Last week I decided to place two orange traffic cones on my street in an attempt to calm traffic on NE 76 Street. For several years my neighbors, many of whom have small children, have pleaded with the County and City to do something about the speeding cars on NE 76th Street in Belle Meade. The traffic cones have worked remarkably well and my immediate neighbors seem to agree that cars have been moving noticeably slower since the traffic cones went up.
Sadly, there are too many haters in this world and one of my neighbors happens to be a hater. This afternoon an anonymous neighbor foiled my Belle Meade complete streets conspiracy. A few minutes ago a police officer knocked on my door and asked me to remove the traffic cones. He was extremely polite, cordial and even sympathetic to my traffic calming strategy. The cones have been removed and my neighbors and I are back to square one: my street has become a residential racetrack once again.
The City has tried enforcement; it has not worked. The City erected electronic signs asking motorists to slow down; it has not worked. This should come as a surprise to no one but the City and County. As long 76th Street is designed to encourage speeding, drivers will continue to accelerate down my residential street at 45+mph an hour. The only thing that will discourage drivers from speeding is if the road is designed to do so. Enforcement, electronic signs, educational campaigns, none of these strategies will work until the street is properly designed to discourage speeding.
My neighbors have also requested from the County that they erect stop signs at the NE 76th Street and NE 7th Court intersection in and attempt to slow down drivers. Last month the County conducted a traffic study and results of the study showed that there isn’t enough traffic to merit a 4-way stop sign at this intersection.
Last week I meet with County officials and they told me that the only traffic calming option available for this street is to build a $100,000 traffic circle. I asked about installing a speed table and was told that my block was not long enough to accommodate a speed table.
After my meeting with the County last week I spoke with my Transit Miami colleagues and our recommendation is a raised intersection *or raised crosswalks * at the NE 76th Street and NE 7th Court intersection. We believe this is the best option for Belle Meade and it would send a message to drivers that pedestrians are the priority in this residential neighborhood. It is also a much more economical solution. A raised intersections costs about $13,000 and a raised crosswalk costs about $4,000/crosswalk .We would also like to recommend that the speed limit be reduced to 20mph instead of the current 30mph speed limit. Belle Meade should strive to become Miami’s first Traffic-Calmed Neighborhood. People, not cars should be our first priority. I think a good argument can be made that if our streets are kid and people-friendly it would add value to our neighborhood by making it a much more desirable community to reside.
*It should be noted that raised intersections and raised crosswalks were not discussed with County officials.
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