Archive for the 'Street Capacity' Category

Bad Congestion "Solutions" Coming From County Hall

The Miami-Dade County Public Works Department and Florida Department of Transportation are at it again, busy coming up with harebrained ideas to “solve” the congestion problems of Miami-Dade. The recent proposed scheme is a system of reversible flow lanes scattered across the county adding a limited amount of capacity at certain points. The problem I have with system isn’t the lanes themselves, but rather how our local government continues to undermine itself and efforts to reduce congestion.

About a decade ago, the state Department of Transportation tried to improve Seventh Avenue by removing on-street parking, especially those with ample nearby surface lots and behind-stores parking.

Local merchants, commercial property owners and some nearby residents were outraged. The local politicians told the DOT to back off. Nothing changed.

DOT tried to improve Seventh Avenue by removing on street parking? This is the fundamental problem I have encountered with my profession and is the main reason why I plan to jump ship from engineering to urban planning. Engineering, particularly transportation engineers, tend to be concerned with one thing and one thing only: efficiency. FDOT has a nasty habit of overlooking other crucial details such as transit use, on street parking, streetscapes, bicycle facilities, and pedestrian interaction in the name of squeezing out a little extra capacity.

Other serious questions need to be addressed. This is a community with high transit usage, meaning more pedestrians than other parts of town. Will they be able to safely cross the avenue? Lighting will be paramount.

I predict if this disaster of a plan is put into effect, we will inevitably witness pedestrian deaths increase sharply. Under this plan Seventh Avenue will become a highway, inaccessible to anything and anyone not traveling in a car and further hampering efforts to create a livable community.

If the reversible lanes work, operationally and politically, on Seventh Avenue, more of them may follow. Several studies are under way: North Miami Avenue, between downtown and 79th or 82nd street; U.S. 1, from I-95 to Bird Road; portions of Flagler Street, and Bird Road, just west of the turnpike, between southwest 117th and 147th avenues.

US-1 from I-95 to Bird Road? Never mind the fact that this stretch of street runs parallel to the one logical transit solution in the county: Metrorail. Adding capacity along US-1 is the last thing we should do when we already have a solution with plenty of capacity zooming along overhead. Why waste PTP money to undermine our transit system? This plan will create miniature highways all across the county, jeopardizing any hopes of creating urban neighborhoods.

Upcoming Meetings 6-8 pm:

Tuesday: Church of the Open Doors UCC, 6001 NW Eighth Ave.
Wednesday: Culmer-Overtown Neighborhood Center, 1600 NW Third Ave.
Thursday: New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church, 777 NW 85th St.

Understanding Street Capacity

Below is a series of pictures that I just love. I think they do an excellent job illustrating the concept of street capacity, making clear how much valuable urban street space is wasted by private automobile travel.
This first picture above shows 24 cars on a block in some town. It’s amazing how much space is taken up just so a couple dozen people can move around (or store their vehicles if the outside columns of cars are “parked” in this picture).

The second picture below clearly shows how much street space is wasted by all these private, single- occupant vehicles.

The third picture below clearly shows how much street space is preserved when mass transportation such as streetcars or buses are used to transport the same number of people through uniform space.

The last picture below illustrates just how small a space is used by the same number of people when they are pedestrians.
All of these pictures help us to see the intrinsic link between land use (e.g. density, urban design, parking requirements, etc) and transportation. In turn, it helps us understand how high quality urban land uses that emphasize density, pedestrian-oriented design, and transit instead of automobiles actually make for more sustainable environments than less dense or more sprawling locales which facilitate private automobile usage.

When you can to begin to grasp this concept, you will have begun to understand how unsustainable the auto-centric city is even with an unlimited supply of the cleanest, greenest fuel technology.

Photos courtesy of terrian.org and streetsblog.com