Posts by: Community Commentary

Thanks to Collin Worth, Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Miami, for sending this video to  Transit Miami. The Safe Routes to School Pedestrian & Bike PSAs are part of the Safe Routes to School Awareness Campaign that the University of Miami and CBS have done with the Florida Department of Transportation - District Six.

UM/CBS will have this contract running until the end of August.  The PSAs also have Spanish and Haitian Creole versions that are running on Mega TV and Island TV, respectively as part of the SRTS Media campaign.

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The FDOT District Six Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Office is proud to announce that live traffic video tours are now available on www.sunguide.org.

More than 100 Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras are streaming live onto the website from all around the major district roadways in Miami-Dade County, including Interstates 75, 95, 195, 395, State Road 826 (Palmetto Expressway) and U.S. 1.  The feeds are grouped into ten ‘video tours’ according to their location and roadway.  They broadcast approximately ten camera feeds each that change approximately every twenty seconds to provide users with a snapshot of real-time traffic conditions along their selected portion of the highway.

Users can access the video tours 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to preview roadway conditions before getting on the highway.  However, for more detailed traffic reports, users are still encouraged to log on to www.fl511.com.

This enhancement is part of the Department’s effort to provide users with accurate and reliable traveler information.  Providing real-time information, such as live traffic videos, empower motorists to make informed decisions along their travels, helping them avoid delays that contribute to roadway congestion.

Source:Bloomberg

By Jeremy van Loon

June 9 (Bloomberg) — Bicycle production may widen its lead over auto-making as governments try to ease congestion and reduce carbon emissions.The CHART OF THE DAY shows the number of bicycles manufactured has grown twice as fast as car output in the past four decades, increasing sixfold. In monetary terms, bikes trail behind. The global bike market, including models with supplementary electric motors, is 20 billion euros ($24 billion) a year, according to Bike Europe, an industry data service. That’s about a quarter of car sales in Germany alone.
“Bicycles offer affordable mobility,” said Matthew Roney, a researcher at the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., a non-profit group. “It’s very likely this gap between cars and bicycles will continue to widen with cities investing more in cycling infrastructure.” London and New York are expanding bike parking lots and paths to boost riding toward levels already reached in Copenhagen, where almost 40 percent of commutes are made on two wheels. China, which makes more than half the world’s bikes, has banned gasoline scooters in some cities. That increased sales of electricity-powered bicycles. Almost a third of new bicycles sold in China have a pedal-activated motor, according to Bike Europe.

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Today’s quote of the day comes from FDOT spokeswoman Barbara Kelleher.  She spoke to the Miami Herald about a recent report issued by the Daily Beast which designated I-95 in Florida as the most deadly highway in the nation.

It’s no longer possible to add lanes.  We don’t have the money to buy all those homes and all that right-of-way in order to add lanes to what’s already there.”

Kelleher goes on to say:

“What can be done, has been done already: Installing express lanes in Miami-Dade — and eventually in Broward — to separate long-haul drivers from short-range commuters, and using signals at on-ramps so motorists don’t crowd onto the expressway at once.”

Ummm….how about public transit?  Is that not an option? I’m glad FDOT does not have the money to purchase all the homes and all the right-of-way necessary to expand 1-95.  They would be delaying the inevitable- we would be in the same predicament 20 years from now. Then what? Buy more homes and more right-of-way?

I’d like to remind FDOT that the “T” in FDOT stands for Transportation. Transportation is not limited to motor vehicles and highway expansion. Rail, bicycling and walking are considered transportation too!

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A recent article in the Miami New Times compares the Port of Miami Tunnel project to the Big Dig in Boston.  For those of you that are not familiar with the Big Dig, it was the most expensive highway project in the U.S.  In 1985 the cost of the project was estimated to be $4 billion; the Big Dig project ended up costing $22 billion when it was finally completed in 2005. The Port of Miami Tunnel project is estimated to cost $1 billion dollars.  It quietly broke ground last week and is expected to be completed by 2014.

These two projects differ greatly.  The most recent issue of Next American City covered the positive impacts of the Big Dig and how this huge infrastructure project had a positive impact on Boston and transformed the city by reconnecting areas which were previously bisected by elevated trains and highways. Peter Vanderwarker, author of The Big Dig: Reshaping an American City had this to say about the Big Dig:

You’ve liberated 100 acres of land in the middle of one of the most historic cities in the United States. You’ve removed cars and pollution from to surface.”

Boston now is a different city.

The old road was noisy, dirty smelly and ugly. [Its removal} has transformed neighborhoods.  In the North End, businesses are flourishing and because of improved access, South Boston is now a very attractive place-sort of like Brooklyn of Boston.”

As is the case here in Miami, many Bostonians were skeptical if the Big Dig was worth the large investment. Today many of the skeptics in Boston may now agree that the Big Dig has made Boston a better city.

I am admittedly skeptical of the Miami Port Tunnel project and the only thing that I believe the Big Dig and the Port of Miami Tunnel project will share in common is cost overruns.  So I think it is unfair to compare the two; the scope of each project is very different. The Big Dig transformed Boston into a more livable city. This massive project reclaimed once dilapidated areas and created 27 acres of parkland. The Miami Port Tunnel on the other hand is just that; a tunnel.

I don’t believe the Miami Port Tunnel will have the same transformative effect on downtown as many in Miami claim. Yeah, we will remove a few trucks from downtown, but what else will this billion dollar project deliver? Quicker access to the port for trucks? Removal of trucks from downtown? We can remove the trucks from downtown by creating an inland port that could be connected by the existing rail line for a fraction of the price.

Is the investment really worth it?

According to the Department of Transportation, in 1992 32,000 vehicles entered the port every day. Today, that number has declined to 19,000, and only 16 percent of that traffic is trucks. Apparently the Port of Miami is losing business to Port Everglades which happens to be much larger and access to Port Everglades is much easier for truckers according to the Miami New Times.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the Port of Miami can handle post-panamex ships either. I believe Port Everglades may already have this capability, or will in the near future. In order for the Port of Miami to handle post-panamex ships the port would need to be dredged in order to accommodate the new larger ships which are coming online.

For the most part, it sounds like Port Everglades already holds a competitive advantage over the Port of Miami; a tunnel will not help close the gap. The Port of Miami will never handle the capacity of cargo that Port Everglades can, nor should it strive to.

Much like Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere, we here in Miami have a billion dollar Tunnel to Nowhere.

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By: Sam Van Leer (sam@urban-paradise.org)
Executive Director and Founder, Urban Paradise Guild (Miami, Florida)


OVERTOWN VILLAGE GREEN

The Village Green has a special place in America: an agricultural space within the Village that belongs to everyone. In times of external strife, it is used by the Villagers to feed themselves. It was often the center of Village life. Overtown Village Green is all this and more.

A Park that grows plants also grows people. The nursery that provides fruit trees and native habitat plants to nurture people and wildlife is also an experience that can change kids and adults. These are among the missions of Overtown Village Green (OVG), which opens windows to new activities and careers.

Brad Knoefler is a local resident and businessman with a great idea: Use the Old Miami Arena Site as a temporary park, provide kids with safe recreational space and fight the Urban blight of demolition and vacant lots around Overtown. He approached Urban Paradise Guild (UPG) for a concept that could achieve this. We’ve been developing this plan for nearly a year. (Brad also spearheaded the creation of a greenway along the FEC tracks last year).
OVG’s purpose is to create a temporary park that enables permanent community transformation. It is a mixture of:
* community nursery: grow FREE native plants & fruit trees for Overtown
* personal garden plots for local families and groups
* food forest (permaculture growing methods)
* education for kids
* economic development for the community
* playing field for kids (football or soccer) which becomes a
* performing arts venue in the evening
* most infrastructure is intended for re-use at the next site of OVG
* public/private partnerships fund operations and control costs
* UPG Programs for the Overtown community
* UPG manages the space

Trees can be part of the transformation of a neighborhood. They have been proven to raise property values. Their shade makes sidewalks endurable under the blazing summer sun, and lower the electric bills of residents and businesses. The UPG Community Nursery at OVG will be operated by Volunteers, especially neighborhood kids. The trees will be planted by these same Volunteers, who will ensure that they are not forgotten. They will be free to Overtown residents.

Personal garden plots are not currently offered in Overtown. They create a way that people can be directly involved in improving their own lives. Fresh organic vegetables provide high quality nutrition. Growing them offers new opportunities for exercise and engagement in the community.

Public / Private Partnership
The mission of Parks in America is to serve the public. That is why Parks have always been funded from our tax dollars. The phrase “run it like a business” makes a nice sound-bite, but expecting Parks to do so ensures that they will fail in their primary mission of public service.

At the same time, we recognize that in an era of ever-tightening budgets we must find new ways to stretch every dollar. A public/private partnership does this.

OVG is a public/private partnership. Revenue for operations is generated by sub-leasing space to for-profits to provide parking, a café, solar power demonstration, and other compatible uses. Revenue generated through rental of the venue and sales of organic produce will be used to enhance public programming.
The address is 700 Miami Ave, 5+ acres along the FEC railroad. It is across the street from the Overtown Metro Station and M-D DERM offices, just 2 blocks north of MDC Wolfson Campus and 2 blocks West of Biscayne Blvd. MDC and DERM are both important UPG Partners, and MDC Service-Learning Interns and Students will be important parts of OVG.

Support from the City of Miami and CRA
UPG has already created successful Parks Partnerships with Florida State Parks at Oleta River and Miami-Dade Parks at Matheson Hammock. These government entities understand that as their budgets shrink, their needs for high-impact Volunteers expands. UPG has been asked to take responsibility for all invasive exotic plant eradication at Oleta, an 1,100 acre park, and is coordinating UPG, Park and third-party resources for maximum strategic impact. A similar arrangement exists at Matheson. UPG has become the go-to group for mobilizing the public in such innovative programs, and we hope to form a Partnership with the City of Miami.

Mayor Regalado demonstrated his commitment to the environment for years as a City Commissioner. The Miami Parks Department’s highly successful Habitat Restoration projects at Simpson, Virginia Key Hammocks, and Wainwright Parks might never have happened without his support. He understands the critical value to the community of native trees, habitat plants and fruit trees. He shares UPG’s vision of growing trees for City residents and providing them at no cost.

Last Tuesday, Brad and I had a very productive meeting about OVG with City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and members of his staff. UPG, Brad and the OVG Partners are deeply appreciative of Mayor Regalado’s support and efforts on behalf of OVG and the environment. We hope that it will be enough.

The Overtown/Park West CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) exists for the sole purpose of fighting the causes of Urban Blight. They are funded by taxes on local properties. Anyone reading this should drive through Overtown today, and ask themselves if the CRA is succeeding.

A fresh approach is needed. We believe that OVG offers a new vision and direction for Overtown, and we hope that the CRA will embrace Overtown Village Green.

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Dear Transit Miami,

I’m sending you some pictures since recently you’ve been posting up all the sketchy stuff you see while riding down Key Biscayne. I spent a few hours today riding up and down the William Powell bridge and took these pics of trucks parked on the bike lane right after the descent of the bridge forcing cyclists into the traffic lane when cars come off the bridge at over 50 mph.

Another water truck was backing up in the bike lane.

One city worker doing tree trimming stopped in the bike lane.

Another construction truck stopped in the bike lane right before the WP bridge on the Miami side on the sketchy section of bike lane that crosses across a lane of traffic.  The truck stopped right in front of me in the bike lane to make a phone call.

The one Miami-Dade officer I saw doing something was actually giving a ticket to a cyclist, when minutes earlier I was passed by a Ferrari on the bridge that was going well over 90 mph.

Basically everyone today blocking the bike lane was put there by the government, so much for caring about our safety.

-Yaniel Cantelar

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Special News Regarding Miami 21 From the City of Miami Hearing Boards Department:

Hearing Boards will accept Planning and Zoning public hearing applications under the current Ordinance No. 11000 until Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm. Please note that pursuant to Section 1304.2.2 of the Miami Zoning Ordinance No. 11000, no application shall be deemed to have been filed unless and until the application shall have been completed.  All pertinent and accurate information/documentation; i.e., the plans, reports or other information, exhibits, or documents required, shall be presented at the time of filing, in addition to the paid receipt(s).

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The energy level is high at the Human Services Coalition, as volunteers and staff gear up for the fourth Imagine Miami Changemaker Conference, to be held May 7 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Temple Israel in downtown Miami. This conference, “Sustaining Livable Communities through Civic Activism,” is part of a three-year series of forums. The last conference drew nearly 200 participants and focused on economic equity.

Commissioner Katy Sorenson, Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, Gihan Perera of Miami Workers Center and others will discuss initiatives they are working on to bolster community engagement. This mix of public officials and community activists reflects the diversity of the Imagine Miami program.

Imagine Miami Changemaker Conferences provide participants with the opportunity to network with other locals who are invested in making Miami a vibrant, prosperous city. Workshops such as “Transportation Equity” will inform conference-goers about initiatives in Miami-Dade that seek to make the county more sustainable.
“What community members will get out of this conference is hope,” said Director of Imagine Miami Maame-Mensima Horne. “A lot of cynicism exists about the financial and social state of Miami, yet a number of people are working tirelessly to bring about change. We want people to get excited about these projects and, more importantly, get involved.”

Online pre-registration for the conference is available at www.hscdade.org. Entrance to the conference costs $25 online or $30 at the door. This includes refreshments and lunch. Scholarships are available; details are on the website.

Imagine Miami is an initiative of the Human Services Coalition that seeks to connect people to purpose and place through civic networking.

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Yesterday, the Florida House of Representatives passed HJR 7231, voting in its own self interest and against the people’s call for Fair Districts.

Nearly 2 million Florida voters have signed petitions saying they want to end the ability of lawmakers to draw districts for their own political advantage. Now, during the final days of the legislative session, those same lawmakers are doing everything they can to derail these reforms.

The Senate vote on SJR 2288 is TODAY, and it’s our last chance to stop legislative attempts to thwart Fair Districts.

Call your state senator and urge them to vote NO on SJR 2288.

SJR 2288 is intended to override the provisions of Amendments 5 and 6 (the Fair Districts amendments). It will continue to allow politicians to gerrymander district lines so they can continue to choose their constituents, rather than have voters choose their representatives.

The Gainsville Sun described the attempt to neuter the Fair Districts amendments as “… nothing short of despicable” [1] and other commentators have called it a “trick,” a “scam,” and a “poison pill.”

We need to stop SJR 2288, and preserve the intent and effect of Amendments 5 and 6 — the Fair Districts amendments that will end the backroom deals and partisan politics that result in gerrymandered districts designed to keep incumbents in power. The people of Florida want compact districts that keep their cities and counties together. They do not want politicians to decide the outcome of elections by redrawing district lines.

Naturally, Rep. Cannon and Sen. Haridopolos want to preserve their own power and keep these amendments from becoming reality. So they’re trying to place their own amendment on the ballot through SJR 2288, which if passed by Florida voters in November, will render Amendments 5 and 6 useless.

SJR 2288 is a subversion of democracy and a cynical ploy by legislators to undermine the expressed will of over a million Floridians and their desire for Fair Districts. As Floridians, we must stand up to this kind of arrogance and disdain for our democracy.

Please call your state senator today, and urge them to vote NO on SJR 2288.

http://www.floridapirg.org/action/stop-the-power-grab?id4=es

Sincerely,

Brad Ashwell

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This month’s issue of Bicycling Magazine puts Miami as 44th best city in the US for bicycling.  Only two years ago we were named one of the worst cities for bicycling. Our city has certainly come a long way, but we need the ongoing leadership of the Mayor of Miami and the City Commission to continue this trajectory. Without City Hall’s support I remain skeptical that Miami will continue to advance in Bicycle Magazine rankings, to say nothing of the effect on our vibrant bicycle culture.

Former Mayor Manny Diaz had a vision for cycling and pursued it, and while current Mayor Regalado has been big on the talk of promoting cycling, he has yet to deliver.  I was excited by the Mayor’s pronouncement yesterday about the partnership with the Dutch Consulate for Bike Miami Days. One of the reasons Miami quickly jumped to #44 and is considered “up and coming” is because of Bike Miami Days. However, despite having issued a proclamation supporting cycling, not a single Bike Miami Days event has been held since Mayor Regaldo took office.

I sincerely hope that Mayor Regaldo and the City Commission step up in a big way to make the next Bike Miami Days event bigger and better than any of the other previous BMD events. The Mayor in particular should view this as a great opportunity to take bring the community together and show his support for bicycling in Miami. Observers have noted that the Mayor has dedicated minimal resources to planning or organizing the event, despite the pleas of many former BMD Volunteers and local bike advocates -  going so far as to delegate the event to a hired PR consultant.

This administration’s commitment to cycling needs to go beyond proclaiming support and treating this as a public relations issue. I remain unconvinced.

From the Herald:

The 129-page “Jobs for Florida” bill, slated for a Senate vote Thursday after a single committee hearing, also could eliminate local regulations on wetlands protection and drainage, as well as give local and state regulators less time than ever to review development plans. The bill (SB 1752), which also addresses such issues as sales taxes on boats and the purchase of industrial machinery and includes tax breaks that could add up to $187 million for space, high-tech and film industries, was introduced on Feb. 28. It was approved by the Policy and Steering Committee on Ways and Means last week by a vote of 22-2 and shipped to the full Senate.

State Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said those provisions were related to creating jobs in the state’s stagnant construction industry by cutting back government red tape. “A lot of subdivisions and strip shopping centers would fall under that” 40-acre limit, Tschantz said. But bill supporter Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, a contractor, said it just means “the governmental entities are honoring the professionalism of those who submit the plans.”

This is an sleazy attempt by several politicians to try to help their developer friends. It is more of the same bad government that led us to a near economic meltdown. When are these fools going to stop trying to revive the sprawl machine???

Call or write your local Senator- SAY NO TO SPRAWL PRODUCING UNPLANNED GROWTH!

Also, be sure to contact the Tallahassee office of Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton:

322 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5078
Senate VOIP: 5078
bennett.mike.web@flsenate.gov

Streetsblog is reporting that over the past decade London has been reducing speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph throughout the city.  Today London has over four hundred 20 mph zones. As s result, Londoners have benefited from a 46% decline in fatalities and serious injury within the 20 mph zones during the past decade according to British Medical Journal.

A 2008 map of London's 20mph zones. Image: London Assembly.

The high speed limits within our densest population pockets discourage people from walking or riding a bicycle. Brickell Avenue has a 35 mph speed limit and Biscayne Blvd. has a 30 mph speed limit. However, the design speed of both of these roads often encourages drivers to travel at speeds of 40-45 mph.  The first step to making our roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians would be to reduce speed limits throughout Miami Dade County. The second step would be to introduce self-enforcing traffic calming measures such as: raised junctions, raised crosswalks, chicanes, road humps and roundabouts.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

So what’s it gonna take for us to step up to 20 mph speed limits?  Can you imagine how much more livable our streets would be if speed limits were reduced on our city streets?  The results of the London experiment were so glaringly obvious after 4 years that in 2004 the World Health Organization endorsed 20 mph speeds as an essential strategy to save lives.

Everyone has seen ugly high-voltage power lines FPL wants to bring these down US 1 from Pinecrest to Brickell, and while we all agree underground power lines are the best option, the impact of the above ground lines can be mitigiated by making the poles more attractive and thoughtfully designed.

Image Courtesy of Dezeen.

Additionally, any negotiations to place FPL poles along US1 should mandate that FPL upgrade the M-path as outlined in the County’s M-path Master Plan. 

What are your thoughts???

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