Currently viewing the tag: "Cycling"

Friday, September 25th @ 6:30pm
Government Center
101 NW First St
Downtown Miami

This will be the first Critical Mass ride of the 2009 Fall season. As always the ride begins from Government Center in Downtown Miami. The ride will pass through East Little Havana, East Coral Gables, Southeast Gables, Coconut Grove, Vizcaya, Brickell & Downtown Miami. 15 miles total. Bring your friends with bikes. See you there!

Participants are to keep a moderate pace, it’s very important that the group stays together. It makes corking easier and the ride much smoother for everyone involved (cyclists/motorists/pedestrians). Also, make sure to arrive on schedule, that’s 6:30pm. Bring bicycle lights, it’s the law! The ride usually leaves at 7pm sharp but it’s recommended to arrive earlier.

Here’s a link to this month’s tentative route via Bikely

Critical Mass1

This morning I witnessed a driver cut off two bicyclists, stop short, and in true team spirit of the sport, the passenger of the vehicle opened the car door, while the car was in motion, in an attempt to door the bicyclists. Upon witnessing this, a sense of righteous indignation filled me; I had no choice but to pursue the vehicle.  About a mile later, completely exhausted, I miraculously caught up to the car at a red light. Please be on the look out for:

Tag #: S89 9GD

Rusty (clunker for cash candidate), late 80’s-early 90’s, dark-bluish American car, possibly an Oldsmobile.

This is the type of unfortunate, unprovoked aggressive behavior that bicyclists have to confront on a regular basis.  Fortunately, we do have rights, as Commander Socorro from the Miami Police Department informed me today in an email exchange:

…if they (the victims) would have wanted to get involved, we could have sought the offenders out and arrested them for a felony”.

For their own reasons, which I can respect, the bicyclists who were directly involved in the incident did not want to escalate it to authorities. Regardless, this should be a lesson to both bicyclists and motorists that aggressive vehicular behavior should and will not be tolerated.

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While another bicyclist is on life support today after being hit by a car on Davie Blvd., cyclists in Boca Raton took matters into their own hands. Apparently the driver of a Lexus passed them too closely, so they attacked him and damaged his car when they caught up to him at the light. Read and watch a great one-sided story over at the Sun-Sentinel, where they apparently only interviewed the motorist and the cops who arrested one of the cyclists. What is clear from the article is that the motorist honked at them as he approached and then passed them too closely (presumably in violation of Florida’s three foot passing law) and probably even hit one of the bicyclists. Now, even though I have had many incidents with motorists where I felt like punching them in the face, I don’t approve of the bicyclists’ actions here. Neither do I approve of the police taking the side of the motorist against a group of eyewitness cyclists and ignoring the witness reports that a cyclist was hit. At the very minimum, Barish, the “victim” motorist, should be charged with violating the three foot passing law. However, I have spoken with police before about a motorist who passed me too closely; and they refuse to do anything unless they saw it.

I think an issue that this brings up is how useless the three foot passing law is. As long as police refuse to enforce it and motorists don’t know anything about it, what good does it do? I believe we need both motorist education and a change in police policy and practice regarding this and other bicycling related laws. If you have any ideas, share them in the comments.

Anyone a fan of X-Men? Apparently we have some cyclists who believe this is a war and want to strike back. Perhaps they can form the Brotherhood of Cyclists? Others, like myself, want peace between motorists and bicyclists.  Shall we form a group of Wheelmen?

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An SUV driver dramatically interrupted the Mack Cycle Key Biscayne Triathlon Trilogy on Sunday. The Rickenbacker Causeway was supposed to be closed for the race, but the driver of the SUV inched out in the way the pack of racers who were riding about 40 mph. Miguel Tellez, the leader of the pack and one of the area’s best triathletes, struck the SUV and went flying over it. Luckily for Tellez, he survived with a cut on his knee, a gash in his head, and a concussion. Check out the Sun-Sentinel article and photos of the race, plus get a little more detail on the location of the crash at Spokes ‘n’ Folks. A participant in the race also offered a more firsthand perspective at BeginnerTriathlete.com.

This isn’t your usual issue of a one-on-one collision where the standard rules of the road apply. The road was supposed to be closed for the race, yet somehow a car managed to sneak in. We always like to blame the driver, and maybe it was their fault. But where was the police officer whose job it was to keep vehicles off the course?

This reminds me of the incident at a bicycle race last June in Matamoros, Mexico. A photo of that incident at Sports Crackle Pop! shows a cop conveniently pulled out of the way of a drugged motorist who slammed into a pack of cyclists. While I’m grateful that this past Sunday’s incident didn’t kill anyone, I think it shows that Miami’s cops are as good at managing road closures for races as are Mexico’s finest. (EDITORS NOTE: the road closure was handled by the Miami-Dade County Police  and not the City of Miami Police Department.)

And while we’re at it, let me point out a difference between cycle racing and auto racing. Has anyone ever heard of a race car in an event like the 24 Hours of LeMans running into a car that had strayed onto the course in the middle of the race? Yet here you see two examples for a cycle race. Perhaps race organizers and  officials need to rethink how they close roads for events like these.

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The Miami Bicycle Advisory Committee and Critical Mass/Emerge Miami want to hear from you! Please join us this Saturday, July 12, for the second anniversary of Miami Critical Mass. The ride will begin at the South Miami Metrorail station at 10am. The ride will soon after depart the station and head for Peacock Park in Coconut Grove for a picnic and some direct bicycle route mapping. Yes, mapping. We need more input from the bicycle community on those routes you find to be the safest in Miami,  those you would like to see improved and where the City should install more bicycle parking facilities. To do so, I will have half a dozen maps on hand (printing as I write), markers and some brief instructions. We’ll break people off into smaller groups and you can have your way with the maps.

If you can’t make the ride, we will be doing a similar exercise during the Ride For Peace on August 16th in Little Haiti. Also, please click here to fill out a brief bicycling survey put together by Critical Mass/Emerge Miami.

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From 7 am to 1 pm on August 9, 16, and 23, New York’s Park Avenue will partially resemble it’s earlier form when a municipal park actually occupied the right of way.  A nod to the successful Ciclovia events in Bogota, Colombia, “Summer Streets” will ban all vehicular and bus traffic on the bustling thoroughfare from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street into central Park, giving way to pedestrians and cyclists only.

Park Avenue Before 1922

Image Via: Aaron Naparstek

Today:

Park Avenue Traffic

Image Via: MikeyNYC’s Flickr

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Last week I decided to go cycling along the M-Path and was taken aback by the hostility and fragmentation of Miami’s only main Bicycle route. I was even more shocked when last weekend I visited Cambridge again and witnessed first hand the disparity between Miami’s and Cambridge’s cycling facilities. We have a long way to go.

Cambridge is by far one of the friendliest cities in the United States for cycling. Click here for a full citywide map of routes. Most city streets look like the image below and the bike lanes provide a consistent network for area residents.

The M-Path, our “premier” cycling facility is a fragmented trail of hostility. As the M-Path to Enlightenment points out, if you aren’t paying attention and are traveling too fast, you’ll end up in the Miami River along the path’s northern terminus in Downtown Miami. I was taken aback most by the lovely “No Trespassing” signs along the very public right-of-way. A little misleading, isn’t it?

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I am sorry, in my previous post I neglected to mention that there is an improvement in the new Alton Road: They propose increasing the parking lane to 9 feet!

On-street parking is a dangerous, highly addictive habit. When you know it is available, you want it, and may not stop at anything to get it. Plus, not to mention, it is likely cheaper than any parking garage. You let its availability control your life: you plan and scheme to get your fix of it and you will fight to defend your right to stop a lane or two of traffic to maneuver your Hummer into a space.

I want to thank the members of the Alliance for Reliable Transport (ART), for forcing FDOT and the City to see a vision of the future that is different and will, then by definition bring new and needed results. Even I was skeptical when a respected ART steering committee member returned from far-flung historic and highly urbanized Cities around the world with pictures of streets built properly. Streets with wide sidewalks, luscious shade trees and dedicated bicycle lanes. Could this really exist here at home? ART showed us that it could. Yet, no one seems to listen.

If the city and DOT do not listen to ART, at least listen to the neighborhoods: Flamingo Neighborhood, led by Judy Robinson or the Westies, always well represented by Arthur Marcus (and Benita Argos). They know you cannot cross Alton Road, ride on Alton Road, or enjoy a peaceful alfresco meal without inhaling exhaust on Alton Road. We are begging FDOT and the City for something different.

If not the Artists or the Neighbors, listen to the City Engineer, the Traffic Manager or the Public Works Director: Wide sidewalk and a demarked bicycle facility for non-motorized vehicles will increase mobility…. mobility is the key to our economic engine: getting tourists in, getting around, spending their money and leaving to make room for the next.

We should listen to the Costal Communities Transportation Master Plan (CCTMP) that says the traffic and congestion problems do not come from our neighbors; it is internal. The congestion occurs because we believe that we can only get around our seven squares in our cars due to the abundant on-street parking! We should follow the lead of the Mayor of Paris who banned parking on the Champs Ellissee!

Nothing causes more congestion than parking. It takes away the opportunity to do anything else with our precious right-of way but store a ton or two of steel and plastic. Parking is not traffic calming. It is parking. At $1500.00/space (the average revenue per year), the City adds $487,000 a year to its coffers (well, not really into the general fund because parking is an enterprise fund.) Is it worth it? Is $500,000, more a year into the bottomless and questionably productive Parking Fund worth the death of businesses or a pedestrian trying to cross the street?

The misconception that there are not enough parking opportunities on Alton Road with out the 325 on street parking spaces is just that: a myth. The City is spending $15 MILLION dollars for 1000 parking spaces at 5thth and West, not to mention that the Herzog & de Meuron Garage and the Robbins Garage will add hundreds spaces. There is ample parking in the area, so when will we be able to re-purpose on-street parking? There is no time better than this project. and Alton, there is parking at 10

Finally, there is the little matter of a memo related to non-motorized vehicles on Alton Road, among others and FDOT statue 335.065(1)(a). In December of 2006, the City declared many of our streets “generally not safe” for non-motorized vehicles”. Don’t we then have an obligation to make them safe by adding a segregated facility for them? Here is our opportunity and an accompanying Florida Statue! The State has a legislative mandate to add the bicycle lane, enhance pedestrian accessibility, and improve safety for all modes of transport. Nowhere in the State Statue or in the City Code is parking (on street parking) given the same kind of priority. Instead, we make that up and justify it with a 10-year-old report called The Walker Study.

Come out on June 26 and tell the City of Miami Beach and the State of Florida that any renovation or rehabilitation of Alton Road that does not include a dedicated bike lane, 20 foot sidewalks, and a travel lane 12 foot wide to accommodate the Baylink is not an Alton Road we want to waste our money on. Tell the bureaucrats and politicians that we will not sit through two torturous years of road construction to end up with the same road we have today.

Alton Road on Miami Beach does not work. Traffic is clogged, pedestrians cannot cross, and bicyclists cannot ride safely. On Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm in the Miami Beach City Hall Commission Chambers, The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting, which will be our last chance to make Alton Road work for the future. In terms of road construction projects, especially in an urban historic setting, opportunities to do something different are few and far between.  We will gather that day, to be handed an opportunity from the State of Florida to make Alton Road work by doing something different.

Instead, it looks like we will be getting more of the same.

The plan that was recommended by the land use committee and from the City Commission as a whole is the same Alton Road we have today. The same. Same seven lanes of traffic. Same marginally wide enough sidewalks, and same bumper-to-bumper on-street parking.

Let us start with the 100’ right of way. 100 feet! 75 of which are carved out for the seven lanes of traffic. Note: seven lanes is essentially equivalent to the south bound segment of I-95.

Alton Road, Miami Beach

Image Via Zickie’s Flickr

Onto the sidewalks

13 feet. That’s it. It might sound like a lot, when compared to the highly touted but very ineffective ADA requirements of 3 feet (remember this three feet is brought to you by the same people who think $6.25 should be minimum wage) but 13 feet is hardly adequate for the most pedestrainized area in the state.

This is Miami Beach. People have been coming here since the Smith-Avery family began ferrying them over here to experience our amazing climate. Our outdoor dining scene rivals some of the century’s oldest ones established in Paris and Rome, and we are barely 75 years old! I often shake my head at the folks who sit on 41st street outside Arnie and Richie’s crammed between a light pole and a trash can, while I barely have two feet to walk past by. Miami Beach is a tourist destination.  Tourism is a mainstay of our economy that will ride us out during oscillations in the real estate market. We must do everything we can to bring people here and get them around in an economical and environmentally friendly manner.

Let’s not forget another Miami Beach mainstay: our vibrant Orthodox community, a group that promotes walking as a virtue. This absence of adequate pedestrian facilities forces hundreds to walk the streets two days a week. We need wide sidewalks. Wider than most and Alton Road with the bus shelters, parking stations, pedestrian lighting, street lighting, and trash cans can barely accommodate a café table, let alone folks strolling and patronizing the shops and living and crossing. Yet the plan that was recommended out of our City Commission is more of the same.

Someone smarter than I defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The State of Florida is coming to us, wanting to fix our road, give us wider sidewalks, more options for non-motorized transport, rational public transit ways, more landscaping and this solution, this opportunity for real change, and therefore real results is being lost to petty politics and 325 parking spaces.

More on the parking issue in segment 2.  Stay Tuned.

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As some of you might know, Mike and I serve advisory roles in Miami’s newly created Bicycle Action Committee (BAC).  The BAC is working on drafting a city of Miami Bicycle Master plan and is looking for any input our citizens wish to provide.  You can download this city map, draw on it, and send back your ideas to us (movemiami@gmail.com) for committee review.  You can also leave us comments or email us lists of potential bicycle routes, needed improvements, or any other suggestions.  Here is your chance to shape a masterplan which will guide all bicycle related planning for years to come.  I’m currently working on my version, which I will publish when complete and will finally get around to creating the Bicycle Rental plan I suggested to Alesh a while ago…

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  • CITT will reconsider whether to vote for new Metrorail cars (Miami Today News)
  • Anti-Miami 21 Commissioner Regalado announces candidacy for Mayor (Miami Sunpost)
  • Metrorail controversy over “ghost posts” (Miami Herald)
  • Cyclist win the right to sue FDOT for failing to implement bike lanes (Bike Blog)

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Listen up livable streets advocates: this Thursday morning at Miami City Hall there will be a great opportunity to show support for cycling improvements in the City of Miami. At 9:00am, Mayor Diaz will be presenting a bike month proclamation, and the more support we show him the more likely our advocacy will be well received. This could be the genesis of a something much bigger, as we’ve been advocating for improved cycling conditions in Miami for quite some time. Now that we finally have the Mayor’s attention, let’s show him that we are very serious about making Miami a much more bike-friendly city.
If you are not familiar with the location of City Hall, click here for a map.

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For the last month or so, we’ve been posting videos showing how Bogota, Colombia has made remarkable strides becoming less car dependent and more transit-oriented. Our friends over at StreetFilms (Streetsblog) have just finish their final video in the series about Bogota, which highlights the city’s recent efforts creating cycle paths, pedestrian plazas, and other livable streets improvements. It’s really amazing — it just goes to show that if a city like Bogota without a lot of money can accomplish this much, imagine what Miami could do!

To view the video, click here.

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