Currently viewing the tag: "Pedestrians"

The relentless siege on pedestrians and cyclists rages on in South Florida. In June alone, local media outlets reported on an embarrassing number of tragic accidents in the greater Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano area. While the recent Miami Bicycle Summit touted many plans and accomplishments in bicycle infrastructure, the troubling frequency of high-profile accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists requires a more aggressive response from local agencies and leaders. Below is a summary of some recent accidents. (The dates correspond to the date of the coverage, not the actual accident.)

Is this a more appropriate warning for pedestrians and cyclists in South Florida?

June 14th, Ft. Lauderdale

Officials: Pickup Truck Hits Woman, Baby

A mother and her baby, who was in a stroller, were taken to the hospital after being struck by a pickup truck in Ft. Lauderdale.

June 13th, Lake Worth

Man Riding Bike Hospitalized After Being Hit By Tractor Trailer in Lake Worth

In what appears to be a classic ‘right-hook’ accident, a bicyclist is in critical condition after being struck by a tractor-trailer. No word on any charges facing the driver.

June 10th, Miami

Pedestrian Stuck and Killed

In this horrific accident, the innocent victim, who was on the sidewalk, was actually severed in two by a vehicle after it collided with another vehicle at an intersection in Miami.

June 7th , Hollywood

Dania Beach Man Questioned In Deadly Hollywood Hit-and-Run

On May 13th, Wilmar Galeano was riding his bicycle on the Sheridan Street Bridge, when he was struck from behind and killed by a speeding white van. The accident was caught on video, but the driver fled and the accident is still under investigation.

June 6th, Ft. Lauderdale

Police ID Man Struck by Car, Killed in Ft. Lauderdale

Jamie Valderrama of Miami Beach tried to leave the scene after striking and killing a pedestrian, Juan Herrera, with his Lexus. Charges against Valderrama are pending.

June 6, Lauderdale Lakes

Bicyclist Hospitalized After Collision With Car

June 2nd, Coral Gables

Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck At Gables Intersection

In this tragic accident, 4 pedestrians were struck when two cars collided in an intersection and careened into the sidewalk. One of the pedestrian victims, Olatz Conde Salcedo, who was head of human resources for Nextel in Bilbao, Spain, later died from injuries suffered in the accident.

Has South Florida actually become more dangerous for pedestrians? A recent Transportation For America Study showed Miami-Ft. Lauderdale to be the 4th most dangerous region in the USA for pedestrians. Is South Florida about to climb in this dubious list? Where is the vocal leadership on this most basic of issues that deteriorates our quality of life and the viability of our cities? How can a city thrive when it’s dangerous to simply cross the street or walk the sidewalks?

Of course, if you have money, you can drive recklessly and kill with impunity in these parts. Need proof? Read about the outrageously light sentence recently handed to Ryan LeVin who murdered two pedestrians in Ft. Lauderdale in 2009.

When are our public agencies and elected officials going to take pedestrians seriously? Streets are for people - not just cars.

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The article below is a repost.  It was originaly posted on November 15, 2009. The FDOT has made some very small striping improvements since the article was originally published.  Needless to say, it is not enough. The FDOT must do more.

Inspired by the recent Dangerous by Design report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America Transit Miami will begin documenting existing conditions that are dangerous and potentially deadly to pedestrians and bicyclists. In what will likely be an infinite collection of posts, the MacArthur Causeway will be the first roadway evaluated for Transit Miami’s very own Dangerous By Design exposé.

Although the MacArthur Causeway is actually designated as bicycle route, I don’t like to ride it because I fear for my life.  The Venetian Causeway is a much safer alternative.  This morning all bicyclists and pedestrians were forced to take the MacArthur Causeway because the eastern drawbridge on the Venetian Causeway was broken.  Non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians had no other alternative to traverse the bay other than the MacArthur Causeway. I decided to make the most of my MacArthur Causeway crossing, so I took the opportunity to more closely inspect FDOT’s current resurfacing project on the MacArthur Causeway.  Sadly, it seems like FDOT did not seriously consider pedestrians and bicyclists during the design phase of this resurfacing project.

My intention was to allow FDOT to finish the project before critiquing it, but that won’t be necessary, because what little work remains to be completed is mostly cosmetic (i.e. painting bicycle lanes and symbols). As one of only three arterial roads that connects Miami to Miami Beach, it is imperative that this wide, high speed, high capacity thoroughfare have safe pedestrian and bicycle provisions. FDOT’s current design consists of an unprotected bicycle lane that doubles as an emergency shoulder.  Sorry, but anything less than a separated and protected multiuse path is unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists.  For this reason the MacArthur Causeway is being regrettably recognized as Dangerous By Design. If FDOT were genuinely concerned about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists they would have designed a separated and protected multiuse path.  Below are examples that should have been considered.

Wilson Bridge Bike Path. Photo courtsey of http://joeholthaus.com/id69.html

Wilson Bridge Bike Path. Photo courtesy of http://joeholthaus.com/id69.html

Burrard Bike Lane, Vancouver Canada. Photo courtesy of www.news1130.com

Burrard Bike Lane, Vancouver Canada. Photo courtesy of www.news1130.com

Below are a few photographs taken this morning of poor design standards on the MacArthur Causeway:

The bus stop needs to be protected; a pedestrian could have easily been killed here.

Bus stops on a three lane highway need to be protected; a pedestrian could have easily been killed here while waiting for the bus.

The bike lane/shoulder becomes bus stop. Please note that the bike lane/shoulder/bus stop ends.

The bike lane/shoulder becomes a bus stop. Please note that the bike lane/shoulder/bus stop ends without warning.

Bicyclists are forced into travel lane as soon as the bike lane/shoulder ends. It is not a coincidence that a taxi cab driver struck 11 bicyclists last year at this location.  This is a major design flaw.

Bicyclists are then forced into the travel lane as soon as the bike lane/shoulder ends. It is not a coincidence that a taxi cab driver struck 11 bicyclists last year at this location. This is a major design flaw, a similar design flaw contributed to the death a bicyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway a few years ago.

Where are the temporary provisions for pedestrians, the handicap, and parents with strollers?

Where are the temporary provisions for pedestrians, the handicap, and parents with strollers?

A temporary solution needs to be found.

A temporary solution needs to be found. Access is very difficult for pedestrians.

On February 9 a FDOT contractor damaged underground conduit and cable while performing work at the Brickell Avenue and SE 13th Street intersection. Mr. Robert Williams, from the County Public Works Department, Traffic Signals and Signs Division confirmed this in an email to Transit Miami.

My investigation indicates that the original underground conduit and cable damage occurred on 2/9/11 when a trencher being operated by FDOT’s prime contractor, Russell Engineering, accidentally dug through several critical signal cables.  FDOT’s signal contractor responded the same day, spliced the cables, and returned the vehicle and ped signals to proper operation.  However, it began raining soon thereafter and the signal went back into flash, indicating that the signal cables had been seriously damaged by the original encounter at unknown locations underground.  The signal contractor then returned to the scene and ran temporary cables overhead to at least get the vehicular signals operational”.

It has become glaringly obvious that FDOT does not consider pedestrians a priority. They were quick to repair the damaged vehicle signals, but then turned a blind eye to the broken pedestrian crosswalk signals. This is a MAJOR intersection in the heart of the Brickell Financial District. Thousands of people use this intersection every week. I am certain the FDOT will be quick to point their finger at Russell Engineering, but the buck has to stop somewhere and it must stop with the FDOT. The FDOT should be solely held accountable as they are overseeing this project. Once again, they have failed to recognize that work is being performed in an urban environment that is densely populated. This is not the suburbs; the FDOT cannot simply ignore the needs of pedestrians for over a month.  Their cavalier attitude and apathy towards pedestrians is negligent at best. I am surprised no one was seriously injured at this intersection this past month due to their willful blindness. The FDOT does not cease to amaze me with their callous indifference to all things non-motorized.

The FDOT’s mind-set is a slap in the face to everyone that walks on Brickell. To make matters worse, motorists are allowed to make a right turn on red at this intersection. Adding to the pedestrian-unfriendly character of this intersection, a right turn green arrow allows and encourages motorists to make right turns without having to slow or stop. Pedestrians were left to guess when they could cross this intersection safely.  In addition, I have yet to see any “Yield to Pedestrian” enforcement around the Brickell area.  These conditions, to say the least, create an environment of chaos for pedestrians, parents with strollers, the handicap, and bicyclists.

The right turn green arrow allows and encourages motorists to make a right turn without having to slow or stop. Needless to say, this is not pedestrian friendly. We need to calm traffic on Brickell, not move it more quickly.

The pedestrian signals were finally repaired last night (3/14) around 9:00pm; 33 days after they were accidently disabled.  Unfortunately, my call to 311 on February 24th was ignored by FDOT too. The repair came only after I wrote about this unfortunate situation when it was reported on Transit Miami. Again, why must we shame the FDOT to do the right thing? An obvious lack of initiative by the FDOT is evident when it comes to cultivating a pedestrian friendly environment in our urban core.

I would like to apologize to Mr. Robert Williams, from the County Public Works Department Traffic Signals & Signs Division.  I incorrectly assumed the County PWD was responsible for maintaining the crosswalk signals in this situation. Ordinarily they are responsible for maintaining all traffic signals within the County. However, in this circumstance, since FDOT is performing work on Brickell Avenue it becomes their responsibility to maintain all traffic signals in the work zone.

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All of the pedestrian crosswalk signals at the Brickell Avenue and SE 13th Street intersection are broken. It’s been a month. I’m not sure whom I need to speak to.

I first noticed that the crosswalks signals were out of order about a month ago. I decided to conduct an experiment to see how long it would take the County Public Works Department to fix the signals.

After witnessing a couple of scary close calls, I decide to end my experiment and dialed 311 to report the malfunction. It was just a matter of time before a car would hit a pedestrian. I was issued case # 1155595.  About two weeks have passed since I called 311 and the crosswalk signals still remain broken.

Pedestrian Frogger on Brickell Avenue February 24, 2011

This intersection happens to be the FDOT’s staging area for their autocentric resurfacing project that is currently underway.  During the course of the past two months the FDOT employees and contractors have swamped the Brickell area. In addition, the County Public Works Department has been noticeably present as well.

I’m not sure who deserves the blame, but I’m left questioning…

  • Was there a breakdown in communication between 311 and the County Public Works Department?
  • Has no one from the FDOT or the County Public Works Department noticed that the pedestrian crosswalk signals are not functioning?
  • Do my fellow citizens not know to call 311? If this is the case, the County is doing a poor job educating the public about 311.
  • Or do my fellow citizens call 311 and get no results like I did?

This is a MAJOR intersection with a tremendous amount of pedestrian traffic. There is absolutely no reason why these crosswalk signals should remain broken for 4 weeks, jeopardizing the lives of thousands of people every day. Yet all of us are relegated to playing pedestrian frogger with our own lives in an attempt to get across the street. We shouldn’t have to guess when it’s safe to cross this pedestrian-unfriendly intersection. This is not a video game; it’s an embarrassment. It’s really just a matter of time before someone gets hit here.

Pedestrian Frogger on Brickell Avenue March 10, 2011

It’s no wonder County Mayor Carlos Alverez’s job is on the line. If we can’t even get basic services like pedestrian crosswalk signals fixed in a timely manner, I can only imagine what else is broken in County government.

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to rebuild a small section of Brickell Avenue to improve safety for cars in 2012.  True to their autocentric focus, they are actually making conditions for those of us that walk on Brickell Avenue more dangerous. These so called “improvements” will include longer left-turn lanes and elimination of left turns at Southeast Sixth Street. Other “improvements” highlighted in a Miami Herald article include:

• Closing the median opening at Southeast Sixth Street, preventing left turns at this “high crash spot”

• Increasing the lengths of the left-turn lanes on Brickell Avenue for northbound traffic at Fifth and Seventh Streets

• Increasing the lengths of the left-turn lanes on Brickell Avenue for southbound traffic at Seventh and Eighth Streets

• Converting the northbound outside lane at Eighth Street from an exclusive right-turn only lane to a through and right-turn lane

• Installing new signs and traffic signals, and optimizing signal timing

The FDOT fails to recognize that by closing the median opening at Southeast Sixth Street they are reducing intersection density.  Reducing intersection density does not calm traffic; in fact it has the opposite effect.  It will only encourage more speeding on Brickell Avenue.  This is the last thing we need.

The closure of the median at Southeast Sixth Street also eliminates the opportunity for an additional crosswalk.  We need more crosswalks on Brickell Avenue. So far FDOT has committed to adding 2 or 3 additonal crosswalks on Brickell, this isn’t nearly enough. We have identified nearly two dozen locations that badly need crosswalks on Brickell Avenue.

According to an FDOT study there were least 82 accidents on this segment in 2008, including 62 sideswipes and rear-end collisions. Twenty were caused by northbound cars making left turns without yielding to southbound traffic.  Lost in this study is the fact that a pedestrian was killed in this very same area several years ago. This statistic is not highlighted in the FDOT study and nothing is being done by FDOT to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety here or anywhere else on Brickell. Safety conditions for pedestrians in this area are obviously not a FDOT priority.

Meanwhile, our local elected officials have promised more safety improvements for Brickell Avenue.  We here at Transit Miami have high expectations from FDOT and our elected officials.  Please do not disappoint us. We don’t consider this a safety improvement. Nice try.

You can find the preliminary, non-finalized FDOT drawings for this project here.

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The Upper East Side neighborhood, loosely considered the area around the Biscayne Boulevard corridor from NE 50th Street to NE 85th Street, has tremendous potential for redevelopment. Unfortunately FDOT’s current streetscape design for Biscayne Boulevard is suffocating the neighborhood and stunting its growth.

FDOT recently resurfaced Biscayne Boulevard, but they did a disastrous job. They essentially designed a highway through a historic commercial and residential neighborhood without considering the needs of the businesses and residents that call the area home. As long as Biscayne Boulevard remains unfriendly to businesses and pedestrians conditions in the Upper East Side will not improve. The redevelopment of the Upper East Side begins with Biscayne Boulevard. FDOT must understand that they play a central role in the economic redevelopment of this community. They cannot persist to enable the decline of communities through poor roadway design that is unfriendly to businesses and pedestrians. If FDOT continues to design roadways with the sole purpose of moving cars faster, communities will suffer and they will not prosper.

The first step to redeveloping the Upper East Side neighborhood is to redesign the Biscayne Boulevard streetscape.  Lucky for the FDOT, University of Miami Professors Chuck Bohl and Jaime Correa have provided the MiMo Business Improvement Committee with a Biscayne Boulevard Streetscape Vision plan. At the very core of redevelopment are the businesses; they need to be on solid footing to thrive. Accessible parallel parking is the cornerstone for businesses to flourish.  Without it businesses will continue to go bust and prospective retailers will continue to turn their back to the area.

Source: MiMo Business Improvement Committee- Design by Professor Chuck Bohl and Professor Jaime Correa- University of Miami

 

Once parallel parking is in place, a number of things will occur which will transform the neighborhood. Existing business will blossom and new businesses will relocate to the neighborhood.  Parallel parking will help to calm traffic as well; bringing the current 45 mph design speed closer in-line with the 35 mph speed limit. (The speed limit should be reduced to 30mph). Once the design speed is reduced to 35 mph, Biscayne Boulevard will become more pedestrian friendly. Additional crosswalks and bicycle sharrows would also be introduced, further calming traffic and enhancing the pedestrian realm.

As a result, there will be a domino effect in the neighborhood. More businesses will open and remain open. A sense of place will be created and residents and visitors will begin supporting local retailers because the area will be more pedestrian friendly. More importantly, crime will decline since there will be more “eyes on the street”.

Last but not least, the 35 foot building height limit needs to increase to 53ft. Without it, real estate developers will not invest in the area.  One of two things will occur if the 35 foot building height limit remains- 1) Empty lots will remain or 2) The area will be filled with Discount Auto Parts type buildings. Contrary to doomsday conspiracy theorists that believe increasing the building height will destroy the neighborhood, the 53 ft building height is not out of scale. If we want good development to come to the area, the neighborhood must support an increase of the building height. If you want crappy development, keep the 35 foot building height limit.

Source: MiMo Business Improvement Committee- Design by Professor Chuck Bohl and Professor Jaime Correa- University of Miami

Source: MiMo Business Improvement Committee- Design by Professor Chuck Bohl and Professor Jaime Correa- University of Miami

So how do we make this happen?  Well, we here at Transit Miami are trying to mobilize the Upper East Side HOAs.  Tonight we will have an informal meeting with several HOA representatives. The Upper East Side HOAs need to come together with the MiMo Business Improvement Committee and the MiMo Biscayne Association and agree that streetscape design is the most pressing issue for the neighborhood. If the community speaks with one voice we can apply enough pressure on Commissioner Sarnoff and shame the FDOT to make these necessary and relatively inexpensive changes to make the economic redevelopment of our community a reality.

The Upper East Side Neighborhood must plan for its future now and begin envisioning the future for this historic district. We need to consider a week long charette and bring all major community stakeholders to the table within the next year. Let’s make this happen neighbors!

FYI: Speeding is clearly an issue on Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side neighborhood. I have documented three accidents in the past 4 months. There have been more, but I just have not had time to document all the accidents.

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/motorcyclist-collides-with-pedestrian-on-biscayne-boulevard-in-mimo

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/bus-shelter-destroyed-in-mimo

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/pic-of-the-day-two-weeks-notice

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A University of Miami student, struck by a hit-and-run driver 10 days ago, has reportedly died of his injuries. The Miami herald reports:

Jared Paul Jones, a 21-year-old English major from Maryland, was pronounced dead about 2 a.m. by doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Coral Gables police spokeswoman Kelly Denham said. He had been in a coma after suffering severe head trauma in the accident at 7:20 p.m. on Nov. 13.

Jones was struck by a vehicle traveling northbound on SW 57th Avenue (Red Road, SR959) at the intersection with Blue Rd (SW 48 Street) in Coral Gables. The FDOT maintained segment of  the roadway stretches from the Dolphin Expressway south through Coral Gables and South Miami. While little details regarding the actual crash have emerged, it begs the question that if the FDOT had adopted and implemented a Complete Streets Policy that would help slow vehicles, placing pedestrians and cyclists on more equal footing, could accidents like these be avoided?

Let’s take a look at the conditions Jones was faced with as a Pedestrian attempting to cross SR959.

A Google street-view of of the southwest corner of SR 959 and Blue Road depicts a wide radius curve, a common engineering practice intended to facilitate the right turn movements of cars at higher velocities. A narrow curb radii, forces drivers to slow down, backing up traffic and reducing the number of cars that can turn during the signal cycle. Remember - this road was designed by a traffic engineer with one goal - to maximize the efficiency of the facility for vehicles. Discouraging pedestrians through design, reduces the number of pedestrians and thus the need to plan and design for their needs accordingly.

The crosswalks, faded and incomplete, connect poorly with the sidewalks themselves, leaving pedestrians to cut through a dirt or grass patch in order to cross - these certainly don’t meet today’s ADA accepted practices. The street-view also shows something curious - note the cyclist headed northbound on the sidewalk. SR959, a mere two-lane undivided facility at this stretch, is far too dangerous for cyclists - relegating them to ride on the sidewalk. The posted speed limit through this residential street is 40 mph. How many of us would let your kids walk to school through this intersection? David Fairchild Elementary School is located a mere four blocks north - I don’t expect that many kids walk to ride back to school daily - the street-scape discourages  healthy, active modes of transportation such as cycling and walking.

Looking east of SR959 along Blue Road, we see that sidewalks cease to exist, leaving pedestrians to fend for themselves crossing through lawns and driveways or even worse, the roadway itself.  The posted speed limit here is 30 mph.

An aerial view of the intersection depicts a curious bump-out on the southeast corner of the intersection. This sliver of pavement facilitates right turn movements, enabling vehicles to make this maneuver at a higher velocity. Its all about how many cars we can move through the intersection, little tricks like these help engineers improve the facility’s level-of-service (LOS) to an “acceptable” value at the expense of the pedestrian and cycling realm.

How do you like that bus stop placement too? Transit is clearly a priority here. Its no wonder why the route 57 metrobus has such dismal ridership (according to the July 2010 technical report this route carries only 643 daily riders).  And, as the CNT H+T affordability index reports residents of this region expend 20% to 28% of household income on transportation, emit 20 to 30 Metric Tons of CO2 per acre, drive 14,000 to 16,000 miles annually, and spend 25 to 29 Minutes getting to work each day. The picture below of a stop south of the intersection captures the effect this incomplete street has on transit. Nothing could be more pleasant than than trekking through the grass to wait for a bus that comes every 40 minutes at best.

While I digressed on that last point - I want to convey that street design (or lack-thereof) is strongly correlated to our behavior, modal choice, living expenses, and environmental/health effects. Every single element of this street is designed to be an obstacle to anyone not traveling in a personal vehicle. Unfortunately, Jared Paul Jones paid the ultimate price.Could a complete street policy have saved Jones? Perhaps. Can we do more to make this street and other like it throughout the state more suitable for all forms of transportation? Certainly.

The image below depicts what a more such a facility could look like here on SR959.

Image Source: transitcenter.com

Has the time come for a complete streets policy at all levels of government? I think so. I’ll be paying a visit to this intersection in person this week and will continue documenting the aspects that make this such an inhospitable place for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users alike. Stay Tuned.

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This past July, we celebrated the 20 year anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) which among other things prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability. A major component of the ADA mandated paratransit service to help mobility-impaired and disabled Americans get from one place to another. The ADA act is focused on inclusion - adopting standard practices in urban design that make our buildings, streets, and transit more universally designed to accommodate all. A component of the ADA act requires sidewalks to be at least 3 feet wide to accommodate wheelchairs.

Naturally, I was shocked when I came across the following site a few weeks ago when I was near Merrick Park in Coral Gables.

This is the site of a recent FDOT project aimed at resurfacing Bird Road from 57th Avenue to 38th Avenue. In this image I’m standing at the Southeast corner of Ponce De Leon and Bird Road, looking north. I didn’t have the time to measure the distance between the curb and the concrete electric pole, but in person the distance certainly appeared to be less than 3 feet wide.  Here is how the FDOT describes this improvement:

This project is repaving and restriping the roadway. Work also includes widening the bridge and road shoulder; building a new sidewalk on the north side of Bird Road; upgrading sidewalks and curb ramps; installing drainage materials to alleviate water build-up in the swale area; performing root pruning and trimming; removing landscaping; upgrading the lighting and installing new traffic and pedestrian signs and signals; removing existing guardrail and installing new guardrail at various locations and installing a pedestrian bridge.

Miami’s walkability level, already fairly dismal because of our autocentric growth, only deteriorates further when we litter and obstruct sidewalks with other urban clutter. Electric poles, bus stops, lights, trees, benches, and trash receptacles all have a place and a role in our urban environments; sidewalks shouldn’t sacrifice their  limited alloted space within the right-of-ways to accommodate these fixtures.

We’re going to reach out to our friends at FDOT and the City of Coral Gables to see what can be done to enhance the pedestrian realm rather than simply “beautifying” and accentuating existing barriers. And, while its probably too late to have any significant impact on this project as it was slated for completion in October 2010 - we hope we can help affect change on any future improvements to the pedestrian environment throughout South Florida.

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I’m not sure if they are hiring, but…

As many of our readers know, Brickell Avenue is due for some major work. FDOT will begin a drainage and resurfacing project in early 2011. This long overdue project is finally coming to fruition, however, the only improvements FDOT is considering for this project is the resurfacing and drainage upgrade. This would be a perfect opportunity for FDOT to consider reducing the high speed limit, adding crosswalks and including bicycle sharrows. Unfortunately, FDOT does not believe any of these upgrades are necessary.

We here at Transit Miami caught wind of this upcoming project and have been busy building a coalition of residents, businesses, and other organizations to reduce the speed limit on Brickell  Avenue.  A few weeks ago we met with Commissioner Sarnoff and Mayor Regalado. We are happy to report that both the Mayor and the Commissioner support a reduced speed limit. Unfortunately, they both informed us that there is not much they can do since Brickell Avenue is a state road; therefore the city of Miami has no jurisdiction over it.

Both Commissioner Sarnoff and Mayor Regalado suggested we speak to Representative Luis Garcia. So we went ahead and did so. Representative Garcia told us that he would do everything in his power to generate a response from FDOT. (Mr. Gus Pego, FDOT District 6 secretary, received our letter almost a month and a half ago but has not responded). Representative Garcia also suggested that we meet with Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff about this issue. We kindly informed Representative Garcia that the reason we were meeting with him was because Mayor Regaldo and Commissioner Sarnoff asked us to do so.

We have reached out to all the stakeholders on Brickell Avenue and all agree with us that speeding is an issue on Brickell. We cannot get FDOT to respond to any of our emails.  Last week, FDOT made this illogical PowerPoint presentation to the Brickell Homeowners Association. They essentially put the blame on the pedestrian for jaywalking. It doesn’t matter that crosswalks are few and far in between. During this presentation they explicitly stated they would not reduce the speed limit, add crosswalks or include sharrows within the scope if this project.

The following organizations support a lower speed limit and a more pedestrian-friendly environment on Brickell Avenue:

Brickell Homeowners Association

Brickell Area Association

South Florida Bike Coalition

Miami DDA

Green Mobility Network

Miami Bicycle Action Committee

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Last night about 70 Belle Meade residents showed up at Legion Park to hear the details about a proposal to fence off all access to Belle Meade on NE 6th Court.  Currently, pedestrians and bicyclists can enter and exit Belle Meade through NE 72nd Terrace and NE 72nd -77th Streets. Motor vehicles can only access Belle Meade via NE 76th Street.

The majority of the residents voted for the complete fencing off of all entrances on NE 6th Court.  There were about 6-7 residents, including myself, that were willing to find some common ground and voted for an amendment that included fencing, however the fencing would have unlocked gates to allow for public access. The total cost of this project was about $15,000 and the initial burden of this cost, as well as maintenance of the 6 ft fence, would fall on the homeowners. Public access on these streets would effectively cease to exist, but the City of Miami would continue to provide all public services to the community (Fire, Police, Public Works, etc.).  Belle Meade would not become a private community.

Although most of those present at the meeting support fencing, a majority of Belle Meade homeowners is still required to sign a petition in support of fencing for it to become a reality.  Once the petition is signed by 60%-70% of the homeowners in favor of fencing it will be presented to the city of Miami Commissioners for a vote and final approval.

Commissioner Sarnoff was present at the meeting as well.  After listening to the homeowners he told the audience that if he lived in the community he too would want to fence off NE 6th Court. He then proceeded to show support by offering to pay for the new fencing with our tax dollars. Additional police patrols, an effective deterrent against crime, was not really discussed.

The Miami Police Department Commander for the Upper East Side was also present at the meeting. He told the residents that he believed fencing would help to deter crime in the area, but acknowledged it would not eliminate crime all together.  He also pointed out that the area had seen a reduction of crime year-over-year.

Although I do respect the Commander’s comments, everything I have researched has shown that gated communities are not safer than non-gated communities.  In other words, defensive planning does not work. Communities that have transitioned from non-gated to gated initially show a drop in crime, however after about a year, crime levels return to pre-gating levels. Below is an excerpt from research that was conducted in Miami:

The city of Miami reports that “some forms of crime such as car theft are reduced, at least immediately after the streets are closed. However, data indicates that the long-term crime rate is at best only marginally altered” (Blakely, 1995, p. 1).

You can read more about the research that Blakely conducted here.

You can also read this article from the well respected Next American City that discusses the social implications of gated communities on the surrounding neighborhoods. This article goes on to say:

In truth, there is no evidence that homes in gated communities maintain their value better than those in non-gated ones. Nor is there evidence that gated communities are safer.”

One of the best forms of policing is self-policing by residents. Erecting a fence will destroy the walkability of our community, thus decreasing self-policing by residents. Walking an extra half mile to get to Jimmy’s or another nearby establishment is easier said than done. The elderly, persons with disabilities, our housekeepers, and parents with strollers will all suffer if a fence is erected.  So will the businesses on Biscayne Boulevard.

The MiMo Business Improvement District should not support the fencing of Belle Meade.  Businesses within the MiMo district will be harmed by the lack of pedestrian accessibility from Belle Meade. Walking an extra ½ mile for some residents will become a deterrent to engage with businesses on Biscayne Boulevard. Once potential MiMo customers from Belle Meade are in their cars, they can easily choose to shop or eat at a non-MiMo establishment which is more accessible by car and has parking easily available.

I am a new resident and want to make Belle Meade as safe as possible. I respect the opinions and views of my neighbors and share the same safety concerns as all of them. Even with the guard gate on 76th street, defensive planning has already proved to be ineffective. More defensive planning will most likely show the same results. A majority will decide how Belle Meade proceeds and my hope is that together we can find a solution that may actually deter crime.

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Please join the Brickell Homeowners Association as they host FDOT District 6 on Wednesday September 15 @ 7:00pm at the Metropolitan Condominium located at 2475 Brickell Avenue. It would be a good idea to encourage as many people as possible to attend this meeting. If you live, work, play or visit the Brickell area this meeting is a must.

FDOT will begin a major resurfacing project in a few months on Brickell Avenue. Unfortunately, FDOT does not believe that lowering the speed limit or changing the design speed of Brickell Avenue to discourage speeding is a good idea.  They also don’t believe that adding crosswalks or cultivating a more pedestrian-friendly environment would be better for one of the most densely populated areas in all of Florida. Quite the contrary, they believe that all is fine and dandy on Brickell Avenue and that speeding is not a problem. They do not share our belief that our roads are for people, bicycles and cars and they are meant to be shared safely.

Transit Miami sources have informed us that FDOT would not consider changing the speed limit if they found that 85 percent of all cars are currently traveling at or below the already much too high 35/40mph speed limit. The dynamic of Brickell has changed substantially over the last 5 years and therefore FDOT should consider this as well. You can find a list of some of our recommendations for improvements here.  You can also find a list of some very excellent suggestions from new Transit Miami contributor Adam Mizrahi at What Miami. (Please welcome Adam!)

If you can’t make it, please send an email to Gus Pego, District 6 Secretary and let him know we deserve a better Brickell Avenue.

Just an FYI: The following organizations all support a lower speed limit and a more pedestrian-friendly environment on Brickell Avenue:

Brickell Avenue Homeowners Association

Green Mobility Network

Miami Bicycle Action Committee

South Florida Bicycle Coalition

Miami DDA

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Although we have to beg our local officials to install proper Zebra crosswalks in Miami Dade County, it doesn’t hurt to dream a bit. Check out this idea from Korean designer Jae Min Lim.

He has the clever idea to turn crosswalks into J’s. By curving the typical Zebra crossing to take up a wider swath of road, you carve out a nice, safe path for pedestrians — one that reflects how they actually walk.”

Check out some other clever ideas from fastcodesign.com here.

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The Miami Hurricane is reporting that Marie Cushmore, a senior at the University of Miami was struck by a Ford Expedition while crossing U.S. 1 and Mariopsa Court last Wednesday around 9:30pm.

Unfortunately, this is not the first accident here. According to The Miami Hurricane this intersection has had a history of accidents involving UM student pedestrians. About five years ago, UM student Ashley Kelly was killed when she was hit by a SUV that ran a red light on U.S. 1 and Mariposa Court.

It gets worse. Since 1990, seven students have been struck crossing Ponce de Leon Boulevard and U.S. 1. Three of the incidents have resulted in death.

There has been talk of building a pedestrian overpass across U.S. 1 at Mariposa. I for one hope this never gets built.  Building a pedestrian overpass is not the solution as most people will not to use it and will continue to cross at grade level.  The solution is to calm traffic in this area. It is unrealistic to expect healthy students to safely cross 6 lanes of traffic while cars are moving in excess of 50 mph. Can you imagine how an elderly person or someone with a physical disability must feel trying to cross U.S 1? How many more pedestrians need to die before FDOT decides to calm traffic on U.S. 1?

Please send an email to Mr. Gus Pego District 6 secretary letting him know that you are not satisfied with the existing conditions on U.S. 1.

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The word on the livable street is that FDOT will begin a major resurfacing project on Brickell Avenue early next year.  Brickell Avenue will be resurfaced from SE 25th Road to SE 5th Street (approximately 1.5 miles).

This is an excellent opportunity for FDOT to shows its commitment to livable streets. Brickell Avenue is one of the most densely populated and pedestrianized areas in all of Florida; it is a destination, not a thoroughfare, therefore it needs to be designed in such a way that speeding is discouraged.

The current design plans for this project call for the same 11 foot travel lanes, no bicycle facilities, and improved crosswalks. This project will come under close scrutiny of Transit Miami (we have high expectations).  If you have any suggestions for FDOT, please use the comments section. We really need everyone’s help on this one. Together we can make Brickell Avenue a safe place for people to walk, bike and drive.

I had to stop to talk to Lance yesterday. Lance was born with out legs and it doesn’t seem to bother him.  He casually told me “I never had legs, so I don’t know what its like to have them”. He’s completed multiple marathons using his skateboard and trains on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  Unfortunately, he could not train on the Rickenbacker Causeway yesterday because a big tree was knocked down a few days ago during a storm, blocking the bicycle path and his access to train.

Its difficult enough being a healthy pedestrian on Brickell, I can only imagine how Lance must feel. Lance should be an inspiration for all of us.

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