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Editor’s note: This is part one of a two part series.

I was in San Francisco recently and aside from riding every form of urban transit imaginable (cable car, light rail, subway, bicycle, and commuter rail) I took the opportunity to explore a few of the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods particularly, South of Market (SOMA), Mission Bay, and South Beach. Of particular interest on this visit was the urban development sprouting up along the China Basin, home of AT&T Ballpark where the San Francisco Giants have played since 2000. AT&T Ballpark and the new Muni Metro transit line which accompanied the stadium have served as catalysts for new urban development.

AT&T Ballpark

Having visited a number of America’s Baseball stadiums, what really strikes me about AT&T Ballpark is its connectivity with the surroundings. From the boardwalk along the famed McCovey Cove to the King Street Walk of Fame, this ballpark was designed to be as much of destination during the off-season as it is when the Giants are in town (Note: when I visited the Giants were on the road). This is a true urban ballpark; warm and inviting with some restaurants and bars within the ballpark opening up to Willie Mays Plaza. The Plaza, of course not only pays homage to one of baseball’s greatest players, but creates a sense of space and grand entrance to the ballpark. It’s important to note that AT&T Ballpark was the first privately financed ballpark in Major League Baseball since 1962. Noticeably absent from the area surrounding the stadium is parking, a good segway into a brief discussion of the transit service that was built to connect the region.

T Third Street Line (Via: RTK Vision)

The T third street line is a modern light-rail system completed in 2007 at a cost of $648 Million. The 5.1 mile transit line is the newest addition to the SFMTA in 50 years and connects the existing Muni Metro system and AT&T Ballpark with some long neglected neighborhoods including Potrero Hill, Bayview, Hunters Point, and Visitacion Valley. Today, new development dots the landscape around the T third street line including the Mission Bay Development, an emerging bioscience hub anchored by the UCSF Mission Bay campus as well as an abundance of dense, urban, development (see: Avalon, Edgewater, and Strata). It’s also important to note that the T third street line was funded largely through the city of San Francisco’s Proposition B, a ½% sales tax levied to support transit projects.

TOD at 4th & King Streets, SOMA, San Francisco (Via: LA Wad)

Visiting AT&T Ballpark (and the surrounding neighborhoods) allowed me to more fully comprehend the shortcomings of the Marlins new Ballpark currently rising in the heart of Little Havana. The new Marlins Stadium is beautiful feat of engineering; it is sleek, shiny, and futuristic, much like Miami itself. Once inside, watching the home team play will be a pleasure, no doubt, but its interaction with the surrounding host community is, like much of Miami’s development, designed with a certain air of indifference for neighboring land uses.

Former Orange Bowl Site; The new Home of the Florida Marlins (Via: Javier Ortega Figueiral)

Constructed at a taxpayer cost of $360M, one would think that we’d be unveiling a trophy piece of civic infrastructure next season; one whose public investment would outweigh the costs by spurring new urban growth, tourism, and economic development in the heart of the Magic City. One would also think that the additional $100M of public investment in transportation infrastructure would be designed to alleviate an already stressed infrastructure rather than exacerbate the problem, right? Wrong. This is Miami, here we spend $100M building four massive, structurally deficient parking garages.

Marlins Ballpark (Via: Thehoorse24)

Having visited AT&T Ballpark and the surrounding neighborhoods it’s difficult not to think of what a $100M down payment for a new transit line akin to the T third street line could have looked like. It could have linked EXISTING parking in downtown or the civic center urban centers with the Ballpark. Think of the opportunity lost to spur new development and provide a reasonable modal alternative to the residents of a largely lower-middle class neighborhood. Think of the pedestrian-scale development that could have risen alongside the stadium instead of parking garages. Imagine paying a nominal $2 transit fare to access the ballpark rather than shelling out upwards of $30 for parking (there are, after all, only 5,700 spaces available).

It’s an interesting juxtaposition in my eyes:

  • AT&T Ballpark was built without a single cent of public financing and is one of the most inclusive, consciously designed stadiums in all of major league baseball. Coupled with a sound investment in sustainable transit, the stadium has spurred ongoing economic development in the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • On the other hand, the heavily subsidized Marlins Ballpark is beginning to look like a full-blown assault on Little Havana, replete with the loss of public open space, parking structures which isolate the stadium from the surrounding community, and a guarantee that at least 81 days of the year the congestion in this area will be a nightmarish hell with little, if any, net positive impact to local businesses.

This is part one of a two part series. Part two will be published over the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Via: dgmiami's Flickr

Via: dgmiami's Flickr


Today at approximately 1:40 PM, the first scheduled Airbus A-380 will arrive at Miami International Airport. The 526 passenger behemoth, operated by Lufthansa, will expand Capacity on the busy Miami / Frankfurt route. Click here to watch it live.


It seems there is a new campaign to get the attention of Florida’s elected officials when it comes to public transportation.

IM4Transit is a campaign of the Board of the Florida Public Transportation Association to identify, recruit, and mobilize at least 100,000 pro-transit Floridians.

If you support public transportation in Florida, go to and show your support.  It would be nice to have 100,000 people tell Rick Scott want more transportation options.  You can also go to Facebook at:


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The City of Miami Commissioners  approved a resolution back in October 2010 to fence a public street on NW 15 Street and NW 25 Street, thereby restricting pedestrians access to our public streets.

In February of 2011 however, the County Public Works Department told Belle Meade residents that it could not build a fence because it restricted access to pedestrians and cyclists.  The County PWD pretty much deemed the fence illegal because it conflicted with the Comprehensive Plan.  Here is what the NW 15 Street and NW 25 Street resolution said…

A)The Department of Public Works shall approve the design and the Department of Capital
Improvements shall install the fence and barricade to prohibit vehicular and pedestrian
access, ensuring no public access;
b) the fence and barricade shall be maintained by the Department of Public Works ; and
c) all applicable laws.

I’m confused…So who’s in charge here? The County or the City? Shouldn’t the City have checked with the County first?  I’m glad the County PWD does not allow  fencing that restricts pedestrian and cyclist access.  If this fence did actually go up, it should come down along with the $1.7 million tax payer funded wall surrounding Coral Gate. What a waste of money.

Personally, I would like to see the planning department involved in this dialogue. From the email thread that I received it does not appear that the city’s planning department was ever consulted.

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No tickets.

Not one.

The City of Miami Police Department cannot say if they have ever given a ticket for “Failure to Yield” to any motorist for driving through crosswalks when pedestrian or cyclists have the right-of-way. While this doesn’t mean it has never happened, the video we posted just this morning (and others, plus pictures) makes it clear that this is not a priority for local law enforcement. All we have right now is speculation as to what led to a motorist hitting a man on a bike in broad daylight, in the middle of the road yesterday - but it’s lead to a lot of reader questions about the State mandated ‘right-of-way’ on city streets that feel more like ‘might is right.’

The South Florida Bike Coalition has submitted a public records request but it will take time (and police charge by the hour, of course) was denied to look at each and every written citation over the last year to see how many people have ever received the $80.00 fine for failing to yield at a crosswalk. UPDATE: our request was denied because even in the written records, these stats are not records. No one keeps track of how many people are caught nearly hitting people walking or biking in the City of Miami. We are now talking to Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts.

Some clarification on the law is provided by a Florida Department of Transportation Online Pedestrian Safety Guide that states:

A driver is obliged to yield the right of way to a pedestrian lawfully crossing in a crosswalk. Safe yielding requires stopping if the crossing pedestrian is in the driver’s lane, the lane into which the driver is turning, or an adjoining lane. A condition for crossing “lawfully” is that the pedestrian began crossing when it was legal to do so.  A crosswalk is legally present on each leg of an intersection except where crossing is prohibited by signs. Crosswalks are left unmarked at most unsignalized intersections. [Yes, that means an intersection has a crosswalk even when FDOT won't give you one in paint.] 

FDOT Online also takes efforts to promote state statues specifically related to people on bicycles, who are considered ‘drivers’ since bicycles are vehicles. That said,

 ”A bicyclist riding on a sidewalk or crosswalk has the rights and duties of a pedestrian [§316.2065(11)], as well as certain other duties.”

Please note: We do not yet have the Police Report from yesterday’s collision, so we want to be clear that all of this remains speculation, but we will update at as soon as we receive the details. If we assume that the cyclist was not in the crosswalk and was crossing like any other vehicle, then a different Florida Traffic Law / Statute is relevant:

§ 316.075  (a)Green indication.—   1.Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed cautiously straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits either such turn. But vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk at the time such signal is exhibited.

In this case, I want to thank the City of Miami Police Department’s Public Information Office for working on getting this to us and for taking the Bike Coalition‘s stats request. The country is following this. More to come soon.


Public Meeting Schedule 
October 2010

October 18
Charles Hadley Park, 1350 N.W. 50th Street
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

October 19
José Marti Park, 434 S.W. 3rd Avenue
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

October 21
Our Lady of Lebanon, 2055 Coral Way
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

October 25
Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

October 26
Allapattah Community Action Center, 2257 NW North River Drive
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Frequently Asked Questions


The Florida Growth Management Act requires Comprehensive Neighborhood Plans throughout the state to be assessed periodically to determine how the plans are working and what areas need updating.  The EAR process is not a revision of the zoning ordinance.  Revision of the zoning ordinance was recently completed by the adoption of the Miami 21 Code in October of 2009.  This assessment process is known as the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) and must be completed every 7 years to assess the City’s progress on areas including, but not limited to, Public Works, Capital Improvements, Transportation and Housing.  The EAR process allows us to collect valuable information to revise the City’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan to better address the City’s needs.  


Public input is an important component of the evaluation process and is where City planners learn about major issues facing your neighborhoods. Your participation in this process will lead to a thorough evaluation and serve as a base towards updating the Comprehensive Plan to meet the needs of our residents.


The EAR is your opportunity to share your knowledge and concerns about the City’s needs.  This is also an opportunity to learn more about the issues that shape the City’s future and to better understand the planning process.


Meetings are being held throughout the City to facilitate your participation. All City residents, property and business owners are encouraged to participate.  See calendar for meeting details. Participants may attend any and all meetings that are most conveniently located to the participant.  Everyone’s participation is welcomed.

2012 Evaluation and Appraisal Report webpage

Download the full version of the Miami Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan

Download the 2005 Evaluation & Appraisal Report (EAR)

In accordance with the American Disabilities Act of 1990, persons who require accommodations to participate in these events may contact the Planning Department no later than (3) business days prior to the event at (305) 416-1404 / TTY/TDD: (305) 416-1735.

City of Miami Planning Department
(305) 416-1400  

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Foreign Policy sat down with sociologist Saskia Sassen and she had this to say about the Magic City:

Many of today’s global cities are old-world cities that reinvented themselves. Like London or Istanbul, they already had enormous complexity and diversity. On the other hand, there are old-world cities, like Venice, that are definitely not global cities today.

And then there’s Miami. Never an old-world city, today Miami is certainly a global city — why? It’s quite surprising. Where did its diversity and complexity come from? Let’s go back to the history. Before the 1990s, Miami was sort of a dreadful little spot, frankly.

There was lots of domestic tourism; it was cheap; it was rundown; it was seen as dominated by the Cubans. But several important things happened. One was the infrastructure of international trade that the Cubans in Miami developed. There was also real estate development, often spurred by wealthy individuals from South America.

All this coincided with the opening of Latin America. In the 1990s and early 2000s, firms from all over the world — the Taiwanese, Italians, Korean, French, all over — set up regional headquarters in Miami. In the 1990s, there was also deregulation, so Miami becomes the banking center for Central America. Then the art circuit, the designers’ circuit, and other things began to come into the city. Large international corporations began to locate branches there, forging a strong bridge with Europe that doesn’t run through New York. That mix of cultures — in such a concentrated space, and covering so many different sectors — created remarkable diversity and complexity. Of course, the Miami case is rather exceptional.”

Chalk one up for Miami! This is great news, but we still have our work cut out for ourselves if we truly want to become a competitive global player. We need to seriously think about investing in a proper public transit system if we aspire to be a Global City.

You can read the entire interview with Saskia Sassen here.

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Transit Miami friend and environmental activist Sam Van Lear is celebrating the second successful year of the Urban Paradise Guild. If you are not already familiar with the UPG, it is a great organization that Sam founded to work toward the restoration of native ecosystems throughout South Florida. Please check out the celebration at Oleta Park this weekend. Look below for more details.

Where: Oleta River State Park: 3400 N.E. 163rd Street, North Miami, Florida 33160
Why: This Volunteer-Powered organization has removed over 100,000 Destructive / Invasive Exotic
plants and trees using Organic Stewardship (no herbicide) methods developed by the group. UPG
has also planted mangroves, Hammock trees, and native groundcover by the thousands. In 2010
UPG has expanded, with the Location Adoption of Matheson Hammock (Miami-Dade County Parks)
and new UPG Chapters at El Portal, Hialeah, Vizcaya, and Liberty City. UPG Nurseries at Oleta and
Vizcaya are producing native plants, with the Liberty City Nursery coming on line soon. Partners
make so much possible. Activities take place almost every weekend, ensuring steady progress
toward UPG’s goal of “Creating Sustainable Paradise in South Florida, one Habitat at a time.”
Who: We extend a special invitation to UPG Volunteers, Interns and Staff, plus Partners including
Florida DEP, Miami-Dade Parks, DERM & Vizcaya, MWC, and of course Miami Dade College and
other schools, students, faculty & staff (Kindergarten – Grad School). The public is welcome. Bring
your Families.
What: Birthday Activities include…
• Demonstration Planting on Oleta’s South Point (site of 1,000’s of UPG Stewardship hours).
• Picnic / BBQ, with separate grills for meat, veggies and seafood. Bring family-favorite food!
• Live Music by UPG Members and Friends (bring and instrument & play!)
• Kayaking & Canoeing on the Bay.
• Volleyball by the Beach. Bring Football, Futbol, Frisbee, and whatever you need.
• Swimming and Snorkeling.
• Weeds to Wonders activity: Building a Burma Boat (Kayak made from Exotic Burma Reed).
Cost: Admission is FREE for Planting Volunteers before 10am. $6 per car after 10am.

If you encounter problems with Evite, send an e-mail to and you will be added.
Email Michelle London: with what you are brining for the Picnic/BBQ.
Please bring a family favorite food, or beverages (no alcohol), cups, plates, etc.

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Google Street-View Bike - photo by Daniel M. Perez

Two weeks ago, the Google street-view bicycle was in town, visiting both campuses of Florida International University (Modesto Maidique Campus in Westchester, and Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami Beach). While some areas of both campuses can already be seen in Google Maps’ street-view feature, the bike was taking photographic data to complete the view of everything in between the main streets crisscrossing the campuses. We’ll keep an eye on Google Maps to see when these new views show up and let you know. Thanks to the person responsible for getting the Google Street-View Team down here (I know who it was but I don’t know he wishes his identity to be made public).

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Bike Lane on SW 127 Ave - photo by Daniel M. Perez

Speculated upon by Miami Bike Scene last week, yesterday I spotted the brand new bike lanes on SW 127th Avenue, stretching from Bird Road (42nd Street) to Miller Drive (56th Street). I’m told by a resident of the area that the road is used by a lot of people on bicycles, so hopefully the bike lane will make it safer for them to ride and make it more obvious to drivers that they need to watch out for bicycles sharing the road.

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Commissioner Frank Carollo, District 3

At this week’s Bicycle Action Committee meeting, the regular updates given on the status of the Bicycle Master Plan were missing a few crucial projects, all of which are in Commissioner Frank Carollo’s district. I asked the Bicycle Coordinator, Collin Worth, what happened? Ever the diplomat, he informed us that they had been put on hold by the new Commissioner. “Does the Commissioner not understand that these projects are of crucial importance to the connectivity of our bicycle routes“, we asked.”…the safety of cyclists who use them to bypass busier streets and access the restaurants and shops of Coral Way?

Mr. Worth would not speak for the Commissioner, who had sent no representation of his own to the meeting so… what can we do? Rumors (so far, just rumors) suggest Carollo is no fan of the Bicycle Master Plan (yet), that he thinks car parking is more important than bringing cyclists and pedestrians to stores, or that he simply doesn’t realize how important these projects are to us, the residents of Miami.

Of course, we cannot expect the new Commissioner to automatically support everything started in his district before he took office. We understand that it can take time to look at each project and that even if it is nearly completed, he will be held responsible if it is completed under his watch. So, we have reached out to the Commissioner and hope that you will, too. Let him know that you support road improvements that support the City’s Complete Streets Policy and/or Bicycle Master Plan and/or whatever you feel is important.

Each City of Miami Commissioner controls the dollars spent on capital improvements (including road projects) in his district. Have you emailed or called your commissioner to introduce yourself yet?  He needs to hear from you. If you do not live in the City, you can still reach out to the commissioner of the district where you work, do your shopping or otherwise visit. encourages our readers to engage with their local government and support moving Miami better.

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I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say that Christopher Lecanne’s death last Sunday could have been avoided. There are a number of factors that contributed to that tragic event, starting with Carlos Bertonatti’s decision to inebriate himself and then drive back home under the influence. This was not an accident. Bertonatti may not have set out to kill Lecanne, but the moment he decided to drive under the influence he accepted, consciously or not, that he could be an instrument to death. And he was. But there was also an aspect to the event that has to deal with the bicycling infrastructure on which Lecanne transited, namely the bike lane that puts people on bicycles right next to cars on a road where drivers routinely overshoot the speed limit.

This event highlighted something that bicycle advocates in Miami have been telling those in positions of power for days, weeks, months and years prior: our roadways are not safe for people on human-powered vehicles. Key Biscayne is one of Miami’s premier cycling location, the place where, if anywhere, going beyond the strict requirements of the law would be worth it given the amount of people on bicycles that use it. And yet, as written by Esther Calas, P.E., Director of Miami-Dade County Public Works Department, the facilities there only meet the State and Federal requirements. That’s all they shot for, without consideration that this particular area could use some specifications that go beyond.

Key Biscayne is a microcosm of Greater Miami. The tragedy that took place on Key Biscayne last week can, and has, and will, happen elsewhere in Miami wherever bikes and car are forced to co-exist without the proper attention as to how that coexistence needs to happen for safety’s sake. Need proof? Look no further than October 2009 and the sad case of teenager Rodolfo Rojo, killed on Biscayne Boulevard.

How many more Rojos or Lecannes will it take before those people in positions of power, people put there by our very own votes, will finally get the message and take action to protect the bicycle-riding segment of the population they represent and serve?

As it is usually the case, the tragedy has acted as a catalyst and now we’re getting responses and promises from people like Commissioner Sarnoff and Miami Dade County Mayor Alvarez (still notably missing is Miami Mayor Regalado). I hope these lead to actual changes, I really do. Maybe this will make people realize that bicycle advocates are not just talking to hear themselves talk when we tell politicians over and over than more and better bicycling infrastructure can and does help keep people safe when on human-powered vehicles.

Bicycle riding isn’t a fad. It is an accepted, long-standing and continually-increasing form of transportation, one that has to be taken seriously and accounted for in current and future plans for the cities and county of Miami.

When it comes to Lecanne, could a separated bike lane have saved his life? We’ll never know for sure. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could figure it out before we have another such tragedy in our hands?

According to Forbes Magazine the Miami World Center mega-project, which promised to transform Downtown Miami, seems to be imploding.  With the partners suing each other for fraud and Deutche Bank foreclosing on a number of the World Center lots, the project, which was supported by the City of Miami with special favors and taxpayer money, now appears to be dead in the water.  The thousands of new residents in the area now have to continue to be surrounded by abandoned and dilapidated lots, adversely affecting the quality of life in the neighborhood.Just another chapter in the sad history of “redevelopment” in the area.  The December 1982 Redevelopment Plan characterizes the area as “underdeveloped land, substandard parking lots, poor lighting”.  Unfortunately, the area looks much the same today, despite more than 25 years of “redevelopment”.  In 1987 the Boundaries of the redevelopment area were modified for the “Gran Central” project, a million square foot retail / office development, which was never built.  The Miami Arena, which was supposed to be a catalyst for redevelopment, has since been torn down, leaving an unsightly pile of rocks in its place.  Over the years, plans for stadiums, convention centers, and other mega-projects have prevented any organic development from taking place.

Then the City of Miami teamed up with the Miami World Center Group, which began accumulating property in 2004.  Immediately after the property was purchased by the group, the City upzoned the area nearly 250%, vastly increasing the value of the World Center holdings.  In 2008, City resources were diverted to developing a “Special Miami World Center Zoning District”, with an unspecified cost to taxpayers.  In 2009, the Overtown CRA contracted a $1.2 million regional impact study, normally paid for by the developers themselves.  In the June 2009, the City of Miami issued a conflict of interest waiver to allow the CEO of the World Center to sit on the Board of the Downtown Development Authority while continuing to do business with the City.

So what now?  Faced with financing and legal problems, lobbyists for the World Center Group are going after public money to bail them out.  A “public / private partnership” for a billion dollar convention center in Park West is being pushed by the DDA, whose Board contains lobbyists and supporters of World Center.  This is despite Mayor Regalado’s vow to put any new mega-projects to a public referendum, the Miami Beach Convention Center’s planned $55 M in renovations, and numerous studies showing lack of demand for such a project.   If a convention center is built (albeit extremely unlikely), there would suddenly be demand for thousands of hotel rooms in the area, potentially resurrecting the Miami World Center project from the grave.

So if it sounds like history repeating itself, it is. Why do City officials continue to follow the same failed strategies as in the past?  Why not think outside the box in this era of change?  Instead of mega-projects, why not beautify the area “one block at time” as the new Mayor has suggested. Put a public park on the old arena site, focus on a commuter rail into Downtown, lobby for a supermarket to serve the 20,000 residents north of the river.  A clean, pedestrian friendly neighborhood will encourage investment and vastly improve the quality of life for the 5,000 or so new residents of Park West.  This is a proven model used around the country, including South Beach and we should use it.  Our New Mayor ran on a platform of listening to concerns of constituents and NO MORE mega-projects.  Unfortunately there are still those in the City who are not listening.

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