Currently viewing the tag: "Mimo"

Crash on NE 57th and Biscayne Blvd on Aug. 25, 2012. Third crash in the past 10 days in a 10 block stretch of Biscayne Boulevard. Clearly speeding is a problem.

Just this past week two more crashes occurred on Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo Historic District. That brings the total crashes to three in the past ten days and 14 in the past two years. Ten days ago I reported about a crash that occurred near NE 54th Street and several MiMo residents sent emails to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and to Commissioner Sarnoff. You can read their emails here.  I wonder if they received a reply from either gentleman?

Crash on Biscayne and NE 60th (8/24/2012). Three crashes in the past ten days within 10 blocks.

Ignoring the problem of the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard is no longer an option. It is only a matter of time before a fatality occurs and it is clear that something needs to be done. Biscayne Boulevard isn’t safe for pedestrians, cyclists or drivers, nor is it a business-friendly street.

Crash on Biscayne and NE 48th Street. This previously unreported accident occurred on June 15th. Source: Transit Miami informant known as agent “B”.

This situation will only get worse if the flawed high-speed design of this road is not immediately resolved. Fourteen crashes, in a two year period, within a twenty-five-blocks isn’t an acceptable safety standard.

Please send an email to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Sarnoff and ask them to make Biscayne Boulevard safer for everyone. Click here to send an email to both gentlemen.

Check out how Biscayne Boulevard should look. Can you imagine a business and pedestrian-friendly MiMo with on-street parking?  Wouldn’t it be nice if cars moved slower through the historic district?  This is all possible- a team from the University of Miami developed three alternative streetscape designs for Biscayne Boulevard. Which alternative do you prefer?

 

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In response to our post last week we were copied on several emails from Transit Miami Readers to FDOT District 6 Secretary and Commissioner Sarnoff regarding the unacceptable design conditions of Biscayne Boulevard that has led to at least 11 crashes in the past two years in the MiMo Historic District.  How much longer will the FDOT and the City of Miami continue to ignore the fact that Biscayne Boulevard is hostile to pedestrians and the businesses that operate along Biscayne Boulevard? Without further ado…

Honorable Mayor Regalado, Commissioner Sarnoff and Mr. Gus Pego,

Subject: A Dangerous MiMo District

RE:  http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/11th-biscayne-boulevard-crash-in-mimo-during-the-past-two-years-the-fdot-is-silent

Felipe is right on target with his assessment of the dangerous traffic conditions in the MiMo Biscayne Boulevard Historic District.  You, your staff and State representatives have been put on notice and made aware of this problem dozens of times by way of letters, emails and meetings since the first death shortly after the 2007 reconstruction.

There have been various studies since the reconstruction all referencing the unsafe conditions and the fact it is NOT pedestrian friendly.  In addition to the  public’s safety, the average replacement cost of a light pole which exceeds $10,000 then add tree replacement, public employee hours and potential lawsuits - one would think preemptive safety measures make good sense.

I attended the very first meeting between the MiMo Biscayne Association at FDOT offices and the attitude regarding loss of life was appalling.  Again and again, the goal to “move traffic” as stated is the priority and I can understand that goal. But, what seems to have been forgotten is that you are in your position because of the taxpayers and that we, the taxpayers have told you over and over that we want to be safe on our sidewalks.  Why can’t you just do this for us?

Fran

 

Please make Biscayne blvd safer. Please put stop lights at every intersection. When I walk with my young children I am very fearful of the traffic. It is not safe and not good for business if we feel afraid to walk to dogma or other local venues.
Thank you.
Jenny

 

Mr. Pego & Commissioner Sarnoff:

My name is Melanie. I live in Bell Meade.  I too believe it is imperatvie that Biscayne Blvd. in MIMO become more pedestrian friendly.  I love the fact that my family is able to walk to Sunday beakfast at Balans (which we do every Sunday) or dinner somewhere else on the boulevard. However, I DO NOT FEEL SAFE, when am walking with my husband and son (who is almost 2) and cars are whizzing by us at light speeds.  There are portions of the sidewalk that provide us with less than 3 feet to walk on (see the sidewalk on the east side of biscayne near 70th street - adjacent to the empty parking lot by the Rapunzel salon) becuase the hedges are overgrown.  I enjoy living where we live, and would hope that you, our elected officials would help to make it as safe as possible for the growing number of families with young children that live in our area.

Thank you for your anticipated assistance.
Very Truly Yours,
Melanie

 

Honorable Mayor Regalado, Commissioner Sarnoff and Mr. Gus Pego,

Please help make MiMo District of Biscayne Boulevard safer and pedestrian friendly.

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/11th-biscayne-boulevard-crash-in-mimo-during-the-past-two-years-the-fdot-is-silent

Thank you,
Jo

 

Please figure out a plan to fix Biscayne Blvd. Doing so will increase business in your area. A strong pedestrian base is essential to commerce. Paul

 

Please consider making Biscayne Boulevard more pedestrian friendly. It is a major thoroughfare with close proximity to the intracoastal waterway making it the backbone of North Dade. As such, I frequently see pedestrians and bike riders on the street. They deserve the same safety that our cars enjoy.
Regards,
Brandon

Please join in the fun and send an email to the FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and Commissioner Sarnoff and ask them to make Biscayne Boulevard more pedestrian and business-friendly. Click here to send an email to both gentlemen.

This problem is not going to get any better by ignoring it and we will continue to report about crashes until proper action is taken by the FDOT and the City of Miami. Eleven crashes in less than two years is not acceptable for a twenty-five block stretch of Biscayne Boulevard.

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Dear Commissioner Sarnoff,

As a resident of Belle Meade I am opposed to the use of $70,000 from the Quality of Life funds to erect a fence surrounding my community. I wholeheartedly believe that the use of these funds is a waste of money that will not make Belle Meade any safer. I think these funds could be used more effectively to address “Quality of Life” issues that affect the ENTIRE Upper East Side community and not just Belle Meade.

I propose that these funds should be used for an Upper East Side charrette. An intensive 7-10 day charrette that brings the community together to address our concerns and collectively plan for the future of the Upper East Side will do more to improve the quality of life for ALL residents then a fence excluding my neighbors from outside my Belle Meade community from entering Belle Meade.

The SINGLE most important thing that we should do as a community is encourage redevelopment in the area with more density.  The more density we have, the more active our streets become and thus our community becomes safer. I have spoken to developers and they have informed me that the current 35′ designation along Biscayne Boulevard discourages them from investing and bringing the needed density to this commercial corridor.  This is just one of the items that should be discussed during an Upper East Side charrette.

The SECOND most important thing that we could do as a community is design and engineer a streetscape that is business and pedestrian friendly. To achieve this we must:

  • Add parallel parking
  • Reduce travel lanes to calm traffic and discourage speeding
  • Add crosswalks at every intersection

The MiMo BID has met with the FDOT on several occasions, and the FDOT has confirmed that the ideas proposed in a recent MiMo Streetscape Vision Plan produced by Chuck Bohl and Jaime Correa from the University of Miami are feasible.

Retailers need accessible parallel parking in order to thrive.  Reducing the travel lanes and adding parking will naturally reduce the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard to the 35 mph it should be.  As it stands now the current design speed is 45 mph. The MiMo Historic District is a commercial corridor, not a highway. Ten miles-per-hour would make an enormous impact in terms of economic development and pedestrian friendliness.

Many community stakeholders know and believe that in order to reduce crime we need more density and a business and pedestrian friendly streetscape design. Building a porous $70,000 fence will not achieve the desired reduction in crime.  With $70,000 ALL the neighborhoods from the Upper East Side could come together in a charrette and work towards a safer and more prosperous community. I believe this is a far better use of the Quality of Life funds that are meant to improve the quality of life for the ENTIRE Upper East Community and not just Belle Meade.

Respectfully,

Felipe Azenha

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The following letter was sent to Gus Pego,  District 6 Secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, from Scott Timm, outgoing Executive Director of the MiMo Business Improvement Committee. Scott and other MiMo stakeholders like Barabara Gimenez and Nancy Liebman have been vocal proponents of improving pedestrian conditions on Biscayne Boulevard, recognizing the connection between successful commercial frontage, and vibrant pedestrian culture.

Mr. Pego,

As you know, the MiMo Business Improvement Committee (BIC) has been advocating modifications to the current design of Biscayne Boulevard, especially the section between 61st and 77th Streets. I understand that at the time the project was being presented to the community, there were competing interests and requests that resulted in the current design. And I certainly understand that budgets are tight, and would not advocate needlessly spending taxpayer dollars.

But the current design of Biscayne Boulevard is a disaster, and it is only a matter of time before someone is killed or seriously injured along this stretch. Your office says that more enforcement is the solution to the problem. Do parents with small children rely on enforcement only to protect their youngsters from danger, say from toxic chemicals under the sink? No, they add easy-to-install cabinet locks to make the environment safer, so that 24/7 enforcement is NOT required. Why insist we spend millions of taxpayer dollars on ongoing enforcement solutions when the roadway could be designed once to enforce safe speeds and conditions?

This item recently posted to the TransitMiami blog illustrates the all-too-common problem - speeding cars flying off the road and smashing streetlight poles and bus shelters. This has been a ongoing occurrence in this neighborhood, and yet all of our meetings with your staff end with the apology that “there’s nothing we can do.”

We think there is something you can do. The MiMo BIC has proposed a re-striping scenario to restore parallel parking to Biscayne Boulevard, creating safer sidewalks for pedestrians and safer speeds for motorists. We’re told that FDOT can do nothing until Biscayne Boulevard is identified as a priority, specifically in the City of Miami’s Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan (MCNP).

Interestingly enough, we are in the MCNP. Policy TR-1.4.5 defines the “Urban Street” as “a pedestrian and vehicular way whose primary function is to serve adjoining residential neighborhoods and the businesses that serve them.” The policy identifies some city roadways as prime examples of Urban Streets, and Biscayne Boulevard is the first one listed. Quoting further from the MNCP: “Principles that will guide the design process will include, as appropriate: lower design speeds and control of traffic volumes utilizing traffic calming devices including but not limited to modification of lane widths consistent with lower design speeds; wide sidewalks; medians; roundabouts; landscaping; attractive lighting; creative and informative signage; on-street parking; and other design features and amenities as appropriate.”

All we want is a neighborhood that is safe for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. A neighborhood that will encourage pedestrian activity as a way to revitalize the local businesses. A neighborhood where the historic roadway serves as a point of pride. Unfortunately, the current design of Biscayne Boulevard is flawed, and for the sake of safety - if not esthetics -  it needs to be repaired before someone else is injured or killed.

I would also encourage you to become a regular reader of the TransitMiami blog. There you will learn about problem spots throughout Miami-Dade County where pedestrians and cyclists are forced to fight for their lives; spots that could be made safe with simple roadway design changes.

For personal and family reasons, I am leaving my position at the MiMo BIC, to return north. But know that the BIC, and scores of local residents, business owners, and property owners, will continue to advocate for safer streets and sensible design. We hope that FDOT will partner with us in that journey.

Thank you,

Scott Timm, Executive Director of the MiMo Business Improvement Committee

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In two separate instances this week two large light poles were hit along Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side.  One of the accidents is located on Biscayne Boulevard and 60th Street; the other was on Biscayne and 55th Street.

Biscayne Boulevard and NE 60th Street. This light pole has been here for at least 1 week.

Two light poles in 1 week have been hit on Biscayne Boulevard. There is clearly an issue with the design speed.

The design speed of Biscayne Boulevard throughout the Upper East Side is about 45 mph.  Although the speed limit is 35 mph, it has become glaringly obvious that we have a speeding problem along this COMMERCIAL Boulevard.  I have lived in this neighborhood for a little less than a year and I am aware of at least 7 accidents that have involved motor vehicles taking out light poles/bus shelters/store fronts. I have documented most of them here.

Before someone mentions enforcement as the solution, please allow me to preemptively say that we need to design our roadways in order to achieve the speed we desire people to drive. In the case of Biscayne Boulevard, the design speed should not exceed 35 mph.  The FDOT must stop practicing wishful thinking and begin designing roadways that discourage speeding and do not require enforcement. Properly designed streets enforce themselves. Biscayne Boulevard is essentially a highway that cuts through commercial and residential neighborhoods; there are also several schools in this area. There is no good reason for a 45 mph design speed.

Adding insult to injury it has taken more then a week for our government to take action and pick up the light pole. Why is that? Since there is yellow tape surrounding the damaged light pole, government must be aware that there was an accident. Where’s the workflow?  Do the police not inform the County Public Works Department, the FDOT and the city of Miami that this pole needs to be picked up from the sidewalk? Last time a light pole was knocked down it took nearly two weeks to remove the debris.  What a joke.

How many more accidents need to occur before the FDOT acknowledges that the design speed of Biscayne Boulevard is too high? Maybe they are waiting for a few more deaths before they do something about Biscayne Boulevard.

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A pedestrian could have very easily been hit by this speeding car.

Just moments ago there was another accident in the MiMo Historic District.  This is at least the fifth accident in past 6 months that I have witnessed.  Biscayne Boulevard is an FDOT road. Although the posted speed limit is 35 mph the design speed of this roadway is closer to 45mph.  The design speed should not exceed the posted speed limit. FDOT should be doing much more to make Biscayne Boulevard more pedestrian friendly.  You can find our suggestions here:

I have documented all the accidents below:

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/motorcyclist-collides-with-pedestrian-on-biscayne-boulevard-in-mimo

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/bus-shelter-destroyed-in-mimo

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/pic-of-the-day-two-weeks-notice

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The Upper East Side neighborhood, loosely considered the area around the Biscayne Boulevard corridor from NE 50th Street to NE 85th Street, has tremendous potential for redevelopment. Unfortunately FDOT’s current streetscape design for Biscayne Boulevard is suffocating the neighborhood and stunting its growth.

FDOT recently resurfaced Biscayne Boulevard, but they did a disastrous job. They essentially designed a highway through a historic commercial and residential neighborhood without considering the needs of the businesses and residents that call the area home. As long as Biscayne Boulevard remains unfriendly to businesses and pedestrians conditions in the Upper East Side will not improve. The redevelopment of the Upper East Side begins with Biscayne Boulevard. FDOT must understand that they play a central role in the economic redevelopment of this community. They cannot persist to enable the decline of communities through poor roadway design that is unfriendly to businesses and pedestrians. If FDOT continues to design roadways with the sole purpose of moving cars faster, communities will suffer and they will not prosper.

The first step to redeveloping the Upper East Side neighborhood is to redesign the Biscayne Boulevard streetscape.  Lucky for the FDOT, University of Miami Professors Chuck Bohl and Jaime Correa have provided the MiMo Business Improvement Committee with a Biscayne Boulevard Streetscape Vision plan. At the very core of redevelopment are the businesses; they need to be on solid footing to thrive. Accessible parallel parking is the cornerstone for businesses to flourish.  Without it businesses will continue to go bust and prospective retailers will continue to turn their back to the area.

Source: MiMo Business Improvement Committee- Design by Professor Chuck Bohl and Professor Jaime Correa- University of Miami

 

Once parallel parking is in place, a number of things will occur which will transform the neighborhood. Existing business will blossom and new businesses will relocate to the neighborhood.  Parallel parking will help to calm traffic as well; bringing the current 45 mph design speed closer in-line with the 35 mph speed limit. (The speed limit should be reduced to 30mph). Once the design speed is reduced to 35 mph, Biscayne Boulevard will become more pedestrian friendly. Additional crosswalks and bicycle sharrows would also be introduced, further calming traffic and enhancing the pedestrian realm.

As a result, there will be a domino effect in the neighborhood. More businesses will open and remain open. A sense of place will be created and residents and visitors will begin supporting local retailers because the area will be more pedestrian friendly. More importantly, crime will decline since there will be more “eyes on the street”.

Last but not least, the 35 foot building height limit needs to increase to 53ft. Without it, real estate developers will not invest in the area.  One of two things will occur if the 35 foot building height limit remains- 1) Empty lots will remain or 2) The area will be filled with Discount Auto Parts type buildings. Contrary to doomsday conspiracy theorists that believe increasing the building height will destroy the neighborhood, the 53 ft building height is not out of scale. If we want good development to come to the area, the neighborhood must support an increase of the building height. If you want crappy development, keep the 35 foot building height limit.

Source: MiMo Business Improvement Committee- Design by Professor Chuck Bohl and Professor Jaime Correa- University of Miami

Source: MiMo Business Improvement Committee- Design by Professor Chuck Bohl and Professor Jaime Correa- University of Miami

So how do we make this happen?  Well, we here at Transit Miami are trying to mobilize the Upper East Side HOAs.  Tonight we will have an informal meeting with several HOA representatives. The Upper East Side HOAs need to come together with the MiMo Business Improvement Committee and the MiMo Biscayne Association and agree that streetscape design is the most pressing issue for the neighborhood. If the community speaks with one voice we can apply enough pressure on Commissioner Sarnoff and shame the FDOT to make these necessary and relatively inexpensive changes to make the economic redevelopment of our community a reality.

The Upper East Side Neighborhood must plan for its future now and begin envisioning the future for this historic district. We need to consider a week long charette and bring all major community stakeholders to the table within the next year. Let’s make this happen neighbors!

FYI: Speeding is clearly an issue on Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side neighborhood. I have documented three accidents in the past 4 months. There have been more, but I just have not had time to document all the accidents.

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/motorcyclist-collides-with-pedestrian-on-biscayne-boulevard-in-mimo

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/bus-shelter-destroyed-in-mimo

http://www.transitmiami.com/fdot/pic-of-the-day-two-weeks-notice

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The Miami-Dade County Public Works Department informed a group of Belle Meade residents that closing off public access to Belle Meade would not be allowed at a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night. In a letter addressed to Miami Commissioner Sarnoff,  County PWD Director Esther Calas had this to say:

The Manual of Uniform Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways (Florida Greenbook), developed by the FDOT provides minimum standards for the design and maintenance of County and municipal roadway systems, including pedestrian facilities such as sidewalks.  Chapter 8 of the Greenbook provides that “ All new highways, except limited access highways, should be designed and constructed under the assumption they will be used by pedestrians.”

Chapter 15 of the Greenbook provides that if traffic diverters are being installed to redirect vehicular traffic, such as a street closure, as has been in the Belle Meade neighborhood, “Bicyclists and pedestrians should be provided access through traffic diverters.

The Greenbook provisions are consistent with the Miami-Dade County Comprehensive Master Plan (CDMP), which provides that pedestrian and vehicular networks should serve as connectors between neighborhoods, while the walling off of a neighborhood from arterial roadways should be avoided.  It further states that pedestrian circulation shall be provided between public places through connectivity of sidewalks and supplements by pedestrian paths.”

Furthermore, the Pedestrian Safety Guide and Contermeasure Selection System, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, states that if a street closure is implemented, it should always allow for the free movement of all pedestrians including wheelchair users and bicyclists. Moreover, emergency vehicles should be able to access barricaded streets.  Additionally, street closures must be implemented so as “not to adversely affect access to destination in the community by pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Therefore, based on the attached local, state, and federal provisions and as stated by our Assistant County Attorney’s email, the modification of the existing barricaded streets to include blocking pedestrian access along the sidewalks in the Belle Meade neighborhood cannot be allowed. However, as an option pedestrian free movement may be provided through the installation of concrete pipe bollards.”

Belle Meade residents where quick to point out that the communities of Miami Shores and Coral Gate had completely closed off road access to pedestrians and bicyclists. Mr. Gaspar Miranda, Assistant Director of the Miami-Dade County Public Works, told the audience that both communities had been advised that the street closures had to be removed, setting the stage for a showdown between local NIMBY’s who fought for the walled neighborhoods and County officials.  The Coral Gate wall in particular was only recently completed and was strongly supported by Mayor Tomas Regalado. How can City of Miami officials, from the Mayor to the public works department be so oblivious to County, State and Federal regulations?

In October Commissioner Sarnoff told Belle Meade residents that he would support the fencing of Belle Meade and he even offered to pay for it with public funds.  He instructed the Belle Meade HOA to gather a petition of support. In response, the Belle Meade HOA went door-to-door to get signatures and a surprising 78% of Belle Meade residents supported the fencing of Belle Meade.

Interestingly, the only residents that were asked to vote were neighbors to the east of NE 6th Avenue. Residents and businesses that to the west of NE 6th Avenue were never asked if they supported the fencing of Belle Meade. I’m guessing that if a petition were circulated to them, most would not support severing public access to Belle Meade.  While the County’s statements may make the closings a mute point, in order to make the process truly democratic all neighborhood stakeholders, including those to the west of NE 6th Avenue, should be allowed to voice their opinion.

It appears that the fencing of Belle Meade may not move forward, or at the very least there is a long road ahead for everyone involved. Our readers know that we here at Transit Miami do not support gated communities; they do more harm then good. Fences divide communities and remove “eyes from the street”, perhaps the greatest deterrent against crime. The less people walk the more dangerous an area becomes. Truly vibrant neighborhoods are those that are walkable and allow residents to interact with ALL their neighbors and local businesses by foot and bicycle. Everyone, including the elderly, the handicap and the carless, depend on easy access to businesses on Biscayne Boulevard.

As the neighborhood continues to improve and more businesses come to the Upper East Side the area will naturally become safer. As a resident of Miami for many years, I have witnessed incremental and steady improvements to the Upper East Side - which is one of the reasons I moved here. Yes, more needs to be done, but severing Belle Meade from its surroundings is not the answer.

An alternative strategy for residents and businesses to help advance redevelopment would be to engage local groups like the MiMo BID and the MiMo Biscayne Association. The MiMo Business Improvement Committee is a voice for the business community and with a broad base of support could become a strong advocate for the neighborhood. Similarly,  The MiMo Biscayne Association has been promoting the area successfully for some time - they understand the value of historic preservation and are another organization which businesses and residents should support.

You might be saying, “Thats great for the long term -but how do we improve safety now??” Here are a couple of easily implementable suggestions for making my beloved neighborhood a little safer.

1. Maintain the landscaping that exist along NE 6th Court - policing by Belle Meade residents and police officers would be more effective with clearer sight lines

2.Take action on the abandoned Vagabond Hotel (tearing it down is not an option)

3. Maintain a strong Citizens Crime Watch program

4. Increase the presence of City of Miami Police

Bollards, as suggested by the CPWD, would not allow cars to access the neighborhood.

The abandoned Vagabond Hotel is cesspool #1 on the Upper East Side for crime, drugs, homelessness and probably prostitution.

Check out the new Citizens' Crime Watch sign. Belle Meade neighbors mobilized after a daylight armed home invasion in October.

This picture is about two weeks old. The scene of this accident is just 25 feet north of an accident that occurred just three months ago.  Speeding is definitely a problem on Biscayne Boulevard.  We can all thank FDOT for poor roadway design. The design speed of Biscayne Boulevard should not exceed 35 mph. The current design speed is 45mph.

It’s worth mentioning that that bus stop has yet to be replaced.

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This morning a motorcyclist traveling south on Biscayne Boulevard hit a pedestrian as she tried to cross the street.  The accident occurred near NE 74th Street.  The closest crosswalk is two block north on NE 76th Street. The next closest crosswalk is on NE 71st Street.  From NE 71st Street to NE 76th Street there are NO crosswalks. This is a typical FDOT project; pedestrians are never considered a priority in the design.  It almost seems like FDOT goes out of their way to design roadways to make it difficult for pedestrians to cross.  Who in their right mind at FDOT thinks a 5-lane roadway highway with a design speed of 45mph, with crosswalks every 5 blocks is a good idea for pedestrians?  This project is a disgrace.  Not only does it force pedestrians to jaywalk, but also once they do jaywalk they need to cross a 70 ft wide highway with speeding cars coming from both directions. If FDOT tried, I don’t think even they could possibly design a more dangerous Biscayne Boulevard for pedestrians.

FDOT is not only putting pedestrians in harms way; they are killing businesses because of poor roadway design.  The MiMo Historic District should have narrower lanes, bicycle sharrows, and parallel parking.  All of these features would help calm traffic and allow businesses to prosper in this area by providing convenient parking. Please take a look at the MiMo Streetscape Study, which was commissioned by the MiMo Business Improvement Committee, and completed by architects and planners from the University of Miami.

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Today’s quote of the day comes from Transit Miami reader Ruhappy in response to my post FDOT, MiMo Historic District, and Complete Streets. Several of our readers came out to defend FDOT, putting the blame on area businesses for the current design of Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo Historic District. Ruhappy sets the record straight:

Over and over, it is repeated that during those public meetings in the 90s the only choice FDOT gave the community was 10 continuous blocks of medians with no turn-ins OR nothing (no medians at all). One can’t expect a struggling business to count on customers driving 9 blocks out of the way & turning around to return. Likewise residents weren’t thrilled at the choice either – it was a lose-lose for the neighborhood. Missing was someone to suggest a solution rather than letting FDOT achieve their goal to MOVE TRAFFIC swiftly through the main street of a neighborhood.”

There is, however, some good news.  The MiMo Business Improvement Committee commissioned a MiMo Streetscape Study. Architects and planners from the University of Miami produced three streetscape scenarios that could be easily implemented. These scenarios achieve several objectives. They emphasize safety and are business friendly.  They also calm traffic and encourage pedestrian activity. Pretty much a no-brainer and a win-win situation for everyone.

I’m a new resident to the area, so I wasn’t present at any of these FDOT meetings. Given FDOT’s track record of poor roadway design, I’m willing to bet the ranch that FDOT did not produce design options that were agreeable to residents and businesses. They probably gave them a couple of options: bad or worse. Businesses and residents chose the lesser of two evils.

In the end FDOT got their way and designed this roadway according to their modus operandi-to move cars as rapidly as possible and putting safety of pedestrians and bicyclists last. It is glaringly obvious that complete streets is not in FDOT’s vernacular.

According to the MiMo Biscayne Association 3 light poles were hit by vehicles between April & November 2010 in the historic district.  This could have easily been pedestrians on the sidewalk.

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Looks like 2011 may be the year of the Complete Streets movement in Miami. Upper East Side residents and businesses from the historic MiMo district are organizing in an attempt to get FDOT to make Biscayne Boulevard more pedestrian-friendly.  Residents have been asking FDOT to do more for pedestrians ever since a school-aged child was killed crossing Biscayne Boulevard near 64th Street about two years ago.  Needless to say FDOT has done little since this tragic accident to make Biscayne Blvd. safer for pedestrians and cyclists.  FDOT must recognize that proper road construction needs to take all users into account (pedestrians, cyclists and motorists).  Only a few years ago FDOT completed a major roadway redesign on Biscayne Blvd.  from 40th street  to 79th street. Unfortunately, the roadway was designed with the sole purpose of moving cars faster through the MiMo Historic District.

The current speed limit in this area is 35mph; however the design speed of the roadway is closer to 45mph. The design speed of Biscayne Blvd. should not exceed 35mph (30mph would be ideal) and crosswalks should be placed at  just about every intersection, not every 5 blocks and in some cases every 10 blocks (Bay Point area). Needless to say, there aren’t nearly enough crosswalks in the historic district. Parallel parking should have been included to support access to local retailers. Prior to FDOT’s most recent project parallel parking existed, unfortunately it was removed to move cars more quickly through the area. Lane widths should have been narrower to calm traffic. Also, bike sharrows/bike lane should have been included in FDOT’s design plans.

Unfortunately, none of these traffic calming features where incorporated in the current design.  Instead we were given a business-unfriendly, high-speed arterial road that cuts through a beautiful historic district.  FDOT has to become a willing participant in the economic development of our urban core. In their attempt to facilitate the movement of cars, they have made the area more dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. At the same time have contributed to the decline of many businesses that depend on accessible on-street parking to attract customers. If FDOT continues to apply their current design standards within our cities economic development will suffer.

The MiMo Biscayne Association is leading the charge to make changes to the design of Biscayne Blvd in the MiMo Historic District. They have already met with Representative Luis Garcia and Senator Bill Nelson’s aide. Both appear to be very serious about helping to “convince” FDOT to look at the MiMo Streetscape Study, which was commissioned by the MiMo Business Improvement Committee, and completed by architects and planners from the University of Miami. I’ve been told that Mayor Regaldo has been very supportive. Transit Miami hopes to meet with Commissioner Sarnoff soon regarding this issue as well.  Mayor Regalado, Commissioner Sarnoff, and Representative Luis Garcia were all instrumental in persuading FDOT to reduce the speed limit on Brickell.

FDOT needs to do the right thing here as well. The area has three schools (Morningside Elementary, Cushman School, Bertha Abess Children’s School), two large parks (Legion and Morningside) and the Lemon City Public Library.  These facilities need safe access for pedestrians and cyclists, not just for cars.

Transit Miami will focus a lot of our energy on this complete streets campaign in 2011.  In addition to working with our elected officials, we will be working with the following organizations:

The MiMo Biscayne Association

MiMo Business Improvement Committee

University of Miami/ School of Architecture

South Florida Bike Coalition

We hope we can count on the following organizations for their support:

Green Mobility Network

Center For Independent Living

Belle Meade Homeowners Association

Morningside Homeowners Association

Bay Point Homeowners Association

Morningside Elementary

Cushman School

Bertha Abess Children’s School

Hopefully, FDOT will show some initiative here. FDOT needs to become an active participant in the development of healthy and vibrant communities.

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The City of Miami Planning Department will be holding a Community Meeting for the NE neighborhoods (approx 50th St northward to the city limits- east of the railroad tracks and including Oakland Park) to discuss the Preservation Division’s work on requests for historic districts, NCD, and creating a unified vision for the more than half dozen neighborhoods in this area.

Agenda:
Presentation by Preservation Officer Question and Answer regarding Historic Districts vs Neighborhood Conservation Districts.

How to achieve the vision of this area and updates on city staffing.

The Planning Department will have maps of all of the possible historic district expansion areas. They will also explore several options of how to market and identify historic neighborhoods to the public and bring greater value to these neighborhoods.

PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND MONDAY, JAN 10TH, 6:30-7:30pm, LEGION PARK COMMUNITY CENTER

For more information please contact Alexander Adams
City of Miami Planning Department, Preservation Officer

Phone:  305.416.1445  aadams@miamigov.com

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Well folks, yours truly, is moving from Brickell to Belle Mead. I’ve just purchased a home with my wife and we should be moving into the neighborhood in a couple of weeks.  So don’t be surprised to hear a lot more about issues affecting the Upper East Side on this blog.

I’ll start by saying this, “Biscayne Boulevard is a disaster”! There ain’t no two ways about it. The recent FDOT resurfacing project, for the most part, was designed solely to move cars faster. Pedestrians and cyclists were not given much consideration while designing this roadway. I consider myself an experienced cyclist, but even I will tell you to avoid riding your bike on Biscayne Boulevard. And if you are a pedestrian then forget about it, crosswalks are few and far in between and of poor quality. Biscayne Boulevard is extremely wide, making it difficult for anyone that is not in tip-top shape to cross the street.

Travel lanes are extremely wide, which encourages cars to speed. The speed limit is 35mph, but the design speed of the roadway is closer to 45-50mph. Needless to say, not pedestrian or cyclist friendly either.

That being said, we have a chance to ask FDOT to design a roadway at a more human scale.

FDOT is conducting a Pedestrian Mobility and Safety Study along Biscayne Boulevard at the request of area residents. The limits of the project extend from NE 77th Street to NE 87th Street.

Possible upgrade include the restriping of crosswalks for greater visibility, enhancing signals and adding traffic control devices to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road.

A public information meeting is being held on Thursday, July 15, 2010 from 6-8 p.m at Legion Memorial Park, located at NE 7 Ave, Miami, FL for more information contact Gus Pego, District 6 Secretary”.

Hope to see you there!

Much has been said lately about the changes proposed by Commissioner Sarnoff regarding height restrictions in the MIMO historic district. I have had several exchanges with area residents who oppose further development along this (and other corridors). Recently Commissioner Sarnoff issued a letter to Commission Chair Sanchez over the false fear of Burt Harris property rights litigation, and makes some good points. I can’t argue that taking property rights will open the city to litigation (it might, but as the Commissioner points out, the city has a strong case). The question is not whether the city is within its rights to do so, but whether it is good policy. It isn’t. With all due respect to local residents, I think that capping development in this area at 35′ is bad planning. The Commissioner cites traffic and lack of mass transit as part of his reasoning:

This is an important City of Miami historic district that exists on an FDOT [rated] ‘F’ roadway. The added density or often intensity of T5 or T6 planned for sections of this historic road will only casue a collapse in a system that has already seen its mass transit funding diverted by the County.

Mr. Commissioner, we should be so lucky to have ‘F’ rated roadways. You should know that as you increase the Level of Service for a road, you decrease the Level of Service for pedestrians and cyclists. Increased Levels of Service lead to greater flow, greater speed, and less safety. I hope you don’t advocate increasing Levels of Service along our roadways as a way of addressing the lack of mass transit. Alleviating traffic by preventing development is a red herring - it will not have any effect on the LOS of the roadway. Rather than being concerned with the false perception that limiting development will reducing traffic, you and area residents should be more concerned about designing the street with pedestrians in mind, slowing traffic down (by keeping a low LOS), and facilitating further mass transit opportunities.

And speaking of the lack of mass transit on Biscayne, you and others should read about the project to bring rail down the FEC corridor that runs right next to Biscayne. Part of the planning work they are doing for this project is to make sure that the local CDMP and zoning code increases density and pedestrianism around stations. Contrary to your claims that this is not an appropriate area for density, its proximity to a major rail corridor make it the most logical place for more density, and will help offer your constituents more transit alternatives. The timeline for the project is about 6 years (which started in January), so this is not some far off project but one that will be implemented in the short term. Funding will come from the Federal and State government.

Also, check out the editorial from the Herald today echoing the economic benefits of the plan, which I described yesterday.

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