The article below is a repost. It was originaly posted on November 15, 2009. The FDOT has made some very small striping improvements since the article was originally published. Needless to say, it is not enough. The FDOT must do more.
Inspired by the recent Dangerous by Design report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America Transit Miami will begin documenting existing conditions that are dangerous and potentially deadly to pedestrians and bicyclists. In what will likely be an infinite collection of posts, the MacArthur Causeway will be the first roadway evaluated for Transit Miami’s very own Dangerous By Design exposé.
Although the MacArthur Causeway is actually designated as bicycle route, I don’t like to ride it because I fear for my life. The Venetian Causeway is a much safer alternative. This morning all bicyclists and pedestrians were forced to take the MacArthur Causeway because the eastern drawbridge on the Venetian Causeway was broken. Non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians had no other alternative to traverse the bay other than the MacArthur Causeway. I decided to make the most of my MacArthur Causeway crossing, so I took the opportunity to more closely inspect FDOT’s current resurfacing project on the MacArthur Causeway. Sadly, it seems like FDOT did not seriously consider pedestrians and bicyclists during the design phase of this resurfacing project.
My intention was to allow FDOT to finish the project before critiquing it, but that won’t be necessary, because what little work remains to be completed is mostly cosmetic (i.e. painting bicycle lanes and symbols). As one of only three arterial roads that connects Miami to Miami Beach, it is imperative that this wide, high speed, high capacity thoroughfare have safe pedestrian and bicycle provisions. FDOT’s current design consists of an unprotected bicycle lane that doubles as an emergency shoulder. Sorry, but anything less than a separated and protected multiuse path is unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists. For this reason the MacArthur Causeway is being regrettably recognized as Dangerous By Design. If FDOT were genuinely concerned about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists they would have designed a separated and protected multiuse path. Below are examples that should have been considered.
Below are a few photographs taken this morning of poor design standards on the MacArthur Causeway:
The Upper East Side neighborhood, loosely considered the area around the Biscayne Boulevard corridor from NE 50th Street to NE 85th Street, has tremendous potential for redevelopment. Unfortunately FDOT’s current streetscape design for Biscayne Boulevard is suffocating the neighborhood and stunting its growth.
FDOT recently resurfaced Biscayne Boulevard, but they did a disastrous job. They essentially designed a highway through a historic commercial and residential neighborhood without considering the needs of the businesses and residents that call the area home. As long as Biscayne Boulevard remains unfriendly to businesses and pedestrians conditions in the Upper East Side will not improve. The redevelopment of the Upper East Side begins with Biscayne Boulevard. FDOT must understand that they play a central role in the economic redevelopment of this community. They cannot persist to enable the decline of communities through poor roadway design that is unfriendly to businesses and pedestrians. If FDOT continues to design roadways with the sole purpose of moving cars faster, communities will suffer and they will not prosper.
The first step to redeveloping the Upper East Side neighborhood is to redesign the Biscayne Boulevard streetscape. Lucky for the FDOT, University of Miami Professors Chuck Bohl and Jaime Correa have provided the MiMo Business Improvement Committee with a Biscayne Boulevard Streetscape Vision plan. At the very core of redevelopment are the businesses; they need to be on solid footing to thrive. Accessible parallel parking is the cornerstone for businesses to flourish. Without it businesses will continue to go bust and prospective retailers will continue to turn their back to the area.
Once parallel parking is in place, a number of things will occur which will transform the neighborhood. Existing business will blossom and new businesses will relocate to the neighborhood. Parallel parking will help to calm traffic as well; bringing the current 45 mph design speed closer in-line with the 35 mph speed limit. (The speed limit should be reduced to 30mph). Once the design speed is reduced to 35 mph, Biscayne Boulevard will become more pedestrian friendly. Additional crosswalks and bicycle sharrows would also be introduced, further calming traffic and enhancing the pedestrian realm.
As a result, there will be a domino effect in the neighborhood. More businesses will open and remain open. A sense of place will be created and residents and visitors will begin supporting local retailers because the area will be more pedestrian friendly. More importantly, crime will decline since there will be more “eyes on the street”.
Last but not least, the 35 foot building height limit needs to increase to 53ft. Without it, real estate developers will not invest in the area. One of two things will occur if the 35 foot building height limit remains- 1) Empty lots will remain or 2) The area will be filled with Discount Auto Parts type buildings. Contrary to doomsday conspiracy theorists that believe increasing the building height will destroy the neighborhood, the 53 ft building height is not out of scale. If we want good development to come to the area, the neighborhood must support an increase of the building height. If you want crappy development, keep the 35 foot building height limit.
So how do we make this happen? Well, we here at Transit Miami are trying to mobilize the Upper East Side HOAs. Tonight we will have an informal meeting with several HOA representatives. The Upper East Side HOAs need to come together with the MiMo Business Improvement Committee and the MiMo Biscayne Association and agree that streetscape design is the most pressing issue for the neighborhood. If the community speaks with one voice we can apply enough pressure on Commissioner Sarnoff and shame the FDOT to make these necessary and relatively inexpensive changes to make the economic redevelopment of our community a reality.
The Upper East Side Neighborhood must plan for its future now and begin envisioning the future for this historic district. We need to consider a week long charette and bring all major community stakeholders to the table within the next year. Let’s make this happen neighbors!
FYI: Speeding is clearly an issue on Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side neighborhood. I have documented three accidents in the past 4 months. There have been more, but I just have not had time to document all the accidents.
Make sure to join in on the fun next month. Pre-Halloween ride. Costumes encouraged!
October 30th, 2009
The Critical Mass ride last night encouraged 150-170 bicyclists to take the streets of Miami. These are big numbers for Miami and prove that the momentum for bicycling is really picking up here.
The ride was well organized and the turnout created quite a spectacle. We started at Government Center around 7:00pm and headed west on Flagler Street through Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Brickell and back to Government Center. People on the street were cheering, as if it were a race. Cars had no option but to yield to the bicyclists.
Politicians in Miami, be forewarned, the cycling constituency is politically active and you will have to answer to us. We care about our city, and we promise to hold you accountable for the lack of bicycling infrastructure in our city. Whether its Regalado or Sanchez that becomes our next Mayor, it would be wise to engage the cycling electorate. Bicyclists come in all shapes and sizes, and we will no longer tolerate being relegated to riding on the sidewalk.
A special “thank you” to Rydel at Miami Bike Scene for being so diligent and promoting this great event. Please spread the word. I would personally like to see twice as many bicyclists at the next Critical Mass event on Friday October 30th. I think it’s possible. Let’s make it happen.
The Miami Bicycle Advisory Committee and Critical Mass/Emerge Miami want to hear from you! Please join us this Saturday, July 12, for the second anniversary of Miami Critical Mass. The ride will begin at the South Miami Metrorail station at 10am. The ride will soon after depart the station and head for Peacock Park in Coconut Grove for a picnic and some direct bicycle route mapping. Yes, mapping. We need more input from the bicycle community on those routes you find to be the safest in Miami, those you would like to see improved and where the City should install more bicycle parking facilities. To do so, I will have half a dozen maps on hand (printing as I write), markers and some brief instructions. We’ll break people off into smaller groups and you can have your way with the maps.
If you can’t make the ride, we will be doing a similar exercise during the Ride For Peace on August 16th in Little Haiti. Also, please click here to fill out a brief bicycling survey put together by Critical Mass/Emerge Miami.
-> When: April 14, 2008.
-> Where: Coral Gables War Memorial Youth Center
405 University Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33134
-> Time: 7:00PM
-> Host: Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Giminez and City of Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera
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