About 6 months ago I wrote a post for Miami Urbanist, about the County Public Works and Waste Management Department’s recent resurfacing project on NW 2nd Avenue from NW 20th Street to NW 36th Street in Wynwood. It is 2012 and we do live in city, yet the County only managed to install 4 crosswalks along a 16-block stretch on NW 2nd Avenue. The crosswalks are located at NW 20th Street, NW 29th Street, NW 31st Street and NW 36th Street. Yesterday, I discovered the County added another crosswalk on NW 25th Street and they have also added bicycle sharrows on NW 2nd Avenue.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, but NW 2nd Avenue continues to by a disaster for pedestrians. Instead of 5 crosswalks, we should have 16 crosswalks. Seriously, we live in a urban environment, with pedestrian activity increasing in Wynwood exponentially on a daily basis, yet all the County can do is paint an additional crosswalk and add sharrows? The County Public Works and Waste Management Department just earned themselves and F- for NW 2nd Avenue. This project was poorly designed from the start and instead of planning this project properly from the beginning, the County is wasting our tax dollars every time they send another crew out to NW 2nd Avenue to make piecemeal improvements. Do it right one time and the first time.
Below are some picture with explanations of what should have been done.
Please send CPWWS director Kathleen Woods-Richardson an email and let her know that NW 2nd Avenue is an abomination for pedestrians.
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.
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.
Thanks Armando for your letter.
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.
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.
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.
Transit Miami announces campaign for temporary street closures during Wynwood’s ’2nd Saturday’ ArtWalk.
The Second Saturday of each month in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District has rapidly become the ‘must-do’ activity in Miami. For one night a month, NW 2nd Avenue from NW 20th street to NW 29th street becomes a lively festival of art, food trucks, community and celebration – drawing thousands of visitors and growing with each passing month.
But what should be a leisurely, fun and safe stroll through galleries and exhibits of the emerging neighborhood has become a competition of sorts – thousands of pedestrians jockeying for space on narrow, overcrowded sidewalks while a row of constantly idling motorized traffic sits in NW 2nd Avenue. As people spill off the sidewalks and into the street, the conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian are exacerbated. ArtWalk is less about “walking” then it is about delicately squeezing between rows of parked and traffic-clogged vehicles to make your way through the event.
If Wynwood is known for it’s street art, then it’s time we put the art in the street.
Only 8 feet of pavement width is dedicated for thousands people on NW 2nd Ave (sidewalks) while nearly 40 feet is reserved for idling and parked motorized vehicles (street).
Imagine the possibilities if NW 2nd Avenue was closed to motor vehicles and opened for people during this once-a-month event? People, art and vendors can fill the streets. Parents and children can walk and cross safely. The neighborhood sounds will be of music and energy, rather than exhaust-spewing engines.
Transit Miami calls for a partnership between the City of Miami and local Wynwood business owners to arrange for a temporary street closure to motor vehicles to enhance the event’s potential and safety. Yes it will cost some money, but given the event’s popularity and overwhelming crowds, it’s a justifiable expenditure to ensure the long-term prosperity of ArtWalk.
To join the movement to put the walk into ArtWalk, join our Facebook group here or leave your name and e-mail in the comment section below.
A recent open streets event in Hamilton, Ontario
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