Currently viewing the tag: "Traffic"

What seems out of place in this picture?  If you guess the triangular sliver of grass amid all the concrete and parking, then you guessed right.  I was browsing through the most recent copy of the LRTP or TIP, don’t remember which one but that is besides the point, when I came across some preliminary plans to acquire this sliver of land from the FEC.  The plan, of course, would be for MDT to convert this last remnant of green space into further surface parking for the Dadeland North Metrorail station.

Now, I realize the importance of parking for metrorail, especially given our commuter-like use of the train and extremely autocentric lifestyles, but the pragmatist in me doesn’t see the need, especially when the immediate surroundings are already paved over with under-utilized land.  Simon Malls certainly isn’t using all of their available parking, why can’t we learn to work with our neighbors first?  The problem with metrorail, contrary to common belief, isn’t that “it doesn’t go anywhere” but that we haven’t constructed anything of any value around it.  Sure Dadeland is a step away, but who wants to walk between 3 parking structures, just to walk under the teal pathway which meanders through the sea of parking? If Miami plans to make any significant upgrades to metrorail or any of our urban centers, we must begin around our existing transit nodes.  It’s bad enough this ROW won’t be used to connect downtown Kendall with the MIC using an LRT…

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From the World Carfree network:

Every September 22, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don’t have to accept our car-dominated society.

But we do not want just one day of celebration and then a return to “normal” life. When people get out of their cars, they should stay out of their cars. It is up to us, it is up to our cities, and our governments to help create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars.

Let World Carfree Day be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars…365 days a year.

As the climate heats up, World Carfree Day is the perfect time to take the heat off the planet, and put it on city planners and politicians to give priority to cycling, walking and public transport, instead of to the automobile.

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“There is no such thing as a natural level of car use. The number of cars used in the city is a political decision. Traffic problems don’t come from more cars, they come from more roads…”

-Former Mayor of Bogota Enrique Penalosa

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Apparently we were having an HTML error due to the recent wordpress software upgrade.  We apologize for the inconvenience and incomplete emails that were sent out this morning.

Let me see if I am reading this sequence of events correctly:

  1. Miami-Dade County commissioners allowed development to occur adjacent to Kendall-Tamiami Airport.
  2. Thousands of cookie cutter homes were built, some in locations far too close to the airport boundary (you all remember how certain developers took certain commissioners on fishing trips to Mexico  because they are so kind in exchange for a reduction in the airport buffer zone…)
  3. Knowing of the airport’s existence, families still moved into these houses.
  4. Residents are now complaining of the noise caused by the airport and want restrictions placed on flights.

I don’t know about you, but I’m left scratching my head on this one.  How stupid are we?  One of the proposed “solutions” is to move more of the training flights out to the Dade-collier transition facility in the middle of the everglades. In case you aren’t aware, in the late 1960’s some of our legislative geniuses laid the foundation to create the world’s largest airport (Everglades Jetport) in the middle of the Florida Everglades.  Luckily, only one of the airports proposed 6 runways (a 10,500 ft behemoth nonetheless) was actually constructed before environmentalists (rather the cancellation of the SST aircraft, the main reason why the airport was conceived from the beginning) convinced the government that the airport would cause irreparable harm to the ecosystem.

I digressed as usual, but am I the only one in complete disbelief?  This reminds me of the other geniuses in Kendall who never realized that existing rail rights-of-way like the CSX or FEC corridor could actually once again be used for regular rail service…

But residents are worried about the dangers associated with testing equipment in such a highly populated area.

It has even led homeowners to question whether it’s time for the Federal Aviation Administration to revisit airport guidelines now that the landscape around the airport has significantly changed from mostly empty fields to hundreds of homes.

Once again, this chain of events is the result of developers controlling our land-use regulations.  Land-use planning is pro-active, why is it that in Miami-Dade County we’re always left cleaning up other people’s messes?

The swath of land centered in the image below was a former airfield in Pinecrest, forced to close due to encroaching development, could Kendall-Tamiami experience this fate one day?  How about Homestead General Aviation Airport or even Dade-Collier?

Do you fancy yourself a traffic expert? I sure don’t, but thought my status as an observant urbanist might lend itself to a decent score. Well, after submitting to the Tierney Lab Traffic Quiz,  I only got two questions out of ten right. So much for that. Think you can beat me? Take the quiz.

TM thanks Kathryn for the link.

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Last Wednesday, I had the chance to drive north along I-95 in Miami-Dade County where I snapped the pictures below of the then incomplete sections of 95 Express, the variable priced road pricing scheme program going into full effect by 2010.  Little did I know that just 2 days later, FDOT would be “completing” the first segment of 95 Express and opening the lanes up to the public.  Driving, I actually thought to myself “This should make for some interesting conversation on TM.”  In fact, had I known this, I likely would have driven north to Palm Beach instead of taking tri-rail this past Friday.

95 Express’ opening day was a disaster.  I will tell you why.  This is the sort of outcome you should expect when our government blindly throws hundreds of millions of dollars at an unproven concept.  Not congestion pricing.  We are generally in favor of road pricing policies because of their effectiveness in reducing urban congestion and smog.  I am concerned with the urban partnerships program.  Essentially, this program threw $1 Billion dollars at five cities to “relieve congestion” in existing rights of ways while combining public transportation with road pricing.  Or in the preferred government alliteration speak:

The Department sought applicants to aggressively use four complementary and synergistic strategies (referred to as the “4Ts”) to relieve urban congestion: Tolling, Transit, Telecommuting, and Technology.

Now, how a transportation project can go from conception to construction in just over 1-year’s time is beyond me, this process is sure to be riddled with problems.  Note: In August 2007, the Secretary announced five final urban partners: Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

I predict that most Miami drivers will have no problem mowing down the delineated candlestick markers, just as they managed to do along Dolphin Mall Blvd (see below), or Kendall Dr. (Note: here they raised the delineated markers onto a concrete curb after they had been plowed a few times, encouraging most Hummer sedan drivers to stray away.)

This is likely an issue which we’ll be writing on frequently and is the subject of much controversy (especially now) in South Florida.  Before I get to the transit aspect of 95 Express, let’s open this up for some conversation…

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98% of Americans are in favor of expanded public transportation.  Yes, there is a catch.  This is what the study released today by the APTA concluded:

A study released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association reveals that 98 percent of Americans support the use of mass transit by others.

Now, that is a scary statistic.  With hordes of environmental and financial problems looming over the US economy (chiefly the result of our unappeasable appetites for oil), one would assume that our citizens would become better acquainted with more sustainable lifestyles.  This national mentality falls in line with some situations we’ve addressed here on TM; evidenced by the opposition against bringing commuter rail service to the CSX corridor because it would “hamper the commutes of motorists traveling along several east-west corridors.”

Of the study’s 5,200 participants, 44 percent cited faster commutes as the primary reason to expand public transportation, followed closely by shorter lines at the gas station. Environmental and energy concerns ranked a distant third and fourth, respectively.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news America, but this is not how transportation works:

Anaheim, CA, resident Lance Holland, who drives 80 miles a day to his job in downtown Los Angeles, was among the proponents of public transit.

“Expanding mass transit isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity,” Holland said. “My drive to work is unbelievable. I spend more than two hours stuck in 12 lanes of traffic. It’s about time somebody did something to get some of these other cars off the road.”

You will notice that equally important in our quest of reshaping the American Landscape (and mentality) is to create a better understanding of our land use policies.

Recommended Reading:

  • With Gas Over $4, Cities Explore Whether It’s Smart to Be Dense (WSJ)

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In their March 13th edition, the Economist magazine published this article in which it was written that a company in Washington state, spun off from Microsoft, will be compiling and analyzing real-time satellite transponder and cell phone data from delivery vehicles. The company, INRIX, then will provide this real-time traffic analysis to companies like Tom-Tom, Garmin, and ClearChannel (I guess for their currently lackluster traffic reports), to push to their devices to alert customers of current traffic conditions along various corridors.

On the plus side, it is reported that this information can also be used by emergency authorities to guide them around traffic blockages to provide faster response times. Additionally, this might be able to get us closer to a smarter highway concept, reducing fuel consumption and toxic emissions, and increasing the time we have to spend getting to know our neighbors out there in the sprawl that has become our substitute for small-town America.

Where’s Big Brother again?

Photo Courtesy k2d2vaca at Flickr

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If you’ve ever been driving along the highway and suddenly everything comes to a dead stop or a slow down for no apparent reason you’ve been caught up in a shockwave traffic jam. The Mathematical Society of Traffic Flow in Japan has created this video to illustrate the shockwave phenomenon. In Miami, you’ll typically find yourself in one of these heading on US-1 southbound just after I-95 (a spot where you should likely be riding metrorail instead…)

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This week’s Streetwise Column by Herald Reporter Larry Lebowitz, presented an “innovative” new use for Miami-Dade’s Busway program. We’ve taken some time to mull over the basics of the plan over the past few days (apparently so have a number of you based on the number of emails I received) and have prepared an analysis of the project based on the data Larry provided in the article.

Imagine widening the Busway from two lanes to four and giving buses and carpoolers with at least three passengers a free ride.

It is a stretch of my imagination, that is for sure, but from the looks of it, this does not seem like a promising solution for South-Dade commuters. Granted, the Busway is far from perfect, but adding lanes, albeit managed lanes, is hardly the solution to an ever-growing congestion problem.

Instead of encountering dozens of incredibly looooooong lights at the busy cross streets on today’s Busway, imagine flying over all the major intersections as the government guarantees a reliable 50-mph journey from Dadeland to Florida City or the turnpike interchange near Southwest 112th Avenue.

The sad part about this is that some sort of “benefit” has to be presented for motorists in order to shore up the funds to marginally improve the transit infrastructure. I guess that is one of the major issues we have to deal with when we have a President who in his next financial deficit (that is not a budget) wants to reduce an already anemic transportation fund by $3.2 billion. One major question remains: What is going to happen to all of those cars not going to Dadeland or the Palmetto when they merge back onto a US-1? We cannot honestly expect all these folks to suddenly abandon their cars and hop on Metrorail, can we? Or will the lanes be extended north into downtown, continuing to undermine the reason why Metrorail was constructed along US-1 to begin with - to get people out of their cars.

A similar variably priced tolling plan is about to be introduced on a 24-mile segment of Interstate 95 between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. They are also planned for the expanded Interstate 595 in Broward.

True. However, I do not think drawing comparisons between US-1 and limited access highways is fair. HOT lanes are a novel concept for the highway scenario, but not along a corridor where driveways and intersections all interfere.

Not only could it provide a little relief to the normal wall-to-wall madness on the overburdened South Dixie corridor, but it could also finally fulfill the Busway’s original promise: real rapid transit.

Once again, see our unrelated qualms above on transportation spending as a whole in this country. It’s deplorable!

”Without a strong transit component, this doesn’t work,” said Javier Rodriguez, executive director of the expressway authority.

Amen!

Elevated intersections will incite plenty of sturm und drang from communities along the Busway. The neighbors must be mollified, especially if Transit is forced to relocate its stations away from the intersections to maintain easy street-level access for riders.

Wow, you can say that again. Most of these communities have already reduced the allowable density along US-1 making Mr. Rodriguez’s point listed above extremely difficult to accomplish. Transit needs to treat any further upgrades to this project as a rail project, bringing with that the power to enact land-use changes for the corridor that will continue to prepare it for future rail transit, increase bus ridership, and lay a foundation for preventing future westward and southern sprawl. Without a massive overhaul of the land around the Busway, this corridor will never realize the transit ridership necessary to fund such a project.

Besides noise walls and landscaping, some must-dos:

Whoa, noise walls are a definite must-do-not. This project needs to entwine the Busway (future railway) as much as possible with the surroundings, not create an inhospitable environment for those walking, biking, or using transit.


All plans must leave a pocket for future light rail or Metrorail within the 100-foot corridor as the Busway was originally intended. It might take 30 to 50 years to get trains there, but that’s what the people were promised and the bulk of the growth is already occurring down there.

Definitely! Can’t stress this point enough.


The plan must set aside money to re-time all of the signals for cross-street traffic trying to get onto and across U.S. 1 under the elevated intersections.

This is something MDT/MPO should do now to give the 15,000 daily transit riders a surefire benefit to riding the Busway. Which reminds me, what exactly is MDT up to these days?

An expanded Busway must mesh with the community charettes aimed at future redevelopment of Princeton, Naranja and Goulds into transit-oriented development villages.

Ditto for preserving the existing bike path and enhancing pedestrian access to and from the Busway.

Once again, we cannot stress how important this is. These details will ultimately make or break a project like this. Take Metrorail for example, it is a great transit system but the surroundings are beyond lousy.

The point of this article was not to criticize Streewise or Larry Lebowitz - after all he’s just the messenger - but rather to condemn a plan which is seemingly being hailed as the golden ticket for fixing congestion. The fact of the matter is, for any real change to come of any of these plans (Metrorail, Bay Link, Miami Streetcar, Busway included) we need to push for land use changes more favorable to living lifestyles which are not automatically governed by the necessity of owning a vehicle.

Despite having recently spent hundreds-of-millions of dollars to widen and extend the Dolphin Expressway, there is already a new effort to try and squeeze even more capacity on the perpetually congested highway. According to MDX, the eastbound shoulder between the 826 interchange and the NW 72nd Ave on-ramp is being converted into a new travel lane in a futile attempt to keep up with traffic demand. To account for the elimination of breakdown lanes, the speed limit will be permanently lowered to just 45 mph along this stretch. There goes another $800,000 in a desperate move to reduce congestion and justify millions spent on highway construction that will never do anything to fix Miami-Dade’s long-term mobility crisis.

Photo: Wikipedia

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First we brought you the incredibly useful Walk Score, a program geared to determining how navigable neighborhoods are for people

Today I’d like to introduce Drive Score, the anti-walking, pro-sprawl, and guaranteed laziness application which uses incredibly flawed methods to create a map of vehicle accessible areas. One would think if you ranked poorly on Walk Score, you’d rank high on drive score, right? Not necessarily. Just for fun, I entered a highly walkable Manhattan address to see how “drivable” this program claims the city to be and came up with an 88! You know, never mind the bumper to bumper traffic, lack of dedicated parking, or any sane analysis, this program spews out pure gibberish…

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We some how bypassed this article last week, but, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez vetoed commission recommendations to approve a number of projects outside of the UDB. The veto will likely stand given that the commission lacks the 2/3 majority to override the mayor, presuming that none of the commissioners switch sides…


“If Miami-Dade moves outside the UDB, it will affect our delivery of services and strain already taxed resources,” Alvarez wrote. “Police and fire rescue services would be spread over a greater area, resulting in longer response times due to greater distances and road congestion.”

Meanwhile, on the losing end of the veto, Lowes’ attorney Juan Mayol laments about not having short drives to buy plywood:


“We are hopeful that the county commissioners will continue to recognize that these hard-working families are tired of overcrowded schools and long drives to buy such simple things as plywood or a garden hose.”

How often are people in Kendall buying plywood or garden hoses? Are these necessary commodities in suburbia? Does anyone else appreciate how he combined critical issues (traffic and education) with such an asinine comment? In any case, I’m glad to see the line will be held till 2009 at the earliest, expanding the UDB, contrary to Mayol’s belief, will further strain our transit infrastructure, water resources, and economy to impermissible levels.

“It follows that increasing road capacity can actually make overall congestion on the road worse. This occurs when the shift from public transport causes a disinvestment in the mode such that the operator either reduces frequency of service or raises fares to cover costs. This shifts additional passengers into cars. Ultimately the system may be eliminated and congestion on the original (expanded) road is worse than before.

The general conclusion, if the paradox applies, is that expanding a road system as a remedy to congestion is not only ineffective, but often counterproductive. This is also known as Lewis-Mogridge Position and was extensively documented by Martin Mogridge with the case-study of London on his book Travel in towns: jam yesterday, jam today and jam tomorrow?”

We’ll Discuss this more in depth later today…

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