1/31/07

Miami Transportation Planning; Part 1


The Miami Streetcar should only be the beginning of a visionary transportation master plan to transform the City of Miami. Part 1 of this multiple part series aims to explain the map pictured above. Later, I will go in depth to explain the specifics behind route choice, design, and the benefits each will bring to the city and all residents.

Pictured above (Click to enlarge) is a rough aerial sketch of possible streetcar routes that I envisioned in a city transportation plan. Using the basis of the current streetcar plan, I extended rail networks south, west, and east in the corridors where such transportation efforts would fit well with future, proper urban growth patterns.

The red streetcar line follows the basic path already presented. The train would head east on 1st or Flagler St, heading towards Biscayne Boulevard, where the route would turn north. At NE 11th St, Baylink would merge onto the Macarthur Causeway and head towards the beach while the Design District Route would continue North on the boulevard until NE 14th St. I chose 14th street to not overlap with the metromover on 15th and to bring riders as close as possible to the Carnival Center. The streetcar would head west to N Miami Avenue, intersecting with the FEC tracks (highlighted in Black) where a transfer would occur to the LRT which would travel from Miami through Jupiter, easily accessing every major city in between. This transfer station will also grant FEC riders with a station to easily transfer to the Health district Streetcar which would travel west from this point along NW 20th St. The Design District Streetcar route would turn left at NE 29th Street before entering Midtown Miami (Note: this is Midtown Miami, our newest neighborhood, not a development, there is no need to spite our newest urban dwellers to make a point to a developer.)

The other routes could receive funding at a later point in time, once the overwhelming success of the Miami Streetcar is evident. The Blue route would exit the Brickell station heading west on SW 10th street to SW 3rd Avenue where it would turn South. SW 3rd avenue merges with Coral Way, which will guide the streetcar to the Coral Gables CBD. At 37th Avenue, the Coral Way Streetcar could head into the Gables via Merrick Way or Miracle Mile, and later head either north or south along Ponce, further into the CBD.

The Yellow or Flagler route would also terminate at Government Center, solidly defining the central core transfer station for the city. Routes would head west along Flagler to Beacom Blvd. At Beacom the Flagler route would head southwest to Eighth Street where it would continue west. The return route for this route would travel along SW 1st St.

1/30/07

City Noise and Pesky Residents

This is what happens when Namby Pambies from the suburbs move into ritzy urban dwellings. I have a feeling these are the same people that sue over blocked views and drive from one parking garage to the next.

"You move to the beach, expect some salt on your windows."
-Alan Hooper

At least the local politicians are being realistic:

"Let me get this straight, people moved into a place called Symphony House and are complaining about music?" (Mayor Jim Naugle) said. "You shouldn't expect to open your windows and hear birds chirping. This is a city."

1/29/07

Riding the Rails of Reason

I’m excited to see such debate occurring on the previous land usage post. As evidenced by the discussions you all brought up, the area and statistics of the greater Miami region are very debatable, a problem we’ve compounded by the fractioning of municipalities in the region. What is important is to analyze the density of the regions highlighted in the map. A city may have a large population, but have hundreds or thousands of miles or urbanized sprawl. What is important though however is that we address our density, building up properly on our urbanized land to create sufficient density for public transit options to actually work. This brings us to the next point in this discussion: The Miami Streetcar.

Amidst an unprecedented building boom and surge in urban dwellings and living, the Miami streetcar could possibly serve as the catalyst to properly link some of the densest regions of the city, making the urban lifestyle a reality for a greater portion of our population. The time to incorporate such a significant piece of the urban lifestyle puzzle would be now; before the condos are completed, before the urban dwellers move in, and to serve as a guide for further dense development. Unfortunately, some city commissioners are blinded, rather flat out ignoring, the true benefits of the streetcar along Miami’s most promising neighborhoods:

Sarnoff said the Streetcar was too expensive and would be used to fuel more overdevelopment in areas already overwhelmed by high-rise residential condos. He argued that a fleet of environmentally friendly circulator buses would better serve the city at a much cheaper price.

Is this guy joking? Areas overwhelmed? I’m sorry we might disrupt the calm village like quality that every CBD is supposed to embody. This is what happens when we continue to allow ignorance to exist in our local government. It’s not about providing a benefit to local developers; it’s about creating an urban lifestyle that area residents are craving. The environmentally friendly bus idea is beyond ridiculous. Let’s spend $600,000 a pop on a hybrid “circulator” bus which will a) do nothing to enhance the urban fabric of the community or route b) realize far less ridership numbers than the streetcar could easily guarantee c) make urban life next to impossible for everyone not living within a few blocks of the metromover d) be a gigantic waste of money e) be the worst idea I’ve ever heard and f) continue the terrible parking garage pedestal and further increase area traffic because countless studies always conclude that there is a permanent negative stigma towards buses in the United States.

What irks me is the desire to kill a project even before the facts have been heard. This guy is a lawyer, not a transit planner, engineer, or urban planner. He’s behind ecologically friendly construction in the city but knows little of how to actually create a greener city (here is a hint: it involves making the city denser, easier to walk, and has abundant public transit.) He ran against bad government but is suddenly the epitome of the bad government decisions we are trying to fight. Now, don’t get me wrong this isn’t a tirade against Sarnoff, but rather against the thought process, given the real facts, on the Miami streetcar…

1/28/07

Municipal Land Usage Map

I found the above image on a skyscraper forum which I frequent (click for full sized image.) It depicts the land area used by several metropolises around the world. What is most shocking, I find, is our terrible land usage thus far. In a space where we have only been able to accommodate just over 5 million people, other cities have populations of 9 or even 12 million people. Our space on the map is nearly the biggest one and yet, we're still looking to expand the area to account for future growth? Where is the sense in that? We need to seriously alter our growth patterns, embrace higher density projects, and start living a more vertical lifestyle down here real soon...

1/25/07

Miami: South of South Florida


Well, it’s official. Miami has seceded from South Florida. Yeah, that’s right, we’re no longer part of the lump which masses together unknown suburban municipalities into a family friendly destination. That is according to the Sun-Sentinel which recently happened to removed Miami-Dade County from its news channel listings. Apparently South Florida ends at the Dade-Broward line, anything south of that is uncharted waters or a separate friendly nomenclature; perhaps South South Florida, or North of Cuba will do the trick for the rest of us down here to have a geographical identity too. I never really cared much for the Sun-Sentinel’s coverage anyway. Aside from some facts, their articles have always had a pungent distaste for Miami on top their spotty and lack luster coverage. Take their upbeat take on the opening of the Carnival Center for example. I hope if anything, the Sun-Sentinel can continue to serve us one purpose: to continue giving us the bad news of what’s happening in the land South of South Florida…

1/24/07

When NIMBYs Plan, We all Lose



The County’s zoning and planning department must not have too much urban planning experience. The board blatantly does not understand the transit oriented development concept and instead chose to bow down to the heeds of the Coconut Grove NIMBY force. In case you aren’t aware, the CCG NIMBY Coalition is against density, height, and growth, but typically still wonders why the Coconut Grove Central shopping/business district is nearly vacant and not bustling with activity. (Note: they are also against expanding the UDB for further sprawl, but refuse to allow such development that would prevent it from happening in the first place.) In an effort to prevent further traffic, the NIMBY Coalition of the Grove sought to severely scale down the density of a proposed transit oriented development at the Grove metrorail station, opting instead for shorter buildings with more parking spaces. So let’s get this straight, in order to combat further traffic issues they are fighting to bring more parking to a new development that will be adjacent to a transit station? Sheer stupidity. The US-1 corridor is primed for denser development with fewer parking spaces to force use of alternative means of transportation throughout our neighborhoods including walking. Just in case you were wondering here is the definition of a transit oriented development:
Transit Oriented Development is the exciting new fast growing trend in creating vibrant, livable communities. Also known as Transit Oriented Design, or TOD, it is the creation of compact, walkable communities centered around high quality train systems. This makes it possible to live a higher quality life without complete dependence on a car for mobility and survival.

Hence my initial remarks on the zoning department’s actual planning experience. Below is a copy of the story from the Miami Today:

HEIGHT FIGHT: A developer's plan to build a 250-foot, 25-story residential and commercial tower on 5 acres next to the Coconut Grove MetroRail station at US 1 and Southwest 27th Avenue is being scaled down by the county's planning and zoning department. County officials were expected to detail their proposal to limit Coconut Grove Station Development's tower to 19 stories and 200 feet at the Rapid Transit Developmental Impact Committee Wednesday (11/24). The county also wants to reduce density and increase parking for the project, which has triggered seven years of debate.
At least this comment is right on the money. Too bad reason goes in one ear and out the other over there:

Anonymous said...

Fifteen story buildings are way too short for a parcel next to a transit stop. You're not using the land efficiently. The mixed-use towers sounds like a much better plan. Having the retail conveniences so close to the station will be excellent for ridership, not to mention curbing urban sprawl and building responsibly. Dense urban infill is the way to go.

January 23, 2007 9:38 PM

MDT Leadership

I came across an interesting comment posted on The Miami Herald in response to the strong mayor victory. Apparently we’re not the only ones dissatisfied with the leadership over at Miami-Dade Transit.

Hopefully, now the escalators along the Brickell Avenue route will be fixed after more than one year out of service for "upgrades". Got a nice reply about this matter from Mr. Bradleys office after a couple of months, but still, no solution to the problem.

  • Posted by: Silvie

Perhaps if they hadn’t wasted our money replacing perfectly good trash receptacles we would have escalators and elevators for patrons to use…

Straight to the Trash


Riding around on metrorail recently, I couldn't help but wonder which public coffer was plundered to pay for the replacement see-through trash cans along every station. Look, I’m not against keeping the city secure from reasonable threats, but, I don’t think any terrorist is looking to bomb one of the most underutilized transit systems in the nation- it’s just not happening. As Rebecca noted earlier, the old trash receptacles were even removed for quite some time before the new ones had arrived. It's quite humorous actually, while standing around waiting for the northbound train, I realized where our half-penny tax was headed; straight to the trash...

1/23/07

Great Success!!!

MDX hires FDOT veteran and Miami Native Javier Rodriguez as the agency's executive director.

Transit in the Tropics: The CITT

Today, I would like to introduce to you a new weekly section titled Transit in the Tropics. I hope this weekly section can come to address some of the more basic transit needs within our county and shed light on some of the more pressing issues.

What better way to kick off this new section than addressing yesterday’s streetwise article by herald columnist Larry Lebowitz. The Citizens Independent Transportation Trust was designed to allow for public oversight of the half-penny referendum approved back in 2002. As Larry points out, the Trust is not serving in the best interests of the constituents because it is not independent of county administrators and isn’t, well, particularly trustworthy.

A citizen’s oversight board is essential whenever new taxes are to be imposed; it maintains the integrity of the process and ensures that our dollars are put to the uses we originally intended. The fact that a county administrator is chairman of the trust should rouse more than just suspicions and it definitely speaks volumes of the injustices occurring in our county commission. The dysfunctional state of the independent trust is a great place to begin when analyzing the little transit progress that has been made since its’ inception. Five years have passed since the creation of the half-penny sales tax and yet county-wide transit has yet to substantially gain from any of it. I don’t know, but shiny new bus benches on suburban streets weren’t what I had in mind when the tax was imposed. If corrected now with proper oversight, budget allocation, and basic foresight the half-penny sales tax can valiantly attempt to live up to the transit corridors which were included with original proposals. Otherwise, the CITT and half-penny tax will go down as further examples of why our county government cannot be trusted…

From the CITT Website:

Who can serve on the CITT?

CITT members must be registered voters of Miami-Dade County who possess an outstanding reputation for civic involvement, integrity, and experience or interest in the transportation, mobility improvements or land use planning. They are appointed by the County Mayor, the members of the Board of County Commissioners, and the Miami-Dade County League of Cities.

1/22/07

Cleaning up the Mess, One Vote at a Time

It’s rare that I get very political nowadays on the website, but, I think it is important that we take some time out today to speak of the implications that tomorrow’s election will have on all the residents of Miami-Dade county. I decided to write this after asking someone if they were planning to vote on Tuesday to which they replied, “How can I vote, it doesn’t concern my Mayor?” Come again? What county do we all live in, he is your mayor. The ridiculous confusion that has been caused by every neighborhood incorporating to escape the typical political tyranny in our county is absolutely absurd. Palmetto Bay, Doral, Pinecrest, Coral Gables, Aventura, Sunny Isles, El Portal, Medley, Florida City, etc, you get the point; they are all blips on the radar, ask most people from these municipalities where they live and I guarantee the majority declare Miami home. Nowhere else can you find such a clutter of municipalities all bunched upon each other direly seeking to create a name for themselves in the local and even global marketplace.

Unfortunately, we’re all to blame for this mess, not because we live in Kendall or Sweetwater or some other godforsaken suburb with a cutesy name that is desperately seeking to escape the abuse of local corrupt politicians, but, for electing most of them in the first place to positions that they were wholly unqualified or just too incompetent to hold. The strong mayor reform seeks to correct the injustices caused by the political scene in Miami basically since the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter was drafted in 1957. Ok, so you’re wondering how exactly this is going to solve the problem? The strong mayor referendum is a win-win for all the citizens in Miami-Dade County, both in the unincorporated areas and swath of independent municipalities because it allows all of us to have greater oversight over our county government. Think about it this way: the way it is now, hypothetically, if the commish over in district 11 is a bumbling idiot who is accepting loads of money from developers to approve a mega project in a your district, there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it. You can send them a letter, yippee. At best you can hope that said commissioner will be recalled by the constituents in his/her own district, which as we all witnessed recently is highly unlikely. With the strong mayor, yes we place all the power in the hands of a single person, but we are all within the boundaries of his mayoral rule. Also, consider the salary differences between mayor and commissioners, we’re also likely to see some qualified and dedicated individuals running for office, given that it is a full time job unlike the county commission’s 12k annual salary which essentially requires all members to seek “consulting” jobs in fields where they quite often have zero to no experience. In the end, I’m all for removing the power from the unnecessary and proven to be inept county commission. We’ve all had enough with the current state of affairs, evidenced by the recent surge of individual municipalities, it’s time to vote for a change and hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.

The next best step in fixing the mess we have created thus far would be to- dare I say it- abolish all the municipalities within the county, bringing us all under one umbrella of local government. Essentially revert to what the Miami-Dade County home rule charter was originally intended to accomplish. Now, I’m not suggesting that this needs to occur, but, if managed properly (yeah, fat chance) a solitary county government could operate more efficiently than the insane bureaucracy that exists today. Cities would gain independent councils, capable of pressing for the interests of the neighborhood only. Transit wise, the agency would be able to make better decisions for the benefit of the whole county preventing bureaucratic debacles from occurring such as when Miami Beach politicians derailed (pun intended) plans to bring streetcars to the area.

Transit Miami, We're Back!

Oh man, is it great to back in the blog sphere. I’d like to thank everyone for their patience as I switched blog platforms from the wretched godaddy quick blog software back to blogger. Things took a little longer than I expected (like most Miami construction projects) and I will still be doing some work on the site over the coming days to really get it up to what I want, however, you all will not incur many daily outages as I will try my best to conduct the updates on the weekends or early morning hours. That being said, I’d like to hear what you all think of the site. I’d like to also thank Rick for convincing me that Blogger was the way to go even though Rebecca tried valiantly to sell me on the wordpress format. Alesh, please don’t flip out either, we all know you aren’t exactly fond of blogger, but, I am still on my own domain…

For those of you on the old e-mail list serve please e-mail me at movemiami@gmail.com so that I can add you to the new one as soon as it is up and running. I also hope to bring back the comments side bar as soon as possible to encourage everyone to speak out and voice their thoughts…

1/17/07

Transit Miami, Under Construction

Welcome to the New Transit Miami. The site is currently under construction, just like the rest of Miami. If you were on the e-mail list for the previous site, please e-mail me at movemiami@gmail.com so that I can seamlessly add you to the new e-mailing list. I hope to be up and running again by the end of the week...

1/11/07

The Airtrain Solution: Part 3

To wrap up the discussions on the new proposed plans for the MIC/Airport connection, I will focus on why a direct line to the airport is such a bad idea. Like I previously stated, a direct line partially negates the reason why we decided to construct the MIC to begin with. Given the shape of the airport, tight clearances around the terminals/parking garages, and numerous elevated walkways, I am left to assume that the only suitable location for metrorail and station would be between the parking structures or west of the new cooling tower by the new south terminal. I assume the current taxi parking lot could also be a viable option considering the cars will one day be stationed at the MIC instead. In any case, any of the above three options place metrorail just enough out of reach to make it convenient for all passengers at all terminals. Any of the above options would equate to more than a quarter mile walk (linearly, which we know will not be the case) for some of the farthest gates. A direct line will also only be able to service one location (the airport) rather than an Airtrain like concept which will be able to service every terminal, parking structure, and transfer station. Like most Airtrain systems, travel from terminal to terminal would be free and passengers looking to exit the Airtrain system at the MIC would pay the fare to disembark, effectively solving the ridiculous concept of an automated farecard system so rental car patrons can ride for free to the intermodal center, while anyone who stays on Metrorail will pay a regular fare. We don’t even have fare cards that can be purchased at any station, why are we dreaming up further problems!?


Going back to my previous post, I’d like to present some more evidence with regards to the confusion of the MDT decision makers. As I stated, metrorail is at best a commuter rail with several parking garage park-n-ride stations. The concept of a truly urban transit oriented development is, well, quite foreign around here to put it mildly. MDT somehow conceives that fewer transfers will equate to greater ridership numbers, which for an urban transit system can generally be true. What MDT fails to realize though is that metrorail riders are commuters, which means they have already used another form of transit (a car, likely, parked in one of the massive park-n-ride stations) to arrive at the station which will probably not have any long term parking for people who will be away for longer than a day. Where am I going with this? People who live near metrorail cannot walk to the station because we haven’t adapted the surroundings properly for this type of lifestyle and people who already use metrorail will not be able to ride it to the airport because they usually drive to metrorail to begin with. The problems are worse than we think! Had MDT pushed through some necessary urban train lines first (like baylink) then perhaps this wouldn’t be such a big issue because it could be perceivable that many people could walk a short distance to the nearest Miami Beach station and only have to make one transfer to get to the airport.

There is no clear-cut answer to the problems posed by the MIC-MIA connections. MDT needs to seriously analyze what they hope to accomplish as our transit agency and how they plan to create a transit system that effectively replaces vehicle use from a substantial portion of the population. MDT would also benefit greatly from studying the solutions other airports have concocted to this very issue, rather than continuing to do things the ineffective way…

1/10/07

The Airtrain Solution: Part 2

The latest plans for the MIC/Earlington Heights Connection/East West corridor, immediately spurred a question back into my mind that I once asked a leading Miami-Dade County transit planner at a meeting last year: What is Miami-Dade Transit’s vision and goal for Metrorail? I went on to suggest that at times I feel that MDT isn’t sure itself of what it hopes to accomplish with regards to the rail transportation needs in the county and certainly isn’t aware of how public transportation is implemented in other progressive cities across the globe. Now, to understand my question fully, you have to understand the east-west corridor images which were being presented. The aerial photos showed the proposed corridor and stations. Superimposed around the stations were depictions of what is traditionally considered the reasonable walking distances passengers would be willing to make to access the system. Here in lies the problem: not only were the stations located alongside low density single family neighborhoods, but, the superimposed circular area was often times more than half composed of highway space, thus rendering at least 50% of the walking distance draw factor to be useless. To further compound the problem, the stations were being designed with commuter parking in mind while the maps alluded all into thinking otherwise. MDT doesn’t seem to realize that metrorail is at best a commuter rail train and does little to promote and enhance the urban concepts they are trying to incorporate. This is why the transit oriented developments around the current stations can generally be seen as complete failures, because they lack the basic integration of transit with the rest of the urban setting. Notice how every TOD sits upon a giant parking structure and integration with metrorail is typically seen as an afterthought covered walkway at most.


It appears that their confusion has gotten worse over the past months. The latest plans call for metrorail to run directly to the airport as either part of the east-west corridor project or the Earlington Heights Connection with the Miami Intermodal Center, which would in a sense render the whole concept of the intermodal center to be pointless. Now, some cities like Atlanta and Chicago use this sort of approach, however, it is typically incorporated at the end of a transit line, rather than an awkward, out of the way, non commuter friendly loop. The MIC was designed to be a hub linking all forms of area ground transit with the airport, similar to the Jamaica and Howard Beach stations cited on the Airtrain map of JFK. Notice the similarity between the keyhole shapes of JFK and MIA, the transfers to MTA subway and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) at Jamaica and Howard Beach Stations, and the rental car facility easily accessed at Federal Circle. Airtrain and JFK is the quintessential working model of what we are trying to accomplish, paralleling our glorified view of the MIC equating a “Grand Central Station” like terminal. The Airtrain solution seems way too obvious to me, perhaps this is why MDT has failed to see it.

About the transfer conundrum. I’d like to detail my most recent trip to NYC for you all so that you can see that transfers don’t have much to do with a desire to use the system, its more about incorporating transit with the urban spaces.

  • Walked 2 blocks to nearest subway station
  • After going down a flight of stairs and clearing the turnstiles, boarded a train bound for Penn Station (Ride time: <4mins)
  • Purchased LIRR ticket to JFK, although there are several LIRR routes all but one travel through the JFK station: hence you don’t have to wait long.
  • Boarded LIRR bound for JFK (Ride time < 15mins)
  • Exited LIRR and rode elevator up to Airtrain platform which left me right outside my terminal (Ride Time < 10mins)

Numerous transfers on trains and stations that weren’t equipped to handle luggage larger than carry-on in 40 degree weather and yet I wasn’t the only non-native using the system. I’d also like to add that the whole trip cost less than what any car or taxi would have cost…

Going back to my original point, I would like to point out a major difference. MTA has created in New York a public transit system which continues to blend in well with the urban fabric of the city. MDT has yet to figure out what they hope to accomplish with rail service in Miami, transporting people to hubs that no longer exist, failing to integrate rail well with our surroundings, and generally creating system that will one day be as confusing as the people who created it…

MIC "Progress"


1/8/07

The Airtrain Solution: Part 1






Knowing that my day will be pretty complicated tomorrow, I've decided to provide you all with a photograph of NYC's JFK airport's Airtrain and an interesting recent article on MIA for you all to mull over until I can better analyze the situation catastrophe occurring in our Aviation/Transportation departments...

Other intelligent airport connectors: Newark, San Francisco, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai

1/5/07

The Dark Side of Car Addiction

Ryan is back with some firsthand experience on the vehicular addiction we’re trying to break here in Miami. Although I haven’t witnessed a friend go to such great lengths to drive a car, I can attest that his roommate’s mentality appears to be the norm around here.

My roommate has got a new job in Coral Gables. He lives in Coconut Grove. No problem, right? Wrong. My roommate is addicted to cars/driving, which is unfortunate for him because his old SUV crapped the bed recently. In typical Miami form, he’s now found a way to take an asset (close proximity to job) and turn it into a significant liability because of his car addiction.

For some background information, most of his active pursuits are located in his own neighborhood, the Grove. Whether eating, working out, or partying, he does most of it right here a few blocks away. Most of his friends live in the Grove or Downtown, an easy bus or train ride away. However, instead of buying a student Metropass for a meager $37.50, walking 2/10th of a mile to the nearest #42 bus stop, which then will take him directly to downtown Coral Gables for work in less than 20 minutes, he’s living a complicated, stressed out life completely dictated by someone else’s car. Below is an unbelievable description of his daily schedule:

  • Wake up at 8:00 am
  • Drive downtown against rush hour traffic using friend’s borrowed car to pick up his friend
  • Drive his friend from downtown all the way across the county to FIU for his work
  • Drive back home to the Grove against morning rush hour for the second time to “relax” and kill time before work at noon
  • Leave for work @ 11:30 driving friend’s car en route to downtown Coral Gables
  • Departs downtown Coral Gables @ 5:00 pm en route to FIU to pick up friend, battling fierce westbound rush hour traffic in Miami-Dade’s heavily congested central corridor (Flagler, 8th St, Coral Way westbound)
  • Around approximately 6:00 pm (after 45-60 minute drive), he leaves FIU to return downtown with friend to chill/drop off
  • Gets back home around 7:00 or 8:00 pm with friend’s car
  • 8:00 am, at it again

So as you can see, not only is the schedule itself crazy, stressful, and completely unreasonable, but my roommate now feels obliged to return such “favors”, often resulting in him joining his friend for activities that he may have preferred to abstain from in favor of extra “free time” for rest or study. Instead of waking up at 10:30 am for work at noon, he’s up at 8:00 am, facing a stressful series of commutes which he must successfully negotiate or else his kind friend who shares his car will be late for work. If he works four days a week, that’s 10 hours of sleep per week he’s losing to his car addiction. Moreover, while he struggles to pay his collegiate finances and loans, he continues saving most of his money for a new car while at $37.50 a month (for a Metropass) I’m paying off student loans early and getting a whole lot of extra sleep. It’s really sad, and if you think about it dependency on cars can parallel other addictions like smoking.

After I first told him how ridiculous his itinerary was and briefly gave him the low-down about the transit alternative, he agreed, looked me right in the eye and shrugged, “But the problem is I like driving”.


1/3/07

Alternative Transit 07: Week 1

In dire need of some simple groceries, I decided today was a good day to begin my quest to minimize my daily impact on the local environment by biking around to accomplish my errands. Biking through my neighborhood, thankfully, is quite a breeze if you stay on the sidewalk. I ventured out into the street every so often only to be corralled back by a lumbering Escalade or whatnot. Crossing the new roundabouts recently installed by the city of Coral Gables as a pedestrian was interesting. They are fairly well designed, however, I think the signs which warn oncoming cars about the pedestrians should include a sign reading “Yield Here for Pedestrians” rather than just to watch out for us. I’ve realized Miami drivers fail to yield to anything unless specifically told to do so and even then you still see flagrant road sign abuse.


The ride was fairly smooth until I arrived at my local Publix. The bike rack was nowhere to be found. An employee informed me that there wasn’t enough space in the cramped parking lot to fit a bicycle rack.


I figured it was probably a waste of their money to try and accommodate other forms of transportation when visiting the store, even though it is less than half a mile from a transit station and I was likely going to be the only idiot who would bike over 2 miles to get some milk. I nonetheless left my bike attached to a railing, knowing full well that whoever wanted to steal my bike had to be pretty desperate considering the conditions and its’ appearance.


I made my way through the park with the greatest potential for urban greatness in the Coral Gables/South Miami area, which also happens to be across the parking lot from Publix and on my way to my next destination. With plenty of green space, on street parking, benches, and room to run around, Riviera Park is clamoring for some proper attention and better development to neighbor it.


Aside from me, there was one elderly and homeless looking lady enjoying the tranquility of our surroundings. I took a quick break to survey the surroundings which noticeably lack any uniform interaction with the park. The park could sorely benefit from denser residential development and more inviting facades of buildings other than the parking structures which currently front the west side.


I crossed several waterways along the way where I stopped to admire the ultimate private boat parking spaces. As you can see by the photograph below, pedestrian activity along the bridge was clearly an afterthought to the automotive needs, barely leaving me enough room to cross as cars zipped through.


Close encounters with cars: 1

Random pedestrians who said hello: 3

Errands Accomplished: 2

Total Distance: 4+ miles

Time: 45 minutes

1/2/07

Transit Tuesday: Back on Track


To all the transit naysayers, I present some irrefutable evidence that public transit can and does have a chance to survive in our region. Today the SFRTA released the final ridership figures for the tri-rail system which for the first time surpassed three million annual riders and witnessed a 21% growth. Although I agree that the conclusion of the double tracking project has likely led many to try the system out, I can also attest that some riders have also given up on the ridiculous congestion experienced daily on I-95. The amazing use of transit to witness the Miami Heat Victory parade also demonstrates how through necessity we will seek an alternative form to reach a centralized part of our city; if only we could use this same model to steer business out of the suburbs, we’d have many more reasons to use transit daily…

Image from rross233's flickr...

Transit Challenge 2007



Alrighty folks, it’s that time of year again: time to create our New Years’ Resolutions…




I have a proposition for my readers to take up my New Years’ Resolution: to minimize my daily impact on the environment by consuming less natural resources and living a healthier lifestyle by walking and using more public transit. Similar to the Summer Transit Challenge I laid down this past summer, I am pleading that all my readers to once again give alternative forms of transportation a try, once a week at a minimum, especially now in the cooler months when being outside is rather pleasant. It’s not just about riding an underutilized transit system; it’s about reducing your oil consumption and carbon dioxide emission, walking and exercising more on a daily basis, and living a lifestyle that I guarantee you will be socially healthier for you. I want to hear from everyone, all experiences: positive or negative, local or abroad…




This year, I plan to not only rely less on my automobile, but, I also plan to work to actively reduce my daily impact on all our natural resources. Recycling is just the beginning; Miami is reaching a critical point in our water consumption, trash generation, and ridiculous demand for oil.