3/28/07

Take a walk along Flagler and Roll Again...

Ever get that feeling that your elected official is completely out of touch with your district, your city, or even our everyday surroundings? I do, and I have some irrefutable evidence to support my claims. I’ve had a hunch for sometime that our commissioners are the type of people who drive to work daily from sprawl-land in their cushy vehicles to government center. As we all know from their objections against the downtown Marlins’ Stadium venue, they have the reserved privilege of parking on a nearby surface parking lot (I honestly wouldn’t see that as privilege but more of a hassle.) I get the feeling they don’t ride metrorail much (even though the “central station” is right at their doorstep) and don’t wander out for lunch, at least not on foot. An article in last week’s Miami Today confirmed my suspicions; a rare moment in Miami history occurred when Commissioner Joe Sanchez went for a walk... Through downtown... Alone… Ha, ha! Just Kidding about the last one, this was an all out publicity blitz

"It was very important for us to go out, talk to merchants, find out what's going on downtown," said Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, chairman of the DDA. "When you're up on the 29th floor, you don't see what's happening in the streets. You don't see the cracks in the sidewalks, you don't see the lights out on a streetlight."

You also can’t see much if your eyes are closed, but I thought that too was common sense... I’m sorry, but is anyone else taken aback by the fact that commissioners likely haven’t walked around our downtown (barring special occasions such as these,) taken a ride in anything other than a private car, or heck, been at least somewhat conscious of the decay that has blighted the CBD, Parkwest, and Overtown neighborhoods for the better part of the last few decades? Taking a stroll along Flagler seems to me like the best place to start before making any decisions to spend our $10 Million on “streetscape enhancements” or voting to make the thoroughfare more pedestrian friendly by switching it to a two-way street…

While he and authority officials were quick to note Flagler Street's potted and hanging plants and the uniformed maintenance crew pressure-cleaning the sidewalk [Strategically Placed, I presume], Mr. Sanchez did not hesitate to gesture to graffiti, unleveled sewer covers and stagnant water in the streets.

What’s he going to do, ignore it? Given the media circumstances I’m surprised he didn’t call over Sherwin Williams…

"These are the things we don't see from an office or a board meeting," he said. "People want beautification, people want cleanup. That's what the people deserve."

To attract more upscale retailers, vital in elevating the status of downtown, "we need to look perfect," he said. "We need to look sharp." Marketing is also crucial, he said. "The DDA needs to help get these tenants. Let's romance it. Bring out all the guns. When they come, seven other merchants come." Improving the landmark Macy's store would be a start, Mr. Alonso said. "I think we need to persuade Macy's to invest $10 million to $20 million and refurbish their store."

We need to look like any other city outside of the "developing world?" Macy’s has played a great hand thus far, we know they’re bluffing but we still need to come to the realization that a large sum of money needs to be invested in this area. The downtown retail industry should be giving ole Simon a run for its money. The city has the ultimate “lifestyle center” at its fingertips; hey, it could actually emulate real life elsewhere by becoming an actual city center. Who knows? Bob has some thoughts…

Also in the works are plans to improve area transportation. Because bus service on Flagler Street was eliminated when it became two-way, the county will offer a new shuttle bus on Flagler Street beginning May 21 that will connect to Metrorail, the Port of Miami and Bayside, said Bob Pearsall, manager of service planning for Miami-Dade County Transit.
That kind of convenience along with cleanliness and safety will revitalize downtown, Mr. Sanchez said.

You remember that plan to make the area more pedestrian friendly and was endorsed by the same people who later complain about downtown congestion? Well had they known that the conversion to a two-way facility would actually inhibit traffic flow and make congestion worse I think the vote would have come out a little bit different- In any case, I’m not complaining…

"The whole downtown experience, the whole success for downtown, is people need to feel safe, keep coming back," he said. "They need to have a pleasant experience."

Pure genius. And all this time we were thinking that allowing homeless individuals to run amuck with our downtown was the right way to go…What were we thinking?

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3/27/07

Climate Change and South Florida

Photo Source: Miami Herald via Green Peace, AP File 2006


Our global warming crisis continues to become more foreboding. Today the Herald reported findings from a recent study that predicts serious local climate change in South Florida’s future. According to the study, which is one of the first to predict local climate change stemming from global warming, by 2100 South Florida will likely have a novel climate that is warmer, drier, and unlike any other on Earth. Among the findings:
  • Mean temperatures in South Florida could rise by 5-7 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer/wet season (+ 3 ½ degrees in the winter/dry season)
  • High temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90’s can be expected during the summer/wet season
  • Much drier conditions: 3 ½ fewer inches of rainfall during the wet season (Note: Drier does not mean less humid)
  • Even if worldwide action reduces greenhouse gas emissions, 4-20 percent of the world’s land could experience novel climates
These findings have grave implications for South Florida. As I noted above, a “drier” climate does not mean a less humid climate. High temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s coupled with high humidity would make it feel like 110-120 degrees based on heat indexes. Also to consider, the 5-7 degree rise is in mean temperature, which is the average temperature over a 24-hour period. For the last 30 years, Miami’s mean temperature has averaged about 83 degrees during the peak of the summer/wet season. If the predictions are true, then our average daily temperatures could be as high as 90 degrees! Imagine stifling days with highs of 95 and lows of 85. Factor in humidity, and even our nights would feel as warm as 100 degrees!

All of this does not even consider the potentially catastrophic effects of rising sea levels, increased frequency of major hurricanes, drought, and the decimation of the Everglades. It is now critical that we begin making major changes in the way we live and the way our cities function. Given the implications of climate change in South Florida, you would think that our region would be on the leading edge of sustainable urban planning. Sadly, as we all know, this is not currently the case. Yes, Mayor Diaz should be complemented for his green building proposal, Miami 21, and the Miami Streetcar initiative, but this barely scratches the surface of sustainability. We need a progressive, regional effort to significantly reduce our dependence on the automobile, boost alternative transportation modes, and design sustainable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods. We cannot wait any longer to act.


I sent an email over the people from the Shops at Wasted Space (Sunset Place) to find out what would occupying the space once the Bodies exhibit concludes. I also decided to inquire if the mall was actively persuing any ideas to better connect it with metrorail by means of a pedestrian overpass. Here is the reply I received:
Mr. Lopez-Bernal

There is a tenant planned for the space that Bodies currently occupies, but that tenant's name has not been announced. I have not been advised by Metrorail of any plans for a pedestrian overpass, but it does sound like a great idea.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Great initiative. Yes, let's wait for the helpful folks over at MDT to come up with a plan to better link metrorail with its surroundings, maybe something will get done by 2050, we'll see...

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3/26/07

Urban Design Malpractice


On my way to Milam's on 32nd and Bird Ave this afternoon I almost got hit by a car after freezing in the road upon first site of this new building. Known as "Groveloft" at 3062 Bird Ave., this building adds absolutely nothing to the area's pedestrian realm. The architect had a good opportunity, even with an oversupply of parking required, to add some quality density to the Grove and enhance the pedestrian realm along Bird Ave. Instead, they opted for a totally auto-centric design. This building is completely designed to be integrated with automobiles and not human beings:
  • The entrance to the parking garage is large, hideous, and the focal point of the building's principal frontage on Bird Ave, a primary street. The arrows are tacky and the gate is ugly as all get out.
  • There are not any pedestrian entrances from Bird Ave., which is a primary street in Miami. Typical of most buildings in the Grove, this building does all it can to separate itself from public space with its fortress-like ground floor.
  • Instead of planting shade trees, which would have enhanced the pedestrian realm on Bird Ave. and aligned closely with the lush character of the Grove, the developers opted for dinky little palm trees on the edge of the street that serve more as eye candy for passing drivers than for functional green space on the sidewalk corridor. The larger tree in the back right of the photo that could have better accomplished this is instead barricaded from the public behind yet another gate.
This building is certainly not unique in Miami. Many more just like it are emerging each month throughout the City, and each one of them squanders an opportunity to enhance Miami's pedestrian realm, which would encourage more people to walk and serve as the precursor to increased transit ridership. This is the kind of design that should be eliminated with the implementation of Miami 21 - which couldn't come soon enough.

Venetian Sunrise



From the Flickr of JamesGood...

Posting over the next three days will be sporadic...Stay tuned for discussions on Miami Park Space, I-95, and Stadium Issues...

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3/23/07

Train Derailment

A close friend of mine works next to the location of today's train derailment. They forwarded a picture for me to share. Funny thing was that I walked along the tracks right where this train derailed recently and wondered how any train could possibly travel along them. At first I even thought they had been abandoned due to their horrific state and amount of debris laying along them. It's no wonder accidents like these happen...

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3/22/07

Miami 21 Update

Anyone interested in learning about Miami 21, especially residents living in the East Quadrant, should attend the open house this weekend being put on by planning consultant firm DPZ. The open house is meant to discuss and provide details about recently updated documents of the Miami 21 code.

The open house will be held from 8:00am to noon this Saturday, March 24th, at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame High School located at 4949 NE 2nd Avenue.

The Bradley Mess

I ask; if I am ever ousted from a political or public works position (which, I assure you, will never be the case) please, do not hold a special “name clearing hearing” in my honor like the one scheduled tonight by the county commissioners at 5 pm over the firing of former transit director Roosevelt Bradley. How pathetic is this? Have we stooped to a new low in the commission chambers? Has our commission become complacent with substandard performance and abysmal results from one of the county’s largest departments? I assure you, the removal of Bradley from the top Transit post was a good thing for Miami-Dade Transit. It’s depressing that the best argument provided thus far against his removal from office has been racial, which I must mention had nothing to do with his lousy performance.

Yes Bradley has overseen a recent growth in Bus operation and has blanketed our county with awkwardly placed glass bus benches, but, we must not give credit to him for these ‘advances.’ After all, the transit department is growing because of the efforts of the 2002 PTP supporters, not the efforts of any transit individual. Since the 2002 approval we have yet to witness any considerable advances with our transit tax money. Sure they’ve purchased a few buses and installed some illuminated street signs, but, is that really what we expected out of the PTP? The north and east-west corridor are anything but certain seeing that either has yet to secure federal funding, the airport connection hasn’t even been finalized, and our transit oriented development is abominable, all the while precious PTP money is squandered. As director, Bradley should have and could have forced Baylink to begin financing and development. He could have created a joint development to accelerate plans to create the Miami streetcar. He could have modernized the transit system, abandoning the ludicrous token system and implementing a friendlier metrocard system. He could have worked to add bus benches in more strategic locations, rather than the wonderful collection we now have along SW 72nd St. in front of half million dollar houses with Range Rovers in the driveways. Hey, anyone remember the FEC and CSX rail corridors decaying across the county? The fact of the matter is that Bradley was fired not for what he accomplished, but for what he has failed to accomplish thus far as transit director.

I reiterate the importance now of hiring an individual with a visionary plan for the transportation problems in Miami-Dade County. We need someone who understands how real public transit works in other parts of the world and can bring some of the success of other transit systems to Miami. Miami-Dade Transit needs someone who can work to lobby congress to allocate more federal dollars for our transportation deficiencies. We need someone who will work to bring regional rail alternatives to the whole south Florida area and will work with Governor Crist and the Florida congress to reestablish the Florida High speed rail initiative. We need someone who understands that public transit is more than just trains and buses; it’s a complete redesign of our public spaces, our buildings, and our way of life. All in all, we need someone who at the end of the day will not say “Look at what I have accomplished” but rather “Look at how much more can still be done to improve Miami’s public transit.” No transit official should be tooting his own horn for adding buses which had already received funding from allocated taxes and no one should cry foul when fired over an appalling performance…

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3/21/07

Travels Through Europe, Part 2

Vienna and its’ surroundings are covered in a vast web of efficient public transportation. Four rail options make life in the Austrian capital a breeze for residents and visitors alike. Like Miami, Vienna lacks a definite central district where workers travel to and from daily. The inner stadt, encircled by a one-way ring street and streetcar is about as close as it gets to becoming the center of Viennese activity, but major business hubs such as the UN complex are located far outside of the center.

The streetcars or Strassenbahns are a marvelous form of transportation, easily accessible by locals and visitors alike due to the vast network they create across the entire city (There are over 30 different routes and it is the third largest network of streetcars in the world.) To understand how vast this system really is, please click on the map here, you won't be disappointed. Nearly every street contains tracks for the streetcar, which often shares the limited roadway with vehicles on narrow 2 way streets. The streetcars are prompt, clean, and effective forms of traversing the city.

The U-Bahn (Subway) is a relatively new form of transportation in Vienna; it opened in its modern form in 1976 and has since grown to incorporate six different lines (although parts of the U-Bahn date back to the 1890’s.) Click here, for an animation depicting the growth of the U-Bahn over the years including the upcoming extensions of the U2 line due to open in 2008 (to the stadium) and 2010, in time for the UEFA Cup which the city will be hosting in 2008. The U-bahn provides a faster mode of transportation and links some of the major hubs including: Stephansplatz, Vienna International Center, and train stations (Westbanhof, Franz-Joseph Banhof, Wien Nord.) Like most modern transit stations, most stations feature newsstands, bakeries, and all other sorts of convenient amenities foreign to the Miami-Dade Transit System.

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 Miami has far to go before it too can become a very accessible city to all. Below are a series of photos I took while in Vienna for the purposes of depicting some of the most fascinating elements of their public transit system on this site:

Notice anything conspicuous about this entrance to the U-Bahn platforms? The absence of any turnstiles should jump right out at you, especially if you are familiar with the heavily armored nature of most American subway entrances. In parts of Europe however, subway entrances like this are the norm because the entire metro system operates on the honor system- Gasp! Yet, it works, because people know what the law is. Enforcement is done completely at random on bus, streetcar, and U-Bahn routes. Throughout our week long visit we were checked a whole zero times! While I'm on the fare subject: we were able to purchase an eight day coupon using our credit cards at an ATM like machine at the subway stations. The eight day card (24 Euros) enabled us to eight full days (not necessarily consecutive) of transit use (all forms) provided that we stamped our tickets daily at anyone of the punch card boxes located on every vehicle or station entrance. This marvelous system eliminates the foolish token or cash system and enables passengers to board the trolleys or buses through any door at any stop. The Honor system and punch card system is far too advanced of a thought for any U.S. Transit system. With heavily fortified entrances and armed station guards, many of our transit systems still suffer from delinquent fare box evaders. Part of the reason why Miami's Metromover system is free rather than 25 cents is that the cost to add security to every platform would cost more than the income gained and more than cutting back security and making the whole system free. In any case, imagine at least if we could add machines which allow users to buy extended day metropasses with credit cards at every station. Maybe our next transit director will bring our transit system into the 20th century, let alone the 21st...After passing through the faux turnstiles, you emerge on a subway platform which is far cleaner than any public space you've ever experienced. Though even I admit this station was cleaner than most, it was interesting to look down at the tracks and not see the usual litter, sewage, and congregation of rodents which is typical of any subway system in the United States. Like the honor system, citizens here know to deposit trash in the appropriate receptacles rather than all along the station platform or tracks. It was rather stunning to encounter such an immaculate station in any case. The trains themselves are very well kept, with clean comfortable seats and handles. The absence of graffiti or window etchings was a plus and I even witnessed residents asking fellow passengers to remove their feet from the seats... Some of the busier stations featured the wall advertising typical of most subways along with maps depicting the upcoming routes (way too advance for Miami, but more common elsewhere.) Some of the busier stations also feature projectors and screens displaying top news headlines and local information.
Most of the subway cars are extremely modern, like the one pictured above. The trains are surprisingly smooth and quiet, making the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods minimal in the areas where the trains travel above ground. The Strassenbahns (Aka. Streetcars or Trolleys) are an eclectic mix of old and modern technology. The new cars, designed by Porsche Design Group, feature the lowest ground to floor clearance of any similar vehicle. Every station features covered waiting areas with benches and route maps. They also contain real time data LCD screens which depict upcoming trains and expected waiting times which are frighteningly accurate. As I mentioned above, the streetcars share the roadways with vehicles and rarely travel along their own dedicated right of way. Often times, the only lane in either direction is shared while the shoulders are reserved for on street parallel parking spaces. The streetcars operate under different signals than cars and usually have dedicated space in the "medians" for the stations . The overhead power cables are strung from the surrounding buildings, eliminating excessive poles along the side of the roads. The streetcars enhance the pedestrian activity along every street and do not detract from the vehicular traffic flow at all. The electrical wires are not unsightly and share dual use with the overhead streetlight system. What I always find impressive when touring European cities is the amount of young children (typically 5 years and older) wandering around alone on the public transit systems. I took the picture above to emphasize the benefits a good transit system would have on our education systems. See, in Vienna, like many other cities, their is no school bus system. Kids use public buses and trains to get to and from school. When field trips are scheduled, school groups take public transit like the group pictured above; on its way to the Museum of Natural History. Sensational. Imagine how much money we'd save if we didn't have to fun an independent cheese wagon transit system just to transport kids to class daily? I took the above picture while waiting for the Nightline bus. After a long night of Karaoke and drinking, the minimal wait for the bus ride home was pleasant as street cleaners buzzed by routine maintenance was conducted on the streetcar power cable systems. Oh, and yes, at night the LCD screens display the wait times for the buses as well...
Nearly all the intersections in Vienna are dotted with Siemens sound sensors to aide blind pedestrians cross the streets. Gas stations such as this one above and below emphasize the idea that cars are secondary forms of transportation in the Austrian capital because well, they are. This particular gas station is located outside the opera house and does little to take away from the imperial surroundings. The one below was built into the side wall of a building.

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.
The regional transit options are no less spectacular than those of the city or of other parts of Europe. The OBB, a train I could liken to tri-rail, only dependable, transported us to a town called Melk, 85km west of Vienna in about one hours time. The OBB trains are powered by overhead electrical wires and make stops in various stations along the way. It was amazing to be outside of the city and traveling through woodlands and pastures in the matter of a few minutes, emphasizing the compact nature of Viennese life and making such marvelous transit feasible in the first place. Melk, a small unassuming town along the Danube River even boasts a local bus circulator and is so compact we had crossed the town by foot in a matter of minutes. Stay tuned for Part 3...

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A New Era for Miami's Urban Development?


Miami could soon become a national leader in green building. Mayor Diaz is pushing an initiative that would require all new buildings of 50,000 sq ft or more to be LEED certified. According to the US Green Building Council,
"LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:
  1. Sustainable site development
  2. Water savings
  3. Energy efficiency
  4. Materials selection
  5. Indoor environmental quality"
If approved by the city commission in May, it would be a progressive policy move that would serve as big step forward in sustainable growth in Miami. The new "green building" requirements would include some of the strictest policies of the sort to be implemented in any major American city thus far.

Now if only the city and county would overhaul its ridiculous, suburban-oriented parking codes, our new green buildings such as "Green Miami" (under construction adjacent to Douglas Metrorail Station) would truly be sustainable, pedestrian-oriented, and transit oriented, thereby not inducing travel demand by cars and exacerbating the main contributor to global warming.

3/20/07

Broward Commissioners approved a plan to buy 200 NABI buses over the next five years to replace aging vehicles and add to their existing fleet. Flexible buses similar to the one pictured above, will begin running along the US 441 route this week...

3/19/07

Travels Through Europe, Part 1

Well, I’m back from my latest travels through Europe; we had a marvelous week exploring Vienna and the Austrian countryside. Although I have many stories to share and experiences worth describing, I will offer you all a glimpse into the transportation efficiency which made my trip so worth while. Some of you may liken it to an apples-to-oranges comparison; but I think there is much we could all learn from the European system of planning and constructing cities which would make all of our lives a heck of a lot easier. I will begin now with the airports through which I traveled: Miami International, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, and Flughafen Wien. Go ahead and visit their respective webpages to see their cyber differences. Ours is a catastrophe, in English only, alluding to the disastrous experience you’ll likely encounter when visiting.Amsterdam’s Schiphol is a paradise for anyone encountering a layover in Europe. The modern terminal is excellently situated to allow transfers between all international flights without having to pass through security or customs, unless traveling to another EU country. The airport features some comforting amenities with which to pass the time including: showers, sleep areas, an museum featuring Dutch art from the 18th century, wireless internet, a mall, and various restaurants, bars, and casinos. The facility was immaculate. The airport employees were well informed, courteous, and fluent in various languages, a rarity even in our cultural "melting-pot.” A PA announcement played whenever someone was running late: “Mr. or Mrs. So and so, you are delaying the flight to Casablanca. Please report to gate D4 for immediate boarding or we will proceed to offload your luggage.” Fantastic.

We didn’t spend as much time in Flughafen Wien due to the fact that it was our final destination, however, while passing through I noted several similarities between it and Schiphol. The airport featured some enclosed glass boxed rooms for smokers only, an innovative thought to keep the smoke away from the general terminals; even though smoking is generally permitted everywhere else indoors in Europe.

The City to airport connection at both airports is a marvel in itself. Forget the Miami Intermodal Center, distant thoughts of running metrorail or a people mover into the airport, or the current inconvenient bus rides to the nearest tri-rail station. Flughafen Wien, located several kilometers away from the city center, is linked via the City Airport Train (CAT), an express train which whisks passengers into the city in 16 minutes. What I find most impressive about the CAT is the feature which allows you to have your luggage transferred from the plane to the train. Likewise, you can check in your luggage at the city train terminal and not worry again about your bags until you reach your final destination. The train terminal at the airport is located beneath the baggage claim and departure facilities, placing it within easy reach of all travelers. Since we weren’t exactly traveling to the city center, we rode another train, a suburban commuter train like tri-rail called the Schnellbahn, which also services the airport.

The City/Airport connection in Amsterdam is no less fantastic than the one in Vienna. Having a five hour layover on the return flight enabled us to catch a train into the city to kill off the wait. Within 15 minutes we were arriving in the city’s central station, within walking distance of all the sights, museums, and activity occurring in Amsterdam. The commuter train was just as pleasant, packed with travelers on both decks of the train.

Amsterdam's Central Station is an amazing intermodal facility. It links the city with the airport via rail as well as local metro service, streetcars, buses, ferries, water taxis, regional rail service, and long distance rail...

More to come soon...

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3/16/07

News and Updates

Well, it's been a busy last couple of days with planning news...
  • Three bills proposing to give the Marlins a $60 million dollar subsidy to bridge the funding gap for the new stadium easily made it through the state Senate and House committees on Thursday. While the baseball fans in Miami-Dade and Marlin stakeholders should be excited by early popularity of the proposed bills with the state House and Senate, it appears Broward legislators have a bad case of sour grapes over the stadium location. Broward senators are leading the charge against the stadium funding because they're upset the proposed stadium sites are not located in the suburbs near county line. Speaking of the stadium site, there still has been no settlement; however, it appears the Orange Bowl plan is unfortunately still gaining steam.
  • FDOT is planning on making major "improvements" to I-95 between Ft. Lauderdale and downtown Miami. The proposal calls for the replacing the current HOV lanes with two HOT lanes (High Occupancy Toll) in each direction. Newly installed computer sensors on the highway would measure traffic volume and average speed, which would allow the system to increase or decrease the toll fees in the HOT lanes based on how much congestion there is. Drivers wishing to use HOT lanes would use a prepaid toll card like the SunPass. I've never been much of a fan of these "Lexus Lanes", but I'll let Gabe elaborate on the issue as he is the resident transportation engineer of the group.
  • Miami-Dade Transit director Roosevelt Bradley was forced to resign last night. Apparently, Bradley is one of the first casualties of Mayor Alvarez's new powers to hire and fire administrators at County Hall. According to the Herald, Bradley, who took over Miami-Dade Transit in 2002, was inefficient as a boss and oversaw massive deficits under his rule. We'll keep posting any updates as soon as we hear who might be the next director.

3/15/07

Ferry Close to Becoming Reality


Transit has recommended a three year, five-day-per-week pilot program for the ferry, with service from It appears ferry service may soon be a reality in Miami - at least temporarily. Miami-DadeMatheson Hammock Park in the south and Haulover Park in the north to downtown Miami. According to Jose Luis Mesa, head of the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization), service could be expanded to include additional stops north of Haulover Park, such as at Aventura, if the ferry proves to be a success.

There are still several hurdles to overcome, however. First, such a service would be a form of park n' ride, which would require a considerable amount of parking spaces in environmentally sensitive, bay front areas. The last thing these two beautiful bay front parks need are massive parking allotments within them. The second major hurdle involves protection of manatees. Speed limits of just seven miles per hour are in place in several sections of Biscayne Bay to protect the "sea cows", which are endangered species. Service would be far too slow to be feasible if the ferries had to follow these speed limits. As a result, the MPO is looking into the possibility of using catamarans with sonar or hovercrafts that float over the water to transport passengers efficiently without compromising the safety of the manatees.

Also, one-way trip times appear to be a little lengthy along the northern route. While the MPO estimates the trip form Matheson Hammock will take just 28 minutes, the trip from Haulover is expected to take an hour. I would think this needs to be cut to about 45 minutes for it to maximize ridership. Access to Haulover may prove difficult as well, given that it can only be accessed by A1A and is relatively isolated from residences on Bal Harbour to the south and Sunny Isles to the north.


Upon reaching downtown, the ferries would dock at Chopin Plaza (above and top pic) at the south end of Bayfront Park, which is just one block from metromover at Biscayne Blvd. & SE 2nd St. Service would run approximately every 20 minutes during rush hour and every hour thereafter between 6:00am and 8:00pm weekdays. If the county commission's transportation committee approves the pilot, it could be running by 2009.


Photos from flickr: pixelflex, ldysteph

3/14/07

15 Seconds of Transit Fame

Go Miami-Dade, the People's Transportation Plan newsletter, is offering the opportunity for transit riders to be profiled in the next issue of the newsletter. This month's newsletter states:
"How would you like to be profiled in the next issue of Go Miami-Dade? If you're a regular transit rider, we'd like to share your story about why you take the bus or train. Passenger profiles will feature a photo and brief interview. To find out how to be the subject of a passenger profile, please contact us at Gomiamidade@miamidade.gov or 305-375-1278".

3/13/07

Report: Transit Ridership at Highest Level Since 1957

APTA (American Public Transportation Association) just came out with a report citing 2006 ridership figures. Among the findings:
  • More than 10 billion trips taken on bus and rails in 2006 nationwide
  • 2.9% increase over 2005
  • Highest levels of ridership since 1957
  • Ridership nationally has increased by 28% over the last decade
This is great news and again proves that even without first-class transit systems in every city, people still are willing to ride transit. Just imagine the ridership gains if all of our major cities did have first-class transit systems.

APTA president William Millar stated in the article, "Certainly a lot of the growth last year was with the high gas prices". This offers more support to raise our gas taxes. This may be especially necessary for the future of South Florida transit, given cutbacks in funds the region could see if the proposed property tax rollback bill is passed. Raising gas taxes will better represent the true cost of oil, encourage more people to ride transit, and generate millions of dollars to improve transit.

Jonesing For Quality Density


I thought it would be a good idea to provide a visual of how auto-centric land use destroys the urban continuity of a neighborhood. The above picture is an aerial photograph of Manhattan's Upper West Side between 83rd and 86th streets, while the bottom picture is an aerial of Miami's Allapattah neighborhood between NW 23rd and NW 27th St. It is amazing how much land is wasted to provide parking in the Miami photo - you're looking at almost a 1:1 ratio of square footage allocated for parking to square footage allocated for housing. Much of this land could have been used to build more affordable housing units, which is obviously in high demand throughout Miami-Dade. And, before you cry foul, this development is located only five blocks from the Santa Clara metrorail station.

Also, notice how the compact nature of the New York neighborhood saves massive numbers of acres to be allocated to parks and open spaces nearby (Central Park). If the Upper West Side, as well as the other other neighborhoods that surround Central Park, were designed in a similar form as the Allapattah development, Central Park would not be possible as we know it, because the land just would not be available.

Moreover, the density in the Upper West Side affords small, independent, non-chain retail to thrive. So many people live within one square mile that it becomes possible to have several stores offering similar categories of merchandise within the same block, as well as on every block. Consequently, residents can find everything they need on their own block, in turn cutting down on demand for long distance trips and sustaining small businesses versus regional retail as in Miami.

Throughout most of Miami-Dade County, densities are too low to support this kind of small business on every block. As a result, regional retailers (often big box or chain) stand alone catering to populations within multiple-mile-radii. Of course, this requires most people to access these regional retail centers by automobile, which leads to bad city codes requiring the kind of auto-oriented land use in the picture above. This leads me to my final point...

The Upper West Side, a rather high-income neighborhood, affords people to eschew car ownership (over 75% of residents in the Upper West Side don't own cars), which easily leads to savings of several thousands of dollars a year, while the low-income residents of Allapattah continue to be compelled to an auto-centric paradigm.

I could go on foreover about the positives of density, given quality urban design of course. However, for this post I wanted to focus on the visual.

3/11/07

Auto Oriented Development



Somehow in all the posting Gabe and I have done over the past week, we failed to mention the recent developments regarding the Coconut Grove Transit Village project.

This last Wednesday, the Planning Advisory Board voted unanimously to recommend the City Commission not approve county-drafted zoning standards for the project. According to Chairwoman Arva Parks Moore, the standards for the project site were too general in that they did not include maximum limits for square footage or a minimum for residential units. Certainly the Grove NIMBYs were elated by the PAB's vote, given their fervent contention that the two proposed mixed-use buildings were either way out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood at 19 stories, or missing key standards. While I am all in favor of high density development on this site, as well as adjacent to all metrorail stations, upon closer examination this project will be a disaster if built according to current specifications.

And no, I'm not referring to the height of these buildings - I'm referring to the massive amount of proposed parking. This project, proposed adjacent to a metrorail station and billed as a Transit Oriented Development infill project, is set to have a 611 space garage, 500 space garage, and 201 surface spaces. That's over 1,300 parking spaces! Throw in the 204 surface spaces in the Grove Station's park n' ride lot, and you have over 1,500 parking spaces adjacent to a metrorail station that is two stops from downtown. Logistically, this is almost unfathomable. How can we expect anyone to ride transit in Miami when we keep building so car-oriented? Not only does this oversupply of parking induce travel to this location by automobiles and bastardize transit, it significantly increases the cost of the project and eliminates thousands of square feet that could have been used to build more affordable housing units.

It's simple - as long as these kinds of projects keep getting built, especially next to transit stations, the likelihood Miami realizes its potential to become more sustainable, more pedestrian-oriented, and more transit-oriented is slim.

3/9/07

Miami News Updates

  • 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...
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Miami Streetcar Update

One of our dedicated readers, Carolyn, informed me of an interesting lecture coming up in Miami:
The U.S. Green Building Council South Florida Chapter and University of Miami School of Architecture present:

MARCH 21
MIAMI STREET CAR UPDATE
7 pm. Refreshments at 6:30 pm, Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center Stanley and Jewell Glasgow Lecture Hall, Dickinson Drive, University of Miami, Coral Gables Campus. and open to the public.

Mary Conway, P.E., Chief of Operations, City of Miami

In recent years, the City of Miami has seen an unprecedented wave of urban infill and redevelopment in a compressed downtown core area, and in adjacent neighborhoods. Miami Streetcar Project has emerged as one essential component of a transportation network that will entice Miami motorists out of their cars, into convenient mass transit, and onto city (and County) streets. Miami Streetcar Project is a direct response to the challenge to provide improved mobility options for users of the transportation network throughout the downtown core. This presentation provides an update on the Miami Streetcar Project, and an overview of the roles that streetcar systems play in shaping cities, by fostering pedestrian-friendly urban environments, and re-invigorated downtowns across the United States. This affordable mode of mass transit is emerging as an increasingly popular application, because of its cost-effective and time-efficient construction, its financial affordability, and its ready adaptability to active pedestrian-focused environments. City of Miami has responded to the local mobility challenge by pursuing multi-agency partnerships and innovative project delivery methods to build the single transit investment that could make a profound difference in re-shaping downtown Miami, in record time.

Mary H. Conway, P.E., currently serves as the Chief of Operations for the City of Miami and is a prominent Civil Engineer and Project Manager with more than 18 years of experience in the industry. studied briefly at Harvard University and the United States Naval Academy before earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Miami. was the recipient of the “Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Graduate” award from University of Miami as well as a member of Tau Beta Pi and Chi Epsilon, engineering honor societies. Prior to joining the City, Mary worked with the Florida Department of Transportation for over 10 years, where she oversaw major transportation projects in Miami-Dade County as well Broward to Indian River Counties. She also worked with FPL as a service planner and Beiswenger, Hoch and Associates as a production and project manager. served as Director for the City of Miami Capital Improvements and Transportation (CIT) Department for approximately two years. Mary’s hard work and results were recognized and she was promoted to Chief of Operations and is now responsible for overseeing the following Departments: Parks and Recreation, Solid Waste, General Services Administration (GSA), Public Works and CIT. Mary has also continued her involvement with CIT,responsible for overseeing the planning, coordination,implementation and monitoring of all construction related capital projects and transportation projects in the City of Miami. projects include street infrastructure and flood mitigation; park improvements; public facilities including fire stations, police and other city buildings; marinas; the Orange Bowl; and a state of the art urban streetcar transit circulator project. City’s current Capital Improvement and Multi-year plan encompasses over 1100 projects valued at over $675,000,000 through the year 2010 and will certainly increase as Miami continues to grow. experience, professionalism, dedication and drive have earned her the respect of her peers in the City, with other government agencies and within the engineering community at large.
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Globe Trotting

Well folks, I’m off again to explore another stunning European city. This week I’m headed to Vienna, Austria, the former home of the Hapsburg Empire. As usual, I’ll be sure to report about my experience on the city’s public transportation which boasts a network of streetcars in addition to its subway, suburban rail, and high speed airport train (CAT.) I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to take the CAT which whisks you from a central city terminal to the airport in less than 16 minutes. Get this; people who ride the cat don’t have to wait for their luggage on the carousel, it’s automatically loaded onto the train so that you can retrieve it at the station. How innovative is that?
I will have net access and do plan to post from Vienna, but Ryan will be picking up much of the slack while I’m away…
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Support the Arts

Looks like the new home of the New World Symphony will reach its $200 Million fund raising goal ahead of schedule:
Someone has given the New World Symphony $90 million toward the Frank Gehry-designed complex the orchestra is planning on Miami Beach. It's one of the largest single donations ever to an American arts organization.

To put it in perspective, Carnival Cruise Lines founders Ted and Lin Arison's $40 million gift to New World in 1996 -- 1.3 million shares of Carnival stock -- was the largest private donation ever to a U.S. orchestra.
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3/7/07

Miami-Dade County Commssion; Dropping the Ball, as Usual...

Leave it to the County Commission to screw things up but then again, why should this surprise me, they’ve always had the knack for such dreadful decision making skills. Major League Baseball has been working closely with all parties to create a new home for the Marlins in downtown, in the heart of the city- where it belongs. Like I’ve stated before, Baseball is an urban sport. With the grueling 82 home game schedule, baseball stadiums have to be placed within the densest populations of any city in order for them to succeed. Downtown is the obvious choice for MLB to seek for a new home for the Marlins because it follows the model used in nearly every other circumstance across the country. Marlins games are so poorly attended now because of the stadium location (on the way home for Broward residents who work in Miami-Dade and too far out of everyone else’s way to make the daily trip, regardless of how good or bad the team is playing and once the novelty of the idea wore off after 1993.) Baseball would thirve in the CBD, not out in Pompano, Hialeah, or out by the Orange Bowl. The public transportation already exists; coupled with the downtown daytime population, makes the Government Center site ideal for the needs of Marlins, MLB, and all of us Miami residents.

Just as we thought the pieces were starting to come together, our urban planning geniuses over at the county commission step in to screw things up. Their three reasons to oppose the downtown location include: loss of parking, new site for the children’s courthouse, and the closing of a couple of minor streets. I think they are against losing their cushy surface parking lot spaces just outside the 500 ft Stephen P. Clark Center. Instead they propose reverting to last year’s failed plan of placing a stadium next to the Miami Orange Bowl. No current or future plans to link this area with public transit exist. The immediate area lacks parking and necessary entertainment infrastructure. No easy highway link. What exactly is it that the commission sees in this alternative location for the stadium? Is it that Mayor Alvarez spoke in favor of the downtown location and they are still pouting about his recent power surge and are just choosing to go against his every thought?

Seriously, this is why we have issues in this County. This is why projects are never completed on time. Everything is a disaster when the fab 13 on the county commission step in to make a decision. Placing the public funding issue aside, why not place the stadium in a location which has been proven to work for Major League Baseball since the early 1900’s- in downtown, urban parks. Any venue outside the CBD and without convenient access to highways and existing public transportation will be destined to be a failure and will serve as the next “white elephant” to further remind us of the injustices caused by the members of the County Commission

Update: Benji and BOB share their thoughts...

27th Avenue Update #2

I attended the Cocoanut Grove Village Council meeting at City Hall last night, and was pleasantly surprised by the county's renderings for the beautification of SW 27th Avenue in the Grove. Although it is only in the 30% completion phase, it appears to be moving in a positive direction. Unfortunately, I do not currently have pictures of the proposal, but I'll share a few of the major tenets of the project:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Those are the major portions of the project that were discussed at the meeting. Other factors such as landscaping and shade/sidewalk trees will certainly be implemented, but the specifics are still under consideration. So in conclusion, this project exceeded my expectations for the avenue. I'll continued to post any updates on this project as I learn of them.

Transit Miami Updates

  • As most of you already know, Ryan and I are working hard to bring you the latest Urban Planning and Development news. Our goal is to bring about change in Miami through educated discussion on the various planning issues which concern our region. We'd like to hear what you have to say either through comments or by emailing us: MoveMiami@gmail.com.
  • I've been working to expand the site to something bigger than just a blog with better content, further regional support/involvement, and greater community discussion. I'll fill you in on the added pages or content as it comes online over the next few months. The new pages will be accessible via links from the main blog, under the "Transit Miami Pages" subsection of the sidebar. The first available section is a historical photo archive I established to depict Miami's growth since the early 1900's. We've come a long way in our short 110 year existence. I think its important to see where we've been before we continue planning for the future...
  • The posts have changed to now include Technorati tags (look below.) E-mail will be available once I finish importi../ng all the archived posts from last year. So far I.css've completed August 2006. You'll notice the archived files will be lacking photographs due to the change in server and the formatting will likely look horrendous; I'll also be working to clean this up.
  • A new Miami Planning blog has surfaced...Benji's Planning World is now sharing thoughts on Urban Planning from Miami and around the world...
  • Kingofrance shared this in the comments section; I'm surprised there hasn't been much publicity on the subject:
    "...this is "Bike to Work Week" for the City of Miami Beach. There's even some places (Pizza Rustica, Miss Yip) that will give you a 10% discount if you ride your bike there. Also, on Wednesday, you can ride the bus for free if you have your bike with you."
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3/6/07

27th Avenue Makeover Update

Tonight at 7:00 pm Miami-Dade County engineers will be presenting the most recent designs for the SW 27th Avenue improvement project to the Cocoanut Grove Village Council at City Hall. SW 27th Avenue should be one of Miami's best streets, but it currently is in a sorry state. Come out and see whether or not the county has planned for a high quality urban avenue that will serve as a notable "Gateway to the Grove", or if the avenue is doomed to an average future primarily catering to automobiles.

Art Deco Elsewhere

Awhile back (January 5, 2007) I first read about an accidental meeting between a famous Chinese architect (Xing Tong) and a pair of Art Deco preservationists (Don and Nina Worth) from Miami Beach in the South Florida Business Journal and Miami Sunpost. It’s an interesting story which remarkably led to the Shanghai designation of the Art Deco weekend back in January. I somehow didn’t report on it back then, but, follow the links above to get an idea on the background story.

Apparently both Shanghai and Mumbai (Bombay) have architecturally significant and Art Deco districts, both of which are in peril due to impeding construction and modernization efforts. The Asian delegation arrived in January to not only experience the South Beach deco district but to also learn how to preserve their own buildings while establishing them into bustling pivotal parts of the city. In a sense similar to the preservation efforts along Miami Beach in the 1970’s, Shanghai’s officials are working hard to protect what is left of their Art Deco buildings, seeing that already countless have been lost. Deke Erh, a Shanghai photographer for the past 20 years, has been documenting the destruction; he recently published a book Shanghai Art Deco to bring greater attention to architectural treasures of Shanghai in the 20’s and 30’s before the rise of Mao Zedong.

Mumbai like many other cities in the 20’s and 30’s witnessed unprecedented growth along its waterfront. Many of the building in this time period were designed in the Art Deco style thanks to the initial efforts of the Maharajah of Indore who commissioned some of the leading European architects of the time to construct his palaces: The Manik Bagh and Umaid Bhawan (pictured above.)

"Just as the "Miami Vice" television series had a hand in illuminating certain qualities of Miami Beach's Deco heritage, Professor Mehrotra made it clear that the pop culture might of Bollywood is helping to preserve whole stretches of beloved buildings in Bombay. Still awaiting “historic district” status, a process begun by Mehrotra and others over ten years ago, the Back Bay and Marine Drive buildings have appeared in so many movies and music videos that developers wrecking ball dare not attack. The inertia is helped along by an antiquated regime of rent control that has frozen both investment and necessary improvements."

To continue reading on the Miami Beach-Mumbai-Shanghai efforts, read the Slatin Report: Far East of South Beach

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3/5/07

Gas Prices are rising...Since we'll soon be priced out of driving, we need to start working on the reasonable alternatives which are clearly more efficient than sub 20 MPG SUVs...More on this later...

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3/4/07

Miami Metrosphere



From the lens of ImageMD...

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3/2/07

Turn Right on (Insert Your Name Here) Street

What’s the minimum requirement to have your name plastered on a street sign in Miami? I haven’t quite figured it out yet, if you do, please let me know. The list isn’t exclusively dead people, influential people, or extraordinary people, so what is it exactly that makes some of these people qualify? 16th St. morphed into Jose Canseco St. forever immortalizing the juiced Coral Park graduate into a Miami direction. I can’t imagine telling people I live at 10523 Jose Canseco St. I understand naming streets after important or influential people: Brickell, Tuttle, Collins, Lummus, Douglas, Flagler, LeJeune, Curtiss, etc. Somehow a guy who gets 1.1% of the votes to not make it into the MLB hall of Fame just doesn’t cut it for me. Perhaps it was the two counts of aggravated battery he received after pummeling two California Tourists which earned him the honor of forever leading vehicles into the East entrance of FIU.

Now, I don’t intend to pick on Canseco, it just happens to be the first unworthy street which comes to mind. There are some signs like the one pictured above: Orlando Urra Blvd of the Americas/NW 20th St./Teofilo Babun Dr./N. River Dr. Pick a name! Notice: all names do not apply in all directions… Orlando Urra must have owned the Boulevard of the Americas, at least that’s the impression I’m getting. Has the street naming department gone mad? It’s almost like: “Hey! You have a face; want a street named after you?” These aren’t even memorable street names. What’s even more absurd is the amount of names they have tried to tack onto a single sign; I’ve seen worse than the one above but, just couldn’t whip out my camera quickly enough. Frankly, I’d like to see what will get printed on the new lit street signs currently replacing all the other perfectly good non-lit variety…

Oh look, a Cuban Exile website compiled a list of streets in Miami renamed to honor Hispanics...

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3/1/07

Weekend Events



This Saturday, March 3rd, the proposed Miami Parks and Public Spaces Master Plan will be unveiled to the public at Jose Marti Park located between SW 2nd Street and SW 4th Street on SW 4th Avenue (on the Miami River). The event will last from 10:00am to noon. Below I’ve posted directions via transit:

1) Metrorail to Government Center
2) Transfer to #11 bus (FIU-bound or Mall of Americas-bound) at the plaza on NW 1st St.
3) Get off at first stop over the Miami River bridge (SW 6th Ave.) and cross the street
4) Walk two blocks south on SW 6th Ave. to SW 2nd St.
5) Turn left onto SW 2nd St. and walk two blocks east to South River Drive - Jose Marti Park will be right in front of you

To Get Back:

1) Pick up the #11 bus (Downtown-bound) at SW 5th Ave. & SW 1st St., and exit at the Downtown Bus Terminal
2) Walk two blocks north to Government Center @ NW 1st St. & NW 1st Ave.

Pedestrian Basics

I was just reading Neither Here Nor There, Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson, when I came across a marvelous passage I'd like to share with you all (excellent book and author, well worth the read...)

"...but I just hate the way architects, city planners, and everyone else responsible for urban life seem to have lost sight of what cities are for. They are for people. That is obvious enough, but for half a century we have been building cities that are designed for almost anything else: for cars, for businesses, for developers, for people with money and bold visions who refuse to see cities from ground level, as places in which people must live and function and get around. Why should I have to walk through a damp tunnel and negotiate two sets of stairs to get across a bust street? Why should cars be given priority over me? How can we be so rich and so stupid at the same time? It is the curse of our century-too much money, too little sense..."

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