Currently viewing the tag: "South Beach"

Is the optimal place for bicyclists really between speeding traffic and swinging car doors or is bicycle planning in most cities still just an afterthought? Can it really be the case that major arterial roadways planned for reconstruction like Alton Road in Miami Beach which are between 100′ and 120′ really have no room for bicycles?

The plan for Alton Road which the City of Miami Beach approved is still the wrong one but neighborhood organizations are not accepting that the plan is set in stone until the concrete is poured and dry.

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Though Miami Beach is in the top 10 cities in the nation for biking to work according to the US Census, a perfect storm of Department of Transportation heavy-handedness, local bureaucratic impassivity, and ineptitude on the part of elected representatives has led to a hugely expensive design no one endorses. Alton Road, expected to become a showpiece of island multi-modalism, will instead become a wide-lane, high-speed, completely-congested Department of Transportation boondoggle say residents. If Miami Beach can’t get a multi-modal design with its committed and educated pedestrian and cycling advocates is there any hope for the rest of the country?

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Thousands of major arterials around the country are in the process of reconstruction right now as the first roadways of the Highway Act of 1956 are being rebuilt. And despite the amazing strides made in a few exceptional places, the default design on the traffic engineer’s books is still the wrong one. The difference now is that residents know better. This is making the job of elected officials who have always trusted the DOT very difficult. Something’s got to give.

Residents are available to discuss this important issue further.

Click here to visit the official website for the initiative.

On Facebook: Alton Road Reconstruction Coalition.

On the web:

Thanks,
Jason King
Miami Beach Resident and Urban Planner

Ft. Lauderdale knows how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style with pedicabs.  The city of Ft. Lauderdale has long embraced pedicabs.  Wouldn’t pedicabs be great on South Beach?

Photo courtsey of Ocean View Rickshaw

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Inspired by Daniel’s post, An informal Bike Count, I decided to conduct my very on spontaneous bike count while riding north on West Avenue a couple of weeks ago. My unscientific experiment was carried out around 7:00pm from 9th Street all the way up to Dade Blvd. The route is less than 1 mile and took me no more than 5 minutes to ride it. I counted 46 bicycles, of which most were locked up to anything but a bicycle rack. In all fairness there were about 7 bicycles that were locked up to the new bicycle racks at The Shops of West Avenue between 9th Street and 10th Street and another 4 bicycles locked up to a large “wave” bicycle rack in front of the Mirador. I must have seen about 4 other cyclists riding on West Avenue, and that left about 31 bicycles or so parked to trees, sign posts and garbage cans.

That’s quite a lot of bicycle activity.  The city of Miami Beach must begin to proactively meet the needs bicyclists.  South Beach is especially under-served in terms of bicycle infrastructure.  I don’t believe that the city of Miami Beach seriously considers bicycles as actual transportation. Although they do have a Miami Beach bicycle master plan (Atlantic Greenway Master Planner), they do not have a bicycle coordinator to ensure its implementation. At one point the city of Miami Beach did have a bicycle coordinator, but they decided to do away with the position. This is a clear sign that they do not value the bicycle coordinator position or the implementation of the master plan.

I took the time to review the Atlantic Greenway Master Plan which was commissioned in 2007. Upon review, I discovered that nearly 100% of the bicycle facilities that were slated to be completed by 2009 on South Beach have not even been started. This is a dismal performance by the city of Miami Beach.

Although there has been talk about a bicycle share program, there has been no other sincere effort by the administration to promote cycling aside from purchasing new bicycle racks. The Miami Beach Bike Ways Committee seems to be ineffective as per Daniel’s Miami Beach Bike Ways Committee Update. I have attended this meeting on several occasions and I have to agree with Daniel’s assessment.

This is really a shame.  Miami Beach, particularly South Beach, has the potential to become a truly great bicycling city. The demographics clearly support cycling.  South Beach has an extremely high population density, distances are short, and parking is expensive and difficult to find. In addition, the topography is flat and the weather is beautiful.  These are the reasons that bicycling is already flourishing on South Beach. Can you imagine how great cycling would be on South Beach if there was actual infrastructure to support safer cycling?

The city of Miami Beach should aggressively seek to promote cycling by building bicycle facilities that encourage more cycling. Bicycles must play a central role in Miami Beach’s transportation policy. The administration should be held accountable for not implementing the Atlantic Greenway Master Plan as was promised to its residents.

Yesterday morning I took the scenic route back home from the synagogue, going down all of Lincoln Road Mall, to the Oceanwalk Promenade, then up 5th St before heading home (see the MapMyRide.com Map). On a whim, I decided to count all the bikes I came across my way, whether parked or with riders. Everyone knows we have a lot of bicyclists here in the Beach, but I wanted to have a very rough headcount. It was 10 AM, and the temp was in the mid 50s, so I figured I would see only those out exercising, and those on their way to/from/already at work.

When all was said and done, I counted 146 bikes, including me, with about 85 of them being spotted just along Lincoln Rd. I am no urban statisticians, but that seemed like a lot of bikes for a 3/4-mile long stretch, let alone for the 2.5 miles of my entire trip. And that fills me with joy.

Check out these pics (click for larger version).

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The “bog box” mall at 5th St and Alton Rd in South Beach surprises us yet again. After installing 14 new bike racks along the Publix front on 6th St, I just spotted 20 new bike racks along the Lenox Ave side of the mall.

I had already seen four when I first reported on the new ones along the Publix side, but wow, what a pleasant surprise to see an extra 16! This really gives me hope that they will also address the 5th St end of the mall once stores open there. Many thanks to the developers, AR&J SOBE, LLC.

And if we can be a bit bold, maybe you’ll also consider some of the ideas tossed out in this other post? I took this pic while it was raining, and boy, it would’ve been nice to have a dry place to park the bike. Just saying.

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The Miami Beach Bicycle Center organizes a monthly bicycle ride (2nd Saturday) with a Miami Beach Police escort.  This is a great free event for the entire family.

601 5th street (Corner of 5th and Washington)

Miami Beach, FL 33139

Tel: 305-674-0150

Experience Level: Novice/Intermediate

Bring water and sunscreen.

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New Bike Racks at the 5th & Alton Mall

I needed some things for dinner and quickly rode my bike to Publix at the Mall on 5th & Alton. It’s sort of a given that there would be no bike parking and I’d have to lock my bike to the garbage can, and indeed its what I had to do, but for a very different reason: there were new bike racks all full of bikes!

There are 13 new bike racks along the Publix side of the mall on 6th St, in addition to the two original ones.

Kudos go to the developer for actually delivering on what they promised the City of Miami Beach and for providing a service for their customers.

I did a quick circuit of the mall to see if there were more new bike racks. I saw four racks near the corner of Lenox and 5th, by the Vitamin Shoppe (I can’t remember if they are new or not, but I can’t really recall having seem them there before) and that was it. Since there are no stores on the 5th St-facing side of the mall yet there’s no big issue though once Petco finally opens, things may be different (the image below’s probably a small taste).

Still, thanks for the new bike racks. It makes me feel like we can indeed expect future bike needs to be met as well.

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Though it often seems like TransitMiami is only critical of Miami’s urban planning, transportation, land use, and urban design, we believe it is important to illustrate the bright points as well.
This brings me to today’s post, where I want to showcase my favorite Greater Miami street - Espanola Way on South Beach.

From an urban design perspective, this street embodies all the incredible potential I see in Miami. Let’s take a moment to address several of the elements that give Espanola Way its fantastic urban design:

  • Appropriate density for an urban environment; good physical urban continuity
  • Buildings are right up to the sidewalk; this defines urban space, in turn creating a much better sense of place than we see in most of Greater Miami
  • Narrow street; this minimizes the amount of valuable urban street space allotted to automobiles, which means less thru-traffic (none at all when it is blocked off for the Farmer’s Market), noise, emissions, and lost street space
  • Presence of shade trees, awnings, and balconies offer a reprieve from the hot South Florida sun
  • Mixed use buildings
  • Moderately wide sidewalks (for Miami)
  • Architecture that reflects local culture and history
  • Facades that are open to the street, which engage pedestrians
Frankly, this is what a high-quality urban environment looks like. There is plenty of density, but it’s built at human scale. Because the streets are narrow and parking spaces few, Espanola Way doesn’t suffer from the noise, emissions, and lost street space that plagues so many other Miami streets.

While a lot of the shops are quirky, there is a decent mix of restaurants and cafes (I am a big fan of Hosteria Romana). The point is, however, that if many other Miami streets and neighborhoods were designed this way, the foundation would be set for an urban community that has a comprehensive set of urban amenities.

Photos: Mouffetard’s, clarks aunt, & golbog’s flickr

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We’re all used to the stunning aerial footage generously provided to us by local amateur photographer/RC Pilot James Good, but I’m afraid he’s outdone himself this time with some amazing video footage shot from South Beach’s South Pointe:

Click here for the classic still frames…

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The first thing I always want to talk about, when I talk about Miami, is Chad Oppenheim. Be forewarned, I may gush. Ever since this young architect appeared on the scene we have had the pleasure of one exciting building after another being proposed and built by this edgy, self-expressed talent. The level of achievement of both built and conceptual projects, by an architect so young, is nearly unprecedented.Among his first built structures in Miami Beach was the boutique building Ilona. Tucked away on a secluded street south of fifth street, and having seen renderings of several projects it was a strange experience to happen upon the completed building by mistake. Oppenheim’s work began intimately connected to the tropical modernist precedents set forth by the MiMo school. After what was clearly a profound analysis of the period, Oppenheim set out to create a new, more minimal, purist and luxurious interpretation. Simply put, he created a housing for all of the most beautiful and unique properties of South Florida life: light, color, air…sea and sky, the passing of the day. Stopped in my tracks as the building came into view, I felt that I could see the future of design in Miami, and it was good. As with much of his work to date, the design is at first quiet, restrained, and yet continues to reveal itself and its subtle beauty.Another South Beach jewel is yet another small residential building, Ilona Bay. Here we began to see the sophisticated relationship to the sculptor Donald Judd and his minimalist repetition of form. The geometric white grid enclosures that make up the balconies, are an apparent foreshadowing to the series of skyscrapers in store for downtown Miami. Judd’s complicated study of a numerous identical shapes, and the richness of such, based on perspective and light were the inspiration for the period in Oppenheim’s work that included Ice, Ice 2, and Ten Museum Park, as well as Sky and Space 01 in North Bay Village. As in the past, what seems at first, quite simple, is in truth an analysis of order and sublime proportion. That Oppenheim is able to achieve this in the face of program (number of units, required square footage, balconies etc.) and budgets is almost unbelievable.

To the great loss of Miami urbanists and art lovers, several of Oppenheim’s projects have been mired in difficulty with developers and the erratic whims of the real estate market, and may never come to fruition. Several of the above mentioned structures may never be realized, as well as the dynamic Park Lane Tower. Perhaps the greatest surprise, and disappointment is the recent news that 3 Midtown may not be built. This building, is what I believe to be, the most beautiful of the recent boom. Illustrating his sensitivity to each individual site and his desire to deliver to the future residents, an extraordinary experience of Miami, the building is brilliantly twisted and torqued out of the site lines of the two neighboring buildings. The resulting trapezoidal tower creates exciting relationships with the other portions of the buildings, the mews and the low-rise. The structural exoskeleton is a constantly evolving composition of obscuring elements and reveals. This exercise is even carried out on the roof, wrapping the top of the tower in an artful camouflage of the buildings service features, a feature sadly absent in most contemporary building designs. The fenestration on the exposed sides develops into a massive abstract canvas of light absorbing concrete and light reflecting glass, hence blackness in opposition to emitting light after dark. I sincerely hope that the cancellation of this project is a misrepresentation.While the very lofty conversation of Donald Judd and architecture may be to abstruse for the taste of some, it seems that another parallel can easily be drawn with the discussion of the very nearly finished Ten Museum Park. Like a diamond, that on one hand seems only to be a white shape of a stone, the 50 story tower on Biscayne Boulevard, towers above us as a simple gleaming white shape. Upon closer examination of the stone, the facets inside emit an ever shifting, evolving show of extraordinary shadow and brilliant light, that is undeniably hypnotic. So too, as the South Florida sun rises and illuminates the many complicated facets of the tower’s design, there is a most enjoyable, ever transforming display of darkness and luminosity, straight through til the sun sets, and reflects off of the vastly contrasting, elegantly proportioned back facade. Check it out.

It’s great to see that pro-bicycle momentum continues to grow in Miami. Last week, the Miami Beach city commission voted to approve bike lanes on 16th Street from Collins Avenue to Alton Road. This was part of an improvement plan for 16th Street, which included other traffic calming elements and pedestrian realm enhancements such as planting shade trees and widening sidewalks.

Amazingly, the bike lanes almost didn’t happen. One of Miami’s 387,962 NIMBY groups masquerading as a neighborhood improvement organization, the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association, had been a vocal opposition to the bike lanes on 16th. “I understand cyclists want bike paths, but why 16th Street”? Nice argument - I’m sure NIMBYs everywhere were proud.

According to the Sunpost, the real issue at hand is the right-of-way along 16th Street that would need to be taken back by the City in order to accommodate the bike lanes AND widen sidewalks. Similar to the Grove’s opposition over the quality 27th Avenue enhancement project, Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association members are concerned that the City will reacquire public right-of-way between buildings and the sidewalk that has been used for private means (e.g. landscaping). Commissioner Richard Steinberg took the stated position that “widening the sidewalks toward the buildings would not, in fact, encroach on private property, but in reality the private property was encroaching upon the city land”. It’s great to see an elected official embrace the public realm and what’s best for the city as a whole and not the private interests of a few NIMBYs.

photo courtesy of huwkan’s flickr account

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