Currently viewing the tag: "bikeway"

For us mountain biking urbanites that long for some single track every once in a while, Oleta River State Park fulfills our needs quite well.  As the largest urban state park in Florida, this patch of green space has approximately 14 miles of well maintained mountain biking trails. The trails are clearly marked and they are classified as easy, intermediate, or expert. Although fourteen miles of trail may not sound like very much to some people, let me assure you, there is enough single track to keep even the most hardy of mountain bikers occupied for a couple of hours. This man-made mountain bike park has some relatively technical trails, with even some small climbs and descents. If you are not careful you can get hurt, especially on the intermediate and expert trails.

Trail Head is Clearly Marked

Trail Head is Clearly Marked

Trails are somewhat technical in some areas

Trails are somewhat technical in some areas

Oleta River State Park is located in North Miami Beach off of  163rd Street. Unfortunately, the vast majority of mountain bikers that use this park come by car.  The bicycle infrastructure that connects to the park is virtually non-existent and the bicycle lanes that do exist on 163rd street (SR 826) are unsafe and inappropriate considering the design speed of this major thoroughfare.

Bicycle lanes on 163rd street are not physically separated and protected

Bicycle lanes on 163rd street are not physically separated and protected

A few years ago FDOT, in their never-ending quest to do the bare minimum for bicyclists, painted a couple of white lines, some bicycle symbols and put up a few “Bicycle Lane” signs on 163rd street and decided to call it a bicycle lane. For those of you that are not familiar with 163rd street it essentially a 3 lane highway. Considering that most of the vehicles traveling on this street are usually traveling above the posted speed limit of 45mph, you would think that FDOT would have designed a bicycle facility with an emphasizes on safety. Quite the opposite is true.  FDOT is in fact encouraging unsafe bicycling by including poorly designed bicycle lanes in some of their projects. If FDOT were sincere in their attempts to encourage bicycling, they would have created a physically separated and protected bicycle facility to promote bicycling on 163rd Street.

Physically separated and protected bicycle path would be safer and much more appropriate

A physically separated and protected bicycle path would be safer and much more appropriate

To make matters worse, the unsatisfactory bicycle lanes that FDOT designed on 163rd Street begin and end at the entrance of the park. In other words, the bicycle lanes do not connect from 163rd Street over the bridge to Collins Avenue, where the population density is located. There seems to be systematic choice by FDOT not to include appropriate bicycle facilities on bridges and causeways (i.e. Julia Tuttle and MacArthur Causeway).  FDOT needs to understand that they have an obligation to consider the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians and failure to do so is negligent behavior on their part.

What happened to the bicycle lane? It just disappeared.

What happened to the bicycle lane? It just disappeared.

FDOT has to play an active role and encourage bicyclists to ride to Oleta River State Park by bicycle rather then driving there. Since this is a major bicycling facility for the county, bicycle infrastructure should branch out from Oleta River State Park to encourage more bicycling to the park. The first step would be to design a proper bicycle facility for 163rd Street.

You can find more information about Oleta River State Park here.

As a true transit and bicycling advocate, Gabrielle Redfern understands the fundamentals of good urbanism. According to the Miami Herald, Gabrielle Redfern is advocating for a system of four Beach-only circulating bus routes on 20-minute schedules to alleviate congestion.  She also supports charging market rates for on-street parking with the revenue going towards enhancements in the neighborhoods that generate it. This is the kind of, out-of-box, forward thinking candidate Miami Beach needs.  Join us in supporting Gabrielle Redfern for the Group 3 Commission seat.

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Congratulations to the City of Miami Beach for installing new speed humps on Prairie Avenue.  They look great and for the most part were installed correctly.  They even took the bicycle lane into consideration when installing them!  Speed humps are excellent traffic calming devices.  I’m dreaming of speed humps in Miami.

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Transit Miami is pleased to see that FDOT included bicycle lanes on Coral Way, but upon reviewing the design more carefully, we believe the bicycle lanes need to be improved. Although even a poorly designed bicycle lane probably encourages bicycling, it does not ensure the safety of bicyclists. Simply painting a white line and a bicycle symbol on the roadway surface does not go far enough. We do not want to detract from the fact that bicycle lanes now exist on Coral Way; this is certainly a step in the right direction, but we should not be satisfied just because new bicycle lanes exist.  The quality of the design of the bicycle lanes is instrumental to its overall success.

As shown by the new lanes on Coral Way, the minimum standard that FDOT uses to “officially designate” a bicycle lane a bicycle lane is:

  1. Painting white lines
  2. Placing one bicycle symbol per block
  3. Bicycle signage

The minimum standards do not guarantee safe bicycle lanes, especially for a street as heavily traveled by motor vehicles as Coral Way.  The minimum standards applied on this main thoroughfare are not adequate, although they would probably be acceptable for a secondary side street.

Below are a few handlebar observations I made last week from the saddle of my bicycle:

  1. Not enough bicycle symbols in the bicycle lanes
  2. More bicycle signage (I’ve been told they are coming, we need to be patient)
  3. The bicycle lanes end and begin at every intersection
  4. Poor road marking transition where the bicycle lanes begin and end

More painted bicycle symbols are needed

More Painted Bicycle Symbols Are Needed

The bicycle lane should not end end and begin at every intersection

The bicycle lane should not end and begin at every intersection

A Better Transition Is Needed Where The Bicycle Lane Begins Heading East

Heading east on Coral Way a better transition is needed where the bicycle lane begins

Here are a few suggestions for improvement:

  1. Paint the bicycle lanes green at all intersections and all conflict areas (i.e. driveways).  The only real distinction between the bicycle lanes and the car lanes is a single white line. In fact, the bicycle lanes look more like a shoulder or parking lane. In addition to painting the bicycle lanes green at every intersection, there should be at least three bicycle symbols per block. Also, there should be two white lines to more clearly define the bicycle lanes, a single white line is not sufficient.
  2. The bicycle lanes should continue through the intersections with dashed lines in addition to being painted green; this keeps the continuity of the lane while also making bicyclists aware that motorists will be turning through the lane.
  3. Add signage: “Share the Road” and “No Parking in Bicycle Lane”
  4. The Coral Way bicycle lane needs a seamless transition to the already existing SW 15th Road bicycle lane.
  5. Road diet. Narrowing travel lanes to ensure motorists travel at slower speeds. Although the speed limit is 35mph, most vehicles exceed the posted speed limit. Narrowing the travel lanes calms the speed of traffic.

Two White Lines Define The Bicycle Lane More Clearly for Motorists and Bicyclits

Two white lines define the bicycle lane more clearly for motorists and bicyclists

The Bicycle Lanes Should Continue Through The Intersections With Dashed Lines  And Should Be Painted Green

The bicycle lanes should continue through the intersections with dashed lines and should be painted green

he Coral Way bicycle lane needs a seamless transition to the already existing SW 15th Road bicycle lane.

The Coral Way bicycle lane needs a seamless transition to the already existing SW 15th Road bicycle lane. Currently, the bicycle lanes do not line up and flow into each other.

FDOT should consider hiring a bicycle consultant for all of their future projects that involve bicycle lanes. Too many important details were overlooked with the Coral Way project that could have a significant impact on the safety of this important bicycle facility. These projects need to be planned correctly from the beginning with the help of an expert.  Poor bicycle lane design only ends up costing the taxpayer more in terms of repairs and potential lawsuits. FDOT needs to ensure the safety of bicyclists through properly designed bicycle lanes. Even though FDOT is moving in the right direction, there is certainly room for substantial improvement.

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Florida Department of Transportation is considering including new bicycle lanes in three upcoming projects located in Miami Beach. FDOT District 6 will conduct a public information meeting regarding three roadway enhancement projects on:

1) 71 Street from East Bay Drive to West of Collins Avenue

2) Normandy Drive from Rue Notre Dame to East Bay Drive

3) 71 Street from West Drive to East Bay Drive

When: Thursday, November 5, 2009, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the

Where: North Shore Park Youth Center, 501 72nd Street in Miami Beach.

The meeting will follow an informal format that allows the public to arrive at any time from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Graphic displays of the projects will be showcased at this meeting and FDOT representatives will be available to discuss each project and answer questions. Please contact Marta Rodriguez, Public Information Specialist, if you have any questions about this project at 305-470-5203 or by email at marta.rodriguez@dot.state.fl.us.

Transit Miami is very happy to see that FDOT is starting to consider bicycle lanes in their projects.

The new bike lanes on Coral Way look great, but we need enforcement to keep them safe.  Below are a couple of pictures I took this past Saturday of some bike lane violators.

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According to our friends at the Green Mobility Network, work began this week on the Dadeland Gap extension of the M-Path. This is great news.  Apparently a portion of the $700k which was allotted to Phase 1 of this project will be used to extend the M-Path.

The Dadeland Gap extension is essential; however, Miami-Dade Transit needs to also focus their attention on improving the existing M-Path. Although I may disagree with the priority of the projects, congratulations are in order for Miami-Dade Transit as this is a sign of progress for the M-Path.

Congratulations also to the Green Mobility Network for making this happen.  Without their hard work and perseverance this would not have happened.

Today I rode the M-Path for the first time in about a month since my last post about the progress of the M-Path.  I was hoping to give our readers a positive update, but unfortunately here we are nearly 4 months into the M-Path project and work seems to have come to a standstill.  In all fairness, I only rode the M-Path from Brickell to Bird Road, but did not see any new improvements. This makes me wonder if all we are getting for $700k is a patch job for some potholes, root rot, and a couple of inches of added width to the M-Path in a few locations?

Patch work on the M-Path with path width extension

Patch work and path width extended. Unfortunately the path's width was not extended enough.

The new asphalt looks great, but the path’s width should have been extended by a foot on each side.

The new asphalt looks great, but the path’s width should have been extended by a foot on each side.

Since there is nothing new to report, please allow me to suggest a few more ideas for improvements that Miami-Dade Transit ought to consider.

For starters, safety should be the #1 priority; not the cosmetic work that is being done. Miami Dade Transit must consider a “no right hand turn on red” from all streets that cross the M-Path on to US-1. Currently, traffic signals such as the one on 22nd (see below) and US-1 encourage vehicles to maintain their speed rather then slow down at pedestrian and M-Path crossings.  This is a simple solution which will make the M-Path safer for pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

The green right hand turn arrow encourages drivers to speed through the M-Path intersections.

The green right hand turn arrow encourages drivers to speed through the M-Path intersections.

Miami-Dade Transit should also take this opportunity to extend the path through “desire lines” (see below) which pedestrians and bicyclists created.  Why this was not considered during Phase 1 of the project is beyond my understanding. Simply fixing what is already broken does not make the M-Path better.

Desire lines show exactly where the path needs to be extended.

Desire lines show exactly where the path needs to be extended.

Below is a M-Path greenway simulation picture that Mike Lydon from The Street Plans Collaborative included in the Miami Bicycle Master Plan. This is what Miami-Dade Transit’s goal should be for the M-Path.

The M-Path in a perfect world

The M-Path in a perfect world

I sincerely hope that Phase 1 of this project is not anywhere near completion. If it is, we have a problem.

It seems like it was just yesterday that Bicycling Magazine voted Miami as the worst city for cycling. Mayor Diaz seemed to take this insult personally, and over the course of the past year and a half, his staff has taken great strides to shed this dishonorable accolade.

Although our bicycling infrastructure has yet to see much improvement, awareness through events such as Bike Miami Days has certainly put cycling in the limelight and has shown that the cycling constituency is a force to be reckoned with. With a little luck, City of Miami commissioners will vote on Thursday to approve the Miami Bicycle Master Plan, and in doing so, they will effectively set the stage to improve the bicycle infrastructure of our beloved city.

Mike Lydon, from The Street Plan Collaborative, spent countless hours in the saddle, riding throughout the streets of Miami, developing the bicycle master plan. This comprehensive plan will  guide the development of our cycling infrastructure for the next twenty years.

The plan looks to expand the current bikeway network of 16 miles to 280 miles by 2030. It also emphasizes the fundamental need for bicycle parking and education as key components to a successful bicycle strategy. Included in the plan are 950 suggested locations for bicycle parking, comprised of 3000 new bicycles racks.  There are even suggested locations for commuter showers.

Please send your commissioner an email (My Commissioner tab above) to let them know how important the Miami Bicycle Master Plan is for our city. The commission meeting will be held on:

Thursday, October 8th at 9:00am

Miami City Hall-Commission Chambers

3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, FL

Please come out to show your support!

MBMP Page 1

The momentum continues. Bike Miami Days proved, yet again, that the car free event is the real deal. With virtually no media coverage or marketing budget, this grassroots movement attracted an estimated 2000 people on Sunday. The streets were filled with bicyclists, pedestrians, skaters and rollerbladers of all ages and backgrounds.

Sources close to Transit Miami have informed us that Waste Services Inc., the lead sponsor of the event, was so impressed that they are considering sponsoring another Bike Miami Days. We must also thank the Miami DDA and the Florida Bicycle Association for their support.  Please let your commissioners know how great this event is.  You can find a link to your commissioner above.

We leave you with some pictures from the event. The Miami Herald also covered the event and you can find pictures here.

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This morning I joined our friends from the Green Mobility Network for a bike ride on the M-Path to see the improvements which Miami-Dade Transit has been working on for the past two months. Although some improvements have been made, they have left much to be desired. From what I experienced, the improvements are mostly cosmetic and have no real impact on the real problems of the M-Path. Repairs to the asphalt are being done where there is tree-root damage to the path. In some sections, the path has been widened by a few inches as well.  Aside from these improvements, not much else has been done. So why am I not satisfied?

I am unsure that the M-Path merits the designation of a “path”.  Usually a “path” has as a main characteristic some level of connectivity, and unfortunately the M-Path does not. There is no clear designation or markings for one to follow the M-Path.

Miami Dade Transit has budgeted $700,000 to make these improvements.  From what I have seen, there has not been $700,000 worth of work done to the path so far. Although the improvements certainly help, the more pressing safety issues that the M-Path has have not been given priority.

Rather then looking at the M-Path as a whole, Miami-Dade Transit is fixing the problem with a piecemeal strategy.  This strategy is wholly flawed and wasteful, as some of the work that is being completed today, will have to be undone in the future when a more comprehensive project to fix the M-Path is undertaken.  Safety should take precedence.  Below is a list of priorities for the M-Path.

Intersections:  Safety issues at street intersections must be addressed. How can we possibly call a path a path, if we cannot safely cross at intersections?  This is baffling to me. Initial funding should have been allocated to the intersections, not fixing potholes.

Path Route and Width: The route of the M-Path dangerously meanders near US 1 at times without any protection for the bicyclists from cars. Several of the curves are hazardously blind which happens to place cyclists riding in opposite directions in a precarious situation.  This is further exacerbated by the fact that the path is not wide enough, nor does it have any lane markings. The current path route is not always the safest for bicyclists, and needs to be rerouted in certain areas. Wherever possible, the path should follow the straightest, most direct route.

Lighting and Signage:  The M-Path becomes very dangerous after sunset. Currently, there is no lighting whatsoever on the M-Path. In addition, clear path signage and mile markers should be placed along the M-Path.  First time users of the M-Path will get lost.

Below are a few pictures I took this morning with some commentary:

Concrete dries within 24 hours.  I can assure you that it has been more then 24 hours that this concrete was poured. It is unacceptable to have sections of M-Path interrupted for days.

Concrete dries within 24 hours. I can assure you that it has been more than 24 hours that this concrete was poured. It is unacceptable to have sections of M-Path interrupted for days.

Repair work was done, but no cleanup? Loose gravel is extremely dangerous for bicyclists.

Repair work was done, but no cleanup? Loose gravel is extremely dangerous for bicyclists.

Please remove the drain from the middle of the M-Path and the fire hydrant should be moved to the right.

Please remove the drain from the middle of the M-Path and the fire hydrant should be moved to the right.

Work is moving ahead very slowly on the M-path. Too slowly actually. This work in progress has become a hazard for bicyclists. I’m not sure who is in charge of the M-Path project, but I know they can do better.  Someone may get hurt out there. Please use caution when using the M-Path.  The Transit Miami eye is watching the M-Path project very closely…

Beware of obstacles and the uneven roadway

Beware of obstacles and the uneven roadway

Caution Work in Progress

Caution Work in Progress

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In what seems like their never-ending quest to remain the most auto-centric government institution in the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation continues to live up to their unspoken promise of neglecting the non-motorized transportation components of their projects.

You might have noticed that over the past month or so, FDOT has been resurfacing the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Although the asphalt looks great, they failed to consider pedestrians and bicyclists during the planning and implementation process of this project.

Miami Beach is connected to Miami through a network of four causeways. Unfortunately, the only legal means in which pedestrians and bicyclists can traverse Biscayne Bay is via the MacArthur Causeway, the Venetian Causeway or the 79th Street Causeway. The fourth causeway is the Julia Tuttle Causeway, and because it is considered part of the interstate highway system, bicyclists and pedestrians are prohibited from utilizing one of the main connectors between the mainland and Miami Beach.

All four causeways should, and can accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians safely. This is not debatable, since all forms of transportation converge at the causeways for connectivity between Miami and Miami Beach. It is much more difficult for a bicyclist or pedestrian to go 5-6 miles out of their way to arrive to their destination, then it is for a motor vehicle. Bicyclists and pedestrians should not be forced to choose an alternative route when there are so few options. The MacArthur, Julia Tuttle, and 79th Street Causeway should have a designated and protected bicycle facility due to the high speed and volumes of motor vehicle traffic. The Venetian Causeway, with lower speed limits, can accommodate bicyclists more safely with clearly marked bicycle lanes. Regardless, every causeway should be evaluated independently since each one could have a contextually appropriate facility.

The recent resurfacing was another lost opportunity for FDOT to prove to that they understand the “complete streets” approach to engineering roads for motorized and non-motorized vehicles as well as pedestrians. Although there is real difference between street resurfacing projects and larger infrastructure, the assertion could be made that at present, the Julia Tuttle has a long stretch of mostly unused greenspace that could serve perfectly as a bike path on either side, allowing access to the water, recreation etc. along the highway’s trajectory. In any case, here we are in the 21st century, and FDOT is not taking the initiative and considering non-motorized transportation in many of their projects.  The fact remains that it is still illegal for bicycle and pedestrians to use the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Rumor has it that the MacArthur Causeway is due for an overhaul soon, and that Bicycle Lanes are to be part of the project. Let’s hope that FDOT follows through, and adds contextually appropriate, physically protected bikeways.

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I was fortunate enough to vacation in Ecuador last week. I was certainly impressed with  the country’s diverse, natural  landscapes, but also appreciated how the capital city of Quito is  starting to approach transportation.

Miami Bicycle Survey 026

The above is not a streetcar or light rail station. Rather, it Quito’s Bus Rapid Transit system called Trole (Trolley Bus).  Note that riders (more than 220,000 per day on its  single  line) pay the fare before entering the station, which speeds boarding time. Also, most of the line operates on physically-separated bus lanes with signal prioritization so that the system does not have to compete with motor vehicle traffic.  Additionally, buses run on short headways, 60 seconds during peak hours, which allows for an extremely high level of service. While  such BRT systems have yet to find much traction in the United States, South American cities  like Bogota and Quito seem to be having good success with BRT as a cheaper than rail, but more effective than  normal bus, transportation solution.

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Quito has also implemented phase 1 of its first physically-separated bicycle system, dubbed Ciclo-Q. The fledgling system operates within the road right-of-way in many places, while using sidewalk space in others. In my estimation, those segments within the roadway (pictured above) operate more smoothly than those on the sidewalk where too many curb cuts, fairly narrow sidewalks, and driveways interrupt the bikeway, create conflict with pedestrians, and compromise safety (pictured below). Bikeways on sidewalks have been known to work in many places, but are typically placed on sidewalks with much wider widths and offer a commensurate level  of safety countermeasures, such as  prioritization signals and stark pavement/material contrast to delineate the bikeway.

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Pati Menas, the city’s alternative transportation coordinator had this to say about  the Ciclo-Q system and its low level of use, “even if now there are not many cyclists on the route, it is necessary to provide the people with infrastructure. Otherwise, we will never start promoting non-motorized transport.”  I couldn’t agree more and expect that with their own “Bike Miami” like ciclovias now humming, the Ciclo-Q will only see more use as the network is expanded.

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In the small  town of Banos, located just outside the larger city of Cuenca,  I was particularly enamored with the ratio of pedestrian space to motor vehicle space. Within the town center, along its traditional grid, the roadway comprises no more than 1/3 of the public realm.  The rest of the space is dedicated purely to pedestrians in the form of wide sidewalks. This ratio makes for an enriched street life and allows for safe bicycling within the town’s streets. Sadly,  such a humane ratio is normally just the opposite in American cities, where pedestrians are lucky to have 10% of the space between buildings.

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Other traffic control devices  that caught my eye were the sheer number of speed bumps used within the Ecuadorian roadway system. One may find them throughout the cities and even on  some of the more rural highways.  Speed bumps can be controversial for many types of users, but they are certainly well-respected traffic-control devices in Ecuador. Finally, when traveling around the country one notices dozens of unique pavement markings that come in the form of blue hearts. The hearts, I am told, designate the location of traffic fatalities. Such awareness building techniques are sobering, especially when one sees a grouping of hearts. Nonetheless, they offer a vivid reminder that roadway safety remains an important issue. With over 40,000 traffic-related fatalities a year in the United States, one would think that such measures may also prove powerful.

In general, you find that any place you visit outside of the United States seems to have a richer, more embellished public realm. Moreover, transportation innovation also seems to be taking place outside of the US as well.  For those of us who are urbanists, this certainly makes vacationing a real pleasure. However, iIt also provides inspiration for what we can, and should be doing better here in the United States.

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In honor of the City of Miami Bike Summit, I thought this shot of bike infrastructure in Montreal could be a promise of things to come …

These bikes all fit into the space of one parked car.

These bikes all fit into the space of one parked car.

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