Currently viewing the tag: "Pedestrians"

Unscientific Transit Miami research says “yes”.  On my morning ride today, I decided to count cyclists and cars during 5 minute periods.  If you may recall, I shot a five minute video a few weeks ago and I counted about 180 cyclists.  Here are the results of today’s handle bar research:

Number of Bikes and Cars Counted in 5 Minutes on the Rickenbacker Causeway
Bike count #1 124
Bike count #2 153
Bike count #3 87
Average # of bikes in 5 minute period
121
Car count #1 87
Car count #2 128
Car Count #3 101
Average # of cars in 5 minute period 105

It seems that bicycles alone outnumber cars.  I did not count pedestrians, but there were a lot of them out there. I think it would be fair to assume that pedestrians and bicyclists outnumber cars on the Rickenbacker Causeway on weekend mornings.

So when is the county going to start closing down a lane of traffic on the weekends for pedestrians and cyclists to exercise safely?  I don’t have the answer to that question, but I can say with all confidence,  this initiative is long overdue.

Well folks, yours truly, is moving from Brickell to Belle Mead. I’ve just purchased a home with my wife and we should be moving into the neighborhood in a couple of weeks.  So don’t be surprised to hear a lot more about issues affecting the Upper East Side on this blog.

I’ll start by saying this, “Biscayne Boulevard is a disaster”! There ain’t no two ways about it. The recent FDOT resurfacing project, for the most part, was designed solely to move cars faster. Pedestrians and cyclists were not given much consideration while designing this roadway. I consider myself an experienced cyclist, but even I will tell you to avoid riding your bike on Biscayne Boulevard. And if you are a pedestrian then forget about it, crosswalks are few and far in between and of poor quality. Biscayne Boulevard is extremely wide, making it difficult for anyone that is not in tip-top shape to cross the street.

Travel lanes are extremely wide, which encourages cars to speed. The speed limit is 35mph, but the design speed of the roadway is closer to 45-50mph. Needless to say, not pedestrian or cyclist friendly either.

That being said, we have a chance to ask FDOT to design a roadway at a more human scale.

FDOT is conducting a Pedestrian Mobility and Safety Study along Biscayne Boulevard at the request of area residents. The limits of the project extend from NE 77th Street to NE 87th Street.

Possible upgrade include the restriping of crosswalks for greater visibility, enhancing signals and adding traffic control devices to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road.

A public information meeting is being held on Thursday, July 15, 2010 from 6-8 p.m at Legion Memorial Park, located at NE 7 Ave, Miami, FL for more information contact Gus Pego, District 6 Secretary”.

Hope to see you there!

I’m not sure whose job it is to take care of this, but this palm is long overdue for a pruning.

While we’re at it, perhaps we can erect the SE 11th Street sign which has been lying besides this palm, in a neglected vacant lot, for the past 6 months.   The missing street sign has already been tagged with florescent orange spray paint, yet nothing has been done to replace it. How long does it take to replace a street sign?

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We already know that pedestrians have a rough time in Miami, but it doesn’t help when we can’t even maintain our crosswalks properly striped.  I guess we should feel lucky that we even have a barely recognizable crosswalk here. Many intersections in downtown and Brickell don’t have crosswalks. This picture was taken in front of the Brickell Metromover Station, perhaps one of the most utilized Metromover stops on Brickell Avenue and SE 14th Street.

Yes, that's a crosswalk.

Transit Miami received this email regarding Euclid Avenue from Gabrielle Redfern, on behalf of BASIC (Bicycle Activists for a Safe, Integrated City)

Another day, another bicycle facility on the chopping block in the City of Miami Beach.  Current plans call for dedicated bike lanes on this road when it gets reconstructed in the nearer future. Even with out the new curb and gutter that the avenue is programmed to get, this 70 foot behemoth of a local road could benefit today from a little TLC, in the form of a small coat of paint, say running down each side of the lanes of traffic to narrow the car roadway to slow traffic and make more room for bikes.  But no.  The neighbors will have none of it!

Long story short:  what say you?  If you cannot make it tomorrow, no worries.  This is just the first skirmish in what looks like a long war, and this battle will pay out in other conference rooms, and perhaps the Commission Chambers before all is said and done.  BASIC objects to all this plan revision in the City of Miami Beach that involves removal of bicycle facilities.”

The extra large lanes, with no bike lanes, currently encourage a speedway effect from the foot of the Macarthur to Lincoln Road.  Few lights, very residential, no trees, it is the perfect street to use in your car when traveling north south, avoiding Alton or even the scenic park-side Meridian. (If you never knew, and I blew it for the neighbors, I am sorry.)  Something needs to be done, that is certain. I spent much time riding it yesterday, and this road is ugly, unsafe and hot! And thank God plans are in the works to make it so much better.  But reconstruct a roadway, with 70 feet of ROW and not add dedicated bike lanes?  Bike lanes currently called for in the City’s own Master Plan?  That is what the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association plans to argue for in their streetscape sections before the committee on Wednesday. No bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.

To be fair, the neighborhood is proposing extra wide sidewalks they think will be good for sharing between pedestrians and bicycles.  However, we disagree on this, the nature and manner of providing for bicycles.  They see bicycles as recreation only.  BASIC demands bicycles be given equal attention to cars in the transportation grid.  We need a complete street that accommodates pedestrians, bicycles and cars.  In that order.  On that, the neighbors and I agree.  How we get there, well, that is another battle brewing….

So how do we meet them halfway?  (I pray daily to avoid war with folks I respect and admire).  In the hope we can come to common ground, BASIC proposes a street section that includes two foot swales in front of all properties; providing for 12-foot sidewalks, clear of signs and other obstructions; a five foot street-side swale for landscaping and signage; two, one way, 15 foot travel lanes, with sharrows, separated by a two foot landscaped median. Currently all properties program right up to the sidewalk.  Providing those landowners with two feet of green space running the length of their property will increase their property value.  It would make for a beautiful street, in our opinion.”

MIAMI BEACH MAYORS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE ON BIKEWAYS IN MIAMI BEACH

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2010 2:00 p.m. (although this item may be a time certain 3:00 p.m)

MAYOR’S CONFERENCE ROOM

FOURTH FLOOR MIAMI BEACH CITY HALL

666 17TH STREET

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA 33139

The Miami Herald is reporting yet another hit and run. The collision occurred around 12:20 pm today near the intersection of Southwest Eighth Street and 24th Avenue.  A white or light gray colored SUV traveling eastbound, hit an elderly man that was standing on the sidewalk, leaving him in critical condition. The driver did not stop and may have been on the cell phone when the pedestrian was struck.

Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

For the past couple of weeks I have been eating, drinking, and biking my way through France. My wife and I spent a week honeymooning in Provence and another week in Paris.

Provence

We spent the first week of our honeymoon cycling through the heart of wine country in Provence. Our tour was organized by Headwater and was truly epic. When you travel on a bicycle you get to fully experience your surroundings.  You smell the country side, you feel your environment and you interact with the locals. There is something about traveling on a bicycle; for those that have done it you know what I’m talking about. For those of you that haven’t, you should really consider it. You can find our itinerary here.

Arriving in Cotignac

Elevated crosswalk in Carces used to calm traffic

Bollards used to protect pedestrians and calm traffic. Notice how the street and sidewalk are the same grade

No sidewalk? Not a problem, just create a space for pedestrians by striping

Paris

I can’t say enough about how wonderful this city is. Unlike Miami, most motorists actually yield to pedestrians. All intersections are clearly marked with wide zebra crosswalks.  I also noticed that the pedestrian crosswalk signals are much lower than the pedestrian crosswalk signals here in the United States. Placing the pedestrian crosswalk signal closer to eye level makes it easier for both pedestrians and motorists to notice them.  Also, traffic lights are placed before the crosswalk and not in the middle of intersections.  By placing the traffic lights before the crosswalk it forces motorists to stop before the crosswalk, giving pedestrians the right of way they deserve. Another feature I also observed was the pedestrian fences.  In areas where pedestrians should not cross the street, tasteful pedestrians fences have been erected to corral the pedestrians towards the large zebra crosswalk.  Sidewalks, for the most part, are wide and inviting.

Notice how motorists are forced to stop before the crosswalk when traffic signals are not located in the intersection.

Traffic signals are placed before the crosswalk and not in the intersections.

Sidewalks are wide, making the public realm more inviting to walk

Tasteful fences are used to guide pedestrians to the crosswalks where it is safe to cross.

The Velib bicycle share system in Paris is absolutely spectacular. Because Paris is so walkable, I only used it once, but the system is very easy to use and is well connected to mass transit.  I was amazed to see Parisians from all walks of life using the Velib bicycles. I saw stylish women and men using the bicycles, as well as businessmen, businesswomen and the elderly using the Velib.

A fleet of Velibs

Bicycles lane were clearly marked and in many areas were allowed to share the bus-only lanes. Buses are equipped with an electrical horn that sounds like a bicycle bell.  Bus drivers use this electrical bicycle bell to politely warn cyclists and pedestrians that the bus is coming.

Bike boxes give cyclists priority in the transit queue

Chevron arrows through an intersection

Chevron arrows across an intersection into a protected bicycle path

Bicyclists can share the bus lane

The metro and the bus system are easy to use.  At the metro stations and bus stops there are electrical boards advising transit users when the next train or bus will arrive.

The next bus arrives in 2 minutes

Next train arrives in 3 minutes

Most crosswalks have provisions for the blind and I even found a train station that had a textured path that could be felt with a walking cane.

Textured path to help guide the blind in a train station

Most crosswalks have provisions to help guide the blind

Parks are scattered throughout Paris. The parks I entered were active and drew a wide array of people of different ages.

Children playing in one of the many park of Paris

Lounging in the warm afternoon Paris sun

Paris recycles; Miami does not.

Many of our readers have suggested that Flagler Street in Downtown Miami should be converted into a pedestrian mall. There are many arguments for and against such a move. During the 70’s and 80’s many cities in the United States tried to convert a portion of their central business district to a pedestrian only mall. Unfortunately, most of these projects failed for different reasons. One of the biggest reasons, I believe, is that Americans were leaving the city in droves to seek the suburban American dream. Although many cities had good intentions and vision, their timing could not have possibly been any worse. A perfect storm for pedestrian mall failure had already been set in motion by the suburbanization of America.

Today we find the suburbanization trend reversing itself.  People are now choosing to live a more urban lifestyle, tired of long commutes and expensive gas, urbanization is now creating conditions to potentially develop successful pedestrian malls.

Last year I created a Flagler Street Transit Mall presentation for an Urban Revitalization Strategies class. My proposal was to develop a transit mall similar to the 16th Street Mall in Denver.  The proposed Flagler Street Transit Mall would only allow buses to drive up and down Flagler Street with 5 minute intervals between buses. All other motor vehicles would be prohibited from using Flagler Street with the exception of delivery and emergency vehicles. All current on street parking would be removed and the sidewalks would be widened.

A good first step would be to temporary close Flagler Street to motor vehicles during a one week period before Christmas. This short experiment would give the Miami DDA, local businesses, and residents a feel for what could become of historic Downtown Miami.

Do you think Flagler Street could use some sort of pedestrianized mall or do you think it’s just fine as is?  Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section.

The Miami Herald is reporting that the FDOT Port of Miami tunnel project will break ground in June. FDOT currently has three megaprojects in the works in South Florida. Check out the FDOT video plugging the Port of Miami tunnel project.  From the looks of it pedestrians and bicyclists were not considered in the design of the port tunnel/MacArthur Causeway.

FDOT Megaprojects:

  • $1 billion Port of Miami tunnel project
  • $1.7 billion Miami Intermodal Center near Miami International Airport
  • $1.8 billion reconstruction of Interstate 595 in Broward County.

It’s sad to see that FDOT has money to spend on theses megaprojects, yet it can’t come up with money for bike lanes on Sunset Drive. This goes to show where their priorities lie.

In other news, the US Military is warning that by 2015 oil demand will outstrip supply bringing us one step closer to peak oil. Perhaps FDOT should spend their money more wisely on projects which do not depend on cheap oil.

I began biking on the Rickenbacker Causeway about 10 years ago. Back then no one knew who Lance Armstrong was and cycling was not nearly as popular as it is today.  I have seen the Rickenbacker Causeway change significantly since 2000. Ten years ago there wasn’t as much traffic or the number of cyclists we have today. Unfortunately the infrastructure to support these changes has not kept pace with the increased demand by cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.

About 3 years ago the County resurfaced the Rickenbacker Causeway. The resurfacing project was an improvement, but did not go far enough to protect all users.  Today we find ourselves with a bike lane that is adjacent to a highway where many cars regularly travel in excess of 50 mph. Over the years I have witnessed several accidents during my rides. Below is a brief summary:

  • February 2006: Omar Otaola, a 33-year-old cyclist, was killed by a motorist when he swerved to avoid a curb where the bike lane precipitously ended. This accident was caused by a design flaw which forced cyclists into the traffic lane
  • April 2007: Cyclist (name unknown) hit by a car during the tennis tournament (Crandon Boulevard)
  • May 2007: 30-50 cyclists were injured during the resurfacing project due to uneven pavement.
  • January 2008 Cyclist (name unknown) falls and breaks her arm on the William Powell Bridge due to uneven pavement.  I reported the design flaw (uneven pavement) to PWD and it was fixed.
  • January 2010: Christophe Le Canne, a 44-year-old South Miami resident, is killed by Carlos Bertonatti in a hit and run DUI accident. (Bear Cut Bridge)

If you are aware of any other accidents which involved a motor vehicle or a design flaw, please share it with us in the comments section.

Yesterday I went for a bike ride on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  This is what I witnessed:

  • Several hundred bicyclists
  • Hundreds of pedestrians
  • Two Miami Dade Police cruisers enforcing the speed limit
  • At least 7 cars driving in excess of 50 mph
  • Five cars driving in excess of 65 mph on the bridges
  • A SUV swerve into the bicycle lane while doing about 45mph
  • Two cars parked in the bicycle lane
  • A driver aggressively accelerating towards me as I overtook another cyclist. The driver then yelled at me and told me I only belong in the bicycle lane.

It’s been nearly three months since the tragic accident that killed bicyclist Christope LeCanne, yet no additional safety measures have been implemented on the Rickenbacker Causeway. All the dangerous existing conditions still remain there. I would like to remind everyone that over the past 5 years we have averaged about a death every 2.5 years on the Rickenbacker Causeway, in addition to many other serious injures.  Please reach out to County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and ask for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway for everyone.  Commissioner Gimenez is one of our greatest allies, but he needs your support. Please also suggest to him that we close a lane of traffic every Sunday for cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the best South Florida has to offer.

I’m a big fan of red light cameras, but I’m not a fan of putting them in the middle of the sidewalk. Not much consideration was given to people with disabilities or parents with strollers when they stuck this pole on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive. We shouldn’t place a large red light camera pole in the middle of a sidewalk. The Transit Miami Eye is looking at the details.

New red light camera pole placed in the middle of the sidewalk on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive.

You can read more about the red light cameras on Miami Beach here.

It’s been nearly 6 months since FDOT completed its auto-centric resurfacing project on Coral Way. Our readers may recall that I did a thorough analysis on the poor quality of the bike lanes which were striped on Coral Way. We were told that FDOT would go back and re-stripe the bike lanes correctly as they should have done in the first place. Well, it’s been 6 months and we’re still waiting…

Yesterday I was driving down this section of roadway and noticed all the cars overtaking me as they cruised in excess of 50 mph. This roadway has 14ft lanes which only encourages cars to speed. As I’m driving down the street I noticed a woman pushing her husband in a wheel chair while trying to cross Coral Way in front of the St. Sophia Church on Coral Way and SW 24th Road.  Unfortunately, this vulnerable couple doesn’t have safe options to cross Coral Way. The closest crosswalk to them is one block away on SW 25th Street. The next closest crosswalk is 10 blocks away on SW 15th Street. To make matter worse, the crosswalk on SW 15th Street is on a treacherous curve, making it very dangerous for even a healthy individual like myself to cross.

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

This signature FDOT project is just another fine example of their auto-centric mantra. The time is now to begin designing complete streets for all users.

Streetsblog is reporting that over the past decade London has been reducing speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph throughout the city.  Today London has over four hundred 20 mph zones. As s result, Londoners have benefited from a 46% decline in fatalities and serious injury within the 20 mph zones during the past decade according to British Medical Journal.

A 2008 map of London's 20mph zones. Image: London Assembly.

The high speed limits within our densest population pockets discourage people from walking or riding a bicycle. Brickell Avenue has a 35 mph speed limit and Biscayne Blvd. has a 30 mph speed limit. However, the design speed of both of these roads often encourages drivers to travel at speeds of 40-45 mph.  The first step to making our roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians would be to reduce speed limits throughout Miami Dade County. The second step would be to introduce self-enforcing traffic calming measures such as: raised junctions, raised crosswalks, chicanes, road humps and roundabouts.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

So what’s it gonna take for us to step up to 20 mph speed limits?  Can you imagine how much more livable our streets would be if speed limits were reduced on our city streets?  The results of the London experiment were so glaringly obvious after 4 years that in 2004 the World Health Organization endorsed 20 mph speeds as an essential strategy to save lives.

Friend of Transit Miami Dana Weinstein recently wrote an editorial for the Miami Herald to commemorate Bike Month. Although Dina commutes with her two children to school on bicycles, she does not suggest that inexperienced cyclists/parents follow her lead. She says, “It really takes someone with almost a death wish to walk or bike”.

Part of me agrees with Dina.  Ever since Christophe Le Canne was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway in January, I have come to view bicycling as a dangerous activity.

I love biking; it is part of who I am. I used to be fearless and after my stint in the Peace Corps I biked with 2 friends from Guatemala to Panama. Bicycling brings me great joy, but I no longer feel safe biking in Miami. What I feel is vulnerable. This is particularly true on our causeways, where bicycle lanes are placed next to cars which are moving at 45-75mph without any sort of hard or soft barrier to protect cyclists (i.e. Rickenbacker Causeway and MacArthur Causeway).  When I do bike now, I choose roads where the design speed of the roadway does not exceed 25-30 mph.  Even when bike lanes are present, such as the Coral Way bike lanes, I do not use them because cars are moving at 45-50mph. I prefer taking a side street were traffic moves slower.

Perhaps I am just getting old. Or perhaps now that I am married I am aware of the tremendous loss I would leave behind if I suffered the same fate as Christophe Le Canne. But the lack of proper bicycle infrastructure in Miami has been forcing me recently to drive my bicycle up to Oleta River State Park so that I may get the exercise I enjoy.  I feel defeated that I have been relegated to biking in a park.

In the interest of full disclosure, I still ride my bike (in my suit) to work everyday. Although it is only about 6 blocks away I have way too many close calls on a regular basis.

Is this the way we must live? My hope is that we can develop streets for all users in South Florida.

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