Dear City of Coral Gables,
I love you. You truly are the City Beautiful, a title and reputation well deserved and well maintained. (Well, at least when you’re not knocking out your own teeth by forfeiting precious building space for a parking lot).
Despite my deep affection for you, you lovely gem of a greater Miami municipality, you disappointed me today.
I love riding along your M-Path curves, but I will not tolerate one of your very own Public Works Department employees coming between us like this.
If this is going to work out, you’ll have to promise that you’ll never again allow one of your city employees to violate our relationship. I better not encounter a motor vehicle on the M-Path ever again, especially not one bearing your city seal and colors.
I strongly doubt you’d allow one of these guys to block one of your motor vehicle lanes. Who do you think you are allowing them to block a multi-use path?!
The M-Path is, without a doubt, one of Miami’s top bicycle amenities. Officially called the Metropath, the corridor was recently acknowledged by FDOT consultant Stewart Robertson as, “the most connected, non-motorized path in Miami-Dade County.” The path has been the subject of numerous Transit Miami posts over the years, where we have advocated for both long and short-term changes that will improve connectivity along the path, including better crosswalks, repaving and straightening.
Luckily, city officials are realizing what an asset the M-path is, and are busy implementing parts of the 2007 M-Path Master Plan, as evidenced by the recent celebration of the M-Path south extension on April 5 where Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez officially inaugurated the path’s newly-minted Dadeland sections (including the new pedestrian bridge over the Snapper Creek expressway).
With all the attention being paid to the M-Path, we wanted to go back to review the action items from the 2007 Master Plan, and compare that plan with the proposed M-path improvement project(s). The projects, recently presented to members of the Miami-Dade Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee by FDOT consultant Stewart Robertson, include short- and long-term improvements being made to the path.
- resurfacing critical sections,
- providing advance warning signals and re-striping crosswalks,
- installing north/south directional signs, as well as signage indicating distances to Metrorail stations,
- installing ‘STOP’ pavement markings near intersections,
- marking precarious and sight-limited meandering (curving) sections,
- constructing the path’s missing links at the University of Miami parking lot sections,
- realigning the path at the South Miami Metrorail station and closing the existing sidewalk (identified as a “high crime area” in the Master Plan),
- installing emergency call boxes at these “high crime areas”,
- implementing encroachment prevention measures, and
- applying development standards during site plan review and approval.
- realigning overly meandering parts of the path,
- widening the path to 12-feet,
- installing countdown pedestrian signals,
- reconfiguring intersection layouts (to include, e.g., crosswalk realignments, refuge islands, raised intersections, bollards, etc.),
- installing lighting along the path,
- enhancing landscaping along the path,
- providing way-finding signage to the Metrorail stations,
- constructing a non-motorized bridge at the Coral Gables Waterway (the canal crossed by the path via an extremely narrow bridge along Ponce de Leon Boulevard), and
- coordinating a property/easement exchange with the occupant of the lot adjacent to the path at Bird (SW 40th Street) and Douglas (SW 37th Avenue) Roads.
According to Robertson, 9 of the 10 short-term improvements have either been addressed, or will be addressed within the next two years through a series of upcoming projects. While we don’t know where, when, and how most of these 9 short-term improvements are to be made, the current capital projects will include resurfacing those portions of the path where asphalt has crumbled, reinforcing those sidewalk sections of path (typically found near Metrorail stations) where tree roots have cracked the concrete, and realigning excessive curves along the path.
In some cases these curves block two-way visibility along the path and contribute to the path’s many disjointed sections. In addition to straightening the path, attention will be paid to intersections critical for connectivity. Notable path alignment and crosswalk improvements mentioned in the presentation include SW 19th Avenue (which will involve a re-milling of hilly topography), SW 22nd Avenue, SW 24th Avenue, the parking-lot sections along the path near the University of Miami, and SW 80th Street.
Intersection enhancements include the widening of curb ramps to the width of the M-Path itself (as was done in the path’s newly constructed and re-constructed southern Dadeland sections), and the painting of high-emphasis/high-impact (‘ladder’) crosswalks. The M-Path Master Plan also prescribes that the new crosswalks be 12 feet in width and further accentuated with supplemental coloring (i.e., with green paint). No clear verbal indication was made by Robertson as to whether these width and color enhancements are included in the proposed projects, though they were depicted in some of the figures contained in his presentation.
Without question, the safety, accessibility, and connectivity of the M-Path – our community’s most prized shared-use path – will improve.
However, a notoriously daunting and dangerous problem continues to plague the M-Path: automobiles encroach onto the crosswalks — where and if present — linking the path.
Numerous examples of this can be found, especially at intersections with major arterials like SW 27th Avenue, SW 67th Avenue, and SW 32 Avenue, although they occur at every street crossing the path. Motorists at these cross-streets turning-onto US-1 (or turning right from US-1) advance their vehicles into the crosswalks without consideration, obstructing the passage of M-Path walkers, joggers, skaters, bikers, and those in wheel-chairs.
Transit Miami strongly advocates for a very simple solution: A Miami-Dade County ordinance and/or Florida-wide law prohibiting right turns at red lights abutting at intersections abutting any multi-use facility, such as the Metrorail-Path.
The forthcoming implementation of some of the short- and long-term improvements laid-out in the 2007 M-Path Master Plan is exciting, and will undoubtedly transform our community’s experience on the M-Path for recreational, commuting, and overall transportation purposes. We give these projects a Transit Miami thumbs up!
Local bicyclists will ride the length of the M-Path on Jan. 14 to cross the new bridge over the Snapper Creek Expressway and celebrate the near-completion of the M-Path Extension. The 12-mile ride will start at Metrorail’s Brickell Station that Saturday at 10 a.m., continuing through Miami, Coral Gables, and South Miami to cross the bridge alongside U.S. 1 below SW 67th Avenue, then on to Continental Park, 10000 SW 82nd Ave.
“Including three cities and a county park in this ride is symbolic of how the M-Path ties our community together,” said Dario Gonzalez of Emerge Miami, one of three groups putting the ride together. The M-Path Extension officially opens sometime in February. That will mark the closure of the Dadeland Gap, the 1.2-mile section that was left out of the M-Path when it was built along with the Metrorail guideway on the former route of the Florida East Coast Railway. “The M-Path is a priceless asset for active, healthy living,” said John Hopkins, executive director of Green Mobility Network, which has made M-Path improvement a key goal of its advocacy program for the past four years. “We are thrilled to see it completed.”
At the Dadeland South Station, the path connects with the South Dade Trail – and from there you can ride beside the Busway all the way to Florida City. They combine to make a 31-mile, offroad route all the way to downtown Miami. Think what that means for walkers, joggers, and cyclists in omestead, in Goulds, in Pinecrest and so on, right up to the Miami River. “May the Snapper expressway bridge show that locally and statewide, we aggresively pursue and improve all types of green mobility which promote walking, biking, and transit,” said Maricé Chael, an architect and co-founder of Bike SoMi.
The M-Path was built 28 years ago as a service road for the Miami Metrorail, the elevated commuter railroad between Dadeland and downtown Miami’s Brickell financial district. Joggers, cyclists and everyday strollers soon adopted it. Today it’s a popular commuter path for cyclists in Coral Gables and points south who enjoy breezing past the rush-hour drivers on South Dixie Highway. While Miami-Dade Transit owns the M-Path, the M-Path Extension was constructed under a contract managed by the Florida Department of Transportation. The project includes new pathway at each end and north of North Kendall Drive, seven signalized crossings, and the 200-foot bridge across the mouth of the Snapper Creek Expressway. There’s also an attractive stretch along the C-2 canal at the Dadeland North Station.
Surveyors started driving stakes to outline the new path in January 2011. The budgeted cost was $4.5 million. Initial financing came through Florida’s share of federal Transportation Enhancement funding, augmented by stimulus money after planners decided that adding a bridge to the initial plan would make for safer travel. The work was carried out in a design-build partnership of C3TS, of Coral Gables, and Community Asphalt, of Hialeah. The steel-truss bridge was fabricated in Alabama and erected by Anzac Contractors, of Miami. For an FDOT fact sheet, visit http://www.fdotmiamidade.com/current-projects/south-miami-dade/m-path-extension-bicycle-andpedestrian-trail-.html The county’s M-Path Master Plan outlines a series of safety enhancements to include lighting, signed and signalized crossings, and some path realignment. Plans for the first of those are underway.
The geography of Miami-Dade county has always been an Achilles heel in providing premium transit service to the far reaches of the county and will continue to be a challenge as we try to expand alternative modes of transportation - but connecting bikes and transit is one of the best ways to leverage our existing transit network. If you factor in a five minute bike ride - approximately one mile - you start to capture a larger population. Getting to stations is one of the biggest challenges, as our on-street bicycle network is still in its infancy. One saving grace is the hugely successful M-Path, which was the subject of a recent shoddy article in the New Times (where my quote was taken way out of context). Simple signage would help, as would prioritizing bicycle infrastructure investments around stations.
Once at the station, however, there are a host of other challenges that range from poor signage to conflicts with pedestrians. BPAC member Matthew Toro has been a frequent critic of MDT’s bike and ride policy, and put together some pretty compelling arguments about why the current policy has to change. He writes that the current MDT policy toward bicyclist is “highly contradictory, ambiguous, [and] unenforceable. There are serious inconsistencies regarding the how many bikes are allowed on the train; where they’re allowed on the train; plans to include vertical bike racks/hooks in future rail cars; bicyclists occupying multiple Metrorail seats, thereby denying non-bicyclist riders the chance to sit, especially during high-occupancy periods, etc.”
He presented the following policy problems and potential solutions at the BPAC meeting on 11/14.
While I don’t think that prohibiting bikes on MetroRail during rush hour is a good idea - especially as we try to strengthen bicycle and transit use - the other policy suggestions are right on. Great ideas Matthew.
I’ll leave you with two other items on the subject of MDT’s bike and ride. One is a powerpoint that Matthew Toro put together for BPAC that illustrates the many problems with bicyclists on the MetroRail and the other is a PSA about the MDT Bike and Ride program that gives more info about the current rules and how to use your bike on the system.
As popular as Bike & Ride is - it has its challenges.
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???
According to our friends at the Green Mobility Network, work began this week on the Dadeland Gap extension of the M-Path. This is great news. Apparently a portion of the $700k which was allotted to Phase 1 of this project will be used to extend the M-Path.
The Dadeland Gap extension is essential; however, Miami-Dade Transit needs to also focus their attention on improving the existing M-Path. Although I may disagree with the priority of the projects, congratulations are in order for Miami-Dade Transit as this is a sign of progress for the M-Path.
Congratulations also to the Green Mobility Network for making this happen. Without their hard work and perseverance this would not have happened.
Today I rode the M-Path for the first time in about a month since my last post about the progress of the M-Path. I was hoping to give our readers a positive update, but unfortunately here we are nearly 4 months into the M-Path project and work seems to have come to a standstill. In all fairness, I only rode the M-Path from Brickell to Bird Road, but did not see any new improvements. This makes me wonder if all we are getting for $700k is a patch job for some potholes, root rot, and a couple of inches of added width to the M-Path in a few locations?
Since there is nothing new to report, please allow me to suggest a few more ideas for improvements that Miami-Dade Transit ought to consider.
For starters, safety should be the #1 priority; not the cosmetic work that is being done. Miami Dade Transit must consider a “no right hand turn on red” from all streets that cross the M-Path on to US-1. Currently, traffic signals such as the one on 22nd (see below) and US-1 encourage vehicles to maintain their speed rather then slow down at pedestrian and M-Path crossings. This is a simple solution which will make the M-Path safer for pedestrians and bicyclists alike.
Miami-Dade Transit should also take this opportunity to extend the path through “desire lines” (see below) which pedestrians and bicyclists created. Why this was not considered during Phase 1 of the project is beyond my understanding. Simply fixing what is already broken does not make the M-Path better.
Below is a M-Path greenway simulation picture that Mike Lydon from The Street Plans Collaborative included in the Miami Bicycle Master Plan. This is what Miami-Dade Transit’s goal should be for the M-Path.
I sincerely hope that Phase 1 of this project is not anywhere near completion. If it is, we have a problem.
This morning I joined our friends from the Green Mobility Network for a bike ride on the M-Path to see the improvements which Miami-Dade Transit has been working on for the past two months. Although some improvements have been made, they have left much to be desired. From what I experienced, the improvements are mostly cosmetic and have no real impact on the real problems of the M-Path. Repairs to the asphalt are being done where there is tree-root damage to the path. In some sections, the path has been widened by a few inches as well. Aside from these improvements, not much else has been done. So why am I not satisfied?
I am unsure that the M-Path merits the designation of a “path”. Usually a “path” has as a main characteristic some level of connectivity, and unfortunately the M-Path does not. There is no clear designation or markings for one to follow the M-Path.
Miami Dade Transit has budgeted $700,000 to make these improvements. From what I have seen, there has not been $700,000 worth of work done to the path so far. Although the improvements certainly help, the more pressing safety issues that the M-Path has have not been given priority.
Rather then looking at the M-Path as a whole, Miami-Dade Transit is fixing the problem with a piecemeal strategy. This strategy is wholly flawed and wasteful, as some of the work that is being completed today, will have to be undone in the future when a more comprehensive project to fix the M-Path is undertaken. Safety should take precedence. Below is a list of priorities for the M-Path.
Intersections: Safety issues at street intersections must be addressed. How can we possibly call a path a path, if we cannot safely cross at intersections? This is baffling to me. Initial funding should have been allocated to the intersections, not fixing potholes.
Path Route and Width: The route of the M-Path dangerously meanders near US 1 at times without any protection for the bicyclists from cars. Several of the curves are hazardously blind which happens to place cyclists riding in opposite directions in a precarious situation. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the path is not wide enough, nor does it have any lane markings. The current path route is not always the safest for bicyclists, and needs to be rerouted in certain areas. Wherever possible, the path should follow the straightest, most direct route.
Lighting and Signage: The M-Path becomes very dangerous after sunset. Currently, there is no lighting whatsoever on the M-Path. In addition, clear path signage and mile markers should be placed along the M-Path. First time users of the M-Path will get lost.
Below are a few pictures I took this morning with some commentary:
Work is moving ahead very slowly on the M-path. Too slowly actually. This work in progress has become a hazard for bicyclists. I’m not sure who is in charge of the M-Path project, but I know they can do better. Someone may get hurt out there. Please use caution when using the M-Path. The Transit Miami eye is watching the M-Path project very closely…
Good, but belated news: The Green Mobility Network is reporting a win with the County regarding much needed funding for the M-Path. Read all the news here, or an excerpt below.
We are celebrating today after the Miami-Dade Commission’s vote to transfer $700,000 in order to repair the bone-jarring damaged pavement along parts of the M-Path. This money may also cover planning new signals at one or more of the troublesome street crossings near U.S. 1 between Vizcaya and South Miami.
Do indeed contact your County Commissioners and let them know you support the M-Path and appreciate their decision to fund its improvement.
Hi all, writing from New York City this morning…unfortunately I was unable to make the final Bike Miami Days event, but I have heard it was a great way to close the BMD season. Thanks to all who came out, volunteered, and help make all of these incredible events happen over the past 7 months.
Second, please fill out this brief 11-question survey for the City of Miami’s Bicycle Master Plan, an effort to which my new consulting firm The Street Plans Collaborative recently began work. Also, in the near future look for the announcement for some public events in which you may come out and participate in the planning effort.
Today’s agenda for the Miami-Dade Commission meeting included an item to transfer $700,000 so that badly needed repairs to the M-Path could begin this year instead of in 2012. I just got word that Commissioner Sosa had pulled the item — 8 (J)(1)(A) — from the consent agenda. That may only mean she has questions about it, but it might also mean she opposes it. I’ve called to find out, and am waiting for an answer. If you’re close to County Hall today, I encourage you to drop in on the meeting and see what happens. This may be an important day to speak up respectfully for the M-Path’s importance.
The funds in today’s agenda item won’t carry out the full M-Path Master Plan, but they would be enough to do a significant part of the work that is needed to attract new riders and make the path safer and more agreeable for those of us already relying on it for commuting and recreation.
Last week I decided to go cycling along the M-Path and was taken aback by the hostility and fragmentation of Miami’s only main Bicycle route. I was even more shocked when last weekend I visited Cambridge again and witnessed first hand the disparity between Miami’s and Cambridge’s cycling facilities. We have a long way to go.
Cambridge is by far one of the friendliest cities in the United States for cycling. Click here for a full citywide map of routes. Most city streets look like the image below and the bike lanes provide a consistent network for area residents.
The M-Path, our “premier” cycling facility is a fragmented trail of hostility. As the M-Path to Enlightenment points out, if you aren’t paying attention and are traveling too fast, you’ll end up in the Miami River along the path’s northern terminus in Downtown Miami. I was taken aback most by the lovely “No Trespassing” signs along the very public right-of-way. A little misleading, isn’t it?
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