Currently viewing the tag: "Brickell"

Transit Miami recently sent out a list of questions to City of Miami District 2 Commission candidates to get their views on the issues facing District 2. Representing one of the most important economic and urban centers in our region, the District 2 commission seat plays a central role in supporting regional and local transit, and ensuring walkable, pedestrian friendly streets for city residents. The area included in District 2 includes those parts of the city that are best poised to take advantage of existing premium transit and walkable urbanism. We’ve posted the answers in the order they were received  - so far only Michelle Niemeyer and Marc Sarnoff have responded.

How will you work toward the goal of expanding transit in District

I would determine where we stand, where we have the most urgent needs, and where we should have improvements into the future, and then I would work with private resident and stakeholder organizations, the City, the County, State and Federal agencies together to be sure to get the greatest impact without duplication of effort.

Do you support the South Florida East Coast Corridor project to expand local and express rail service to downtown? Do you support a Tri-Rail option or a Metro-Rail option?

Yes, we badly need public transit that goes into downtown. This should be a priority rather than over spending on public projects that are not needed.

Do you support a MetroRail Baylink connection?

Absolutely. I think its crazy we don’t have a connection from the airport to downtown to Miami Beach.

How will you ensure that upcoming mega developments, like the Genting casino, contribute to pedestrian friendly street frontage?

Special area plans need to be approved by the commission, and the commission needs to strongly negotiate that they are outward facing community oriented properties as oppposed to the inward facing business model which is typical of desitination resorts  and casinos.

The Transit Miami led coalition to improve pedestrian and cyclist conditions on Brickell led to the temporary lowering of the speed limit by the Florida Department of Transportation, but only a change in the design of the street toward a true pedestrian boulevard will impact  driving habits. TM sent the FDOT a list of over 20 missing crosswalks and recommendations for travel lanes that will encourage lower travel speeds, which have been ignored to date. Will you join our coalition and fight with us to ensure that Brickell is reconstructed with narrowed lanes, permanently reduced speeds, and more abundant crosswalks?

Yes. Every community in this district has a road which bisects its neighboood and is treated by the county and the state as a commuter highway. These roads include Main Highway, South Bayshore, Brickell, and Biscayne Boulevard. In order for us to have healthy outdoor environment and pedestrian friendly walking communities we need to place a heavy emphasis on creating public transportation which will decrease the volume of cars beig pushed through our neighborhoods because the existing infrastructure is already overburdened.

In the ongoing planning for the I395 reconstruction, the Florida Department of Transportation is pushing an elevated highway through Overtown that will dwarf the existing expressway that decimated the once vibrant Overtown community. Other alternatives include a tunnel option that will open up over 40 acres of prime downtown land, as well as an at grade boulevard option. Which alternative would you support as District 2 commissioner?

If we could afford it, I support the tunnel.

 

Transit Miami recently sent out a list of questions to City of Miami District 2 Commission candidates to get their views on the issues facing District 2. Representing one of the most important economic and urban centers in our region, the District 2 commission seat plays a central role in supporting regional and local transit, and ensuring walkable, pedestrian friendly streets for city residents. The area included in District 2 includes those parts of the city that are best poised to take advantage of existing premium transit and walkable urbanism. We’ll be posting the candidate responses in the order they are received. Our first respondent is sitting District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.

How will you work toward the goal of expanding transit in District 2?

We (the City) are ordering and implementing the Trolley project scheduled to commence in December for the north/south Brickell - Biscayne Blvd. corridor with an east/west connection down Flagler. There will be a circulator in the Health District. These two districts won grants from FDOT to operate and AARA money to purchase. In addition there will be special service to events Trolley in Downtown i.e. Heat games and the Performing Arts Center that will operate during the scheduling of those events. The fees have not been set - some Commissioners do not want to charge for this service but the Trolley’s will run out of money if we do not charge. I prefer a 6o day no fee trial period, then a $1.00 fee to allow the operation to continue for the next 15 years with Cap X for new trolleys and maintenance.

Do you support the South Florida East Coast Corridor project to expand local and express rail service to downtown? Do you support a Tri-Rail option or a Metro-Rail option?

I support the project but not to the exclusion of the North South link by FEC, as far as we have learned Metro Rail is far too expensive and will not be viable for more then 10 years while we could commence implementing the Tri Rail option.

What are your views on expanding MetroRail along the East/West corridor from western Miami-Dade through the Airport to Downtown?

Metro Rail going to the airport is what we all thought it should be. It now goes somewhere that many users can enjoy that are not commuting to work.

Do you support a MetroRail Baylink connection?

Yes this should have been part of the 5 year plan at MPO 10 years ago. The Beach should have no fear of us.

Critics of Miami21 contend that the parking provisions of the code are excessively high, precluding the sort of neighborhood scale development that the code was meant to support. How would you work to lower the parking requirements of Miami21 so that the benefits of the code are realized?

I continue to support Miami21 and its present parking provisions. Changes to peoples habits is not a light switch - it takes time and we can not burden neighborhoods with people who will park wherever and whenever they can. This must be viewed as a process.

How will you ensure that upcoming mega developments, like the Genting Casino Resort, contribute to pedestrian friendly street frontage?

Through the review process and by ensuring the impact fees are used to create the walkable downtown that we all envision. This process - if Gen Teng commences building - will allow us the opportunity to create not only an east west corridor but a north south connection to BicentennialPark. The Gen Teng process is very amorphous and will present many opportunities for walkability.

The Transit Miami led coalition to improve pedestrian and cyclist conditions on Brickell led to the temporary lowering of the speed limit by the Florida Department of Transportation, but only a change in the design of the street toward a true pedestrian boulevard will impact driving habits. TM sent the FDOT a list of over 20 missing crosswalks and recommendations for travel lanes that will encourage lower travel speeds, which have been ignored to date. Will you join our coalition and fight with us to ensure that Brickell is reconstructed with narrowed lanes, permanently reduced speeds, and more abundant crosswalks?

There is a plan in place for 19 cross walks that we are finalizing with FDOT. The cross walks will be raised to create friction and naturally slow drivers down. We have lowered the speed limit on the residential part of Brickell to 30 MPH with FDOT to review and determine if it goes to 35 MPH (it was 40 MPH). We have written more than 5200 traffic enforcement tickets on Brickell to slow traffic ….so it’s working.

In the ongoing planning for the I395 reconstruction, the Florida Department of Transportation is pushing an elevated highway through Overtown that will dwarf the existing expressway that decimated the once vibrant Overtown community. Other alternatives include a tunnel option that will open up over 40 acres of prime downtown land, as well as an at grade boulevard option. Which alternative would you support as District 2 commissioner?

The second one however FDOT is not listening to local in put into this project. I suspect they are hell bent on the raised highway project a misuse of its power and money.

Around 11:00am this morning a cyclist was hit on Brickell Avenue. The cyclist is currently in the trauma center with a broken leg and pelvis, his injuries are considered to be life treating.   I spoke with two witnesses and this is what I believed happened:

The cyclist was traveling east on SE 14th street.  I’m not sure if the cyclist was riding on the road or on the sidewalk, but apparently he was attempting to cross to the east side of Brickell Avenue.  One of the witnesses I interviewed, a pedestrian, said she was crossing Brickell Avenue on the north side of SE 14th Street intersection from east to west.  She confirmed that the “walk” signal had just changed; indicating pedestrians had the right of way.  The other witness I spoke to claims the Ford Explorer was traveling west on SE 14th Street and was making a left turn onto Brickell Avenue heading south when he struck the cyclist. I also overheard the driver saying he had a green light. If these are the facts, then the driver failed to yield to the cyclist while making a left turn. If my assessment is correct, the Miami Police Department should have issued a ticket for failure to “yield to pedestrian”.

This afternoon I decided to shoot some video at the exact location where this accident occurred. (Brickell Avenue and SE 14th Street). As I was filming this 30-second video two women were nearly hit by a red Cadillac (20 seconds). They must flail their arms in order to get the Cadillac to yield. Also, watch as 5 vehicles fail to yield to the pedestrians that are in the crosswalk.  This happens every single day.  Again, there is no enforcement.  The City of Miami could probably balance their budget in a week if they started handing out “Yield to Pedestrian” tickets.

 

When are our elected officials and the FDOT going to acknowledge that we have a serious problem on Brickell Avenue? How many more people need to be critically injured or must die before they act? Where is our enforcement? How many “yield to pedestrian” tickets have been issued in the past two years around Brickell? My guess is none.

We are still anxiously waiting for Commissioner Sarnoff, Mayor Regalado, County Commissioner Gimenez and the FDOT to announce more safety improvements as was promised during a recent press conference on Brickell Avenue. The FDOT is quick to make safety improvements for motor vehicles, but in the process they are actually creating more dangerous conditions for pedestrians. During the past year I am personally aware of at least a half dozen accidents around Brickell Avenue. This entire situation is utterly disgraceful. As the Brickell population continues to grow ,and our streets maintain an antiquated and autocentric design, the situation will only get worse. Deaths and injuries are certain to increase exponentially if nothing is done.

We hope the cyclist makes a quick recovery.

Please find links to all the accidents which have been documented below:

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/another-pedestrian-hit-on-brickell-avenue

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/pedestrian-hit-near-brickell-avenue-mayor-regalado-and-commisioner-gimenez-support-ped-friendly-streets-fdot-still-says-no

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/fdot-continues-to-play-pedestrian-russian-roulette-on-brickell-avenue

 

 

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I have done my fair share of traveling around the world, and one thing I have noticed about great cities is the use of wide and beautiful boulevards, pedestrian malls, and public spaces.  Unfortunately though, while Downtown Miami would like to claim world class status, the public realm is far behind the reality on the ground.

Downtown Miami is currently awash in Heat mania, but no matter how many Lebron’s, Bosh’s, or Wade’s Miami brings down, the reality is right there on the ground. Dangerous streets, few public spaces, autocentric design, missing crosswalks, yawning parking lots, and the list goes on. Unfortunately Miami likes to dwell in its own hype a bit too much.

Biscayne Boulevard, the front porch of Miami, is a giant parking lot.  With speeding vehicles on 4 lane streets in each direction, an ocean of surface lots, and enough concrete to fill a river.  With Flagler Street, what should be the equivalent to Lincoln Road on this side of Biscayne Bay, officials have been too shy to close the street and create a real attraction worthy of the beautiful South Florida weather.  Instead, they have relegated it to a clogged and polluted street, not worthy of the historic character it’s architecture and name carries. As Morris Lapidus, the brains behind Lincoln Road once said: “A car never bought anything” – and boy was he right.

In Brickell, the story is much the same.  Brickell Avenue and its massive intersections are uncomfortable and dangerous, a far cry from the world class status officials always describe it as. It is quite ridiculous (and embarrassing) that crosswalks are 3 or 4 blocks apart and one has to see business professionals jaywalking and trudging through bushes along medians in the dense and urban Banking District of Miami.  Luckily though, Brickell Avenue is getting a little love after much activism.

My travels have shown me that great cities are built from the public realm up – not by millionaire basketball players and the wealthy fans that visit them. It’s amazing how much weight the city has given to the Miami Heat. One day these players will be gone, and what will we have? The same dangerous, ugly, and unwalkable streets we had before.  Great cities are built to benefit the generations to come – not to dwell in the hype of the temporary present, but to look into the future.

In Barcelona, you have Las Ramblas, a spectacular pedestrian boulevard comparable to Biscayne Blvd or Brickell Ave in size.  In Rome, the Coliseum was closed off to vehicular traffic and transformed into a magnificent public space many decades ago.  The story is much the same throughout most of the great cities of Europe, Asia, and South America.  From Istanbul to Tokyo or Columbia to Mexico, the facts are on the ground – beautiful and majestic public thoroughfares and spaces are important components of any world class city.  Great cities create a great quality of life, and this attracts talented people, culture, arts, businesses, and tourists.

Even Miami Beach has shown greater sensibility to the positive impacts of pedestrianization (as I would like to call it).  Lincoln Road is arguably one of the most successful pedestrian malls in the United States (sales per square foot).  If this isn’t a sign of what should happen in downtown Miami, I do not know what is.  Ocean Drive as well is a spectacular mixture of architecture, humanity, and nature.  A marvelous place to people watch.

Mexico City, a “third world” city, has shown an amazing ability to integrate wonderful public spaces, promenades, and pedestrians malls into the chaotic city of 25 million people.

Paseo de La Reforma, a street not unlike Biscayne Boulevard and Brickell Avenue in terms of density and traffic, boasts a wonderful promenade along the median covered with beautiful flowers and foliage.   It also has something that most major cities have and downtown Miami lacks, many (and consistent) crosswalks.

 

Paseo de La Reforma in Mexico City

Paseo de La Reforma in Mexico City

Crosswalk on Paseo de La Reforma in Mexico City

Crosswalk on Paseo de La Reforma in Mexico City

Horacio Street in Mexico is another beautiful example, located in the densely populated neighborhood of Polanco.  The street boasts a wide and beautiful median, with occasional fountains, parks, flower stands, and roundabouts.  Amazingly, their are no traffic lights on Horacio Street and during my time here, I have felt perfectly safe.   Why?  Because the speed limit is no more than 15 miles an hour, creating a calm and pleasant environment along the entire street for both cars and pedestrians.  In many ways  Horacio is more than a street, rather, it is a long linear park covering more than three dozen blocks.

Horacio Street in Mexico City

Horacio Street in Mexico City

Horacio Street in Mexico

Horacio Street in Mexico

Even in the “Centro” of Mexico, which is the chaotic and historic downtown, officials have begun making improvements towards the pedestrian realm that other great cities have made.  Francisco I Madero St, which leads into the Zocalo (the second largest public square in the world), is currently being converted into a pedestrian mall.  Other neighborhoods throughout the city have also transformed various streets into pedestrian malls and today they are FULL of people enjoying the city.

New Pedestrian Mall on Francisco I Madero St in downtown Mexico

New Pedestrian Mall on Francisco I Madero St in downtown Mexico under construction.

 

If the City of Miami truly wants to make downtown Miami a destination, they need to get past the hype and the Miami Heat, and realize that great cities are created from great public spaces.  And not just one for that matter, but rather, an integrated network of connected public spaces and thoroughfares.

They could easily start by converting the parking lots on Biscayne Blvd into a pedestrian promenade worthy of the location it has.  Biscayne in downtown Miami as it stands now is a pedestrians worst nightmare.  Missing crosswalks, massive streets with speeding cars, 8-10 blocks of concrete lots, and more.  It truly is ridiculous when the entire (beatiful) waterfront of downtown Miami and its attractions are isolated from the city by 150+ feet of roadways and surface lots - one can count the crosswalks across the entire waterfront of downtown with one hand.

Parking could easily be replaced in one (yes one) parking garage (perhaps even underground). Street parking could also be used along the blocks, to buffer the traffic from the promenade, but also to make up some of the lost parking – thereby reducing the speed down Biscayne Blvd through design.  Imagine a linear park and slower traffic complementing the beautiful skyscrapers, parks, and attractions already there.  One could easily argue that this could become one the most beautiful places in the city.

In Brickell, the redesign of Brickell Avenue needs to take into account the drastic density increase over the last (and next) few years and create a more pleasant landscape for residents and tourists.  One crosswalk every three or four blocks is absolutely ridiculous, so is the current speed limit, and massive intersections.  Again, luckily (and after much activism) some of this is being taken into consideration during the current redesign of Brickell Avenue.  Nevertheless, enough is not being done.

Another great improvement would be the transformation of historic Flagler Street into a pedestrian mall.  With historic architecture, cheap rents, great public transportations, and a fabulous location, Flagler has the potential to become one of downtown’s most popular attractions.  I have often heard the argument that Flagler cannot be transformed because there are no alleys behind the buildings for the service trucks.  This is true rubbish.  Many pedestrian malls around the world allow service vehicles (and only service vehicles) to drive through at very slow speeds (5 mph).  Just because the occasional service vehicle needs to come in, it does not mean we should relegate Flagler to ugly and undeserving conditions it faces today.  Cross streets could also be used as staging ground for delivery trucks and such.

It is truly a shame that the City of Miami does not see the large tourist potential of downtown Miami.  Miami has unbelievable weather that makes a well designed outdoor space a “hot” commodity.  Miami Beach understood this many years ago, and now it is arguably one of the coolest urban environments in the Unites States.

The unbelievable development that occurred over the last few years is just the beginning of a transformation that will happen over the next few decades. With millions of tourists descending on Miami Beach every year, the City of Miami should take care to create the type of environment travelers have come to expect - it wouldn’t be hard to pull some of those tourists to this side of the bay.  In fact, some have already started crossing over, as is evident by the growing numbers of tourists on the streets of downtown and Brickell.  Nevertheless, more must be done if we expect the to come back in greater numbers.

The private realm has done its part in the last few years to bring masses to downtown Miami, the city and the state nevertheless, have done very little to adjust the streets and public spaces that must accompany the massive redevelopment of the last few years.

The City of Miami must take ownership over Biscayne Blvd and Brickell Avenue, and force the Florida Department of Transportation to listen to the needs of residents, businesses owners, and city officials.  I am tired of local and state officials “passing the buck”.  They must take Flagler Street and create an attraction from the most historic street in South Florida.  Brickell Ave, Biscayne Blvd, and surrounding streets must accommodate and integrate with the urban setting they inhabit.  The city must create a cohesive pedestrian environment throughout the entire downtown area and beyond.  The current fractioned landscape is a far cry from what is needed.

I will not accept the argument that the City of Miami is a world class city when the facts on the ground say something very different.  Don’t believe the hype!

Happy new year blogosphere! Transit Miami is back and better than ever with a tough agenda on the way for 2011. While we are excited about the coming year we didn’t want to move on without looking back at the top 5 events (in our opinion) which rocked our local planning and transportation world in 2010.

5. FL High Speed Rail

With the Obama Transportation policy reform in full swing, Florida’s Tampa-Orlando HSR link emerged as a big winner, securing over $2 Billion in federal funds and virtually guaranteeing the initial 84 mile corridor’s completion in 2015. Despite the near 100% funding commitment from the feds, this project almost faced a similar fate as the Ohio and Wisconsin HSR plans which were scrapped by incoming Republican Governors late this year. Incoming Republican Gov Rick Scott has pledged to fully evaluate the fiscal viability of the line and is awaiting a feasibility study due in February before deciding whether to accept the federal funds.(barf )

4. Construction begins on the Port of Miami Tunnel

At the end of 2009, things were starting to look bleak for the $1 Billion Port of Miami Tunnel intended to divert truck traffic out of Miami’s downtown streets and onto the highway. With funding in place, the port tunnel quietly broke ground in the summer of 2010, finally bringing the 20+ year old concept into reality. The 1 mile tunnel will link Dodge and Watson Islands, providing the estimated 7,000 trucks and countless other vehicles which access the port daily with new, direct access; reducing congestion, and eliminating much truck traffic that would otherwise use normal downtown streets to get to I95. The tunnel is expected to be completed in 2014.

 

3. Tragedy on the Rickenbacker Causeway

The year got off to a rough start for South Florida Cyclists with the tragic death of Christophe Le Canne on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Le Canne, a 44 year old local cyclist and photographer was killed by a drunk driver on the morning of January 17. His death struck a nerve in growing cycling community. South Florida cyclists gathered like never before in a massive display of solidarity. With an estimated 2,500 cyclists in attendance, the Christophe Le Canne memorial ride (see video below), while tragic, echoed the collective sentiment of cyclists fed up with the status quo. Transit Miami issued a set of design and policy recommendations for the Rick in 2010, and we will continue to meet with elected officials and stakeholders to make the causeway the multimodal parkway we know it could be.

Christophe Le Canne Memorial Ride from rydel high on Vimeo.

2. FDOT heeds Brickell Community Concerns; more must be done

One of Transit Miami’s big projects this year was the campaign to improve pedestrian and cyclist conditions on Brickell. We organized residents, community groups, business interests, and elected officials to come together to speak with one voice to tell FDOT to make Brickell more pedestrian friendly as they move forward with street redesign and drainage improvement plans. We took field trips with FDOT to show them how unsafe they were desiging the road, and we let them square off with community residents and stakeholders in a meeting that left them looking careless and silly. FDOT eventually agreed to lower the speed limit, add several new crosswalks, and include shared-use arrow (sharrow) markings on the outside lane for cyclists - but more still needs to be done.  We are not going to stop until FDOT designs the street to take into account all users, and more than that, places automotive Level of Service at the bottom of a long list of other more important factors (like pedestrian and cyclist safety).

1. Miami 21

After a tumultuous 4 years of public comment,  hysterics, and misinformation, Miami 21 was officially implemented in 2010. We here at Transit Miami joined forces with the City of Miami in 2006 in full support of the plan, working closely with commissioners and city officials to help promote the virtues of a solid, form-based zoning code. The revolutionary work in Miami hasn’t gone unnoticed; since its adoption in May, Miami 21 has been the recipient of numerous awards including the American Planning Association (APA) Florida Chapter Award of Excellence, the American Architecture Award, and the Driehaus Form-Based Codes Award. The code has its issues, including excessively high parking requirements (championed by NYMBY groups) and a general lack of T4 around town, but these are issues we will continue to address in the coming years. We remain committed partners with the City of Miami Planning Department, and look forward to seeing how the code works with our existing transit investments to help Miami get through its urban growing pains.

Here is to a healthy and prosperous 2011! Cheers from the Transit Miami team.

A Transit Miami Shout-out to the Miami Herald for publishing our letter to the Editor. You can also see our letter to the Editor below:

FDOT can do more to make Brickell pedestrian-friendly

The Brickell community deserves a round of applause. A coalition of residents, businesses, elected officials, advocates and civic groups rallied together to ask the Florida Department of Transportation to improve the walkability of Brickell Avenue. After months of lobbying our local elected officials, the Brickell Coalition can chalk up a small victory — FDOT officials conceded to a lower speed limit for a portion of the road and will add one new crosswalk. This is certainly a step in the right direction, but with so much more to be accomplished to make Brickell truly walkable, FDOT needs to do more.

Thirty-five miles per hour is not appropriate for a street with intense pedestrian activity. Just a few blocks north, Biscayne Boulevard has a posted speed of 30 mph — a clear precedent for low-posted speeds along U.S. 1 in the Central Business District.

While a complete redesign of the street would make the biggest impact on motorists’ speed, there are inexpensive traffic-calming measures that could easily be included in the current design, starting with an even greater reduction in speed, the use of raised crosswalks and prohibiting right turns on red.

FDOT also needs to do more than the bare minimum when providing crosswalks. In October, Transit Miami sent the city a list of more than 25 possible locations along Brickell that needed pedestrian crosswalks where none currently exist — yet FDOT has only agreed to add one new crosswalk.

Why does FDOT want to make it difficult for us to cross the street? FDOT can do more. Together, we will help the agency realize the original vision for Brickell Avenue as Miami’s grand pedestrian boulevard.”

Anthony Garcia, Felipe Azenha, Kathryn Reid Moore, Transit Miami, Miami

 A press conference was held this afternoon at 1450 Brickell Avenue to announce changes to the upcoming FDOT resurfacing project.  Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff were present to make the official announcement that FDOT has agreed to reduce the speed limit to 35 mph from Southeast 15th Road and the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway. In addition, a new marked crosswalk in the 1400 block of Brickell will be added and all existing incomplete crosswalks will be completed so that pedestrians will have marked crossings on all four corners. Bike sharrows will also be added, but at a cost; FDOT plans to widen the roadway to accommodate sharrows. We love bike sharrows, but the roadway should not be widened to accommodate sharrows.  We are advocating for the opposite; travel lanes should be narrowed to calm traffic.

The press conference was very encouraging.    All of the elected officials present acknowledged that more needs to be done for all users on Brickell Avenue and noted that the improvements are only a first step. (We agree.) FDOT went further and said they would be willing to add more crosswalks if the Miami DDA agreed to pay for them, which the DDA agreed to pay for on the spot.  There were even whispers of raised crosswalks being thrown around and the strong possibility that the speed limit would be cut even further to 30 mph.  A 30 mph speed limit is more appropriate and would connect seamlessly to Biscayne Boulevard’s current 30 mph speed limit. 

PS. We put the Transit Miami Eye to work yesterday looking for an instance of 30 mph limit on US1 in a Central Business District, and we didn’t have to look far.

A speed limit sign on Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street shows very clearly an instance of a 30 mph limit on U.S. 1 in the Central Business District… looks like a precedent to me.  It also means that this line in yesterday’s Herald article is incorrect:  : “That will make the entirety of Brickell 35 mph — the same speed as the connected Biscayne Boulevard to its north.”  More to come…

Widening lanes to add sharrows is like narrowing sidewalks to attract pedestrians.

                        - urban planner Kenneth Garcia, commenting on FDOT’s latest plans to accomodate sharrows on Brickell

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YOU spoke and FDOT listened! In what may be the first instance of FDOT actually listening to a group of concerned citizens, the Miami Herald is reporting a series of concessions made by FDOT on Brickell in response to the overwhelming support for  the Transit Miami/ South Florida Bicycle Coalition Brickell campaign.

 Among their concessions, they plan to lower the speed to 35 mph (not the 25-30 mph appropriate for a neighborhood street), add ONE crosswalk on the 1400 block, add sharrows to the outside lane, and complete existing intersections that only have 3 crosswalks.

Our partners at the SFBC had this to say:

The South Florida Bike Coalition will continue to seek an appropriate posted speed limitfor the full length of Brickell Avenue that meets Florida state standards for residential/business districts (25-30mph) despite the recent concession from FDOT to reduce the 40mph to 35mph.

We agree 35 mph is still not appropriate for a pedestrian-friendly street like Brickell- but it is better than 40 mph. As many TM readers have pointed out, a redesign of the street would make the biggest impact on motorist speed, but our efforts came too late in the project timeline to go back and change the design. That being said, we will look into the latest traffic studies conducted by FDOT and let you know what we find.  There are basic traffic calming measures that could easily be included in the current design such as raised crosswalks, and prohibiting right turn on red.

We also want to see abundant crosswalks - lots of them. (See below) Unfortunately, when it comes to crosswalks, FDOT still does not understand that doing the bare minimum is not good enough for a safe pedestrian experience. They only agreed to finish all 3-sided intersections (a no brainer) and will install ONE new additional crosswalk at 14th Street. LAME. Transit Miami planners sent the City a list of over 25 locations along Brickell that needed pedestrian crosswalks where none currently exist. Why does FDOT want to make it so hard for us to cross the street?

 Here is our comprehensive list of potential locations that NEED crosswalks, including mid-block locations where clearly marked crossings (both on the street and in the median) will make a huge difference for pedestrian safety and access: SE 14 Street, SE 13 Street, SE 15 Road, SE 14 Terr, SE 11 st, SE 12 st, SE 10 st, between 10 St and 11 street at least 1 crossing, between 10 and 8 St - at least one crossing (but 2 crossings evenly spaced would be best), SE 5 St, SE 6 St, SE 7 St. Then from 15 Road to the Rickenbacker you should follow the existing breaks in the median (19 Rd, b/n 18 Rd  and 17 Rd, @ 16 Rd, b/n 19 Rd and 18 terr, 21 Rd),  and coordinate with existing bus stop locations ( 18 Rd, 20 Rd, 22 Rd). Also, pay special attention to the intersection right after 25 Rd.

We strongly support the inclusion of bike sharrows and increased ‘share the road’ signage. This is a big link in the bicycle network being formed throughout Miami - but for people to be safe and comfortable the speed still needs to be lower. Not to mention that the outside lanes are being widened to allow for sharrows, a point of discussion amongst bicycle planners, who feel that narrower streets calm traffic. FDOT should not widen the street; it’s actually counterproductive to traffic calming and encourages motorists to speed.

Lastly, isn’t it sad that we hear about these improvements from the Miami Herald? This is indicative of how disconnected FDOT is from the community - the FDOT project manager should have informed the residents and business-owners directly of these improvements considering the multiple ways FDOT can communicate with folks. They can do better - and together with you we are going to help them! We look forward to working with FDOT on this project; there is still more that needs to be done.  The Transit Miami Eye is watching … we want real complete streets!

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Last night’s meeting with FDOT regarding the upcoming Brickell Avenue resurfacing project went pretty badly. Transit Miami reader Ned does a wonderful job summarizing the meeting.

“That was a miserable meeting. Few things in life are as frustrating as taking time out of your life, to plead for sanity, to people without power to effect change, representing a bureaucracy on autopilot. There is no sense that FDOT even knows which problems a reconstruction of Brickell Avenue should solve. Their proposal does not appear to target substantive improvement in any of the myriad problems with the design of the roadway (unless perhaps its drainage?). It is obvious that the agency has no strategy in place to identify, evaluate and implement inexpensive, innovative, proven effective techniques for mitigating roadway contention among various modal users. Indeed, implicit in the whole presentation is the sickeningly 70s refrain that roads are exclusively for cars.

What is perfectly clear is that FDOT is not capable of designing a kick ass Brickell Avenue even if they wanted to. There is no more powerful indictment of that futility than for this agency to seriously propose the project as it is currently designed. It is completely irrelevant to the needs of the community. I almost feel sorry for FDOT. They are too dumb to know what to do and too proud to do what they’re told. They build the same roads today that they did 50 years ago, but can’t figure out why it doesn’t work anymore.

Miami cannot afford more bungling from FDOT. This city must have a modern infrastructure to survive, and after decades of neglect, we are now beyond the tipping point. People and businesses are staying away or leaving on the basis of Miami’s ineffective transportation network. The car monoculture is every bit as bankrupt as GM was that built it.

I would support a statewide, five year trial referendum, granting localities the option to vote, by a super majority, for a no build alternative and tax refund on FDOT projects. As it is, FDOT is not accountable for their design decisions and have no incentive to pursue alternatives. As acute as the need on Brickell Avenue is, it is better to do nothing now and hopefully something good later on, than to waste millions doing practically nothing now and nothing later either.”

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It is very important that we get as many people as possible to attend this meeting. Please spread the word if you would like to see a more pedestrian-friendly Brickell Avenue.

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Brickell Avenue and SW 15th Road was the scene of yet another accident on Wednesday.  During the past two years I have personally seen the advertising board/bench at this intersection hit by speeding vehicles at least four different occasions. FDOT needs to stop dragging their feet and do something about the absurdly high speed limit before someone is killed. How many more accidents do we need before FDOT reacts?

I received the below email from our friends over at the Brickell Homeowners Association.  The person who witnessed this accident preferred to remain anonymous.

“Dear BHA,

I have reason to write-in very concerned about pedestrian safety after an incident that occurred just hours ago on Brickell Ave near my home.

As I was driving East on Broadway Ave (SE 15th Rd) right in front of St. Jude Church, I heard a terrible crash behind me. A Toyota Corolla was smashed against the pole that carries the Walk/Stop screen at the South/West corner of Brickell Ave and Broadway. A Jaguar was smashed against the traffic light pole on the island on the West side of Broadway. I stopped my car and ran over to the site of the accident where 2 ladies were shaken-up and hurt by their exploding air bags. The ladies will most likely be ok; the cars will most likely be declared a total loss. After calling 911 and waiting for rescue teams to arrive, I looked around and came to a chilling realization: I have been at the same exact corner where the Corolla was smashed many times with my baby son, waiting for the light to change. Many of those times I have instinctively stepped back a few feet, frightened by the speed of the cars. How fast were these cars going if air bags were deployed and the cars were so damaged? What would have happened if someone was standing at that corner?

After spending some time on your site, I’ve become aware that the BHA has also expressed concern re: pedestrian safety in this section of Brickell, most recently with the mid-block crosswalk at 1770 Brickell Ave. and the lack of awareness regarding this crosswalk. The reason this crosswalk is not effective, and the reason such terrible accidents keep occurring at the aforementioned intersection, is that the speed limit (40mph) is set way too high for the amount of cars and pedestrians in the area, not to mention that drivers routinely go over this limit.  Nobody is going to stop for a flashing light when they are going 50mph, and managing/obeying traffic lights at that speed is difficult and subjective. The Brickell Ave. area between 26th Road and SE 14th St, has become a speedway for cars in both directions and is a tragedy waiting to happen. Moreover, I have never seen police enforcing the speed limit. What has to happen for someone to do something?”

If you would like a safer Brickell Avenue, please sign this letter and feel free to send it directly to FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus.Pego@DOT.STATE.FL.US.

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The upcoming Brickell Avenue resurfacing project has been an enlightening experience for Transit Miami. Through this process we have discovered that FDOT is broken. Let’s use our recent experience to illustrate some fundamental problems with FDOT.

We first found out about the Brickell Avenue resurfacing project in August. I contacted FDOT and they provided me with their design plans. I then proceeded to take a field trip with two FDOT engineers on Brickell Avenue to discuss other improvements which they had not considered. This was just the beginning of the battle for a ped-friendly Brickell.

The Transit Miami led coalition has worked very hard to raise awareness about this project. Together with organizations like the South Florida Bicycle Coalition, we have made a concerted effort to reach out to all the major Brickell Avenue stakeholders. We meet with the Brickell Area Association, the Brickell Homeowners Association, and the Miami Downtown Development Authority. We then personally sat down with Mayor Regalado, Commissioner Sarnoff, and Representative Luis Garcia to talk about our efforts.

Now it seems that everyone’s collaborative hard work may pay off. Two weeks ago the Miami Herald covered this very important story and this past weekend the Miami Herald Editorial Board wrote a piece in support of ped-friendly improvements to Brickell Avenue.

FDOT seems to be slowly reacting.  How much they will do is still unknown.  Apparently, sufficient pressure has been placed on FDOT to motivate them to at least listen to the needs of the community. Unfortunately, this was only accomplished because of the initial efforts of  the Transit Miami coalition with the help of the greater Brickell community.  We engaged as many stakeholders as possible and built consensus. This took a lot of time and effort on our part, but we love a good fight and made plenty of new friends along the way.

Herein lies the problem with FDOT. Why does it take an entire community to beg for overdue improvements?  Shouldn’t FDOT have been proactive and taken the initiative to introduce improvements from the beginning? Why didn’t FDOT reach out to the community to get their input?

Together we will make a difference on Brickell Avenue, but only because so many people are directly affected by this poorly designed road. It was relatively easy to engage the community because so many residents and businesses inhabit this corridor. In areas that are less urbanized it will be more difficult for advocates to garner a critical mass of people to convince FDOT to design roads for all users. FDOT should lead the charge to design complete streets, not Transit Miami.  As much as we would like to, we cannot oversee every FDOT project.

It is the intentionally decentralized nature of FDOT that makes it so difficult to work with this agency.  The only way to fix FDOT is to have a FDOT Secretary in Tallahassee that works to change how things get done. Will Governor Rick Scott make this necessary change? I sure hope so. If not, FDOT will remain broken.

Perhaps FDOT engineers should read this article Confessions of a Recovering Engineer. It’s not about speed, it’s about safety.

If you would like a safer Brickell Avenue, please sign this letter and feel free to send it directly to FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus.Pego@DOT.STATE.FL.US.

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Last week a pedestrian was hit near Brickell Avenue.  Below is the story according to the victim.  Apparently the driver of the vehicle was not ticketed.  Natalie Brown from the Brickell Homeowners Association forwarded this email to Transit Miami.

“I’m contacting you because you might be interested in what happened to me November 11.  I live at Brickell Place D building and walk most every morning to Publix or Walgreen’s. When I was returning I walked to where I can enter the building….that is the driveway where cars go in and out.  I crossed the driveway where the cars are leaving the building and I stood and waited a moment to see if it was clear for me to continue to the gate which I would enter.  All of a sudden a white car swung into the drive and came towards me and hit me.

I just layed there on my stomach…..the lady driver came over and was crying and I couldn’t move. Another lady came along….put my jacket under my head (which was bleeding) and she called my husband for me. I think it was a policeman who asked me what happened. All I said was “The driver entered the driveway very very fast.” Then the ambulance came and took me to Mercy Hospital.

It’s ironic that the very next day there was a long article in the Herald about the walkers vs. cars on Brickell! I read your name in the article and thought that you would be interested to hear what happened to me.

According to the police report, I believe that the driver did not get a ticket. I had to have 8 stitches over my eye…there was a large hematoma on my temple and I have bruises and lots of pain in my back.

You are right….there are not enough crosswalks on Brickell, and in fact, to enter our building from Brickell Av. there is not one crosswalk.”

The victim went on to say…

“Indeed we need more crosswalks and I believe that the speed limit should be reduced especially in the residential part of Brickell.”

Commissioner Gimenez and Mayor Regalado attended the BHA meeting last night. Both support pedestrian-friendly improvements on Brickell Avenue. They believe Representative Luis Garcia can help Brickell Avenue residents and businesses by lobbying FDOT in Tallahassee.

If you know of any similar incidents on Brickell Avenue, please let us know in the comments section.  Sadly, there is still no word if FDOT will make any ped-friendly improvements on Brickell.

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A special thank you to Andres Viglluci from the Miami Herald for reporting about the upcoming Brickell Avenue resurfacing project.  As many of our readers know, Transit Miami has been trying to persuade FDOT to make Brickell Avenue more pedestrian-friendly.

Brickell Avenue is probably the most densely populated area in the state.  If FDOT can’t properly design a road for all users here, then there isn’t much hope for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the rest of the state.

Want a safer Brickell Avenue? Please sign this letter to District 6 Secretary Gus Pego.

You can find links to our articles and videos about Brickell Avenue below:

Transit Miami Apology to FDOT

Want a job where you are accountable to no one? Apply at FDOT.

Unsuitable Brickell Avenue (video)

More Crosswalks on Brickell Avenue (video)

Brickell Drawbridge and Red Pedestrian Crosswalk Lights (video)

Brickell Has Spoken. Will FDOT Listen and Do the Right Thing?

You Are The Boss of FDOT

Where is the enforcement on Brickell?

FDOT Showdown on Brickell. Let’s Rally the Livable Streets Troops!

Correction: FDOT Showdown Has Been Delayed

Transit Miami and FDOT take a field trip on Brickell Avenue

FDOT Resurfacing Project Coming to Brickell; Transit Miami Eye is Watching

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