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From our friends over at Green Mobility Network:

Action Alert

Sept. 4 Resolution is Bad for Bicycling—Please Act Now!

Dear friends of bicycling,

We realize it’s the Labor Day Weekend and most of you are relaxing, but your immediate action is needed.

The Miami–Dade County Commission is being asked on Tuesday, Sept. 4, to help erode a progressive state law that requires accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians on state roads in urban areas. There will be no opportunity for public comment during the commission meeting, so we’re asking Commissioner Rebeca Sosa to withdraw her resolution or postpone it until we can meet with her.

The law, section 335.065 of the Florida Statutes, provides that bike lanes and sidewalks be given full consideration in the planning and development of state roads in urban areas. When the state Department of Transportation (FDOT) repaves or redesigns an urban street, it must provide for walkers and bicyclists as well as for drivers — or show why cost or safety makes doing so impractical.

The law was virtually ignored in South Florida for most of a generation, and now that advocates have succeeded in getting FDOT to follow the law it’s meeting resistance — first in Miami Beach and now in the Sept. 4 resolution Commissioner Sosa, representing District 6. She’s responding to the upcoming repaving of SW 57th Avenue between 8th Street and Bird Road, where state engineers plan to include a bike lane and are encountering constrained road dimensions in some areas.

FDOT can choose from a variety of bike facilities on roads like 57th Avenue. This resolution will only hurt the cause of making Miami-Dade’s streets safer for all users. We strongly urge Commissioner Sosa to pull this item from the agenda and work collaboratively with the bicycle community to advance better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure throughout Miami-Dade County.

Please copy the following message and send it to the e-mail addresses below. Do it now! It’s not too late to stop this ill-advised resolution.

If you would prefer to register your concern by phone, please make two phone calls to request that the resolution be pulled from the agenda. You can call the following:

Mayor Carlos Gimenez: 305-375-5071
Commissioner Rebecca Sosa: 305-375-5696

BEGIN COPY-AND-PASTE–AND ADD YOUR NAME AT THE END OF THE MESSAGE

Re: Sept. 4, 2012, Agenda Item #121569–Bad for Bicycling–Please Pull From Agenda

To the Board of County Commissioners:

Agenda Item #121569 is bad for bicycling in Miami-Dade County and potentially the entire state of Florida. It would turn back the clock on significant progress in winning accommodation for bicyclists and pedestrians in urban roadways. It was placed on your agenda without public input. I urge you to pull it from the agenda and make time for public discussion of this important matter.
END COPY-AND-PASTE

SEND TO THE INDIVIDUAL COMMISSIONERS–JUST COPY AND PASTE THE FOLLOWING E-MAIL ADDRESSES INTO THE “TO” LINE OF YOUR E-MAIL SOFTWARE.

mayor@miamidade.gov, officeofthechair@miamidade.gov, bjordan@miamidade.gov, district2@miamidade.gov, district3@miamidade.gov, district4@miamidade.gov, district5@miamidade.gov, district6@miamidade.gov, District7@miamidade.gov, District8@miamidade.gov, DennisMoss@miamidade.gov, district10@miamidade.gov, district11@miamidade.gov, District12@miamidade.gov, district13@miamidade.gov

Once you’ve written, how about letting us know at our Facebook page? Your example will be encouraging to others.

It is a welcomed (albeit rare) surprise to read about a private developer in Miami-Dade County who has a grand, gimmicky idea but doesn’t want to pay for it with public funds. Such is the case of the owners of Sun Life Stadium, who are planning on building a water park adjacent to the Stadium to replace their lost summer baseball income once Marlin’s Stadium is complete.

I like water parks, and for those natives who remember ‘Atlantis’, having a nice water park close by will be a lot of fun. But what I like most about this project is that it doesn’t involve public money or land! What a refreshing idea - that large scale projects in Miami-Dade County DO NOT require public money or land. This all after talk of using $200 million in tourist tax dollars to update Sun Life stadium to better compete for the Superbowl. Thankfully that talk has died down, for now. Hopefully decision makers will continue to look at the long list of projects built on public land or with public money and decide that there are better uses of our tax dollars. 

 PS. This post is dedicated to: the Marlins Stadium, the proposed Metro-zoo amusement park, the Watson Island luxury development, EDSA’s Virginia Key Plan, the American Airlines Arena, the Old Miami Arena…etc. Feel free to add to this list…

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TransitMiami.com’s coverage of the recent fatal accident on the Rickenbacker has garnered its own press in The Miami Herald and now, MSNBC, as well.

The MSNBC piece focuses on our “an ambitious project to document the crashes that often prove fatal in and around Miami, using a Google map that keeps track of the accident sites and whether there were any fatalities.” You can read the whole article here. We need your help to ensure this project’s success. If you are aware of any bicycle collisions, please email us whatever details you can. It is our hope that this will serve as a tool for planners, engineers, policy makers and advocates. Learn more about the project in TM’s post below.

The Transit Miami team is proud to report on important transportation and urban planning issues that affect all of us in the Greater Miami area. Thank you to all of our readers for making TransitMiami.com one of the top blogs in our community.

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TransitMiami.com continues to reach out to local leaders for a response to Sunday’s fatal hit and run incident on the County’s Rickenbacker Causeway. City of Miami Regalado has yet to return our call but City of Miami Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff has issued the following statement:

“First of all, we cannot lose sight of the fact that a man made the decision to allegedly stay out all night drinking and then get into his car to recklessly drive home. There are far too many unanswered question from the tragic aftermath of this incident, but we can all agree that Carlos Bertonatti should face the fullest and most severe punishment allowed if he is in fact found guilty in the death of Christopher Lecanne. It appears to be a total breakdown by county dispatchers who should have immediately called in rescue teams from the City of Miami and Key Biscayne. According to our Fire Chief Maurice Kemp, Miami dispatchers called County to make sure they were aware of crash on a county road. Our dispatchers were told the County was aware. Twice during that conversation, City dispatchers asked the County if they need our crews to respond and told no. This is on tape and absolutely unacceptable. I know our Mayor is working with the County to find out exactly what went wrong and then take all necessary steps immediately.

This tragedy highlights the dangers our cyclists and runners face each day on our roads from careless and drunk drivers. Next Thursday, Jan 28th at 5pm, the City Commission will decide whether or not to extend the hours alcohol in local bars from 3am to 5am. I’ve already received hundreds of emails from local cyclists warning of the danger, since so many rides on the Rickenbacker originate in Coconut Grove. This was even before the tragedy with Mr. Lecanne. I urge anyone with concerns to attend this important meeting to ensure their voice is heard by Commissioners. It is our duty to keep our roads safe.”

Readers: Please let us know if you have been successful in reaching out to your local leaders. We hope to see you this Sunday for the Key Biscayne Memorial Ride at 9am.

Miami is a community of communities, and nowhere is that more true than among our cycling and walking advocates. South Florida is home to hundreds of walking groups, racing teams, transit advocates and mobility activists… the list goes on. The horrible death of Mr. Christophe Lacanne, witnessed by hundreds of people traveling along the county’s Rickenbacker Causeway last week, has united our groups with the desire to make a statement and prevent accidents like this in the future.

There is a lot to be angry about.

  • All County residents should be concerned by the jurisdictional confusion that left Mr. Lacanne lying in the street for nearly half an hour while a Fire-Rescue truck sat less than 5 miles away.
  • Anyone who uses our roadways should be shocked by the number of comments on the Miami Herald website illustrating a basic lack of familiarity with road rules and DMV guidelines.
  • Cyclists want to know why our county designed a roadway where cars are encouraged to speed (by design) directly alongside a bicycle lane where speeds are typically 15-25mph.
  • Lastly, how does a young man with over 40 traffic violations, a violent criminal record and a public persona that celebrated poor driving habits and no valid driver’s license still be able to drive his own car?

Thanks to those who responded in words and deeds, writing and calling our leaders to share these concerns, our politicians are responding.

Today, at 5pm, County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez will have a public meeting in his Downtown Miami Office to meet with constituents.

Mayor Alvarez has not issued a statement but his staff says that he is working with the Fire-Rescue department to address these issues.

In the City of Miami: Calls to Mayor Regalado’s office have not been returned. Commissioner Sarnoff is out of town on business, but we anticipate his response upon his return tomorrow.

Have you reached out to your local leaders or FDOT? We want to hear what feedback you have received. Please share your comments by clicking on the title of this posting and then scrolling to the bottom of the page.

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To all our regular readers, the message below is a direct response to the recent criticisms presented by local blog Critical Miami:

We are not anti-car zealots, we strongly believe that the key to creating a sustainable community is a multi-modal transportation policy rather than the uni-modalism that currently overwhelms Miami-Dade. It appears that in the eyes of some, Transit Miami has lost its focus, becoming too obsessed with creating a city that is designed and navigable to humans, rather than the voluminous heaps of metal we all wander around in.

A Message from the Publisher

I started Transit Miami for one reason: because I care about my community. The way I see it, Miami has a potential that no other city does, a vibrancy no other community could dream of achieving. Sadly, in my 22 years of living here, I have witnessed nothing more than its potential crumble, eroded away in congestion, corrupt politics, and square mile after square mile of inauspicious development. In my travels abroad, to Paris, London, San Francisco, Vienna, and New York, among other places, I experienced the nature of true global cities and came back longing for the same characteristics that make those cities successful. Regarding thriving, diverse economies, unparalleled educational opportunities, a pulsating cultural scene, etc, it is often difficult to understand how all of the qualities* we want for our city are tied deeply to the urbanism which defines our landscapes.

After all, we find it alarming that on average Miamians spend 30% of their income on Transportation needs, don’t you? There is a better way to live.
-Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal

Clarity on the Issues

While we appreciate Critical Miami’s kudos and acknowledge their own fine work over the last few years, we definitely feel that it is their site that is out of touch with reality in this case. Perhaps Critical Miami is baffled because they are not likely educated on best practices in contemporary urban planning. Frankly, we find it contradictory that a site that calls for “holding the line” so adamantly would be so misunderstanding when it comes to better land-use policy.

To be clear, Transit Miami never stated that worsening driving conditions was the best way to improve transit. In fact, we stated the opposite, “Additional parking will increase congestion…” The developer, not Transit Miami, originally proposed the position of hampering a vehicle’s ability to access the EWT development. We supported his decision and original plans to reduce parking capacity at EWT due to the direct links his structure would have with the adjacent Metromover structure (just as we supported reductions in parking at the Coconut Grove Metrorail Transit-Oriented Development) and never once suggested making driving more difficult, only parking.

Critical Miami mentions several times that “making driving more difficult” is political suicide and is essentially foolish. What about traffic-calming? Wouldn’t Critical Miami agree that traffic calming makes streets safer and livable for everyone, perhaps at the expense of a little speed for the motorist? If you support traffic calming in any capacity, it makes your statements about making driving appear paradoxical.

The interesting part is, we aren’t even advocating for anything drastic. For example, we promote the Miami Streetcar project, which calls for constructing a streetcar line through one of the densest and fastest-growing urban corridors in the state. This is not very drastic at all, especially in a city with a woefully underdeveloped mass transit system and sizable low-income population. We promote decreases in minimum parking standards. This is not so radical either since it reduces the overall development cost, making housing more affordable. There is a sizable body of scholarly literature available that correlates the underlying message of our letter: increasing parking capacity increases driving demand like dangling a carrot for cars.

Sustainability, Miami’s Growing Problem

Miami-Dade County, as it currently stands, is one of the most unsustainable metros in America. You can analyze this from a variety of angles, but you will always end up reaching the same conclusion: our actions will have devastating economical, environmental, and social costs if we do not change. If you want to look at it from a mobility/accessibility/congestion standpoint, Miami is incredibly unsustainable under a current unimodal paradigm and without change, it will become a less and less viable place to live and conduct business. Traffic congestion and VMTs (vehicle miles traveled) are expected to increase significantly between now and 2025. Contrary to what Critical Miami and most Americans believe, it simply is not economically or spatially feasible to build your way out of congestion (i.e. build more highways/widen roads.)

This means two things: in order to be more sustainable from a transportation perspective we must improve and expand our transit capacity and we must improve our accessibility. The transit component is straight forward enough. However, continuing the auto-centric status quo gives the illusion that we do not have to change our transportation habits and there will always be some fix or policy to make things better for driving. This could not be further from the truth and is flat out irresponsible. This is why we are against excessive minimum parking requirements, because it is like mandating more beer for an alcoholic.

Regarding the second component, accessibility, this means changing our zoning to allow mixed land uses and creating higher densities. This will enable people to travel shorter distances for their employment, retail, commercial, recreational, and residential purposes (if they so chose.)

Note: the goal of changing our land use policy is to enable people to have a choice when it comes to personal mobility, where walking or driving can be considered equal alternatives. This is a fundamental component of transportation equity.

This increases the viability of walking and cycling, which incidentally is the cheapest way to get around. However, if you continue down the auto-centric policy paradigm, you are not facilitating the type of conditions that make walking, cycling, transit, and higher density a formidable option.

Transit Miami’s Global Comparisons

Regarding the division between the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, of course it is the county that operates the local transit agency. This is likely the root of many of the problems we will face in this region over the coming decades; our inability to work together due to the multiple bureaucratic layers we have created because of perceived political injustices. This fragmented landscape of local municipalities will only serve a divisive role when it comes to regional planning initiatives.

Ryan never said or even implied that Miami was going to have a transit system like Montreal’s – he simply implied that Montreal had a quality transit system and that Miami should strive to improve theirs in order to achieve a higher transit standard and all the external benefits that go along with it. That is tough to misconstrue. In addition, he never mentioned or even remotely implied that Miami needed to “grow a mountain” to have a grand urban park. That is very clear for anyone reading that section, and it seems to me that either you grossly misread it or cherry picked that part and took it out of context to support your own point.

Transit Miami often uses global comparisons to drive home points visually to our readers on the effects of better public transit and land-use policy in other cities.

Bicycle as a means of Transportation, not just a Vacation

We don’t recall any sort of official “challenge,” however Critical Miami is unequivocally wrong about their assertion that such a program cannot work anywhere in Miami. Just because Critical Miami is a bike enthusiast doesn’t mean you understand how bicycling systems operate or can function in an urban setting. South Beach offers the perfect place for a pilot program, at a minimum. Transit Miami is in the process of working closely with our local agencies to see such a plan come to fruition, we invite Critical Miami to attend any of the local Bicycle Action Committees to air their sentiments.

Regarding Critical Miami’s comments about it taking generations to enact the type of changes we advocate, this has been proven otherwise. Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, created a thriving bicycle network in his city and within just five years captured 5% of the daily transportation needs. It just so happens that Mr. Penalosa was recently in Miami, meeting with Miami officials to discuss their plans to create a bicycle network in this city, a meeting that this blogger was privileged enough to attend. Looking beyond bicycles, formerly auto-centric cities like Perth, Australia, with guidance from visionaries like Peter Newman, have transformed into legitimate multi-modal communities in just 20 years or so, which is well within the time frame of the county’s current Long Term Plan and the City of Miami’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Development Plan.

The fact of the matter is that changes occur when the funding (and mentality) is there in support. Sure, cities evolve and mature and most changes do not occur overnight, but the mentality Critical Miami presents falls in line with the mentality that has accomplished nothing in Miami over the past several decades.

-This article represents the views of the entire Transit Miami Staff…

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