Currently viewing the tag: "Streets"

There is a book launch event this Sunday, March 2, for STREET DESIGN: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns hosted by the City of Coral Gables and Books and Books. Selected streets from our very own Coral Gables, South Miami and Miami Beach are highlighted in the book to exemplify the true value of properly designed, pedestrian-friendly streets. This how-to guide is written by locally-based planner, Victor Dover, and NYC architect, John Massengale.

Coral Gables’ Director of Planning & Zoning, Ramon Trias, will make introductory remarks, followed by a short presentation by Victor Dover. The book will be on sale in the Museum gift shop.

STREET DESIGN cover

What: Reception, Talk & Book Signing with Victor Dover 

When: Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Where: Coral Gables Museum, Community Meeting Room located at 285 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, Florida 33134

RSVP on Facebook

Santa Maria Street, Coral Gables

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We’re running a couple days off, but let’s see if anyone can identify this urban pedestrian street. I’ll reveal the answer tomorrow or provide a hint later tonight…

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Red-light running cameras are all the rage at the moment. Local officials want to install them to reduce red-light running, and we applaud them for seeking to make our intersections safer. The question is, though, is that the best way to make them safer?

Studies have shown that rear-end collisions increase when cameras are installed, so the overall accidents increase. It definitely can be argued that rear-end collisions are not as dangerous as T-bone collisions, but they are still collisions. Engineers should be doing everything they can to avoid them. If every alternative has been exhausted and the only choice is to choose one type over another, then the discussion can turn to which type is less dangerous. Until then, we want to see fewer accidents. Period.

The problem here is that politicians are making the decision by looking at things from an economic perspective. Since red light cameras promise to pay for themselves and then some, it’s an easy decision. Cameras come first before other more expensive methods.

What are those expensive methods that help reduce red-light running? For starters, how about retiming signals? Synchronization with the rest of the signal network has the benefit of improving traffic flow in addition to reducing red-light running. Adding a second or two to the yellow has also been shown to reduce collisions. The FHWA offers some more ideas to improve safety here.

There are even newer ideas being put forth to reduce the rate of red-light running. One was presented in the August 2007 issue of the ITE Journal, and the basic premise was to paint the message “Signal Ahead” on the pavement at a precise point before the signal. It would be measured based on the yellow timing and the speed limit so that drivers could know that if the light turned yellow while they were in front of it, they had time to stop safely. If the light turned yellow once they had passed it, they had time to get through the light before it turned red. The article, available without figures here, showed that the rate of red-light running could be reduced 65% with this pavement message.

Painting a pavement message is fairly cheap and retiming signals that need them anyway is also a wise investment. But since cameras actually generate income, they have become the first choice. We can only hope the camera contractors don’t work to reduce the yellow signal length like some have been accused of doing, and we can thank our legislature for keeping these off of state roads until better solutions have been tried. We can also ask for better solutions.

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Plans are underway across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to bring automated Red-Light runner camera’s to some local roadways. Due to a state refusal to adopt the cameras, you won’t find them on state maintained roads such as Le Jeune, US-1, or Pines Boulevard.
“A growing body of unbiased research shows that red-light-running accidents and injuries will decrease at intersections with automated enforcement.

But those same studies find an overall increase in accidents, especially rear-end collisions as drivers, suddenly wary of the cameras, slam on the brakes as they approach a yellow or red light.”

Frankly, we’d like to see more evidence that the cameras work or don’t work before we begin to install these systems across the region. What do you think of the cameras? Leave us a comment and take our poll over on the left sidebar… We’ll follow up this post with our thoughts on the subject later on this week…

Ever get that feeling that your elected official is completely out of touch with your district, your city, or even our everyday surroundings? I do, and I have some irrefutable evidence to support my claims. I’ve had a hunch for sometime that our commissioners are the type of people who drive to work daily from sprawl-land in their cushy vehicles to government center. As we all know from their objections against the downtown Marlins’ Stadium venue, they have the reserved privilege of parking on a nearby surface parking lot (I honestly wouldn’t see that as privilege but more of a hassle.) I get the feeling they don’t ride metrorail much (even though the “central station” is right at their doorstep) and don’t wander out for lunch, at least not on foot. An article in last week’s Miami Today confirmed my suspicions; a rare moment in Miami history occurred when Commissioner Joe Sanchez went for a walkThrough downtown Alone… Ha, ha! Just Kidding about the last one, this was an all out publicity blitz

“It was very important for us to go out, talk to merchants, find out what’s going on downtown,” said Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, chairman of the DDA. “When you’re up on the 29th floor, you don’t see what’s happening in the streets. You don’t see the cracks in the sidewalks, you don’t see the lights out on a streetlight.”

You also can’t see much if your eyes are closed, but I thought that too was common sense… I’m sorry, but is anyone else taken aback by the fact that commissioners likely haven’t walked around our downtown (barring special occasions such as these,) taken a ride in anything other than a private car, or heck, been at least somewhat conscious of the decay that has blighted the CBD, Parkwest, and Overtown neighborhoods for the better part of the last few decades? Taking a stroll along Flagler seems to me like the best place to start before making any decisions to spend our $10 Million on “streetscape enhancements” or voting to make the thoroughfare more pedestrian friendly by switching it to a two-way street…

While he and authority officials were quick to note Flagler Street’s potted and hanging plants and the uniformed maintenance crew pressure-cleaning the sidewalk [Strategically Placed, I presume], Mr. Sanchez did not hesitate to gesture to graffiti, unleveled sewer covers and stagnant water in the streets.

What’s he going to do, ignore it? Given the media circumstances I’m surprised he didn’t call over Sherwin Williams…

“These are the things we don’t see from an office or a board meeting,” he said. “People want beautification, people want cleanup. That’s what the people deserve.”

To attract more upscale retailers, vital in elevating the status of downtown, “we need to look perfect,” he said. “We need to look sharp.” Marketing is also crucial, he said. “The DDA needs to help get these tenants. Let’s romance it. Bring out all the guns. When they come, seven other merchants come.” Improving the landmark Macy’s store would be a start, Mr. Alonso said. “I think we need to persuade Macy’s to invest $10 million to $20 million and refurbish their store.”

We need to look like any other city outside of the “developing world?” Macy’s has played a great hand thus far, we know they’re bluffing but we still need to come to the realization that a large sum of money needs to be invested in this area. The downtown retail industry should be giving ole Simon a run for its money. The city has the ultimate “lifestyle center” at its fingertips; hey, it could actually emulate real life elsewhere by becoming an actual city center. Who knows? Bob has some thoughts…

Also in the works are plans to improve area transportation. Because bus service on Flagler Street was eliminated when it became two-way, the county will offer a new shuttle bus on Flagler Street beginning May 21 that will connect to Metrorail, the Port of Miami and Bayside, said Bob Pearsall, manager of service planning for Miami-Dade County Transit.
That kind of convenience along with cleanliness and safety will revitalize downtown, Mr. Sanchez said.

You remember that plan to make the area more pedestrian friendly and was endorsed by the same people who later complain about downtown congestion? Well had they known that the conversion to a two-way facility would actually inhibit traffic flow and make congestion worse I think the vote would have come out a little bit different- In any case, I’m not complaining…

“The whole downtown experience, the whole success for downtown, is people need to feel safe, keep coming back,” he said. “They need to have a pleasant experience.”

Pure genius. And all this time we were thinking that allowing homeless individuals to run amuck with our downtown was the right way to go…What were we thinking?

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What’s the minimum requirement to have your name plastered on a street sign in Miami? I haven’t quite figured it out yet, if you do, please let me know. The list isn’t exclusively dead people, influential people, or extraordinary people, so what is it exactly that makes some of these people qualify? 16th St. morphed into Jose Canseco St. forever immortalizing the juiced Coral Park graduate into a Miami direction. I can’t imagine telling people I live at 10523 Jose Canseco St. I understand naming streets after important or influential people: Brickell, Tuttle, Collins, Lummus, Douglas, Flagler, LeJeune, Curtiss, etc. Somehow a guy who gets 1.1% of the votes to not make it into the MLB hall of Fame just doesn’t cut it for me. Perhaps it was the two counts of aggravated battery he received after pummeling two California Tourists which earned him the honor of forever leading vehicles into the East entrance of FIU.

Now, I don’t intend to pick on Canseco, it just happens to be the first unworthy street which comes to mind. There are some signs like the one pictured above: Orlando Urra Blvd of the Americas/NW 20th St./Teofilo Babun Dr./N. River Dr. Pick a name! Notice: all names do not apply in all directions… Orlando Urra must have owned the Boulevard of the Americas, at least that’s the impression I’m getting. Has the street naming department gone mad? It’s almost like: “Hey! You have a face; want a street named after you?” These aren’t even memorable street names. What’s even more absurd is the amount of names they have tried to tack onto a single sign; I’ve seen worse than the one above but, just couldn’t whip out my camera quickly enough. Frankly, I’d like to see what will get printed on the new lit street signs currently replacing all the other perfectly good non-lit variety…

Oh look, a Cuban Exile website compiled a list of streets in Miami renamed to honor Hispanics…

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