Currently viewing the tag: "Bicycle Infrastructure"

Askmen.com just released its Top 10 bicycle-friendly cities in the world and Miami did not make the list. Hopefully this will change soon.  The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was created last year, now we need to implement it.

Last night, after several bottles of wine the conversation turned to the Metromover. At the table were several colleagues from my office. We all have at the minimum college degrees, so I think it’s fair to assume that we are of at least average intelligence.   Dario, a Londoner, explained to me that the first time he rode the Metromover he ended up where he started from.  Issiac, a New Yorker, also got lost the first time he used it. He figured out something was very wrong after he passed the same building twice. Mind you, he has ridden the subway in New York his entire life and has never gotten lost!

Most every time I use the Metromover, I find a lost soul seeking directions.  Even as a veteran of the Metromover, I often have to study the map before getting on to ensure that I get off at the right transfer station.  Or I have to strategically think about which station I need to walk to in order to avoid riding the Metromover aimlessly.

I do like the Metromover, it works for me.  However, it is poorly designed. You need a Phd. in order not to get lost. Transit should not be complicated; the Metromover is. In order for transit to work efficiently, a first time user should have a clear understanding of how the system works right off the bat. So this got me thinking last night, maybe we need to abandon the Metromover?

However, before we abandon the Metromover, we need to replace it with a well thought-out streetcar. So what to do with the elevated infrastructure from the Metromover once it is replaced with a proper streetcar? Well, it should not be torn down. Instead we should consider converting it to an elevated bicycle path, a greenway in the middle of the city, much like the New York City High Line.  In many ways it would become a bicycle highway in the middle of our city. Imagine the possibilities. What do you think?

Check out these pictures of bicycle shelters and on-street bicycle parking. These are the types of bicycle parking ideas that should have been implemented at the new shopping center on South Beach. If two on-street parking spaces are removed, there would be enough room to park about 30 bicycles.  Considering the developer just over built parking due to city of Miami Beach minimum parking requirements, I  can’t foresee a problem with removing a couple of on-street parking spots and throwing up a bicycle shelter. The existing inverted U racks the developer just purchased could then be placed under the bicycle shelter.  Do we dare to try something different?  If there is one development on South Beach that deserves covered bicycle parking it would be this one. Bicycle shelters also need to be considered for  locations around Lincoln Road where bicycle parking is already undeserved.

Photo: Susty.com

Photo: Susty.com

Photo:Autopa.co.uk

Photo: Autopa.co.uk

Photo:austinbikeblog.org

Photo: austinbikeblog.org

carfreedays.com

Photo: carfreedays.com

Shortly after the Dangerous by Design report came out, I filled out a letter at the Rails to Trails website to be sent to the Florida Legislature on the subject. I just got a form-letter reply from Speaker Larry Cretul that I’d like to share.

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.  I welcome the opportunity to learn of your concerns and I appreciate your suggestions for improving transportation safety.

Please know the Florida Legislature is concerned about the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities, and has worked to make our state safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.  State law requires walkers and riders to be fully considered in the development of transportation facilities.  In addition, the Legislature passed legislation in 2005 that requires motorists to completely stop for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal, and 2006 legislation requires motorists to allow three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist.  These efforts have resulted in increased pedestrian safety, as this past year saw pedestrian deaths decrease five percent over the previous year.

The Florida Department of Transportation’s Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator works with many offices within the department to provide input and suggestions throughout the various stages of planning and design.  This position also serves as a member of the Strategic Intermodal System technical advisory committee to ensure a focus on safety with alternate modes of transportation.   In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation has a bicycle and pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues.

I would encourage you to work with your local government and metropolitan planning organization on pedestrian and bicyclist safety needs in your area.  State law requires the plans and programs for each metropolitan area provide for the development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities, including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities that will function as an intermodal transportation system.  I assure you that I will keep your concerns and suggestions in mind throughout the legislative process

Thank you again for writing to me.  If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Larry Cretul
Speaker

It doesn’t say much that I didn’t expect; the Legislature pats itself on the back for the few advancements that have made and then it passes the ball to the local government and to us as citizens. The really bothersome part of that is, if I were to go ask people in the various micro-City Halls of Miami, they would all point me back to Tallahassee as the one I need to talk about improving the traffic situation unveiled by the Dangerous by Design report.

When your arguably four major cities are all listed as Russian roulettes for pedestrians and bicyclists (compounded by the hit-n-run epidemic), this isn’t a matter only for the local government, this is a state-government matter, and a very serious one. Take responsibility and take action.

Dear Governor Crist,

As you may know a recent report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America has shown that the following four metropolitan areas within Florida are the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the United States.

1.         Orlando-Kissimmee, FL

2.         Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

3.         Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

4.         Jacksonville, FL

The report titled “Dangerous By Design” concludes that Florida roads are dangerous for pedestrians because they have generally been designed to speed up -not slow down-traffic.

As residents of Miami Dade County, this comes as no surprise to us. However what does surprise us is that Florida has managed to take the top 4 spots nationally; this clearly is not a great achievement. The common denominator for all 4 metropolitan areas is the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) which is responsible for designing most of the roads within these urban environments.  We believe that (FDOT) should be held accountable for poorly designed roads within our state that results in hundreds of preventable pedestrian deaths each year.

The decades of auto-centric culture within FDOT needs to come to an end. A major paradigm shift has to occur within FDOT from designing roads for cars to designing them for people. There is no simple solution and it will take a leader who is capable of changing an organization whose sole focus seems to be moving more cars faster, rather then considering pedestrians and bicyclists. Florida happens to be the most deadly state for bicyclists as well.

With so many retirees and an economy that is heavily dependent on tourism, we hope that FDOT can reinvent itself and begin designing safer roads for future generations in Florida. This pedestrian epidemic needs to come to an end now and it begins with a progressive and proactive FDOT which is capable of designing complete streets for everyone.

Regards,

Transitmiami.com

In what has become a sadly regular occurrence another bicyclist was killed in a hit and run accident on Monday night.  The bicyclist died on the shoulder of the road in the 15300 block of Southwest 157th Avenue.  According to the Miami Herald the unidentified victim was heading home from work when he was struck by a car heading north.  His family became concerned that he did not arrive home and went looking for him.  They found the victim unconscious on the side of the road around 8:30 p.m. Very sad, our condolences to the family of the victim.

As can be seen from the below photograph, poor road design certainly contributed to this accident.  The road design encourages speeding and has no traffic calming devices to slow down speeding cars. Please observe that there isn’t a shoulder, bike lane or sidewalk. Another fine example of how roads should not be designed.

View Larger Map

It’s been about a month since I first reported on the new Coral Way bike lanes. Since I have not seen any progress during the past 4 weeks I will assume that  FDOT has officially completed this project. Sadly, I think this may be the finished product. It’s unfortunate to see that what we were left with is as good as it gets.

I would like to reiterate my suggestions for improvement for the bicycle lanes:

  • Paint the bicycle lanes green at all intersections and all conflict areas (i.e. driveways).
  • Paint three bicycle symbols per block.
  • Paint two white lines instead of a single white line to more clearly define the bicycle lanes.
  • 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.
  • Add more signage: “Share the Road” and “No Parking in Bicycle Lane”
  • The Coral Way bicycle lane needs a seamless transition to the already existing SW 15th Road bicycle lane.
  • Road diet. Narrowing travel lanes to ensure motorists travel at slower speeds.

Pedestrians also needed to be considered more carefully in this project. Below is what appears to be the finished product for the crosswalks. Both of these crosswalks are not safe enough for pedestrians. Particularly the crosswalk on Coral Way where cars are usually traveling at about 40 mph in this area.

This crosswalk isn’t safe for pedestrians. The yield to pedestrians signs are not effective alone, traffic calming devices need to be included with the design.

This crosswalk isn’t safe for pedestrians. The yield to pedestrians signs are not effective alone, traffic calming devices need to be included with the design.

How about a couple of yield to pedestrian signs and a more clearly marked crosswalk?

How about a couple of yield to pedestrian signs and a more clearly marked crosswalk?

Check out this video from Streetfilms.  They did a piece on this sweet ass crosswalk in Seattle, Washington; yellow flashing lights are activated with a tap of the foot.  FDOT must consider using this type of crosswalk for Coral Way and all other crosswalks were pedestrians are put in the unlucky position of crossing 4 lanes of traffic where cars travel at high speeds.

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Sign says "No Bicycle Allowed on Sidewalk"

Sign says "No Bicycles Allowed on Sidewalks"

Although we do not encourage bicycling on sidewalks, the Village of Bal Harbour has made it illegal to ride a bicycle on their sidewalks. Unfortunately, the Village of Bal Harbour has not provided any safe bicycling alternatives. Bicyclists are therefore relegated to riding on the road, on heavily traveled A1A, where there are no bicycle lanes.  As a relatively young and experienced cyclist I don’t mind riding on the road. But if I had a ten-year-old kid, I would not want him riding on A1A.

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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.

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 City of Miami commission was busy this week. This morning I received a press release highlighting their recent sustainable initiatives, including:

  • The Bicycle Masterplan.  “a map of over 285 miles of inter-connected bicycle routes to be implemented in the City by 2030. These bicycle routes include bicycle lanes, greenways and innovative new bicycle facilities. The Plan also introduces bicycle parking standards and calls for the implementation of bicycle parking racks, shelters or lockers at nearly 1,000 new locations throughout our city.”
  • A Green Job Training Program: “following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s grant to help train City residents for jobs assessing, remediating and redeveloping brownfield sites.”
  • A zoning Bicycle Parking requirement for large developments.
  • A new landscaping ordinance. This one is just ok. While I appreciate the effort at supporting the Tree Master Plan, and encouraging drought tolerant species, the ordinance has very little mention of native plants, or minimum requirements. This was a great opportunity to require property owners to plant a certain minimum percentage of native plants  (I would say 60%) - helping the overall goal of greening the city and restoring vital habitat connections. A win-win.

Ironic that the city would tout all of these great initiatives (I say sincerely), while simultaneously completely cutting the Department of Sustainable Initiatives (the brainchild of many green initiatives that have generated millions of dollars in grant funding and cost savings). Too bad. It seems in this town we are always moving two steps forward and three steps back.

PS. They also put off a vote on the Virginia Key Masterplan. A victory for environmentalists who have been fighting for less development and more environmental restoration. Interestingly, Commissioner Sarnoff seemed to hint that the island would not be off-limits to development, only that the plan needed further study. He made some excellent points about the existing surface parking, and the potential future of the Marine Stadium. (Even hinting that the future visitors of the stadium might not be younger generations, but more of the ‘Viagra crowd’. Awesome.)

In a separate victory for cyclists, the commission did vote to move forward with the BMX and off-road coarse in the North Point area. Kudos Collin Worth and others who helped convince the Commissioners that this was an important and worthwhile amenity.

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

bicycle-boulevard-planning-study-ad

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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