The U-Bahn (Subway) is a relatively new form of transportation in
The city and its immediate surroundings also contain over 380 kilometers of track for the Schnellbahn, a suburban commuter rail train similar to our tri-rail, only its efficient, vast, reliable, and electrically powered. As I mentioned previously, we used the schnellbahn to connect from the airport to the U-Bahn. There is also a small light rail transit system located within city limits (I know these people are so lucky to have all different forms of rail transit) known as the Lokalbahnen. I’m not familiar with the Lokalbahnen, seeing that we never had the opportunity to use it, but I often saw its trams arriving at the Karlsplatz station, where passengers could connect with U-Bahn, Schnellbahn, or bus transit options along the Ringstrasse. Notice how every site I’ve linked contains maps, schedules, routes, tickets, etc. in English in an easy to find format…
The city is also covered by over 80 different bus routes some of which operate 24 hours a day. The Nighlines provide service once the metro systems close for the night, at 1 am and run until they reopen at 5:30. The Nighline runs every 30 minutes and is just as prompt and easy to use as the Strassenbahns and no less popular among the locals or even us visitors. Using the bus system was no less of a breeze to connect us with the nearest U-Bahn station. The buses also lack the stop signal system found on most U.S. buses, instead a button near the exits serves as a dual use button to trigger doors to open and to signal the bus driver to stop. All buses (thanks to GPS devices) also announce upcoming stops and Strassenbahn and U-Bahn connections.
After experiencing yet another efficient and effective public transportation system, I am forced to realize that
The picture below depicts the middle level of one of my favorite transfer stations in Vienna, Schottentor. This station is a major transfer point for at least 10 different Strassenbahn lines, including the 1 and 2 trams which traverse the inner stadt. Trams arrive on the ground and mid level of the station, one level below ground. From the mid level the Votivkirche (church) provides a beautiful backdrop for the arriving trams. One level below, passengers can access the U2 line of the U-Bahn. Note: None of the stations feature parking, parking garages, or anything to accommodate ridiculous vehicular usage.
- Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC was in Miami yesterday to experience our Bus Rapid Transit system. Our is nothing like what NYC is looking to build, with dedicated ROW’s and ridiculous fragmentation from local development, but I hope Mayor Bloomber was able to see what can be accomplished alongside expansive roadways which don’t exist in NYC. In any case, I see this as something kind of momentous for MDT and yet none of our news outlets covered the story…
- No surprises here: Miami came in ranked at 98th for the Nation’s 100 most walkable cities. As CNN likes point out: Madison — 1,300 miles north of Sunny Miami came in first place. “Number of beaches versus frozen lakes apparently was not a factor. Crime rate, unfortunately for Miami, was.” Those Time Warner Companies are really out to do us in, aren’t they?
- The FDOT has received three proposals to construct the Tunnel which would link watson Island/I-395 with the Port of Miami. The $1.2 Billion project is essential for improving the truck traffic connection between our highways and the port, not to mention should also make our downtown a more pleasant place to walk around. Without the tunnel, our port will choke on its own success, making the movement of goods in and out the biggest port in the state virtually impossible…
- Oh, whoops we’re you trying to ride Tr-rail to get to work in a timely manner? CSX plans to disrupt Tri-rail for the next month. It’s things like this that makes people think that transit can’t work down here.
- Miami City Commissioners voted to endorse the Marlins’ stadium plan within the city. Like their inept fellow commissioners in the County, they too decided to endorse the Orange Bowl Venue instead. I guess protecting out surface lots in downtown really is a priority for everyone around here, otherwise there is no logical reason to not place this this in downtown. “Criticisms of the downtown site have included its relatively small size…” but, nonetheless it fits, so, how is this a valid argument again?
- MVB reports on Miami 21. Apparently the new building codes will be unveiled on March 24th.
- GreenerMiami is working on Eathfest: WaterFest Gone Green…
- BOB Reports on Rail Volution coming to Miami next Fall…
- Sidewalks: It appears that after years of embarrassing pedestrian-infrastructure, the county is planning on implementing sidewalks on both sides of 27th avenue in a uniform manner along the entire stretch of road south of US-1. It’s sad that I have to even mention sidewalks, given that they are as fundamental a part of a city as any piece of infrastructure, but in Miami this is never a given. I am a little disappointed that the new sidewalks are only proposed to be six feet wide; I would like to see 10-12 feet sidewalks throughout the avenue.
- Bike Lanes: Groveites, as well as any Miamian who frequents the neighborhood, should be very happy to learn that bike lanes are proposed for both sides of 27th Avenue south of US-1. This will be one of the first avenues anywhere in Miami or Miami Beach to get real bike lanes, which is quite a mystery given the fantastic riding conditions year-round. Now bicyclists who ride transit will have dedicated lanes to get to and from Grove Station and the neighborhood’s business district.
- Traffic Circle: One of the most contentious aspects of the plan is the proposed traffic circle at 27th, Tigertail, and Day Ave. The county is proposing an irregularly shaped traffic circle for this intersection, which would allow for the removal of traffic lights. Predictably, Day Avenue residents were concerned that traffic would increase significantly on their street. However, the county is planning on changing Day Avenue from one-way westbound to one-way eastbound, meaning one cannot enter Day Avenue from the 27th Avenue traffic circle. This will be ensured by a continuous portion of curb that will jut out just enough to make the turning angle onto Day Ave from the the circle impossible without going over the curb. I like this idea, because it will force cars to slow down considerably at this awkward and dangerous intersection. It will eliminate the need to wait for red lights to cross, as well as also making pedestrian crossings shorter.
- On-Street Parking: It looks like 27th Avenue will finally get on-street parking. The county plans on implementing 90 on-street spaces along this segment of the avenue, which would look similar to the set-up on Grand Avenue. The plan would have called for more on-street parking, but it wasn’t possible due to the ridiculously large number of driveways on the avenue. These on-street spaces are of the “cut-out” variety, meaning no current capacity will be taken by parking as the spaces are “carved” out of the sidewalk.
- Right-of-Way-Acquisition: Perhaps my favorite part of the plan was the proposed elimination of many parking swales (or parking lagoons) that line the avenue on both sides. These swales equate to such bad urban design for so many reasons, hence my appreciation for their removal. For one, they are just ugly to look at. A high quality pedestrian environment is certainly not define by any space flanked by automobiles. Also, these spots are small, so often times cars are parked on segments of the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to slalom the cars (sometimes requiring movement into the road) to traverse the swales. Also, this provides way too many free parking spaces along what should be a transit-oriented thoroughfare. As long as an abundance of free parking is available throughout the city, especially in close proximity to transit stations, induced automobile demand will remain high and transit ridership will not realize its ultimate potential. Moreover, these swales are just dangerous. They often require backing into the road, or other maneuvering within the swale that breaches the sidewalk. Lastly, these swales have always been located within the county’s right-of-way, and therefore people were parking for free within illegal zones. Therefore, the county is only retaking what is already theirs.
- FDOT planned to remove most of the palms on
Biscayne Boulevardto replace them with shade trees such as Oaks, in order to enhance the pedestrian experience along the boulevard and to improve “safety” along the corridor in a new ROW acquisition.
- The FDOT plan was met by stiff activist resistance, opposing the removal of any trees and opposing the plans by the FDOT.
- To date, 135 palms have been removed, approximately 2/3 of the palms along the corridor which were planted over 80 years ago to commemorate the Veterans of all Wars.
- Trees continued to fall, as recently as February 6.
- On February 7th, the FDOT agreed to stop further destruction of the Royal palms, claiming that the trees removed the day before were either sick or part of the ROW acquisition.
- Today, after the lobbying of Commissioner Sarnoff and Mary Conway, the FDOT has finally agreed to end the destruction. The
Biscayne Boulevardcorridor will now feature much more foliage than had been previously planned, including more Royal Palms and various other shade trees.
It’s difficult to swallow the “pedestrian enhancement” bull the FDOT is throwing at us when the trees are being removed to further enhance the traffic flow along the corridor. As the herald article noted,
The bigger picture I’d like to point out is while one local agency works to make our streets more pedestrian friendly, our city commission is out approving a monstrous structure with 1,700 parking spaces in the immediate area. Note above: the pedestrian friendly streets of yesteryear featured not only pedestrian friendly foliage but streetcars as well. The approval of 2222 Biscayne is a dark reminder of how far we still have to go to improve the urban culture of our city. Any structure on an existing or planned public transit route should feature far less parking than the city code currently calls for and certainly far less than the 1 space/250 square feet offered by this eyesore…
The plan to beautify 27th Avenue is to include expanded sidewalks, tree landscaping, and a mini traffic circle at the intersection of Tigertail, Day, and 27th. Predictably, some Grove NIMBYs are voicing concerns about parking. Apparently, they’re worried that the project right-of-way on both sides of the avenue will eliminate hideous lagoon parking in front of buildings in favor of widening sidewalks. God forbid anyone takes away “reserved” parking spots to add/widen sidewalks.
Below are some pictures showing what it looks like to take a walk from the southern part of the avenue to US-1:
The first leg of the walk does not even have a sidewalk, just a series of ugly, windswept sand and gravel parking lagoons for several apartment buildings.
The sidewalk first appears awkwardly (I’m not sure that word does justice here) about 20-25 yards from the street behind another parking lagoon. If this doesn’t symbolize walking as an afterthought in this community I don’t know what does.
More discontinuity that ruins the street. The sidewalk reappears in the middle of this parking lagoon flanked by what else, cars.
Another awkward stretch of sidewalk flanked by a gas station and huge swath of asphalt, which serves one main function: allows cars an excessively wide turning radius from Bird Rd.
This enormous chunk of asphalt adjacent to EZ Kwik is such an eyesore it makes me sick to look at. The city recently put in a speed bump on the corner of Bird just keep cars from using this space to evade traffic at the light. Talk about putting a band-aid on a stab wound.
Just past EZ Kwik, the sidewalk suddenly disappears again, forcing pedestrians to walk across a sand and gravel wasteland.
After getting back on the sidewalk again, one comes to this mini office park that warns pedestrians to watch for cars. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
More discontinuity. After being steered into a jungle-like setting, the sidewalk is again fragmented by a parking strip – far from the street by the way.
After reappearing, the walk finally terminates at US-1. The trash isn’t always there, but a greater pedestrian presence would require sidewalk cleaning to be more consistent.
Reversing decades of conventional wisdom on traffic engineering, Hamilton-Baillie argues that the key to improving both safety and vehicular capacity is to remove traffic lights and other controls, such as stop signs and the white and yellow lines dividing streets into lanes. Without any clear right-of-way, he says, motorists are forced to slow down to safer speeds, make eye contact with pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers, and decide among themselves when it is safe to proceed.
The article cites several cities where the traffic rules are: “There are no rules.” Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians are essentially free to do as they please along some of the most congested cities of the world. It forces drivers to be more aware of their surroundings rather than on an autopilot mode, attempting to stay between the guidelines. It’s definitely an interesting concept and is apparently pretty effective in cities where such practice is considered the norm. In fact, many of these cities have lower pedestrian fatality rates than cities with extremely rigid streets and driving laws. Now, I’m not advocating switching
I came across the above video to demonstrate how traffic flows when there aren’t stringent traffic laws, signals, or markings along the street. It’s extremely chaotic, but, notice how seamlessly traffic flows through the intersection in
Today, the area is begging for the type of development that would turn the street into one of the best pedestrian neighborhoods, similar to the vibrant activity on La Gran Via (Madrid), Champs Elysees (Paris), or even Newbury St. (Boston).
There has been a hint of new activity along
The city should also seriously evaluate a streetcar option (similar to the Miami Streetcar Initiative) through this neighborhood, in order to once again link the two city centers and provide a much needed alternative to an area with incredible potential. Image of my proposed route:
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