Currently viewing the tag: "Pedestrians"

We have a little bit of good news to report; the pedestrian crosswalk signals at the South Miami Avenue and SE 13th Avenue intersection are working again after nearly a week since they stopped working.

Nevertheless things appeared to take a turn for the worse around lunch time today at this intersection. I went home for lunch to find the electrical contractors hard at work, but also found that all the traffic lights, in addition to the pedestrian crosswalk signals not working.  Although the electrical contractors had placed 2 temporary stop signs on each side of South Miami Avenue, they did not place any temporary stop signs on SE 13th Avenue.  The lack of a temporary 4 way stop created a hazardous situation for motorists and lunch time pedestrians. I observed as several pedestrians attempted to cross the street, only to sprint back to safety, as they realized they would not make it unharmed to the other side of the street. Drivers simply were not stopping because there wasn’t a mandatory stop sign for cars travelling on SE 13th Ave.

Provisional stop signs are correctly placed on South Miami Avenue.

Provisional stop signs are correctly placed on South Miami Avenue.

Pedestrians dart across SE 13th Street this afternoon. Traffic lights and crosswalk signals were not working today and provisional stop signs were not placed to assist pedestrians and cars.

Pedestrians dart across SE 13th Street this afternoon. Traffic lights and crosswalk signals were not working today and provisional stop signs were not placed to assist pedestrians and cars.

In all fairness, major work is taking place at this intersection.  However, the process that was undertaken to make these improvements could have been done in a manner that did not put pedestrians in harm’s way. I fully understand and appreciate that work needs to be done at this intersection, but question how we are going about it and whether we are setting up the necessary temporary provisions to ensure the public’s safety.  This is not a small job. The sidewalk on the NW corner of South Miami Avenue and SE 13th Avenue has been completely torn up.

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Father and son are forced to walk in the roadway in order to get to school as the sidewalk is under construction. No provisions have been made for pedestrians, parents with strollers, or the handicap.

Father and son are forced to walk in the roadway in order to get to school as the sidewalk is under construction. No provisions have been made for pedestrians, parents with strollers, or the handicap.

When doing major work like this, the CPWD needs to think about the impact that their work will have on the welfare of pedestrians.  This is especially true in areas with heavy foot traffic and where schools are present. Going forward the CPWD needs to be more mindful as to how they schedule their projects.  Starting a project and taking three days off is no way to run a big job like this. This type of work needs to be completed as quickly as possible, in order to minimize the risks to the public. Regardless of the length of any project, appropriate temporary provisions need to be made to ensure the public’s safety.

To quickly recap, work began last Thursday, that same day the pedestrian crosswalk signals stopped working. The electrical contractors were on the job site on Friday, but then proceeded to take Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. They were back on the job Tuesday. Today (Wednesday) they got the pedestrian crosswalks signals working again. Work still remains to be completed, as the sidewalk is still under construction.

It seems like things are getting worse, not better, for those of us that live and work around Brickell.  The traffic lights on Brickell Avenue and SE 14th Street were broken yet again today. Yesterday morning Public Service Aides were at this intersection directing traffic during morning rush hour, but today they were no where to be seen. Needless to say, traffic was a disaster.  This seems to be a reoccurring problem since these very same traffic lights were broken on Friday as well and have yet to be fixed properly. For some reason the only time these traffic lights don’t work is during morning rush hour.

The problem with these traffic lights is that they remain green and never turn red for those traveling on Brickell Avenue.  This forces the cars on SE 14th Street to run a red light when they deem appropriate, since it never turns green for them. Screwed are the pedestrians that get caught in the middle trying to sprint across the street to make it to the other side of the street safely.

Notice the cars on SE 14th Street running the red light

Notice the cars on SE 14th Street running the red light

This traffic light on Brickell remains green and doesn't change to red

This traffic light on Brickell remains green and doesn't turn red

Also worth mentioning is that there were electrical contractors working on this intersection last week.

Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed electrical work being done on traffic lights and pedestrian crosswalk signals around the Brickell Area. Unfortunately, the contractors don’t seem to think that the pedestrian crosswalk signals are all that important.  Last week the pedestrian crosswalk signals on Brickell Ave. and SE 14th Street did not work for almost an entire week.  Two days ago they started working again.

The pedestrian crosswalk signals didn’t work for nearly a week at this busy crosswalk on Brickell Avenue and  SE14th Street.

The pedestrian crosswalk signals didn’t work for nearly a week at this busy crosswalk on Brickell Avenue and SE14th Street.

Today around 12:30pm I noticed contractors doing some work on the traffic lights on SE13th Street and South Miami Avenue. On my way back from work, at around 5:30pm, I noticed that all the pedestrian crosswalk signals at this intersection were not working.

Pedestrian crosswalk signal not working on SE13th Street and South Miami Avenue. South Side Elementary School is ½ a block away.

Pedestrian crosswalk signal not working on SE13th Street and South Miami Avenue. South Side Elementary School is ½ a block away.

Pedestrian crosswalk signal not working on SE13th Street and South Miami Avenue. South Side Elementary School is ½ a block away

Pedestrian crosswalk signal not working on SE13th Street and South Miami Avenue. South Side Elementary School is ½ a block away

At around 6:00pm I called 311 and reported the problem. The operator was very helpful and he told me that it could take up to 30 days to fix the problem, but that he would flag it as an emergency.

My fingers are crossed that the pedestrian crosswalk signals are working by tomorrow morning.  It just so happens that an elementary school sits about half a block away from this intersection.  I see a lot of parents with children crossing this already dangerous and poorly designed intersection every weekday morning.  I think that if we can keep our traffic lights working we can keep our pedestrian crosswalk signals working too.

I also think that the city could do a much better job of promoting the 311. Unless you are a Transit Miami reader you probably don’t know about it. Perhaps the city could start a public service announcement campaign by putting the 311 phone number somewhere above crosswalk buttons throughout Downtown and Brickell? This can be done very cheaply with something as simple as a sticker.

FDOT just recently repaved a section of Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown.  I’m not sure why, but several major intersections were left without a pedestrian crosswalk. I really can’t think of a reason as to why FDOT did not take this opportunity to include 4 crosswalks at every intersection.  There is enough density and pedestrian activity to justify 4 crosswalks at every intersection.  Aside from helping pedestrians cross three lanes of fast moving traffic, crosswalks serve as traffic calming devices as well.

To make matters even worse, the intersection on Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th street had an existing crosswalk and crosswalk signal, but not anymore, FDOT decided to remove them. Check out the old crosswalk and signal right here: View Larger Map

Here are just a few examples of intersections without crosswalks:

Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th Street

Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th Street. Crosswalk and pedestrian signal were recently removed.

Biscayne Blvd and NE 1st St.

Biscayne Blvd and NE 1st St.

Biscayne Blvd. and SE 1st Street. This intersection is less than half a block away from a busy Metro Mover station.

Biscayne Blvd. and SE 1st Street. This intersection supports a busy Metro Mover station.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st Avenue. Please notice the electric turn arrows, this only encourages cars to move faster through downtown.  I'm not sure if FDOT or the County PWD is reponsible for this intersection, but need a crosswalk and pedestrian signals.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st St. Please notice the electric turn arrows, this only encourages cars to move faster through downtown. I'm not sure if FDOT or the County PWD is responsible for this intersection, but it needs a crosswalk and a pedestrian signal urgently.

These pictures were taken yesterday in front of the 200 South Biscayne Boulevard building. Cars have always parked here illegally to pickup passengers. So in order to accommodate the cars, approximately 4 feet of sidewalk has been taken away from pedestrians. Pedestrians are now only left with about 4 feet of sidewalk.

Sorry, but I want the sidewalk back.  One of the most used  Metro Mover stations is less than a block away. There is enough density in this area to justify an 8 foot sidewalk.

How was this approved?

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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

We have some good news to report. The pedestrian crosswalk signals on Brickell Ave. are working again. Thank you PWD.

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Since Olga Ramos shared her story about walking to work on Brickell, the Transit Miami Eye has been on the lookout for working crosswalk signals.  We have some bad news to report, it’s been three weeks and the pedestrian crosswalk signals are still broken. The evidence is below. Who’s responsible for fixing this?

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Friend of Transit Miami, Olga Ramos, lives on Brickell Avenue and wanted to share her daily commuting to work experience with our readers.

Every day I make a choice; a small choice, but an important one none the less. I choose to walk to work. Even though my company pays for a much coveted covered parking spot in one of the most prestigious pieces of real estate in Miami, I leave the transponder in my car parked in our apartment building and I choose to use what nature gave me to get to the office. My primary motivation comes from my belief that it is important to do the little things in order to reduce my carbon footprint, and because frankly that quarter of mile of movement allows me to transform myself into the focused business women my colleagues know.  I also walk to my gym (which is exactly 1.04 miles from our home thank you map quest) even though at that gym I receive free valet parking. I consider it my cardio warm up.

I think that the biggest change in most Americans lives over the last 40 years is that we have stopped walking. The little trips to the library, post office or corner store has been replaced with jumping into gas guzzling SUV’s to go just half a mile. In most cities the reason is because suburban sprawl and poor urban planning have made these locations far from were people live. But in Miami most people don’t walk because it is dangerous. During my walk every day, I play a sort of human frogger that affords me at minimum 3 near death experiences a week. As an adventuresome girl I could deal with that, however; what really irks me is how rude people are. I have been crossing Coral Way and Brickell, the crosswalk will be clearly signaling my right of way and drivers will still regularly yell obscenities in whatever native language is theirs or just use hand signals to communicate their disgust. I must admit that the road rage I encounter does make me dream of the day that I walk to work with rotten eggs in my hands so that when I encounter these drivers that have turned to the dark side I can leave a memorable impression.

But what I really want are two simple things. I want for all of the crosswalk lights to work (something I haven’t experienced since July) and I would like for some signage to go up on the traffic signals that states “Yield to Pedestrians”. The crosswalks lights that aren’t functioning are located on the NE side of Brickell Ave and 14th Street as well as the crosswalk lights on NE side of Brickell and 13ts Street. These are small things, but they would make a world of difference to this urbanite and her fellow pedestrian walkers.

And I promise that if I get what I want, that I won’t consider the rotten egg retaliation again.”

Although I don’t recommend rotten egg retaliation, I understand her frustration. Drivers need to respect the rights of pedestrians and the city also needs to do a much better job of enforcing their rights. The City of Miami must educate the driving public by putting up more “Yield to Pedestrian” signs throughout Brickell and Downtown. There is enough density and pedestrian activity to consider a “No Turn on Red” ordinance for Brickell and Downtown. Such an ordinance would make walking safer and would slow down traffic in these heavily populated areas.

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Tropical Paradise or Transportation Paradise?

Morro de Sao Paulo is a small village on the island of Tinhare in Bahia, Brazil which is located about 40 miles south of Salvador, Brazil’s third largest city. It is only accessible by a 2 hour boat ride or on a 25 minute puddle-jumper.  It has a small population of about 3000 local residents which rely predominantly on tourism in order to fuel the local economy.  Up until about 15 years ago, Morro de Sao Paulo was a fishing village.

The real beauty of Morro de Sao Paulo is not just the beaches, but the fact that no cars are allowed to enter the village center. To get around, your only real transportation option is your feet. In fact, during my 4 days in Morro de Sao Paulo, I saw only 4 bicycles, a couple of donkeys, and a tractor that collects garbage early in the morning. I saw my first car when I was on the way to the airport while riding on the back of a tractor-bus.

Getting around on two feet was not difficult, but rather pleasurable.  The development of the village has grown naturally on a human-scale; meaning most distances within the village are no longer than a half-hour walk. The inaccessibility of Morro de Sao Paulo is certainly a major contributing factor to its organic growth.

Particularly inspiring is the manner in which supplies are transported within the village. Whether a refrigerator, cement bags, computers, alcohol bottles or food, all goods are transported within the community by wheelbarrow. It is astonishing to see the small supermarket in the village was fully stocked with first-rate amenities. Approximately 200 men wheelbarrow all the supplies from the arriving boats to the village.  The car free village generates jobs by employing wheelbarrow operators that do not pollute.

There are some valuable lessons to learn from Morro de Sao Paulo. This tight knit community has shown that with a little hard work and planning, a car free community is possible and desirable, as can be evidenced by the thousands of tourists that visit this remote village every year. The community’s low reliance on motor-vehicles, combined with a transportation infrastructure which is predominantly reliant on human power will allow it to adapt more easily to an oil starved future.  As our cities become more densely populated, perhaps we will need to turn to working examples such as Morro de Sao Paulo.  This small village illustrates that with an emphasis on human power we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Pack Horse

Garbage Truck

Unloading Beer Bottles and Propane Tanks

Taxi

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View Larger Map

Pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, and motorists be warned: the easternmost bridge of Venetian Causeway will be closed for construction from May 1 - May 30. While it is understood that maintenance is essential to keeping the bridge safe, the loss of this major east-west link presents several challenges for all of its users, especially  pedestrians, bicyclists, and moped operators who depend daily upon the Venetian for a safe link between the City of Miami and Miami Beach.

According to a Miami-Dade County construction fact sheet I obtained from a toll booth operator, all traffic will be diverted to the MacArthur Causeway for the duration of the bridge closure. While the detour is  inconvenient for all of the above, the detour is potentially life threatening for the aforementioned groups, those who do not depend on enclosed motor vehicles for their daily transportation.  Since the fact sheet mentions obstruction to motor vehicles only, and nothing for all other users, it is extremely unlikely that the County will take any additional steps in ensuring any viable options for pedestrians or bicyclists to travel in a manner to which they are accustomed.

Certain MetroBus lines will likely enjoy some overcrowding as a result, but will likely be the safest alternative for those traveling between  Miami and Miami Beach. However, the monthly cost and inconvenience of traveling by such a mode will further impede many Venetian Causeway users.

Thus, please join Transit Miami in asking the County to protect both shoulders of the MacArthur Causeway with some type of temporary barrier so that bicyclists and pedestrians may proceed without immediately fearing for their lives. While such a provision will surely not appeal to every user, it will do much to alleviate the temporary convenience.  and allow people to travel more safely.

To make this simple request, please contact Delfin Molins, Public Information Officer for Miami-Dade County Public Works, with this simple request. Delfin may be reached at 305-375-1682, or delfin@miamidade.gov. As always, phone calls tend to be more direct and effective.

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Miami lacks a center.  We have no urban square in which to assemble, no central oasis within our concrete jungle.  Our coastal parks lack focus, continuity, or the social elements which make them function.  By looking into the success of Urban Squares across the country, we’ll gain a better understanding of the attributes which make these squares function as centers for civic pride.  The features which make these urban parks succeed is what we as a community pour into them.  By contrast, our closest example of an Urban Square, Bayfront Park, is a disjointed, uncohesive mess, littered with commercial enterprises.  As we’ve discussed before, our closest community assembly point may just be a parking lot…

As you glance through these select few parks, notice the emphasis on community events.  You will find successful squares exist centered among the crossroads of business, theater, retail, and artistic centers while serving as the focal points for our densest urban communities. Don’t neglect the transit infrastructure.

Without reiterating many of the points made by my colleagues, I’ll turn our attention to the most successful urban squares across the United States, addressing why they work.

Union Square (San Francisco)

The 2.6 acre Union Square is located in the heart of San Francisco’s shopping, entertainment, and theater district.  A plethora of boutiques, department stores (6 to be exact), hotels, and theaters surround the square, making it one of the largest tourist attractions and shopping districts in the Bay Area.  The square is serviced by 2 cable car lines (Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason), the F Market Heritage Streetcar line, Muni Metro, and BART Subway systems (3rd busiest station along the system.)  Click here to go on a 3D Tour of Union Square.

Madison Square (New York)

The 6.8 acre Madison Square Park first opened in 1847, almost immediately served as a catalyst for the surrounding area, attracting hotels and theaters to the district (yes, this is where Madison Square Garden gets its name from.)  The park experienced a renewal in 1870 which bought a new design and sculptures to the park, among other items.  In 1912, America’s first public Christmas tree was erected in the park.  Today, the park plays host to abundant community and civic events (like the meatscursion.)  A new park favorite, the Shake Shack, garners hundreds of hungry patrons daily with lines snaking throughout the park.  Six lines of the MTA Subway service the region.

Union Square (New York)

Speaking more from personal experience, New York’s Union Square is a hub for local activity surrounded by an abundant mix of retail, residences, and commercial property.  The square is surrounded and influenced by the surrounding flatiron, Chelsea, Greenwich, and NYU neighborhoods.  Originally founded in 1815 as a public commons, the square began to take its more modern shape later into the mid 1800’s.  One of the square’s most prominent local features, the GreenMarket, began in 1976, providing regional small family farmers with opportunities to sell their fruits, vegetables and other farm products in the city.  The Union Square Hub is serviced by eight MTA subway lines.

The Unions Square Pillow Fight 2008:

Copley Square (Boston)

Boston’s Copley Square was founded in 1858.  Up until the early 1900’s, the square served as a cultural and educational center for Boston, bordered by the original Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Public Library, and original MIT Campus.  In 1983 with the formation of the Copley Square Committee, the park was revitalized improving green space, water features, and sightlines.  The Square is serviced by the four routes of the Green Line Light Rail system.

From 7 am to 1 pm on August 9, 16, and 23, New York’s Park Avenue will partially resemble it’s earlier form when a municipal park actually occupied the right of way.  A nod to the successful Ciclovia events in Bogota, Colombia, “Summer Streets” will ban all vehicular and bus traffic on the bustling thoroughfare from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street into central Park, giving way to pedestrians and cyclists only.

Park Avenue Before 1922

Image Via: Aaron Naparstek

Today:

Park Avenue Traffic

Image Via: MikeyNYC’s Flickr

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I am sorry, in my previous post I neglected to mention that there is an improvement in the new Alton Road: They propose increasing the parking lane to 9 feet!

On-street parking is a dangerous, highly addictive habit. When you know it is available, you want it, and may not stop at anything to get it. Plus, not to mention, it is likely cheaper than any parking garage. You let its availability control your life: you plan and scheme to get your fix of it and you will fight to defend your right to stop a lane or two of traffic to maneuver your Hummer into a space.

I want to thank the members of the Alliance for Reliable Transport (ART), for forcing FDOT and the City to see a vision of the future that is different and will, then by definition bring new and needed results. Even I was skeptical when a respected ART steering committee member returned from far-flung historic and highly urbanized Cities around the world with pictures of streets built properly. Streets with wide sidewalks, luscious shade trees and dedicated bicycle lanes. Could this really exist here at home? ART showed us that it could. Yet, no one seems to listen.

If the city and DOT do not listen to ART, at least listen to the neighborhoods: Flamingo Neighborhood, led by Judy Robinson or the Westies, always well represented by Arthur Marcus (and Benita Argos). They know you cannot cross Alton Road, ride on Alton Road, or enjoy a peaceful alfresco meal without inhaling exhaust on Alton Road. We are begging FDOT and the City for something different.

If not the Artists or the Neighbors, listen to the City Engineer, the Traffic Manager or the Public Works Director: Wide sidewalk and a demarked bicycle facility for non-motorized vehicles will increase mobility…. mobility is the key to our economic engine: getting tourists in, getting around, spending their money and leaving to make room for the next.

We should listen to the Costal Communities Transportation Master Plan (CCTMP) that says the traffic and congestion problems do not come from our neighbors; it is internal. The congestion occurs because we believe that we can only get around our seven squares in our cars due to the abundant on-street parking! We should follow the lead of the Mayor of Paris who banned parking on the Champs Ellissee!

Nothing causes more congestion than parking. It takes away the opportunity to do anything else with our precious right-of way but store a ton or two of steel and plastic. Parking is not traffic calming. It is parking. At $1500.00/space (the average revenue per year), the City adds $487,000 a year to its coffers (well, not really into the general fund because parking is an enterprise fund.) Is it worth it? Is $500,000, more a year into the bottomless and questionably productive Parking Fund worth the death of businesses or a pedestrian trying to cross the street?

The misconception that there are not enough parking opportunities on Alton Road with out the 325 on street parking spaces is just that: a myth. The City is spending $15 MILLION dollars for 1000 parking spaces at 5thth and West, not to mention that the Herzog & de Meuron Garage and the Robbins Garage will add hundreds spaces. There is ample parking in the area, so when will we be able to re-purpose on-street parking? There is no time better than this project. and Alton, there is parking at 10

Finally, there is the little matter of a memo related to non-motorized vehicles on Alton Road, among others and FDOT statue 335.065(1)(a). In December of 2006, the City declared many of our streets “generally not safe” for non-motorized vehicles”. Don’t we then have an obligation to make them safe by adding a segregated facility for them? Here is our opportunity and an accompanying Florida Statue! The State has a legislative mandate to add the bicycle lane, enhance pedestrian accessibility, and improve safety for all modes of transport. Nowhere in the State Statue or in the City Code is parking (on street parking) given the same kind of priority. Instead, we make that up and justify it with a 10-year-old report called The Walker Study.

Come out on June 26 and tell the City of Miami Beach and the State of Florida that any renovation or rehabilitation of Alton Road that does not include a dedicated bike lane, 20 foot sidewalks, and a travel lane 12 foot wide to accommodate the Baylink is not an Alton Road we want to waste our money on. Tell the bureaucrats and politicians that we will not sit through two torturous years of road construction to end up with the same road we have today.

Tonight was the Miami-Dade MPO BPAC committee meeting in Miami’s City Hall.  For those of you who didn’t make it, you didn’t miss anything earth shattering except that we all agreed that we have a long way to go before we have a sensible bicycle network in this county.  If you have any suggestions, comments, or ideas for possible bike related projects, feel free to email them over to us (Movemiami@gmail.com) and we’ll be sure to get them over to David Henderson (Pictured above giving the main presentation of the night…)

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