Currently viewing the tag: "Transportation for America"

On Wednesday, the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) hosted a transit summit in Fort Lauderdale. The event, attended by several hundred transportation professionals, featured short speeches from the directors of all the South Florida transit agencies as well as some words from other transit advocates and “luminaries.”

The FPTA also took the opportunity to highlight their foray into social media, the IM4Transit campaign. Roughly akin to a Facebook “Like” or the too quickly forgotten Facebook groups, their goal is to sign up 100,000 Floridians who support transit. If you care to, sign up at IM4Transit.org or head over to Facebook and spread the like. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) also expressed their support for the IM4Transit campaign, which serves as their pilot program in social media.

Harpal Kapoor, director of Miami Dade Transit, defended himself (perhaps in response to recent criticisms) by talking up his success as a leader.

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Shortly after the Dangerous by Design report came out, I filled out a letter at the Rails to Trails website to be sent to the Florida Legislature on the subject. I just got a form-letter reply from Speaker Larry Cretul that I’d like to share.

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.  I welcome the opportunity to learn of your concerns and I appreciate your suggestions for improving transportation safety.

Please know the Florida Legislature is concerned about the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities, and has worked to make our state safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.  State law requires walkers and riders to be fully considered in the development of transportation facilities.  In addition, the Legislature passed legislation in 2005 that requires motorists to completely stop for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal, and 2006 legislation requires motorists to allow three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist.  These efforts have resulted in increased pedestrian safety, as this past year saw pedestrian deaths decrease five percent over the previous year.

The Florida Department of Transportation’s Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator works with many offices within the department to provide input and suggestions throughout the various stages of planning and design.  This position also serves as a member of the Strategic Intermodal System technical advisory committee to ensure a focus on safety with alternate modes of transportation.   In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation has a bicycle and pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues.

I would encourage you to work with your local government and metropolitan planning organization on pedestrian and bicyclist safety needs in your area.  State law requires the plans and programs for each metropolitan area provide for the development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities, including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities that will function as an intermodal transportation system.  I assure you that I will keep your concerns and suggestions in mind throughout the legislative process

Thank you again for writing to me.  If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Larry Cretul
Speaker

It doesn’t say much that I didn’t expect; the Legislature pats itself on the back for the few advancements that have made and then it passes the ball to the local government and to us as citizens. The really bothersome part of that is, if I were to go ask people in the various micro-City Halls of Miami, they would all point me back to Tallahassee as the one I need to talk about improving the traffic situation unveiled by the Dangerous by Design report.

When your arguably four major cities are all listed as Russian roulettes for pedestrians and bicyclists (compounded by the hit-n-run epidemic), this isn’t a matter only for the local government, this is a state-government matter, and a very serious one. Take responsibility and take action.

Dear Governor Crist,

As you may know a recent report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America has shown that the following four metropolitan areas within Florida are the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the United States.

1.         Orlando-Kissimmee, FL

2.         Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

3.         Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

4.         Jacksonville, FL

The report titled “Dangerous By Design” concludes that Florida roads are dangerous for pedestrians because they have generally been designed to speed up -not slow down-traffic.

As residents of Miami Dade County, this comes as no surprise to us. However what does surprise us is that Florida has managed to take the top 4 spots nationally; this clearly is not a great achievement. The common denominator for all 4 metropolitan areas is the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) which is responsible for designing most of the roads within these urban environments.  We believe that (FDOT) should be held accountable for poorly designed roads within our state that results in hundreds of preventable pedestrian deaths each year.

The decades of auto-centric culture within FDOT needs to come to an end. A major paradigm shift has to occur within FDOT from designing roads for cars to designing them for people. There is no simple solution and it will take a leader who is capable of changing an organization whose sole focus seems to be moving more cars faster, rather then considering pedestrians and bicyclists. Florida happens to be the most deadly state for bicyclists as well.

With so many retirees and an economy that is heavily dependent on tourism, we hope that FDOT can reinvent itself and begin designing safer roads for future generations in Florida. This pedestrian epidemic needs to come to an end now and it begins with a progressive and proactive FDOT which is capable of designing complete streets for everyone.

Regards,

Transitmiami.com

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, led by Representative James Oberstar (D-Minn), released their long anticipated draft of the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 yesterday, and it is a far cry from the 18-month patch suggested by the Obama Administration last week.

Included in the bill is $469 million for transportation funding over six years. The highway/transit split is still biased in favor of highways, but the bill seeks to streamline the New Starts application process and provides almost double the amount of funding provided in the last transportation bill. Unfortunately, the bill still lacks the funding framework and rules that take into account greenhouse gas emissions and walkablity. Only in this way can we be sure that federal tax dollars go to transportation alternatives, rather than more road and highway projects.

Together with Transportation for America, we are urging readers to participate in a National Call-In Day, Wednesday June 24, to ask House representatives to address funding rules, and not put off a vote on the bill. This from Transportation for America:

The bill has a lot of what Transportation for America supporters have been pushing for, but without any accountability to measure its success or failure, it still falls short.

Without over-arching goals and targets – such as lower energy consumption, greater affordability, and expanded access – there’s no way to be sure billions of dollars in transportation spending will truly deliver clean, safe and smart transportation. That’s why your call today, as members of Congress are marking up the bill, is so important.

Please call your representative and urge them to co-sponser the National Transportation Objectives Act of 2009 (H.R. 2724). Let them know that you want to make sure the billions spent on transportation help us cut down on emissions, give us real energy security, and provide you with more affordable options for getting from A to B.

To find out who your representative is please go to here.

Congressional switchboard number: 202-224-3121

Diaz-Balart, Lincoln, Florida, 21st
Diaz-Balart, Mario, Florida, 25th
Hastings, Alcee L., Florida, 23rd
Klein, Ron , Florida, 22nd
Kosmas, Suzanne M., Florida, 24th
Meek, Kendrick, Florida, 17th
Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana, Florida, 18th
Wasserman Schultz, Debbie, Florida, 20th
Wexler, Robert, Florida, 19th

Click here and sign the letter below.

On Nov. 4, Americans voted overwhelmingly to support measures that would fund public transportation — and we’re using it more and more, with ridership levels this year surging at a rate not seen for the past 25 years. The Washington Post editorial board recently said lawmakers should see these developments as a “call to action for mass transit,” and that “a good start would be to make infrastructure improvements a key component of any economic stimulus bill.”

I agree, and I urge you to read the editorial:

Investments in our public transportation and creating safe streets for biking and walking will create jobs right now and allow Americans to use less gas in the years to come, giving us a three-for-one return: a stronger economy, less dependence on oil, and reduced emissions of climate-harming carbon.

In the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, it’s imperative that we make smart investments with stimulus funds to create new jobs building a 21st Century transportation systems, preserve the millions of jobs that depend on mass transportation, and repair our roads and bridges.

Sincerely,

Transit Miami

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