Currently viewing the tag: "complete streets"

Since the hit and run collision that killed cyclist Christoph LeCanne in January, the Transit Miami Eye has noticed that the Miami Dade Police Department has wholeheartedly stepped up enforcement on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  This morning I noticed a small army of Miami Dade police officers pulling over speeding cars. Well done MDPD, your efforts have not been overlooked.

Thank you MDPD!

Busted. Speeders can run, but they can't hide from the MDPD.

Unfortunately, even with the additional enforcement, many hazards still remain.  Additional enforcement certainly helps, but is not a long term solution for the Rickenbacker Causeway.  We still have a roadway that is designed to encourage cars to travel in excess of the posted 45 mph speed limit, which in and of itself is too high. Even with all the additional enforcement, I saw several cars traveling in excess of 60 mph today. Speeding is particularly prevalent on bridges, where it difficult for the police to set up speed traps. Drivers are aware of this and take the opportunity to rev-up their engines. For this reason, bridges are the most dangerous sections of the Rickenbacker Causeway for cyclists.

What we really need to do is design a roadway that polices itself.  If we were to construct a roadway with a design speed of 35-40 mph, we would not require the coveted services of our police department. Instead the valuable resources of the Miami Dade Police Department could be allocated to deal with the more pressing issues of our community. Please do not misconstrue what I am trying to say, I really am grateful for everything the Miami Dade Police Department has done for the cycling community. They have been very supportive of us, but enforcement is only part of the solution to the many issues that plaque the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Today I also saw a Miami Fire Department truck parked in the bike lane. A bike lane that also doubles as a shoulder creates a major conflict for cyclists when motor vehicles are parked in it.  You can also see several other pictures of Miami Dade County employees parked in the bike lane that Transit Miami reader Yaniel Cantelar sent to us last week.

Motor vehicles parked in the bike lane create major conflict areas for cyclists

For the past couple of weeks I have been eating, drinking, and biking my way through France. My wife and I spent a week honeymooning in Provence and another week in Paris.

Provence

We spent the first week of our honeymoon cycling through the heart of wine country in Provence. Our tour was organized by Headwater and was truly epic. When you travel on a bicycle you get to fully experience your surroundings.  You smell the country side, you feel your environment and you interact with the locals. There is something about traveling on a bicycle; for those that have done it you know what I’m talking about. For those of you that haven’t, you should really consider it. You can find our itinerary here.

Arriving in Cotignac

Elevated crosswalk in Carces used to calm traffic

Bollards used to protect pedestrians and calm traffic. Notice how the street and sidewalk are the same grade

No sidewalk? Not a problem, just create a space for pedestrians by striping

Paris

I can’t say enough about how wonderful this city is. Unlike Miami, most motorists actually yield to pedestrians. All intersections are clearly marked with wide zebra crosswalks.  I also noticed that the pedestrian crosswalk signals are much lower than the pedestrian crosswalk signals here in the United States. Placing the pedestrian crosswalk signal closer to eye level makes it easier for both pedestrians and motorists to notice them.  Also, traffic lights are placed before the crosswalk and not in the middle of intersections.  By placing the traffic lights before the crosswalk it forces motorists to stop before the crosswalk, giving pedestrians the right of way they deserve. Another feature I also observed was the pedestrian fences.  In areas where pedestrians should not cross the street, tasteful pedestrians fences have been erected to corral the pedestrians towards the large zebra crosswalk.  Sidewalks, for the most part, are wide and inviting.

Notice how motorists are forced to stop before the crosswalk when traffic signals are not located in the intersection.

Traffic signals are placed before the crosswalk and not in the intersections.

Sidewalks are wide, making the public realm more inviting to walk

Tasteful fences are used to guide pedestrians to the crosswalks where it is safe to cross.

The Velib bicycle share system in Paris is absolutely spectacular. Because Paris is so walkable, I only used it once, but the system is very easy to use and is well connected to mass transit.  I was amazed to see Parisians from all walks of life using the Velib bicycles. I saw stylish women and men using the bicycles, as well as businessmen, businesswomen and the elderly using the Velib.

A fleet of Velibs

Bicycles lane were clearly marked and in many areas were allowed to share the bus-only lanes. Buses are equipped with an electrical horn that sounds like a bicycle bell.  Bus drivers use this electrical bicycle bell to politely warn cyclists and pedestrians that the bus is coming.

Bike boxes give cyclists priority in the transit queue

Chevron arrows through an intersection

Chevron arrows across an intersection into a protected bicycle path

Bicyclists can share the bus lane

The metro and the bus system are easy to use.  At the metro stations and bus stops there are electrical boards advising transit users when the next train or bus will arrive.

The next bus arrives in 2 minutes

Next train arrives in 3 minutes

Most crosswalks have provisions for the blind and I even found a train station that had a textured path that could be felt with a walking cane.

Textured path to help guide the blind in a train station

Most crosswalks have provisions to help guide the blind

Parks are scattered throughout Paris. The parks I entered were active and drew a wide array of people of different ages.

Children playing in one of the many park of Paris

Lounging in the warm afternoon Paris sun

Paris recycles; Miami does not.

Yesterday I went for a bike ride on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  This is what I witnessed:

  • Several hundred bicyclists
  • Hundreds of pedestrians
  • Two Miami Dade Police cruisers enforcing the speed limit
  • At least 7 cars driving in excess of 50 mph
  • Five cars driving in excess of 65 mph on the bridges
  • A SUV swerve into the bicycle lane while doing about 45mph
  • Two cars parked in the bicycle lane
  • A driver aggressively accelerating towards me as I overtook another cyclist. The driver then yelled at me and told me I only belong in the bicycle lane.

It’s been nearly three months since the tragic accident that killed bicyclist Christope LeCanne, yet no additional safety measures have been implemented on the Rickenbacker Causeway. All the dangerous existing conditions still remain there. I would like to remind everyone that over the past 5 years we have averaged about a death every 2.5 years on the Rickenbacker Causeway, in addition to many other serious injures.  Please reach out to County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and ask for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway for everyone.  Commissioner Gimenez is one of our greatest allies, but he needs your support. Please also suggest to him that we close a lane of traffic every Sunday for cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the best South Florida has to offer.

It’s been nearly 6 months since FDOT completed its auto-centric resurfacing project on Coral Way. Our readers may recall that I did a thorough analysis on the poor quality of the bike lanes which were striped on Coral Way. We were told that FDOT would go back and re-stripe the bike lanes correctly as they should have done in the first place. Well, it’s been 6 months and we’re still waiting…

Yesterday I was driving down this section of roadway and noticed all the cars overtaking me as they cruised in excess of 50 mph. This roadway has 14ft lanes which only encourages cars to speed. As I’m driving down the street I noticed a woman pushing her husband in a wheel chair while trying to cross Coral Way in front of the St. Sophia Church on Coral Way and SW 24th Road.  Unfortunately, this vulnerable couple doesn’t have safe options to cross Coral Way. The closest crosswalk to them is one block away on SW 25th Street. The next closest crosswalk is 10 blocks away on SW 15th Street. To make matter worse, the crosswalk on SW 15th Street is on a treacherous curve, making it very dangerous for even a healthy individual like myself to cross.

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

This signature FDOT project is just another fine example of their auto-centric mantra. The time is now to begin designing complete streets for all users.

Enough is enough. Cyclists in South Florida are sick and tired of FDOT’s antics. FDOT chooses not to include or even consider bicycle lanes in most of their resurfacing projects in District 6.  Last night about 35 cyclists attended an open house in which FDOT told the attendees that bicycle lanes would not be included in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project; so much for public participation.

Yesterday the newly energized South Florida Bicycle Coalition announced they would seek legal action if FDOT does not include bike lanes in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project without the required design exception, traffic and impact studies.

Well done South Florida Bicycle Coalition!  Keep up the great work!

Our expectation is that FDOT should design a complete street that includes sidewalks, bike lanes, narrower traffic lanes, lower speed limits and additional traffic calming devices. We will no longer tolerate shoddy FDOT workmanship such as the bike lanes on Coral Way and the MacArthur Causeway. FDOT has a responsibility to provide safe bicycle infrastructure that exceeds their abysmally low minimum design standards.

It should be noted that this is a MAJOR route for cyclists traveling east/west.  Trinity County Pineland Park and three elementary schools sit on Sunset Drive.  These attributes make this stretch of roadway the perfect candidate for a complete streets initiative by FDOT.

Streetsblog is reporting that over the past decade London has been reducing speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph throughout the city.  Today London has over four hundred 20 mph zones. As s result, Londoners have benefited from a 46% decline in fatalities and serious injury within the 20 mph zones during the past decade according to British Medical Journal.

A 2008 map of London's 20mph zones. Image: London Assembly.

The high speed limits within our densest population pockets discourage people from walking or riding a bicycle. Brickell Avenue has a 35 mph speed limit and Biscayne Blvd. has a 30 mph speed limit. However, the design speed of both of these roads often encourages drivers to travel at speeds of 40-45 mph.  The first step to making our roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians would be to reduce speed limits throughout Miami Dade County. The second step would be to introduce self-enforcing traffic calming measures such as: raised junctions, raised crosswalks, chicanes, road humps and roundabouts.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

So what’s it gonna take for us to step up to 20 mph speed limits?  Can you imagine how much more livable our streets would be if speed limits were reduced on our city streets?  The results of the London experiment were so glaringly obvious after 4 years that in 2004 the World Health Organization endorsed 20 mph speeds as an essential strategy to save lives.

Until recently Miami had never really given bicycling much consideration. During the past year or so the bicycling movement has gained momentum here. The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was approved by the Miami commissioners, bicycle lanes are slowly popping up and we see more and more cyclists on the road everyday. This is certainly a good thing; however I’m a little concerned about the quality of some of our bicycle lanes on roads were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph.

For example, here in Miami we have had several bicycle lanes placed on roadways were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph and we can even find unprotected bicycles lanes placed adjacent to roadways were the design speed is closer to 50-65 mph. The probability of death or serious injury to a vulnerable cyclist increases substantially as motor vehicle speeds increase. Therefore before painting unprotected bicycle lanes, we need to make sure that the speed of traffic does not exceed 35-40 mph.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

So this got me thinking, perhaps the best way to bring cycling into the mainstream in cities that are not accustomed to cycling would be to create a bicycle network which designates specific roads as high priority routes for cyclists. Cities would focus spending and market these high priority routes; they could be called Urban Bicycle Networks. Marketing is key and fundamental to the Urban Bicycles Network’s success; it would be seen as sexy and cool and would be a matter of pride for a city.

The high priority routes would serve as the backbone to a city’s Urban Bicycle Network. Once a city designates the high priority routes, speeding fines within it would double much like in a road construction work zone. Of course, there would need to be clear markers so that motorists and bicyclists are aware of the special conditions that prevail within the road they are traveling on. The Urban Bicycle Network would not be expensive to implement and 50% of the total fines from moving violations within it would be reallocated back in to the network to make improvements and for maintenance.

I’m not sure if what I am suggesting is legal, but I’m trying to think out of the box here. The doubling of speeding fines within the Urban Bicycle Network would quickly educate motorists about the cyclist’s right to be on the road, reduce the speed of traffic and cyclists would be encouraged to use those roads which are safest for them.

Mr. R.K Smith, 88, with his 1953 Schwinn Cruiser

In my never-ending quest to add a truly vintage bicycle to my collection, this morning I stopped by a garage sale in Coconut Grove while on my morning bike ride. There out of the corner of my eye I spotted a 1953 Schwinn cruiser owned by Mr. R.K. Smith. Mr. Smith, a World War II veteran, purchased this beauty in Coconut Grove that very same year. Mr. Smith informed me that he rides his Schwinn Cruiser everyday for about a mile and a half to the Coconut Grove Library; this Halloween he will be 89 years old.

Mr. Smith is an inspiration to me.  I sure hope that when I am 88 I am still healthy, enjoying life and riding a bicycle everyday. When designing bicycle infrastructure we need to consider all users. We would be a much healthier society if everyone who reaches the age of Mr. Smith were still on two wheels.

Mr. Smith told me that a lot of people have offered to purchase his bike. He won’t sell it; and rightfully so.  She’s been with him for the past 57 years. It’s a beautiful bike which needs to remain with its owner. Thank you for serving our country Sir and being an inspiration to all cyclists.

Miami today is reporting that work on the $1 billion port tunnel has (unofficially) begun. Environmental work is underway and rigs have been set up on MacArthur Causeway’s median to begin taking soil samples. The project officially breaks ground in May and will take approximately 4 years to complete.

Not only will we have a very questionable new port tunnel, but according to Ms. Alice Bravo district director of transportation for FDOT, a new lane of traffic is planned in each direction of the MacArthur Causeway. Do we really need another lane of traffic in each direction? Wouldn’t it be better to instead bring Baylink into the transportation mix?  This would also be a great opportunity for FDOT to include a protected greenway in each direction on the MacArthur Causeway. Expanding the roadway to accommodate more cars is not the solution; providing more transportation options is the answer.

Friend of Transit Miami Dana Weinstein recently wrote an editorial for the Miami Herald to commemorate Bike Month. Although Dina commutes with her two children to school on bicycles, she does not suggest that inexperienced cyclists/parents follow her lead. She says, “It really takes someone with almost a death wish to walk or bike”.

Part of me agrees with Dina.  Ever since Christophe Le Canne was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway in January, I have come to view bicycling as a dangerous activity.

I love biking; it is part of who I am. I used to be fearless and after my stint in the Peace Corps I biked with 2 friends from Guatemala to Panama. Bicycling brings me great joy, but I no longer feel safe biking in Miami. What I feel is vulnerable. This is particularly true on our causeways, where bicycle lanes are placed next to cars which are moving at 45-75mph without any sort of hard or soft barrier to protect cyclists (i.e. Rickenbacker Causeway and MacArthur Causeway).  When I do bike now, I choose roads where the design speed of the roadway does not exceed 25-30 mph.  Even when bike lanes are present, such as the Coral Way bike lanes, I do not use them because cars are moving at 45-50mph. I prefer taking a side street were traffic moves slower.

Perhaps I am just getting old. Or perhaps now that I am married I am aware of the tremendous loss I would leave behind if I suffered the same fate as Christophe Le Canne. But the lack of proper bicycle infrastructure in Miami has been forcing me recently to drive my bicycle up to Oleta River State Park so that I may get the exercise I enjoy.  I feel defeated that I have been relegated to biking in a park.

In the interest of full disclosure, I still ride my bike (in my suit) to work everyday. Although it is only about 6 blocks away I have way too many close calls on a regular basis.

Is this the way we must live? My hope is that we can develop streets for all users in South Florida.

Commissioner Frank Carollo, District 3

At this week’s Bicycle Action Committee meeting, the regular updates given on the status of the Bicycle Master Plan were missing a few crucial projects, all of which are in Commissioner Frank Carollo’s district. I asked the Bicycle Coordinator, Collin Worth, what happened? Ever the diplomat, he informed us that they had been put on hold by the new Commissioner. “Does the Commissioner not understand that these projects are of crucial importance to the connectivity of our bicycle routes“, we asked.”…the safety of cyclists who use them to bypass busier streets and access the restaurants and shops of Coral Way?

Mr. Worth would not speak for the Commissioner, who had sent no representation of his own to the meeting so… what can we do? Rumors (so far, just rumors) suggest Carollo is no fan of the Bicycle Master Plan (yet), that he thinks car parking is more important than bringing cyclists and pedestrians to stores, or that he simply doesn’t realize how important these projects are to us, the residents of Miami.

Of course, we cannot expect the new Commissioner to automatically support everything started in his district before he took office. We understand that it can take time to look at each project and that even if it is nearly completed, he will be held responsible if it is completed under his watch. So, we have reached out to the Commissioner and hope that you will, too. Let him know that you support road improvements that support the City’s Complete Streets Policy and/or Bicycle Master Plan and/or whatever you feel is important.

Each City of Miami Commissioner controls the dollars spent on capital improvements (including road projects) in his district. Have you emailed or called your commissioner to introduce yourself yet?  He needs to hear from you. If you do not live in the City, you can still reach out to the commissioner of the district where you work, do your shopping or otherwise visit.

TransitMiami.com encourages our readers to engage with their local government and support moving Miami better.

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Dear Santa,

Transit Miami and its readers have been good boys and girls this year. So below are just a few things that we would like from you:

  • Miami 21
  • Bike Miami Days
  • Well designed bicycle lanes
  • A protected and separated bicycle facility on the Rickenbacker, MacArthur and Julia Tuttle Causeways
  • Implementation of the Miami Bicycle Master Plan
  • A complete streets approach to designing our public right of way
  • Safer, better, and more crosswalks
  • Bay Link
  • Streetcar
  • Yield to Pedestrian signs around Brickell and Downtown Miami

With Love,

Transit Miami

p.s. Santa has been watching us and he knows who’s been naughty or nice. If you have any special requests for Santa please let him know in the comments section.  Santa reads Transit Miami on a regular basis.

Now you’re probably asking, what’s the MUTCD? The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices sets the standards for striping, signage, and signalization across the country. If a traffic control feature you want is not in there, you’ll have a hard time getting it installed on your road. The US Department of Transportation just released a long awaited new version of this manual that comes with some changes that many complete streets advocates will welcome. Hit up the press release here, and if you really want to delve into it, read the actual manual at FHWA’s website.

Until now, some new pedestrian and bicycle features have been experimental and difficult to install since they weren’t in the old 2003 MUTCD. Here are some of the additions to the roadway designer’s palette in the new manual:

  • 52295531_cd985b82b7_oShared lane use markings, or “sharrows.” These are like bike lane markings in the middle of the traffic lane, for lower speed areas where bicycle lanes don’t fit. That’s one in the picture next to on-street parking.
  • “Bicycles may use full lane” sign, for use with or without sharrows. It’s a white regulatory sign, which carries more weight with police.
  • “HAWK” signals. These are hybrid signals designed for mid-block crosswalks. These will be easier to install than regular signals since they don’t require as much vehicle traffic or pedestrian traffic.

States have two years to adopt the 2009 MUTCD. It may take a few months before Florida adopts it, but projects that are being designed now (to be constructed once we adopt the new MUTCD) may start incorporating them. We hope designers will use the new pedestrian and bicycle features as soon as possible.

Smart Growth Manual

The newly released book titled The Smart Growth Manual is filled with best practice examples of good urbanism. Co-written by Transit Miami’s very own Mike Lydon with Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, The Smart Growth Manual is an indispensable guide on how to properly plan a modern city. The book is organized for speedy reference (much like a dictionary or encyclopedia) and is concise and to the point. Nonetheless it shows smart growth principles at each geographic scale (region, neighborhood, street, building).  Each concept is discussed, reviewed and explained in about a half page and usually there is a diagram, map or picture that helps explain each concept. If you are looking for how we should be laying the foundation for smart growth development then I suggest you pick up this book.

Here’s your chance to speak to an FDOT representative about the recently released Dangerous by Design report that ranked the following four metropolitan areas within Florida as the most dangerous 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 MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee will hold their monthly meeting on Wednesday Dec. 16th on the 18th Floor (room 18-3) of the Government Center. This will be the first meeting since the Dangerous by Design report was released. Please come out and express your concerns to the FDOT representative that will be present. We need to work together with FDOT and encourage them to design complete streets that address the needs of all users and not only those of cars.  We deserve better streets.

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