Herberto Ortega Arias, 67, of Miami jumped the curb and plowed into them only one block away from the stadium. The dead victims were all related and include a 13-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy and a 50-year-old woman. Another relative, a 10-year-old girl remains hospitalized in extremely critical condition. A passing cyclist was struck and slightly injured and another pedestrian was so distraught over the sight that he too had to be hospitalized. The driver of the minivan, Arias, also died in the crash.

Screen shot of MiamiHerald.com on Sunday morning.

The Miami Herald coverage included speculation that Arias may have suffered some sort of medical emergency which lead him to lose control of the vehicle. However, the Associated Press coverage made no such claims, reporting that “authorities did not say what caused driver to lose control of the minivan”.

Only a few hours later, senseless vehicular violence struck again. This time, two people standing outside a Liberty City restaurant were struck and killed when an out-of-control motorist slammed his SUV into a parked vehicle. The impact of the crash pushed the parked vehicle through the restaurant’s front window, violently striking the men, who both died at the scene.

The staggering pedestrian death toll from motor vehicle crashes this weekend should rightfully be a long-overdue tipping point for improved road safety and dangerous roadway design in Miami.

Transit Miami calls on Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez, City of Miami Mayor Regalado, Marlins President David Samson and local police departments to jointly address a community that is truly stunned by the unacceptable level of motorized vehicular carnage this weekend.

The Marlins have yet to release any official statement on the crash, they shamefully did not hold a moment of silence for the victims before today’s game, did not make a public service announcement reminding fans to drive safely or do anything to meaningfully address the tragedy right on their doorstep. Last year, when a fan at a Texas Rangers baseball game tragically fell to his death, the Rangers lowered flags to half mast and established a memorial fund the very next day in the victims name. Transit Miami calls on the Marlins to follow suit and not act like insensitive “small fish” in light of Saturday’s horrific crash.

Further, we have repeatedly addressed the deplorable pedestrian and cycling conditions around Marlins Park. It’s painfully obvious to anyone walking in the area that the conditions around the stadium are utterly ill-suited for the increased pedestrian volumes that come with major sporting events.

In an article for Transit Miami earlier in June (Bike to the Game Day….Not in Miami), I wrote, “The arterials of NW 7th St and NW 17th Ave are downright hostile and nasty – for motorists as well.”

This is precisely where the crash on Saturday took place that killed four people.

I continue, “The Marlins also consistently brushed off requests from the City of Miami to assist in making the area more bicycle friendly. The team did widen a few sidewalks immediately adjacent to the ballpark.”

Unfortunately for the family from Georgia, these widened sidewalks do not exist more than few steps from the stadium. Walk just one block away to your car or bus stop and you’ll experience dated, dangerous and dilapidated sidewalk conditions directly adjacent to roaring vehicles everywhere you step.

Here is NW 7th St. just a few feet east of where the crash took place (behind me). The stadium is only one block Southeast. Notice how narrow the sidewalk is, directly adjacent to a high-speed arterial roadway with no protection from speeding vehicles (on-street parking, trees, a protected bike lane, etc.) The sidewalk is also steeply sloped for the curb cut, which most likely exceeds ADA requirements for wheelchairs. There is however, room for on-street parking behind me, and a grossly long left-turn lane to my left.
This is where thousands of people will attempt to walk to get to and from Marlins Park this year.

The past 24 hours have been a total embarrassment for Miami, as major national news and sports media outlets have covered the horrific event to wide audiences.

The current conditions on Miami’s roads is emphatically a public safety crisis. A response from our local and state officials is not something we are merely “asking for”. Events of Saturday’s magnitude require a strong, meaningful, action-oriented response. Failure to do so represents a dereliction of duty to our community at the highest level.

Mayors Gimenez and Regalado, the citizens of Miami-Dade county await your leadership.

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It was a sad day in Hialeah yesterday when I came upon this sign relegating people to a position of subservience to automobiles.

Our community has a very long way to go towards re-establishing bipedal homo sapiens as the true masters of the urban realm, and Hialeah is – sorry to say – among the most dehumanizing, least humane places to be a walker.

Who in Hialeah – the 10th largest city in the US with a population density of over 10,000; the densest US city without a skyscraper – will emerge as the champions for a livable urbanism?

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This article was first posted two years ago (Febuary 2, 2010) after Christophe Le Canne was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Since then not a single one of our recommendations has been implemented.  How many more lives must we lose on the Rickebacker Causeway before the County Public Works Department does something to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians? This is not rocket science. An unprotected bike lane adjacent to a highway with cars speeding in excess of 65mph is simply NOT a good idea.

 

The Rickenbacker Causeway is similar to Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive; everyday thousands of people descend upon our beautiful causeway for recreational purposes. This is particularly evident on Saturday and Sunday mornings when runners, walkers, rollerbladers, parents with strollers and bicyclists come in droves to exercise. The Rickenbacker Causeway recently completed a major resurfacing project.  Unfortunately, this resurfacing project only really considered the needs of motorists.

The Rickenbacker Causeway/Key Biscayne already has several parks/attractions. These attractions include:

  • Miami Seaquarium
  • Crandon Park/Tennis Center
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
  • Mast Academy

In addition, the Miami Marine Stadium is slated to be renovated and Virginia Key will be converted into a major urban park, which will also include several miles of mountain bike trails. We have an exhaustive inventory of attractions/parks in close proximity that requires safe connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Pedestrians (runners, walkers, rollerbladers, and parents with strollers) have been relegated to using a multiuse path that has many dangerous intersections.  In addition, this multiuse path is often shared with bicyclists that do not feel comfortable riding in the bicycle lane. The bicyclists’ discomfort is justifiable; the bicycle lane is placed adjacent to the roadway without adequate protection from speeding cars.

Crosswalks on the Rickenbacker Causeway are poorly marked. If and when crosswalks do exist, they are dangerous to cross. Crossing a 6 lane highway is pretty tough to do if you are healthy person. Imagine if you are a parent with children, disabled or an elderly person trying to cross the Rickenbacker Causeway.  You will need Lady Luck on your side.

Most would agree that something needs to be done to improve the safety for all users, including motorists, which often travel at high speeds.

There will be no cheap or easy fix for the Rickenbacker Causeway. Short term safety enhancements need to be made urgently, but at the same time we need to have a long term goal for the Rickenbacker Causeway.  Below you will find the short and long term goals that Transit Miami will be advocating for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway

  • Enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit
  • Reduce speed limit to 35 mph
  • Close the right lane of traffic in both directions on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00am.
  • Better signage
  • Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

Long Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway

A major capital improvements project needs to happen and all users must be considered. Below are a few of the major improvements that need to occur:

  • Paint bicycle lanes green (see below: intersections should include peg-a-traking and Chevron arrows)
  • Create a 3 foot unprotected buffer between the roadway and the bicycle lane
  • Major road diet. Narrowing of traffic lanes to discourage speeding (11 foot lane)
  • Proper crosswalks, with stop lights, that can be activated by pedestrians.(see below: off-setting crosswalks)
  • A separate path for pedestrians (pedestrians and bicyclist should not coexist)
  • Consider physical separation as a feature in dangerous areas such as bridges and marked buffers along trajectory of bike lane
  • Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

Our County Public Works Department has a real opportunity to show their residents that they value safe recreation for all users. It should begin with the most popular destination for pedestrians and bicyclists in South Florida.

If you believe that the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway needs to be improved please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email and ask for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway for all users. (ecalas@miamidade.gov)

Peg-a-traking and Chevron arrows

Crosswalk is off-set in the median so pedestrians will be oriented toward oncoming traffic. Source: Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual

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