Currently viewing the tag: "Miami Dade"

I think I am having deja vu, another pedestrian was struck and killed by a Miami-Dade Police officer in Southwest Dade yesterday. Details have not been released, reports the Herald. Because this involves a police officer, and not an NFL player, we may not hear anything more aboutthe incident.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade School Police are enforcing the school area speed limit, at least in a few select locations. In just five days, officers in the Agressive Drivers unit handed out 642 tickets. While this is an important step for creating more livable streets and safe routes to schools for our children, one wishes that these periodic crackdowns would become routine. Civilizing the streets of Miami-Dade will remain a challenge until motor vehicle laws are consistently enforced. Perhaps we should start with those who are suppossed to be setting an example and following these laws: the police.

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In the final moments of last night’s BPAC meeting,  Jeff Cohen of Miami-Dade Public Works announced that Mayor Alvarez is getting somewhat serious about improving bicycling conditions.  So much so that the County committed one million dollars to expanding bicycle lanes throughout the County in 2009.  Their preference is to find those thoroughfares where all they have to do is restripe and add signage. At present, the County officials have already identified $500,000 worth of these  “paint ready” lanes,  but are still  in search of another half million dollars worth of bicycle lane projects. If you have a route you think could accomodate lanes, please contact Mr. Cohen (305.375.2746) or Dave Henderson (305.375.1647) and let them know your ideas.

Obviously, this is a great show of support from Mayor Alvarez and Miami-Dade County. However, as I mentioned in last night’s meeting, the County should also consider improving existing lanes with additional safety measures at major intersections and crossings. Adding brightly colored lane markings through intersections would certainly do much to improve safety. And with any luck the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control (MUTCD) will finally approve sharrows and bicycle boxes before the county moves forward with these projects. Such improvements would do even more for bicycle safety.

OTHER BPAC NEWS

As you may recall, last month we reported plans for two developments seeking easements over the M-Path. BPAC asked the developer of the southernmost parcel, at the corner at the corner of S. Dixie Highway and LeJeune Road, to mitigate the curb cut intrusion with numerous bicycle safety improvements. Last night, the developer unveiled the latest plans, which to his credit included all of the improvements. After much deliberation, members of the BPAC reluctantly passed a resolution in support of the project. Recognizing that it sets a dangerous precedent, however, they also moved to limit further development from encroaching on what is Miami-Dade’s longest bicycle path.

Researchers from FIU and the University of Florida also presented an online bicycle mapping tool that they have been developing for Broward County. Hoping to bring the tool to Miami-Dade, they presented what looks like a promising, and flexible mapping program that is capable of tailoring routes to a number of different riding preferences. I’ll post a link to the beta site later.

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Ridin’ the ‘Rick…car-free.

The first Bike Only (free) Toll Booth in America?

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According to this Miami Herald article, the Kendall Federation of Homeowners Associations is coming up mute on Lennar’s proposed Parkland Development, a 931-acre 7,000 home sprawlburg that requires yet another adjustment of Miami-Dade’s urban growth boundary. Perhaps the members of this Federation cannot bring themselves to be hypocrites. That is, the boundary was once moved for where they presently live. That, or like the Herald says, it is just plain apathy.

KFHA apathy notwithstanding, it seems the project is one step closer to coming to fruition, as the Miami-Dade Miami-Dade County Planning Advisory Board voted 7-3 today to recommend that commissioners move the urban development boundary further west.

Really?!

Apparently these “advisors” want more sprawl.

In yet another South Florida hit and run, two children age 10 and 13, were struck yesterday in Broward County while bicycling down their neighborhood street. The heartless driver took it upon themselves to leave the scene of the accident. Police have asked citizens to keep a look out for the car in question, which the Miami Herald reports is a “gold, older-model, four-door Honda with tinted windows. The car should have damage and might be missing a front headlight cover and the left front tire is either missing a hubcap or was a spare tire.” Geez, come to think of it, that could be half the cars in Miami.

According to one of the comments on the Miami Herald website, the neighborhood street is often used as a cut-through by speeding motorists.

I would like to say that I am shocked by this incident, but unfortunately cannot bring myself to such an emotion. Since moving to South Florida a year and a half ago I have repeatedly witnessed behavior akin to this dastardly act of selfishness, on the road and otherwise. Although explaining why this behavior persists in South Florida may be complicated, I reduce it to a lack of civitas. That is to say, the disconnected lives that people tend to lead down here — in their gated suburb, gated high-rise, or personal automobile — prevents a feeling of a collective citizenship or a sense of pride in place. It’s everyone for themselves down here, and this incident is no different.

Photo: MIKE JACHLES / BROWARD SHERIFF’S OFFICE

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The Green Mobility Network is a growing force in Miami-Dade bicycle and pedestrian advocacy.
The nascent organization was founded in July of 2007 by a few like-minded people, including founding member John Hopkins, who runs the most excellent Spokes ‘n Folks blog.

John says:

“Now’s the time, bicycle riders, to write a check or pledge some of your time to help Green Mobility Network improve South Florida riding conditions. We’ve done a lot on a shoestring over the past year — but to complete the job we need money for printing, phone bills and all the other expenses that even a volunteer group will incur on the way to success. Green Mobility’s treasurer is Tom Blazejack at 5890 SW 100th Terrace, Pinecrest, FL 33156.

Because Green Mobility recently received their 501(c)3 designation, Tom is now accepting basic level memberships starting at $35. If you don’t have the cash on hand, let John or Tom know that you want to volunteer at an upcoming event, or start attending meetings. If you have more than $35, then go ahead and consider making a Founding Members gift. Your time and generosity will be appreciated by all Miami-Dade bicyclists and pedestrians. Having worked at a Bicycle not-for-profit in Boston, I know every little bit helps.

TM readers should know that Green Mobility Network has provided instrumental guidance on the City of Miami Bicycle Action Committee and the soon to be release Bicycle Action Plan, is helping to produce a new Bicycle-Friendly map, provides bicycle parking at major area and events, and are refurbishing their website to help better communicate their mission. Your support will help them further increase their advocacy and programs.

Please Join them, and us here at TM, in growing Miami’s bicycle movement. I’m writing my check this afternoon and so should you.

Amid all the talk about the County Commission’s massive transit failure, comes a little bit of happy news. Last week the Commission approved the purchase of approximately 100 acres of land beyond the UDB to be placed under the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program. While 100 acres is not a lot, every little bit contributes to a green belt around the County that will perpetually hold development and buffer the Everglades from existing developed areas.

To date, the County in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District, the State of Florida, & other funding partners have aquired approximately 18,190 Acres of land throughout Dade County since the inception of the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program.

We missed this one when it came out, but in case you haven’t heard Leah Fleming’s WRLN-FM piece on “the Miami bicycle surge,” listen here.

Thanks to Miami Bike Scene for hosting the link.

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I recently attended one the public involvement sessions on the Long Range Transportation Plan at the Collins Park Public Library on Miami Beach. 17 members of the community, flanked by an equal number of consultants and staff, played with Lego blocks and ribbons to help formulate the plan for future transportation improvements and enhancements to the year 2030.

You see, the Miami Dade County Department of Planning and Zoning has forecast growth to be 323,000 households and 615,000 jobs by the year 2035.  To show this, the room was set with tables of identical county maps, and the two maps on the center tables had  “buildings” made of striped Lego blocks: one that represented jobs and households today and one in 2035.  The concentration of growth around the Costal Communities and Bay Shore was shocking:  as was the growth projected beyond the UEA (Urban Expansion Area). It was hard not to see the difference between now and then, based on these projections.

After a beautiful lite dinner of sandwiches and cookies, the focus group officially kicked off with a lightening speed definition of the MPO, its guiding mandate and geographical composition.  The program kept it’s fast pace through the opinion gathering portion of the evening: a survey of statements about “feelings” of  transit…”Do you agree it is safe to ride transit?”  “Do you agree the possibility of global warming should affect transit programming decisions?”  “Do you think building more roads will make traveling better?” The responses were recorded through hand held gizmos, and zapped to a data collection point, where in real time, the responses would be projected on the screen in numerical and graphical form, a la Who wants to be a Millionaire?

For those whose true feeling about transit could not be measured in lifeline questions, a longer comment/suggestion sheet of proposed goals and objectives of the LRTP was presented for feedback and filling out.  This two-page work-product, from the firm Gannett Fleming, featured eight categories and no less than 49 lofty concepts, ranging from “Reducing congestion” to  “Enhancing mobility for people and freight.”

Each table of participants was given bags of Lego’s; purple and orange ribbons; stickum; scissors; a tape measure and markers. They were told to work together, to make group decisions, by the table facilitator, who explained the exercise and recorded the results.  Groups were instructed how to “Build Out” the County, with the “Large-Scale Growth Scenario Base Map”.  The households were represented with 253 yellow Lego’s and 160 red Lego’s stood for employment, with one yellow piece representing 1, 280 households; The red, 3840 jobs. (These Lego’s represented new growth only)  The intensity of growth was portrayed by vertically stacking the Lego’s within each one-mile square grid on the six-foot map.  Next, folks were instructed to add purple for more roads and orange for transit improvements that would be needed.  The participants were encouraged to add as much as they thought was required.  As playtime came to a close, the groups were told to go on a diet, measure the length of orange and purple on the map and use no more than the allotted amount.

Click here to submit your own thoughts on the Miami-Dade LRTP…

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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We apologize for being slow to comment on the recent Herald series about the People’s Transportation Plan disaster. Everyone at Transit Miami has been extremely busy as of late, but we’ll definitely have several pieces in the coming days and weeks discussing many of the elements referenced by Larry Lebowitz’s multi-part series.

Stay tuned!

Image: Miami-Dade.gov

A lot happened this week behind the scenes and between the lines. Here is a review:

Kudos to this editorial today from El Nuevo Herald columnist Daniel Shoer Roth. I think he did an excellent job in highlighting how mismanaged our transit system is. Accountability goes out the window when ten different departments and municipalities are ‘responsible’ for certain aspects of mass transit. I’m always talking about how our system is ‘mismanaged’ but that really isn’t the case at all. It’s a question of priorities, and transit has not historically been one of them.

Our planning priorities were on full display this past weekend in an insert produced by the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that the Herald included in its Sunday edition. The insert describes work done to date and future projects. If you are not familiar with the MPO, it is a County run organization that is charged with coordinating the various transportation projects around Miami-Dade, as required by Federal Department of Transportation rules. Their mandate is described on their website is:

…to have a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive transportation planning process that results in plans and programs that consider all transportation modes and support metropolitan community development and social goals. These plans and programs shall lead to the development and operation of an integrated, intermodal transportation system that facilitates the efficient, economic movement of people and goods.” (emphasis added)

Many worthy goals, but unfortunately their focus is more on expressway and road building projects than on balancing roads with mass transit. My favorite part of the insert is titled “Miami-Dade: Urban Travel Trends” which utilizes graphs, bright colors, and a lot of traffic engineer lingo (vehicle miles traveled, peak period speeds, etc), with only a brief mention of transit under a graph called ‘Transit Mode Share’. The text accompanying the graph states, “the countywide transit mode share in 2005 was approximately 2.5%” It goes on to say that share will grow, “albeit modestly.” Ok. I find it disillusioning that the organization supposedly responsible for coordinating our transit system is not very optimistic about the future growth of MDT.

Truth be told, after this week’s political farce concerning tranist fares and another half cent tax, I might tend to agree with the MPO. Our future transit does not look so good because the people responsible are alseep at the wheel. Commisioners Bruno and Barbs: wake up!! You have have been reaching in the dark these past few weeks trying to placate your constituents. I know this issue gets heated and personal. Let me be clear: this is not a personal attack. It makes it difficult for those of us who are transit advocates and who supported the first tax increase to justify anything you ask for now because of how the money has been squandered. Surely you can understand that. Next week I am going to work on a series of posts on how the People’s Transportation Tax has been spent to bring to light how that opportunity has been, and continues to be, botched.
If you really care about transit, and Commissioner Jordan I think you care about getting the Orange Line built, here are a few recommendations that can serve as confidence building measures that might make any fare or tax increase palatable:

  • Make the Citizens Independent Transportation Trust the sole entity responsible for deciding what happens to that money. Give it back its teeth, and allow it to do its job.
  • Charge veterans and the elderly. We can’t give away transit that doesn’t exist yet. Until MDT gets its house in order, they should be charged, albeit at a reduced rate that should be revisited when MDT’s finances get better. MDT needs income, and the Trust shouldn’t be responsible for giving it an allowance every month.
  • Charge for the Metromover. Same reasons as above.
  • Have MDT work with the Trust. Recent reports from Miami Today describe how the Trust is having a tough time getting cooperation from MDT with regard to budget issues. How is the Trust supposed to operate if it doesn’t know how much the system costs to maintain?? This is silly.

Note to Mayor Carlos Alvarez: the strong mayor powers you wanted came with responsibilities, ie. get MDT organized. How can they run the business of Miami-Dade Transit without a budget. Helloo?? Not to put all the blame on you though, as you’ve only really been in charge for a short while.

  • Tie the 20% Municipal Transportation Plan funding to transit specifically, not transportation which has become synonymous with roads and expressways. A majority of payments to municipalities have been spent on roads, resurfacing, and other road related infrastructure. The PTP was marketed primarily as a transit plan. Spend money on rail, buses, and the infrastructure related to these much needed systems. Our roads are in fine shape. That way projects like the Coral Gables Trolley continue to get funding, while other money is free to be spent on, oh, I don’t know, maybe a few bus shelters (around International Mall maybe)?
  • Increase fares to be consistent with our how efficient our system is. Don’t over do it. We want to pay for our transit, but we want to get something in return.

You need to rebuild our confidence in your ability to provide us with a functional and growing transit system. Very soon public perception of transit in this community is going to turn from being a nonessential ‘social good’ to an indispensable and basic part of the infrastructure of the city. When that happens, when people start to feel like they have no choice but to get in their cars at $8.00 a gallon, watch out Commissioners and company. The mob will be ruthless, and the storming of the Bastille will seem like a trip to Disneyworld in comparison to your worth in the public eye.

Major Breaking News – Contrary to our report last week regarding the increase of transit fares, a couple of Miami-Dade County Commissioners (Bruno Barriero and Barbara Jordan) are proposing an additional ½ penny sales tax hike which would eliminate all MDT fares for all riders. The sales tax hike would require a public vote in November.

The proposal, floated Tuesday morning by two county commissioners, would ask voters to choose between higher taxes and higher fares.

The commission is scheduled to vote next month to raise fares by 50 cents and automatically raise fares in the future as the system’s costs increase, but those hikes would be moot if fares are eliminated.


Natacha Seijas, Pepe Diaz and crew want more of this…

Photo: Flickr

Miami Dade County unveiled its 50 year parks Masterplan last Friday at the Second Great Park Summit held at Fairchild Botanical Garden. For a place that is too often known for its reactionary planning, this plan is really progressive and forward thinking. Green street corridors, a continuous green belt, and an interconnected network of neighborhood and urban parks place the plan in the company of Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace in Boston and Burnam’s Chicago plan.

The Summit bought together parks departments from all around Dade County, as well as Mayor Alvarez and members of the County Commission. Conspicuously absent were high level members of the City of Miami, South Miami, and Coral Gables to name a few. Considering all the land the County Parks Masterplan encompasses, it’s important for all municipalities to support each other and work toward the same goals. Specifially, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz should have been present, considering his stated commitment toward making Miami a ‘green’ city and improving the tree canopy.

Overall, the plan aims to take one of the largest parks systems in the country into the 21st century by rethinking what open space is and how we use it. Not only are parks considered places of passive or active use, but as common civic space that should be available to all. The highlight of the Summit was the keynote speech by former Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa who gave a great presentation about how we should choose to plan and use our open spaces (parks AND sidewalks) as places of social equality and where the daily drama of life really takes place. His advocacy of public spaces in Bogotá, from extensive bike paths, to a former country club turned public park is inspiring. He closed his presentation with the thought that “Public good must prevail over private interest.” How’s that for progressive?

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