Currently viewing the tag: "Downtown Miami"

Yesterday I posted a blog regarding the lack of crosswalks in Downtown.  I took it upon myself during lunchtime today to count the number of pedestrians that crossed the street on SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st St. were a crosswalk currently does not exist. If there was ever any doubt whether a crosswalk is needed, today’s results overwhelmingly favor pedestrian demand for a crosswalk. Within a 5 minute time span, 60 pedestrians crossed the street where there isn’t a crosswalk!  If a pedestrian were to get hit here, some would blame the jaywalker. I wouldn’t, I’d hold those that designed this intersection responsible.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st Avenue. Intersection without a crosswalk.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st St. Intersection without a crosswalk.

FDOT just recently repaved a section of Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown.  I’m not sure why, but several major intersections were left without a pedestrian crosswalk. I really can’t think of a reason as to why FDOT did not take this opportunity to include 4 crosswalks at every intersection.  There is enough density and pedestrian activity to justify 4 crosswalks at every intersection.  Aside from helping pedestrians cross three lanes of fast moving traffic, crosswalks serve as traffic calming devices as well.

To make matters even worse, the intersection on Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th street had an existing crosswalk and crosswalk signal, but not anymore, FDOT decided to remove them. Check out the old crosswalk and signal right here: View Larger Map

Here are just a few examples of intersections without crosswalks:

Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th Street

Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th Street. Crosswalk and pedestrian signal were recently removed.

Biscayne Blvd and NE 1st St.

Biscayne Blvd and NE 1st St.

Biscayne Blvd. and SE 1st Street. This intersection is less than half a block away from a busy Metro Mover station.

Biscayne Blvd. and SE 1st Street. This intersection supports a busy Metro Mover station.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st Avenue. Please notice the electric turn arrows, this only encourages cars to move faster through downtown.  I'm not sure if FDOT or the County PWD is reponsible for this intersection, but need a crosswalk and pedestrian signals.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st St. Please notice the electric turn arrows, this only encourages cars to move faster through downtown. I'm not sure if FDOT or the County PWD is responsible for this intersection, but it needs a crosswalk and a pedestrian signal urgently.

These pictures were taken yesterday in front of the 200 South Biscayne Boulevard building. Cars have always parked here illegally to pickup passengers. So in order to accommodate the cars, approximately 4 feet of sidewalk has been taken away from pedestrians. Pedestrians are now only left with about 4 feet of sidewalk.

Sorry, but I want the sidewalk back.  One of the most used  Metro Mover stations is less than a block away. There is enough density in this area to justify an 8 foot sidewalk.

How was this approved?

Picture 045

Picture 046

Come celebrate this excellent combination with the Miami DDA. As part of their monthly DWNTWN Miami Concert Series Laura Izibor will be performing. She’ll rock the stage at this free concert at Bayfront Park’s Tina Hills Pavilion.

As always the show is at sunset happy hour and food and drinks are available.

For information on this show and the rest of the season become a fan of the DWNTWN Miami Concert Series on Facebook…or … text DWNTWNR to 878787 for up to the minute updates.

laura_izibor

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Friend of Transit Miami, Olga Ramos, lives on Brickell Avenue and wanted to share her daily commuting to work experience with our readers.

Every day I make a choice; a small choice, but an important one none the less. I choose to walk to work. Even though my company pays for a much coveted covered parking spot in one of the most prestigious pieces of real estate in Miami, I leave the transponder in my car parked in our apartment building and I choose to use what nature gave me to get to the office. My primary motivation comes from my belief that it is important to do the little things in order to reduce my carbon footprint, and because frankly that quarter of mile of movement allows me to transform myself into the focused business women my colleagues know.  I also walk to my gym (which is exactly 1.04 miles from our home thank you map quest) even though at that gym I receive free valet parking. I consider it my cardio warm up.

I think that the biggest change in most Americans lives over the last 40 years is that we have stopped walking. The little trips to the library, post office or corner store has been replaced with jumping into gas guzzling SUV’s to go just half a mile. In most cities the reason is because suburban sprawl and poor urban planning have made these locations far from were people live. But in Miami most people don’t walk because it is dangerous. During my walk every day, I play a sort of human frogger that affords me at minimum 3 near death experiences a week. As an adventuresome girl I could deal with that, however; what really irks me is how rude people are. I have been crossing Coral Way and Brickell, the crosswalk will be clearly signaling my right of way and drivers will still regularly yell obscenities in whatever native language is theirs or just use hand signals to communicate their disgust. I must admit that the road rage I encounter does make me dream of the day that I walk to work with rotten eggs in my hands so that when I encounter these drivers that have turned to the dark side I can leave a memorable impression.

But what I really want are two simple things. I want for all of the crosswalk lights to work (something I haven’t experienced since July) and I would like for some signage to go up on the traffic signals that states “Yield to Pedestrians”. The crosswalks lights that aren’t functioning are located on the NE side of Brickell Ave and 14th Street as well as the crosswalk lights on NE side of Brickell and 13ts Street. These are small things, but they would make a world of difference to this urbanite and her fellow pedestrian walkers.

And I promise that if I get what I want, that I won’t consider the rotten egg retaliation again.”

Although I don’t recommend rotten egg retaliation, I understand her frustration. Drivers need to respect the rights of pedestrians and the city also needs to do a much better job of enforcing their rights. The City of Miami must educate the driving public by putting up more “Yield to Pedestrian” signs throughout Brickell and Downtown. There is enough density and pedestrian activity to consider a “No Turn on Red” ordinance for Brickell and Downtown. Such an ordinance would make walking safer and would slow down traffic in these heavily populated areas.

no-right-on-red-outl

Today, Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 11:00 AM, is the groundbreaking ceremony for Paul Walker Park in downtown Miami (46 West Flagler Street.)

From the city of Miami:

The park in the heart of Miami is being resurrected in the same site where it stood 15 years ago. “Bringing the Paul S. Walker Park back to life was my first initiative as commissioner. I’m very proud to see the hard work of so many people lead to what will soon be an oasis for the public to enjoy,” says Commissioner Sarnoff.

The park will be approximately 4200 SQ.FT. and will serve the downtown office crowd and tourists during daytime hours. The $284,993 cost is coming from DDA funds and a Homeland Defense Neighborhood Improvement Bond issued to Commissioner Sarnoff through District 2.

“I used to only ride this street on the weekends, you know it can be sketchy. But now I feel there are more bicyclists everywhere and its safer because the cars are starting to expect it.”

-Fellow bicycle commuter on SW 7th Street, heading west from downtown to his job near the airport.

If you are like some of us here at TM, then you have probably had your eye on a couple of very strategic vacant parcels in downtown Miami. Located between Southwest 8th Street and Southwest 7th Street, and bisected by South Miami Avenue, the two sites have sat fallow while high-rise condominiums sprouted like mushrooms. According to a recent Miami Today article the land was previously owned by Brickell CitiCentre, LLC (cute spelling, huh?), a developer with plans to build $2.2 billion worth of high-rise buildings, including the tallest building in downtown Miami. The sharp market downtown nixed those plans quickly, causing the BCC to sell the land to an undisclosed party, who paid an undisclosed price and who has undisclosed plans. So what will they think of next?!

The two parcels, comprising 5.65 acres, are outlined in orange.

Parcel 2, looking northeast

While high-rise, mixed-use development is surely warranted in downtown Miami, TM would like to disclose an alternate plan recommendation. Keep in mind we do not know what the new developer has planned, but we doubt it is a well-designed, well-programmed, well-framed usable urban square on at least one of the sites. Such a square could be simple in its layout, but flexible in its use-a farmer’s market, civic events, concerts, play structures, dog park and a nice water feature to help us all cool off. Such a program would be a nice place to start and invite people of all types to linger with family, eat lunch with colleagues, make-out with a loved one, skateboard with angsty friends, beg rich people for money and the myriad of other things people do in an almost messy, but truly successful public space.

Such a square would be well-connected to the existing bus lines and MetroMover, providing easy access to those living outside of downtown. It would also provide a much needed open space destination in the heart of our downtown, an area that has become increasingly privatized by individual condominium developers who provide all amenities internally. Such vertical cul-de-sacs surely allow great luxury for residents, but impoverish the public realm. A real shame, if you ask me. Miami deserves better. All great cities have a great park and a great civic square.

Whatever the next developer proposes, the City should consider the possibility of a public/private partnership. Such a deal could allow increased development capacity on the buildable site, a tax-break or other public incentives in exchange for one of the sites being turned over to the City for the development of civic space, like a square.

This would not only add tremendous value to those already existing nearby condos, but directly enrich the adjacent development parcel. If you have seen real estate prices next to other such sites in cities like Chicago, San Francisco or New York City, then you know the captured value is well-worth the land concession.

Unfortunately, with so much money exchanging hands, this is very unlikely to happen. I imagine the City of Miami could have at one point bought this land, reserving some for development and some for civic space. But they didn’t. And we understand we may be Johnny-come lately here, but later this week Gabriel will show us some good examples from other cities.

If you know of other great sites in the Miami for a square of similar type of public space, let’s hear about them!


Miami Downtown at Dawn from Corey Weiner on Vimeo.

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This is a joint letter Ryan and I submitted to the Miami Herald’s Op Ed section and to the city of Miami Commission regarding last Thursday’s vote on the Empire World Towers proposal:

Commission’s View of Parking is Misguided
By: Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal & Ryan Sharp
www.TransitMiami.com

As transportation engineers and urban planners, we feel that City of Miami’s plans to increase the total number of parking spaces in the Empire World Towers development will have a detrimental effect on both the people and City of Miami.

An Increase in Parking Supply Increases Driving Demand

An increase of net parking spaces – to one per unit, as the city commission proposed – will only worsen the traffic conditions along Biscayne Boulevard and the surrounding streets. The aim of the city administration and all downtown development should be to reduce automobile dependency, not enhance it, especially in one of the few areas well served by public rail transit. Any increases in available parking will only serve as a means with which our residents will continue to neglect and undermine the intended purpose of public transportation.

More Parking = More Traffic Congestion Downtown

It is in our opinion, that the city commission should fully embrace reductions in parking space requirements for all downtown buildings within a 3-block radius of any fixed rail transit station. To do this, the city should unequivocally support Empire World Towers‘ proposed station link to Metromover, not an increase in parking spaces. Supporting both would be contradictory – essentially taking one-step forward and one-step backward. An Empire World Towers station linkage to Metromover will facilitate transit use resulting in a net reduction of vehicular trips, while more parking will do just the opposite.

Miamians possess no innate preference for car use; land use policy in this region has never presented residents with a clear alternative option. Increasing the number of parking spaces in this development will only exacerbate this problem, while doing nothing to make our transportation infrastructure more sustainable.

Car-Related Infrastructure has contributed significantly to Downtown Miami‘s Ills

Every time we allow a policy that favors cars over transit, such as increasing parking mandates, our entire region becomes less sustainable and we all lose. Drivers who are supposed to benefit from more parking actually suffer because traffic congestion worsens. Those who do not or cannot drive suffer because they feel all the externalities of car-dominated spaces, including noisy, polluted, and unsafe streets. Anyone who sets foot downtown suffers because they are forced to walk by so many unpleasant spaces, such as surface parking lots and the blank walls and curb cuts of parking garages. Businesses suffer because fewer people will pass by on foot, while employees will have worse commutes. This vicious cycle has been the status quo downtown for too long, which has left the streets unpleasant and thus a vacuum to be filled by the undesirable elements that people complain about.

Do the Right Thing and Support a Livable, Sustainable Future for Miamians

The inefficiency of the parking system proposed by Maclee is proposed to force EWT residents and visitors to seek alternative means of transit when accessing the development (a direct point made by Enrique Peñalosa to the city, was that in order for public transportation to be successful it would have to be at least equally attractive as the alternatives.) Mobility in Miami will only continue to be governed by the automobile if we continue utilizing land use policies that favor vehicles over people. Transit Miami asks the city commission, with all due respect, to reduce the parking requirements this Thursday for the Empire World Towers proposal.

The Coral Gables Gazette recently published a troubling article on a trolley study conducted by the University of Miami’s Industrial Engineering department. Troubling not because of the results of the study but because of how ridiculously logical the conclusions were. The simplicity can be summed up best by the CGG’s article title: New study: Trolley saves 712 parking space per day. You don’t say? Transit actually reduces the number of parking spaces needed in an urban area, what’s next, you’re going to suggest transit reduces congestion?

Engineering, calculates that the trolley saves the city 712 parking spaces a day and reduces the amount of vehicle traffic along the route by 1.2 million miles a year.

Gasp! Obviously we’re floored that this can still be considered newsworthy and is typically not common knowledge. Coral Gables commissioners are considering affixing a charge to ride the system which is currently free. Not all city commissioners appear to be happy with the success:

[Commissioner Ralph] Cabrera also reiterated past complaints that the trolley system had evolved from its original purpose as a downtown circulator into more of a connector between county mass transit systems.

Who cares as long as the system effectively reduces congestion in the Coral Gables Downtown Core? Since the city is unwilling to reduce the parking requirements for buildings to begin with, we might as well reduce the need for all the parking being built anyway. Although I agree MDT should do more to help the city transit service, axing the project would cause too many problems. At least someone sees the benefits brought forth by the system:

[Vice Mayor William] Kerdyk said that the independent study, which he points out that he didn’t even commission, should erase any doubts to the effectiveness and importance of the system although he wasn’t sure that questions regarding budgeting for the trolley system would go away as a result of the study.


Seattle metro tunnel, originally uploaded by Adam Holloway.

The newly renovated Seattle Transit tunnel will reopen to the public next Monday. After a $94 Million renovation and retrofitting, the final phase of the tunnel will be complete in 2009 when the Sound Transit LRT begins to fully utilize the tunnel instead of the current buses. Due to the reconstruction, a revolutionary precedent was set along Seattle’s downtown third avenue:

“Meanwhile, Third Avenue, which became a bus-and-bike street at peak hours during the two-year tunnel closure, will remain that way. More than 20 downtown surface routes will be shifted to Third Avenue, replacing 18 bus routes that will enter the tunnel.”

Continuing Flawed Miami Mentality on urban living and the needs of downtown:
“But if Downtown Miami develops into a thriving retail hub as local leaders and stakeholders plan, the parking authority, as well as private operators, she said, are “going to have to step up to the plate to create more parking facilities.”
Even now, merchants have “expressed concerns about the lack of enough customer parking,” she said.”

There is a great read today up on the MiamiHerald by Larry Lebowitz titled: Why OB is a Lousy Site for Marlins. Take a second a check it out, he voices many of the same positions we’ve been pushing here on Transit Miami… An excerpt:

Tri-Rail isn’t much of an option. It’s a pain to get from the Miami Airport Station to the Orange Bowl today. Even if Miami-Dade Transit created a straight-shot, game-day shuttle from the Tri-Rail station to the OB, how many baseball fans to the north would use it?

Metrorail will only appeal to hard-core urban dwellers. It’s a little over a mile — too far to walk for most pampered, crime-fearing locals — from the closest Metrorail stations on the north side of the river to the Orange Bowl.

Barring some unlikely seismic political changes at County Hall, no one will be trying to shift billions of transit dollars to expand Metrorail near the OB in the near future.

What about a streetcar that could shuttle fans from downtown transit hubs?

Right now, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz can’t muster a three-vote majority of commissioners to support a streetcar in downtown, Wynwood, the Design District and Allapattah — all on the opposite side of the river from the stadium.

A ballpark in downtown would be closer to I-95, Metrorail, Metromover, and a proposed light-rail system on the Florida East Coast corridor that one day could shuttle fans from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

The economics and politics might be tougher, but an accessible, pedestrian-friendly downtown stadium makes the most sense.

-Larry Lebowitz

The Metromover overhaul promised to voters in the 2002 PTP is finally scheduled for completion in March 2008. Some of the vehicles, in operation since 1986, are slated to be replaced by modern Bombardier vehicles, similar to the one pictured above. The remaining vehicles will be (have been) undergoing repairs in the downtown Metromover facility. To get a visual on the changes happening, check out this post by Lil’ Pony from back in March…

Apparently the problems with the escalators we covered back in April are nothing new. I noted then that it had been about 8 months since I witnessed the Brickell Metromover escalator in action, well it turns out some escalators have been out of service since 2005!

Rusted escalators at four Metromover stations were shut down in September 2005: Tenth Street, Brickell, Eleventh Street and Park West.

Just like the weathering of the Metromover system, apparently the escalators have been dealing with a particular rust problem:

The rust problem cropped up because the escalators were not properly designed for outdoor use, said Richard Snedden, assistant director for rail services at Miami-Dade Transit.

It’s impossible to believe that back in the 80’s and 90’s nobody had the common sense to install weather resistant escalators and if those weren’t available at least design a better protected station…

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