10/31/07

Miami: The Sedentary City


Congratulations, Miami, you've just been honored by another dubious countdown. Forbes magazine recently came out with a list of the Top 20 Sedentary Cities in America, and Miami sits right at number 10. According to Forbes, was collected on body mass index (BMI), physical inactivity, and tv watching habits for America's 50 largest metropolitan areas. Data for BMI and inactivity was primarily collected from the Center for Disease Control, while Neilsen data was used to determine hours spent watching television.

More specifically, Miami came in fifth with an average of 35 hours of television watched per week. If that isn't bad enough, 60% of residents are obese or overweight. Really no surprise here - this is what you get when you live in sprawl. Let's take a look at the the other cities and see if there is a prevailing theme here:

1) Memphis
2) New Orleans
3) Las Vegas
4) Detroit
5) Birmingham
6) Louisville
7) San Antonio
8) Jacksonville
9) Nashville
10) Miami
11) Houston
12) Tampa
13) San Diego
14) Pittsburgh
15) Oklahoma City
16) Indianapolis
17) Atlanta
18) Richmond
19) Cleveland
20) Philadelphia

Well, in case you didn't notice, most of these metros are located in the Sunbelt/South and are famous for their sprawling/auto-centric growth patterns (especially the Top 17). Richmond, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philly have all been hit hard by out-migration to the suburbs. Plus, these cities aren't exactly famous for their healthy diets. Though it's fairly obvious, there is a fast-growing body of studies addressing the link between land use and obesity/inactivity. Low density sprawl isn't just bad because it's unsustainable and costly - it's killing us in our waistlines and hearts.

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

10/30/07

Transitography 37: The Dubai Metro


The all new Dubai Metro Project, originally uploaded by !efatima.

Coming soon: the Dubai Metro...

10/29/07

Red-Light Camera Poll

Plans are underway across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to bring automated Red-Light runner camera's to some local roadways. Due to a state refusal to adopt the cameras, you won't find them on state maintained roads such as Le Jeune, US-1, or Pines Boulevard.
"A growing body of unbiased research shows that red-light-running accidents and injuries will decrease at intersections with automated enforcement.

But those same studies find an overall increase in accidents, especially rear-end collisions as drivers, suddenly wary of the cameras, slam on the brakes as they approach a yellow or red light."

Frankly, we'd like to see more evidence that the cameras work or don't work before we begin to install these systems across the region. What do you think of the cameras? Leave us a comment and take our poll over on the left sidebar... We'll follow up this post with our thoughts on the subject later on this week...

Metro Monday: Falkirk Wheel In Motion

The Falkirk Wheel, near Falkirk Scotland, joins the Forth and Clyde Canals with the Union Canal, by raising/lowering boats and amazing 24 meters. The Falkirk wheel opened in May 2002 and serves as the vital link in reestablishing an east-west British waterway...

People Mover Systems: The Jacksonville Skyway

I had the opportunity this past weekend to finally ride one the nation’s three downtown fully automated people mover systems in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville skyway, is the most recently completed of the three automated systems (the others being in Miami and Detroit) opening up fully to the public in November of 2000. Like the Miami and Detroit people mover systems the Jacksonville mover originated from a congressional movement in the 1970’s aimed to fund and research new urban transit systems.

“…Congressional pressure was increased on UMTA to show some positive results from their research and development expenditures. So, in 1975 UMTA announced its Downtown People Mover Program and sponsored a nationwide competition among the cities, offering them the federal funds needed to design and build such a system. Since UMTA was prepared to pay most of the costs of planning and building these systems as part of its demonstration program, the response from the cities was almost overwhelming…”

Free money to develop an urban transit solution in an age of increasing congestion, if it sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it was; none of the "top" cities initially considered for people movers built them, leaving millions of dollars available to secondary cities like Miami and Detroit.

“…In 1976, after receiving and reviewing 68 letters of interest and 35 full proposals and making on-site inspections of the top 15 cities, UMTA selected proposals from Los Angeles, St. Paul, Minnesota, Cleveland and Houston. It also concluded that Miami, Detroit and Baltimore would be permitted to develop DPMs if they could do so with existing grant commitments…”

Needless to say, the people mover system was a botched, rushed, and half-hearted effort from the US Department of Transportation to fund and research reasonable transit solutions for the ever growing congestion problems of the 1970’s. Unlike Miami, the Jacksonville and Detroit systems have never been connected to larger urban transit systems and all three are largely considered to be failures. Miami and Detroit are currently experiencing urban renaissances which will surely provide the downtown residences and employment necessary to patronize such costly systems. Metrorail, Tri-Rail, BRT, and possible FEC rail transit will provide an even greater number of patrons and will increase the area in our city which is easily accessible without regular vehicular use.

In riding around on two of the three systems, I’ve come to identify their obvious shortcomings and deficiencies. Their failures can be attributed to a lack of supportive regional transit infrastructure as well as absurdly poor integration with their surroundings. The pictures below accurately depict most of these problems, turning the Jacksonville Skyway transit stations into inhospitable, inaccessible urban realms for pedestrians, like much of the rest of the city already is...

This evening picture depicts the surface parking lot (1 of 2) which I had to cross just to access the San Marco Station. This "neighborhood" contains a few of the ritzier hotels in Jacksonville, all of which are surrounded by surface lots, isolating the transit station in a sea of asphalt:

The Central Station was no exception either, bordered on the south side by not only a surface lot but also a free standing parking garage which towered above the station...

The Jefferson Station seen here is a the epitome of urban blight, surrounded by worn out grassy lots and blatant signs of urban neglect and decay...

As if parking were an issue, the space below the problem, highways, finds a new use...

The Prudential plaza is one of the few buildings built up close to the Skyway, its unfortunate that the other side of the station was crowded by a parking garage.

Twisting through the mess of interchanges...

Who rides the skyway when there is more than enough parking at Alltel Stadium?

A beautiful touch added to all the downtown streets, but someone failed to realize how transit, pedestrian access, biking, and urban planning all go hand in hand...

10/25/07

More Marlins Stadium Drama


The Marlins' stadium saga just continues to get weirder and weirder. According to the Herald, it appears that despite the availability of $50 million that would've otherwise gone toward refurbishing the Orange Bowl, it is likely a large funding gap will remain for stadium construction.

Apparently, Marlin's owner Jeffrey Loria still isn't isn't pleased with the Orange Bowl site, and is threatening to reduce his funding contribution for a stadium to be built on that site. From the Herald:

Hernandez said the club is looking to cut its contribution out of concern that building a new stadium on the site of the Orange Bowl -- a plan that has gathered support recently among city and county leaders -- would not be as profitable as the downtown site that the team prefers.

Some people (including myself) feel that Loria has been stingy with his proposed funding contributions, but in this case he's right to be concerned about the shortcomings of the Orange Bowl site.

To further complicate matters, construction costs are steadily rising due to the increasingly small window available to finish construction for the new stadium by 2011, when the Marlins hope to be moved in. If all this isn't enough, it is now being estimated that "road improvements" slated for the area surrounding the Orange Bowl could cost as much as $12 million.

As commissioners lose patience with the stadium deal, Vice Chairman Sanchez sponsored a resolution Thursday calling for an updated stadium plan by a December 13th deadline. He even wants the team to go public before then to announce their commitment to the Orange Bowl site. This ought to be very interesting (as if most political/capital decisions in Miami aren't).

Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald

Ocean Drive Accolades


Congratulations, Miami Beach. The American Planning Association (APA) recently recognized Ocean Drive on South Beach as one of America's Top 10 Great Streets of 2007. This is quite an honor, as Ocean Drive is in the company of other nationally famous streets such as Chicago's North Michigan Avenue, Richmond's Monument Avenue, and 125th Street in NYC.

According to the APA,

Great Places in America
celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard of communities. The designated streets and neighborhoods are defined by several characteristics, including good design, functionality, sustainability, and community involvement.

Specifically, Ocean Drive was recognized for its unique architectural legacy, citizen-led historic protection and planning efforts, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented restoration and redevelopment, and ongoing public support.

Not really any surprises, there. I give credit where credit is due, and the planners and citizens of Miami Beach have done a heck of a job (excuse the Bushism) the last twenty years turning Ocean Drive and South Beach around by utilizing its natural resources (density, historic architecture) and engaging the public realm for people instead of cars. It's really a great local case study that I wish more planners and citizens in neighboring municipalities would research.

Photo courtesy of CTPEKO3A's Flickr photostream

Transitography 36


Rising Sun in the setting sun, originally uploaded by Daisuke Ido.

In honor of the Ft. Lauderdale Boat show opening today, we present Larry Ellison's Rising Sun, a 453 foot behemoth private Yacht. It is reportedly the largest private mega yacht not owned by a head of state and fourth largest in the world (it has 82 bedrooms, a gym, and a wine cellar.) Mega Yachts, generally those measuring over 80 feet, are apparently the hot item at this years boat show, that is if you have tens of millions of dollars laying around...

Click here for locations/dates/times...

10/24/07

Using Real Estate Trends to Visualize Sprawl

I came across an interesting website (Trulia Hindsight) which provides us with an animated map of homes in the United States. The animations use the year the properties were built to show the growth of streets, neighborhoods and cities over time. The data comes from the real estate website Trulia. Of the 900,000+ properties in the Miami area only 0.2% are depicted which interestingly enough is a wide enough range to accurately depict the sprawl that has occurred in our region.

Hollywood Revival


The Hollywood- Young Circle Arts Park has been impressively executed. The centrally located new park is a strong indicator of Hollywood's very serious commitment to creating a livable exciting environment for its residents.


Many of the right notes were hit in this redesign of a delinquent public space. Water features as well as beautiful planters (beautifully planted) and progressively designed lampposts, benches and playground rides abound.


The arts center building is boldly envisioned and yet aesthetically accessible to the masses. An adjacent outdoor performance space holds great promise for building a strong community. Perhaps the one significant criticism is the lack of shade trees. Although they are not non-existant, my September visit to the park was, notably, a sweltering experience. The inclusion of mature Ceiba trees as a gateway to the park is nothing less than regal. Hopefully the shade trees that have been planted will fill in nicely over the coming months and years. The park is a major achievement, both civic and aesthetic, and should be looked at as model to be emulated throughout South Florida.

10/23/07

Google Transit...

Miami is missing, but then again so is NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc...

Transitography 35


Concept Chevy Volt, originally uploaded by EOS Miami.

The Chevy Volt concept Electric Car is finishing up its Miami tour today from 10am to 9pm: Dolphin Mall (Doral, 11401 NW 12th Street, in front of the Texas de Brazil restaurant)...

News Briefs

National:

  • The Houston MTA has voted to use LRT on all of its upcoming 5 rapid transit routes.
  • How do you resolve a budget deficit of $29 Million? You spend $102 Million to build a streetcar of course! This method is being pitched by Cincinnati's City Manager, who argues that the added benefit the streetcar will bring will more quickly pull the city out of economic recession.
  • Seattle voters will soon be heading to the polls to vote on a massive transportation bill which will simultaneously expand LRT service and widen highways...
Local:
  • Alesh provides a run down of how to use Public Transit. Plenty of good points, particularly: the environment, exercise, reading time, and money. The only thing I'd add to the list is social interaction...
  • Earth to these people...Lowering the parking rates at the Sonesta will CAUSE MORE PROBLEMS... If anything, parking meter rates should increase to discourage people within walking distance of the grove from driving around in search for a parking spot. If you need help on how to get around without a car, see Alesh's post above...
  • Michael Lewis provides us with some much needed insight on the former fountain in Bayfront Park once dedicated to Claude Pepper...
  • Rail apparently isn't a viable option to connect to the port... We still disagree...

10/22/07

Metro Monday: Singapore Airlines A380 Interior

In the Spirit of Singapore Airlines receiving the very first Airbus A-380, here is an exclusive look inside the monstrous aircraft. So far, the only two airlines which have expressed interest in flying the A-380 to Miami are Lufthansa and Air France...

Blog Updates

  • The Blogroll is now working again. The program periodically stops working...
  • We'd like to welcome our newest writer, Andrew Davis who will soon be contributing his thoughts, stories, and ideas with us.

As always, If you have any articles or thoughts you'd like to share with us, leave us some comments or shoot us an email (movemiami@gmail.com)...

Broward County Transit Summit Update

We Received a letter from a loyal reader and transit advocate who was able to attend the recent Broward County Transit Summit. Here's what happened:
This past Tuesday Broward county held a transit summit with the intent of getting input from the public on what is wrong with public transportation in Broward County and what can be done to fix it. Mayor Joseph Eggelletion started up the public portion of the summit. The most notable thing he mentioned was that Broward county wants to "think green" with their transit. This is a departure from recent trends, as they have foregone any hybrid options for new buses such as the highly touted articulated buses for the 441 Breeze route. Perhaps they will follow PalmTran's lead and use biodiesel.

The president of the American Public Transportation Association, William Millar, delivered the keynote speech. His speech offered a few pointers to improve transit, but nothing earth-shattering. The most insightful information of the summit was some numbers comparing the transit system in Broward county to other Metro areas, from Miami to Seattle to Atlanta. [I
don't have these numbers with me at work.] They all have more buses and more rail than Broward county, but only because they each have a dedicated funding source. Last year Broward voters passed up a 1% sales tax increase that would have gone toward transit, and the system will continue to stagnate if residents are not willing to pay for expansion.

Two of the suggestions I wrote down were to secure a funding source and to connect to Miami's Orange Line Metrorail when they come to the Broward County line. Metrorail's deputy director told me their final elevation was such that Broward County could connect to their tracks. The ball is in the hands of the voters. If we can vote to tax ourselves, the county says they will listen to us and use that money where we want them to. In the meantime, additional summits will be held on Nov. 13 and on Jan. 24. Go andtell them how to make our transit better.

I didn't get to stay for the end to hear what other comments were, so I don't know if the overall tone was good or bad.

10/21/07

Transitography 34


Busy Metrorail Station, originally uploaded by 09traveler.

10/19/07

Old Spanish Village

The planners for the old Spanish Village development along Ponce Circle in the Gables are working to create a new office building (shown above) which would attempt to replicate the Barcelona Cathedral: I'm not sure what the final building will look like, but I've always been curious to see a modern day Gothic building rise. The 215,000 square foot office building is slated to become the centerpiece of the development and the new home of the Cisneros Group.

Given the Gothic design, I'm kind of curious to see how the rest of the development will be designed. Hopefully, the final product will be as nice of an addition to the Gables skyline as the Alhambra Tower recently was...

Here was the original design when the tower was slated for condominiums:

10/18/07

Transitography 33

Busch Stadium and Surroundings...

Orange Bowl, Part 1

If you are a hurricane fan, turn away; this article isn’t for the feint of heart. I’m going to try and put my Gator sentiments aside as I write this, but I can’t guarantee there won’t be any bias. I went to the Hurricane-Georgia Tech game last weekend in the orange bowl to bid my own personal farewell to the iconic venue. Although I wasn’t there for the game, more so to take in the sights, sounds, and experience, I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for the home team. The game is beside the point, as an engineer and someone who cares about the social aspects of the OB, I was there more for the atmosphere than anything else.

To state it plainly, I can clearly see why the decision was made to move the hurricanes from the OB to that stadium up north (which changes names every month or so…) The OB is a worn down venue, clearly lacking the infrastructure to support a college team as the once almighty U. The bathrooms are unkempt, the alumni skyboxes are inexistent, and the whole place appears to be crumbling to pieces; all of which reflect poorly on the city with regards to effective maintenance and refurbishment. Like the Miami Marine Stadium, it was almost as if they were hoping it would fall apart on its own to give enough of valid reason to reinvent a new use for the property.

However, the OB still offers the University an intangible benefit that the $1 Million or so they will gain from moving up north just can’t buy: tradition. Experiencing a game like this now after I have experienced games in “real” college venues (notice the quotes, don’t take it as an insult) is a shock. I now fully understand why UM so easily turned its back on “tradition” and chose to move to a slightly more profitable venue: because UM simply has no tradition. Go ahead and argue my point, but the tunnel and C.A.N.E.S. Canes! simply don’t qualify…The atmosphere in the stadium was insipid; the crowd lacked the spirit and comradery that nearly any other university has to offer (don’t blame it on the small college town/big city differences.) The stadium was unusually quiet when the defense was on the field; at times it seemed like my UF and FSU friends were the only one making noise.

Overall I can’t help but feel for the venue that could have been; there is too much history, too many wide rights to simply watch this place fall to pieces. Visiting and experiencing the OB one last time has given me a new perspective on UM’s decisions, however, it only made me further question the direction of the city and the reasoning for constructing another stadium in this neighborhood…With regards to tradition; I'll let you know how things go this weekend in Tallahassee, I can guarantee a huge difference...

10/16/07

Velib Ridership Exceeds 7.5 Million in First 12 Weeks


US Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters needs to take a retreat to Paris. Peters, who was quoted back in August saying that bicycling "is not really transportation", would be faced with a rude awakening. Cyclists using Paris's highly successful Velib bike-sharing program, which was only introduced this summer, have already logged more than 7.5 million miles.

From NYT columnist Eric Rayman:

The French have embraced communal bike ownership, according to my informal survey of my fellow Vélibiens, as have other Europeans. A culture of Vélibistes is emerging. The camaraderie — a French word that seems to have been invented in anticipation of this new cult — among the riders is entrancing. Riders advise one another on where to find the nearest Vélib docking station, where to park if one is full, and how to find the best routes around the city. When they speak of Vélibs, Parisians smile, even those like a waiter who admitted not having ridden one.

Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of Paris, has just declared his intention to run for re-election, and the French newspapers, which are known to mix their opinions with their news to a degree that The New York Post would envy, have already pronounced him unbeatable.


Mayors Diaz/Alvarez/Dermer, and any other official in Miami-Dade, take note.

Paris has clearly shown that people are more than willing to use alternative forms of transportation such as bicycles when given the opportunity. Bike-sharing would reduce congestion, calm traffic, and ease parking pressure, which should all be high priorities for any Mayor or elected official. And, it's great because bikes allow us to be so much more intimate with our cities while still moving at moderate speeds. Imagine how nice it would be for tourists to visit Miami and not feel obliged to rent a car.

Photo courtesy of www.20minutes.fr

Transitography 32

Click for Larger Image...

10/15/07

Metro Monday: Landing a 747 at St. Maarten

Easily, the most insane runway at any international airport...

10/13/07

Transitography 31



The little engine that hopes it can. It remains to be seen if the Metromover will prove to be, at least the first link in a more effective chain of public transport for the new residences in downtown. The glacial pace of transit progress for Miami seems impossible to influence. But at least we have the little blue train.

10/11/07

Transitography 30


MAC, originally uploaded by FloSchMUC.

Financing has been secured to construct a Maglev train linking Munich with its' airport, however the $2.6 Billion project is still facing a great deal of criticism. The proposed train would cut the trek to and from the city and airport down to 10 minutes from the current 40.

The Sprawl Commute

I was reading through an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune which chronicles the lives of commuters- people living way out in the suburbs (sprawl) and the absurd lifestyles they lead basically centered around absurd commutes. It's interesting to witness the lengths people will go to in order to fulfill their idealistic view of the "American Dream." Even more shocking is the amount of time they waste annually, idling in traffic rather than relaxing, spending time with their families, or just interacting in some socially normal behavior outside of their vehicle. I copied the more notable sections of the article below:

The Dunn Brothers coffee chain has "belts" in terms of when its stores open, said company President Chris Eilers.

"Urban stores open about 6:30. First- and second-ring suburbs, 6. And in the outskirts -- Elk River, Monticello -- it's 5:30," he said. "Typically, what sparks it is the number of people who show up before you open, pounding on the door and wanting their coffee."

It's an interesting way of analyzing commute patterns but the coffeehouse provides us with a great ruler for measuring sprawl...
That side trip alone can add a half-hour to an already epic daily trek. And it means a staff member from the day care needs to walk the first-grader to school later in the morning, when it opens. Eager would love to arrange to work from home. And she says it "makes me want to cry" to have to crawl into town alongside so many freeway-clogging single-driver cars, when more carpooling and bus rides would speed the trip for all.
Now what Eager, like many suburbanites, fails to realize, is that suburban sprawl makes bus riding and carpooling extremely difficult to implement because most sprawl areas lack a definitive center from where an organized system can be implemented successfully.
But Ardner, the mayor of Mora, sees the stresses that creates. "Truth is, we'd love to have a four-lane road up here," he said. "If you know anyone whose arm we can twist, we'd love to hear about it."

But that's just it, said Johnson. What people do in their own lives to save money, finding a cheaper home farther out, creates costs for society.

"The public massively subsidizes all of this," he said. The cost of adding lanes in Mora, for instance, would be averaged out across all users, even those driving a lot less. "Just imagine what would happen if we charged people what it costs to live this far away. That's sort of behind a growing inclination, in Minnesota and elsewhere, to think about taxing mileage rather than fuel, to really calibrate how much you're using the roads."

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has talked of moving toward what he calls a "fuel-neutral mileage charge," partly because new technologies such as electric cars will make it harder to collect revenue from road users. Six states are taking part over the next two years in a major study aimed at experimenting with using onboard computers to gauge roadway use and charge drivers accordingly.

Many megacommuters, partly in response to the cost of gas, are making big adjustments. Toni Roy, coming in from Claremont, in Dodge County, to Bloomington, often stays with her folks overnight. Davis, the Mora commuter who gets but an hour at home at night before turning in, works 10-hour shifts four days a week so she doesn't have to drive in on Wednesdays, and sometimes trades homes with her city-based sister. She hops an express bus in Blaine many mornings, letting the driver deal with the stress of the trip's most-congested stretch.
It's interesting to see the educational contrast in Minnesota's political scene, an occurrence which seemingly happens far too often across the country. The unwitting and shortsighted local politician seeks roadway expansion as a "viable" solution to his constituents' needs while the state works on a broader level to reduce emissions and personal vehicular transit...

Some Related News:

10/10/07

Transitography 29


While some may find a lamppost to be a mundane element in the urban landscape, it is yet another of the thousands of elements that create the complete aesthetic experience of our environment. This beautiful new lamppost design in Midtown Miami is another piece in the puzzle of the cool design mecca that is blossoming in Miami. Every single improvement reveals its significance in the final vision. Whether it is a newly planted tree or 70 story skyscraper.

Wednesday News



  • Climate Change: Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise even faster than projected
  • Transit: The Miami philosophy on transit is exposed

Miami Eye?

Preliminary discussion has begun over at County Hall exploring an option to create a large observation wheel somewhere within the county. The Ferris wheel, likely comparable to the London eye, would rotate numerous large enclosed observation pods slowly, providing riders with unobstructed views of the skyline and Bay. The project is the brainchild of Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and is currently undergoing preliminary feasibility studies before any commission decisions are made:
A second study would explore cost projections and begin a discussion of the idea's public and political support, Gimenez said. If it passes committee today, the full commission would likely vote on Nov. 6 and ask for a report by early February.Your Thoughts?

10/9/07

Transitography 28


Emirates Air, originally uploaded by marirs.

Our suspicions were correct; Emirates airlines is considering adding Miami-Dubai Nonstop service sometime within the next few years...

Museum Park Update

I seem to be having some technical difficulties with my internet connection, please be patient while I work to sort out the kinks. In the meantime, I have chosen to republish an article forwarded to me by Michelle of Museum Park Forum. The article extensively covers the happenings of last week's Museum Park planning meetings:

MuseumParkForum.com
October 5, 2007

The City of Miami held its first of three scheduled “Museum Park” public meetings last night at the Orange Bowl Athletic Club. Two additional public comment sessions are proposed for the end of October and the end of November.

Local 10 News covered the event:
View Story Here

One major image of the proposed “Museum Park” was posted at the meeting. Of particular note were the changes made to the rendering from its previous form, and those that were not made, all of which was addressed at the outset of the meeting. The city and the architect have elected to change the prior holistic approach to the development of Museum Park (which was to include the FEC Slip and Parcel B), and rather have opted to break the design process into two distinct phases. “Phase I” includes all of the land north of the FEC Slip - and was presented for public comment last night in the identical form presented earlier this year.

The Architectural rendering displayed at last nights meeting included both the FEC Slip and Parcel B (“Phase II”) - but left them virtually blank. All of the elements previously shown in the FEC slip (the cantilevered platforms, the man-made “island” and boat docks as well as the elevated/operable bridge are now gone - and they left “Parcel B” blank - no “Bay Of Pigs Museum,” no soccer field, nothing…blank canvas for both the FEC slip and Parcel B.

Perhaps our words from a few days earlier were heard - though left for future designers to solve?:

“As for the existing Museum Park rendering, note that the bridge over the mouth of the FEC slip is NOT proposed to serve as the solution to Bay Walk, as the grade/elevation required to transit the bridge would preclude barrier-free use, a requirement for public facilities. This bridge is proposed to be operable, though the costs and maintenance and method of operation seem not to have been articulated. What is the actual cost of the proposed improvements to the FEC slip? What would all of the proposed cantilevered decks do in the event of a hurricane-driven tidal surge?

If the City is truly interested in public input, let's all make it a point to read the results of the Parcel B Study in the context of the broader vision for Bay Walk, and try to arrive at solutions that will draw the most people to actually use the waterfront, serving as a tourist attraction and most importantly, PAYING ITS OWN WAY, in perpetuity.” LINK TO FULL STORY HERE

Last nights “Phase I” vision of "Bay Walk" actually requires that people circumnavigate the entire (8 acre) FEC slip by walking (for example) from the waters edge at Parcel B all the way back in to Biscayne Blvd. - then proceed north to the main park, then walk all the way back out to the Bay before proceeding north on your “Bay Walk” journey.

A quick calculation reveals that the planners of Museum Park propose that your “Bay Walk” include a 2,850' (HALF-MILE) detour over to the hustle and bustle of Biscayne Blvd. before proceeding on your morning stroll along Biscayne Bay. That my friends, is not a “Bay Walk.” Until a true at-grade (barrier-free) solution is identified to transit the 300' mouth of the FEC slip, there is no “Bay Walk.”

The proverbial “elephant in the room” is obviously the FEC slip. Aside from the problematic and as-yet unresolved stretch of the proposed “Bay Walk” that will lead users along the water frontage of Bayside Marketplace (and around Miamarina), the FEC slip is the number one impediment to the design and development of Bay Walk. Is it really wise to design and develop half a park, leaving the rest for others to resolve?

FEC Slip
The FEC Slip is so huge that it is clearly visible from space (check it out on Google Earth). It's 1,200' long and 300' wide representing 8 acres of “Museum Park.” The improvements being made by Shoreline Foundation, Inc. have saved the slip's walls from crumbling into the water, and have beautified an otherwise decaying relic of Miami's early shipping heritage - but as yet, no “highest and best” use of the slip has been identified.

Visitors to the slip along Biscayne Blvd. will note that, sadly, the slip is a serious debris trap, catching not only the surface “flotsam” that collects naturally there by virtue of its location directly at the end of Government Cut - but also serves as a catch-all for every piece of paper, Styrofoam cup and other construction-related debris that blows its way on a windy day.

While it has been suggested that the slip should remain open and available to visiting ships like the US Coast Guard Cutter “Eagle” there are some key issues to address. Upon their recent visit, they were actually required to truck-in massive concrete blocks positioned in the park along the dock in order to tie-off the vessel. Here's why:

Despite the fact that the seawalls have been saved from collapse (courtesy of 40' long sheet-steel driven into the sea bed, topped with concrete), the walls themselves are not sufficiently reinforced (as in this example) to handle the stress of securing large vessels in inclement weather - which explains why there are no “cleats” to tie-off vessels along the north wall of the FEC Slip.

Holistic Design:
The entire “Museum Park” design concept requires a singular holistic approach, as the ultimate disposition of the FEC Slip will effect the design of both the southern end of the “Phase I” portion of the main body of the park and the northern end of “Parcel B” - all of which together will become a destination known as “Museum Park” - tied together by the broader concept known as “Bay Walk” - which by its very name implies “a walk along Biscayne Bay.”
Thanks Michelle...Great update, keep us informed...You bring up some great points which we will soon be readdressing when we revisit the Museum Park issue...

10/8/07

Transitography 27


The Night City, originally uploaded by Lady Vervaine.
"Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave the go-ahead for a 16 billion-pound ($32 billion) rail line across London, the biggest U.K. infrastructure project since the Channel Tunnel, to ease the strain on the city's aging train network."
Full Article...

Metro Monday: Brooklyn Trolleys c. 1938

ART Meeting Tonight

MIAMI BEACH COMMISSION AND MAYORAL CANDIDATES INVITED TO WEIGH IN ON WORSENING TRANSPORTATION ISSUES AND PRESENTATION FROM FDOT ON ALTON ROAD FUTURE LOOK: GENERAL PUBLIC INVITED TO ATTEND AND PARTICIPATE.

ART, the Alliance for Reliable Transport holds its monthly meeting Monday, October 8, 2007 at 6:00 pm. Meetings are free and open to the public, and hosted by the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation in the Community Room of the Seymour 945 Pennsylvania Avenue, Miami Beach. This months meeting will focus on political remedies to the transportation crisis on Miami Beach by inviting candidates for public office to share their visions for short, mid and long term solutions for improving our public transportation options and enhancing the non-motorized network that so many in our community rely on as their primary form of transportation.

In addition, representatives of FDOT and Kimley Horn will be on hand to present the latest alternatives out of the Alton Road PD&E. The public is invited to weigh in on the future configuration of Alton Road from 5th Street north to Michigan Avenue.

ART is also a co-sponsor, with the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association, the Miami Design Preservation League and the Community Development Committee of the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation of a formal Candidates Forum, to be held on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Miami Beach Police Department, located at 1100 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida. The public is invited to attend.

The Alliance for Reliable Transport is a nonprofit group formed in 2003 by Miami Beach residents who share an interest in improving public transportation.

10/6/07

Transitography 26


Miami takes on a remarkable resemblance to the painter Magritte's vision of the world.

New eco-friendly transportation for Miami? No, but a fun time with which to get the proverbial birds eye view of the new emerging downtown. The attraction will be open to the public within 2 weeks time and will bring another level of art to the downtown experience. A beautiful compliment to Museum park, its nearby neighbor.

10/4/07

News Links

  • Tri-Rail Ridership is up 15% for the first six months of 2007. Making it the third fastest growing transit system in the Nation.
  • MPO suggests running a commuter train from Dadeland North to Metrozoo along the unused CSX tracks (finally!) The plan also calls for two express bus lines to travel down Kendall to 167th avenue and the other along 137th avenue from Kendall to FIU.
  • The FDOT is working hard to salvage the Port of Miami Tunnel plan after the city of Miami commissioners sabotaged it recently by not contributing their measly $50 Million share.
  • A new 45 story tower could soon be rising in the CBD...

Transitography 25

10/3/07

Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust Harms Small Business in Liberty City


The last several days, the Herald has released an exclusive piece thoroughly documenting the shady activities of local poverty peddlers, namely the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust (the website is conspicuously "under construction"). I highly recommend reading these articles, as they illuminate how a few corrupt people have been able to perpetuate poverty in Liberty City the last several years.

Here's an excerpt from today's piece, part 4, referring to the trust's dealings around MLK Blvd and NW 7th Ave:
"A review of hundreds of records and nearly a dozen interviews shows that the trust's strategy for this historic street corner hurt the very people it was supposed to help while millions in tax dollars earmarked for small businesses went to botched deals that failed to create promised jobs."
Obviously, corruption isn't new to the Miami area. However, the nature of it being a frequently recurring theme is very troubling. If you've been following it, you'll see that it cuts across all races and many ethnicities, so citizens should not childishly point their fingers at any one group. It's critical, however, that as citizens we don't become so crusted that we lose sight of the positive projects (i.e. Miami 21 and Miami Streetcar) that will help make Greater Miami a better place.

We must also recognize that the current state of affairs is just not acceptable. Our communities continue to become more and more polarized racially, ethnically, and especially socioeconomically. "Sprawliticians" are using their power in many instances to continue making a buck of our great land, while ensuring Miami is an unsustainable, inequitable, traffic congested mess into perpetuity. We need to keep this in mind when we go to the voting booths, and we need to start asking tough questions about the qualifications of officials (do you have ties to Big Construction or are you for Smart Growth?) and administrators that run our government.

Photo courtesy of iceman9294's flickr

Museum Park Planning Meeting

Via The Miami Herald:

The public can weigh in Thursday on the proposed design of downtown Miami's Museum Park, the planned new home of the Miami Museum of Science & Planetarium and the Miami Art Museum.

Miami's Capital Improvements Department will host a 4:30 p.m. meeting at the Orange Bowl Stadium Athletic Club, Gate 14, at 1501 NW Third St. Conceptual drawings for the park will be presented, and public feedback is welcomed.

For more information regarding the project, call the city of Miami at 305-416-1286.

10/2/07

Tuesday News




  • Parking: "...parking is one of the biggest boondoggles -- and environmental disasters -- in our country"

  • Local Poverty Peddlers: Herlad reports on Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust corruption

Transitography 24


toll-stoppaytoll, originally uploaded by Robertson Adams.

More tolls to come? What will they fund?

-Via TM reader Robertson

10/1/07

Miami-Dade's Future: Choose Your Own Adventure


If you picked up the Herald this morning, there's a good chance you read this article.

I think my jaw literally hit the floor when I read it. It appears the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority is using the Reason Foundation and their misguided, obsolete, and flawed road-based transportation planning schemes to "craft a vision" for 30-year expansion of MDX expressways. For the vast majority of urban planners, particularly those with any understanding of best practice in growth management, transportation planning, and sustainability, this little "road party" is laughable. It's almost like a bunch of insurance agents, smokers, and Big Tobacco lobbyists in a room together trying to envision a future of less lung disease without any real doctors present in the room. If this is what politics and planning have come to in Miami-Dade County, I see little hope for an improved, sustainable future.

Oh yeah, and $8 billion dollars? Everyone is always talking about how hard it is to fund transit projects, especially with the deplorable amount of federal aid and massive national demand. Yet it's funny how it always seems like billions are quickly and easily available for the (road) projects that make the least sense. Eight billion would certainly go along way toward improving transit in the county. Instead, it seems like those in power are either still living in the "the vacuum" themselves, completely oblivious to consensus best practice planning and sustainability, or they're sprawl industry insiders/backers, or they're NIMBYs in power suits...or perhaps a combination of all three.

So, while Miami-Dade wastes its time snuggling up with the Reason Foundation and all but ensuring a self-fulfilling prophecy of congestion, pollution and sprawl into perpetuity, New York has recently hired international urban planner extraordinaire Jan Gehl as a consultant. This is a man who is primarily responsible for turning Copenhagen around from a congested, auto-centric city into one of the world's most livable, pedestrian-oriented, and bike-friendly cities -- in just 40 years. In just a short period of time since being hired by the City, plans have already been unveiled for NYC's first Euro-style physically separated bike lane right on a busy avenue in Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg is touring Europe as of this moment discussing environmentally-friendly solutions to urban traffic, such as Paris' Velib bike-sharing program and London's Congestion Pricing.

It's simple -- Miami-Dade can easily choose this path and begin to move in a new and vastly improved direction. However, if we continue down the current path, it will soon be too late.

* Correction: The original posting wrongly mentioned the MPO instead of MDX as the conductor of the 30-year road plan. However, the MDX 30-year road plan will be submitted to the MPO for inclusion in the 2035 Long-Range Plan.

Photo courtesy of http://www.pritchettcartoons.com

Pricing Ourselves into Further Congestion

"It follows that increasing road capacity can actually make overall congestion on the road worse. This occurs when the shift from public transport causes a disinvestment in the mode such that the operator either reduces frequency of service or raises fares to cover costs. This shifts additional passengers into cars. Ultimately the system may be eliminated and congestion on the original (expanded) road is worse than before.

The general conclusion, if the paradox applies, is that expanding a road system as a remedy to congestion is not only ineffective, but often counterproductive. This is also known as Lewis-Mogridge Position and was extensively documented by Martin Mogridge with the case-study of London on his book Travel in towns: jam yesterday, jam today and jam tomorrow?"

We'll Discuss this more in depth later today...

Metro Monday: The Train Market

glumbert - Train Market

Not exactly what we mean when we speak of transit oriented development...