Currently viewing the tag: "Traffic Calming"

This picture was taken this morning on South Miami Avenue and 11th Street in Brickell - the same intersection I reported on previously on November 23rd.

I did not personally witness the crash, but given the significant damage to the car and the way the debris was scattered, it’s safe to assume a high rate of speed was a factor.

Brickell’s new ‘Triangle Park’ is under construction just to the right of the picture. Let’s add some basic traffic calming measures around the park so we can all enjoy it without having to dodge flying shards of plastic, glass and metal on our way there.

MBA: Traffic Calming from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

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Miami Today News is reporting that a new traffic circle will be placed at the problematic Brickell Bay Drive and South East 12th Street intersection. Lucky for every one that walks around Brickell the Sabadell Financial Center Landlord 1111 Brickell Office is investing $400,000 to insure the safety of the thousands of pedestrians that use this intersection every year. Maggie Kurtz, director of office brokerage for Cushman & Wakefield, which handles leasing for the Sabadell Center had this to say:

“It’s just natural, especially with all the apartment buildings and so forth, now that the Brickell is finally turning into a 24-7 city. The main goal is to make the intersection more pedestrian friendly.”

Wide intersection, with no traffic calming, makes it dangerous for pedestrians to cross.

Thank you Ms. Kurtz! You are spot-on.  Thank you!

This is great, but sad at the same time.  Why is it that this initiative had to come from the private sector?  Why does the private sector have to invest their dollars to calm traffic on a City of Miami street to assure the public’s wellbeing?

This idea should have come from the city, as well as the money to build the traffic circle.  Before anyone tells me that the city is broke and can’t afford to build it, let me just say “bullshit”.

Mayor Regalado found $1.7 million to illegally build a ten-foot concrete wall, which cut off pedestrian access to the Coral Way community of Coral Gate. If City can find money to essentially privatize a community, I’m sure our elected officials can find funds to insure the safety of everyone that works, lives, and plays on Brickell. Sounds like we have our priorities in the wrong place. The cost of this traffic circle is a drop in the bucket compared to the illegal wall that was built using our tax dollars.

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On February 9 a FDOT contractor damaged underground conduit and cable while performing work at the Brickell Avenue and SE 13th Street intersection. Mr. Robert Williams, from the County Public Works Department, Traffic Signals and Signs Division confirmed this in an email to Transit Miami.

My investigation indicates that the original underground conduit and cable damage occurred on 2/9/11 when a trencher being operated by FDOT’s prime contractor, Russell Engineering, accidentally dug through several critical signal cables.  FDOT’s signal contractor responded the same day, spliced the cables, and returned the vehicle and ped signals to proper operation.  However, it began raining soon thereafter and the signal went back into flash, indicating that the signal cables had been seriously damaged by the original encounter at unknown locations underground.  The signal contractor then returned to the scene and ran temporary cables overhead to at least get the vehicular signals operational”.

It has become glaringly obvious that FDOT does not consider pedestrians a priority. They were quick to repair the damaged vehicle signals, but then turned a blind eye to the broken pedestrian crosswalk signals. This is a MAJOR intersection in the heart of the Brickell Financial District. Thousands of people use this intersection every week. I am certain the FDOT will be quick to point their finger at Russell Engineering, but the buck has to stop somewhere and it must stop with the FDOT. The FDOT should be solely held accountable as they are overseeing this project. Once again, they have failed to recognize that work is being performed in an urban environment that is densely populated. This is not the suburbs; the FDOT cannot simply ignore the needs of pedestrians for over a month.  Their cavalier attitude and apathy towards pedestrians is negligent at best. I am surprised no one was seriously injured at this intersection this past month due to their willful blindness. The FDOT does not cease to amaze me with their callous indifference to all things non-motorized.

The FDOT’s mind-set is a slap in the face to everyone that walks on Brickell. To make matters worse, motorists are allowed to make a right turn on red at this intersection. Adding to the pedestrian-unfriendly character of this intersection, a right turn green arrow allows and encourages motorists to make right turns without having to slow or stop. Pedestrians were left to guess when they could cross this intersection safely.  In addition, I have yet to see any “Yield to Pedestrian” enforcement around the Brickell area.  These conditions, to say the least, create an environment of chaos for pedestrians, parents with strollers, the handicap, and bicyclists.

The right turn green arrow allows and encourages motorists to make a right turn without having to slow or stop. Needless to say, this is not pedestrian friendly. We need to calm traffic on Brickell, not move it more quickly.

The pedestrian signals were finally repaired last night (3/14) around 9:00pm; 33 days after they were accidently disabled.  Unfortunately, my call to 311 on February 24th was ignored by FDOT too. The repair came only after I wrote about this unfortunate situation when it was reported on Transit Miami. Again, why must we shame the FDOT to do the right thing? An obvious lack of initiative by the FDOT is evident when it comes to cultivating a pedestrian friendly environment in our urban core.

I would like to apologize to Mr. Robert Williams, from the County Public Works Department Traffic Signals & Signs Division.  I incorrectly assumed the County PWD was responsible for maintaining the crosswalk signals in this situation. Ordinarily they are responsible for maintaining all traffic signals within the County. However, in this circumstance, since FDOT is performing work on Brickell Avenue it becomes their responsibility to maintain all traffic signals in the work zone.

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 A press conference was held this afternoon at 1450 Brickell Avenue to announce changes to the upcoming FDOT resurfacing project.  Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff were present to make the official announcement that FDOT has agreed to reduce the speed limit to 35 mph from Southeast 15th Road and the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway. In addition, a new marked crosswalk in the 1400 block of Brickell will be added and all existing incomplete crosswalks will be completed so that pedestrians will have marked crossings on all four corners. Bike sharrows will also be added, but at a cost; FDOT plans to widen the roadway to accommodate sharrows. We love bike sharrows, but the roadway should not be widened to accommodate sharrows.  We are advocating for the opposite; travel lanes should be narrowed to calm traffic.

The press conference was very encouraging.    All of the elected officials present acknowledged that more needs to be done for all users on Brickell Avenue and noted that the improvements are only a first step. (We agree.) FDOT went further and said they would be willing to add more crosswalks if the Miami DDA agreed to pay for them, which the DDA agreed to pay for on the spot.  There were even whispers of raised crosswalks being thrown around and the strong possibility that the speed limit would be cut even further to 30 mph.  A 30 mph speed limit is more appropriate and would connect seamlessly to Biscayne Boulevard’s current 30 mph speed limit. 

PS. We put the Transit Miami Eye to work yesterday looking for an instance of 30 mph limit on US1 in a Central Business District, and we didn’t have to look far.

A speed limit sign on Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street shows very clearly an instance of a 30 mph limit on U.S. 1 in the Central Business District… looks like a precedent to me.  It also means that this line in yesterday’s Herald article is incorrect:  : “That will make the entirety of Brickell 35 mph — the same speed as the connected Biscayne Boulevard to its north.”  More to come…

Widening lanes to add sharrows is like narrowing sidewalks to attract pedestrians.

                        - urban planner Kenneth Garcia, commenting on FDOT’s latest plans to accomodate sharrows on Brickell

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While riding my bike through Belle Meade today, I spotted this unusual traffic calming device.

This is an effective instrument to discourage speeding.  It is unusual, funny, and motorists easily take notice. Sadly, about an hour later, it was removed.  Hmm…is one of my neighbors practicing guerilla urbanism?  I sure hope so!

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The Miami Herald is reporting that FDOT has begun a resurfacing project on Bird Road. According to the article:

Workers will repave and restripe the road; widen the bridge and road shoulder; build a new sidewalk on the north side of Bird Road as well as upgrade sidewalks and curb ramps.

Crews will also make drainage improvements to alleviate water buildup in the swale area. Landscaping will improved. Lighting will be improved and new traffic and pedestrian signs and signals installed.

A pedestrian bridge will be built. Workers will remove existing guardrail and installing new guardrail at various locations.

There is no mention of new bicycle facilities. I have contacted Transit Miami sources within the City of Miami and the County and they are unaware of any bicycle infrastructure improvements.  The $2.5 million improvement project on Bird Road will occur between Red Road and Southwest 38th Avenue. Coral Gables High School happens to be on this stretch of roadway. Connecting a high school with bicycling infrastructure would be the smart thing to do; it encourages students to bike to school. Also, there is a bridge that crosses a canal on this stretch of roadway.  Bridges are often the most dangerous areas for cyclists; they must converge on bridges to cross any body of water.  I’m glad to see a pedestrian bridge will be incorporated in the design plans, but the transition should also be seamless for cyclists too.

For the record, FDOT has recently completed 2 resurfacing projects which are second-rate (MacArthur Causeway, Coral Way). FDOT seems very hesitant to accommodate cyclists on Sunset Drive and now it appears that cyclists were not considered in the Bird Road project at all.  This is not a pretty track record.  Please contact Transit Miami ally Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera and FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and ask them why provisions for bicyclists were not made to this very important route.

The Transit Miami eye is watching every FDOT project closely.

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In what has become a sadly regular occurrence another bicyclist was killed in a hit and run accident on Monday night.  The bicyclist died on the shoulder of the road in the 15300 block of Southwest 157th Avenue.  According to the Miami Herald the unidentified victim was heading home from work when he was struck by a car heading north.  His family became concerned that he did not arrive home and went looking for him.  They found the victim unconscious on the side of the road around 8:30 p.m. Very sad, our condolences to the family of the victim.

As can be seen from the below photograph, poor road design certainly contributed to this accident.  The road design encourages speeding and has no traffic calming devices to slow down speeding cars. Please observe that there isn’t a shoulder, bike lane or sidewalk. Another fine example of how roads should not be designed.

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Congratulations to the City of Miami Beach for installing new speed humps on Prairie Avenue.  They look great and for the most part were installed correctly.  They even took the bicycle lane into consideration when installing them!  Speed humps are excellent traffic calming devices.  I’m dreaming of speed humps in Miami.

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A month ago or so I had the opportunity to visit Dublin an old city that in recent years has reinvented itself as a modern, cosmopolitan metropolis. While I didn’t have the opportunity explore the country by rail (somewhat thankfully considering that a bridge collapsed the week after my visit) I was able to experience Dublin’s new transport system. Some highlights are presented below.

LUAS Red Line

LUAS Red Line

Ireland, like the United States, once boasted a relatively complete rail network. Today, Ireland national rail network is about 1/3 the size it was in its peak in the 1920’s. Like many US cities, Dublin once boasted an extensive tram network, with over 30 routes along 60+ miles of track. The fully electrified system, one of the largest in the world, was dismantled and fully replaced by bus service by 1949. The map below depicts Dublin’s tram system at its peak in 1922.

Dublin Tram Network (c. 1922) - Via Wikipedia

Today, Dublin features five suburban rail lines, the most famous of which has been branded the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit), and operates with near Metro-like frequency (15-20 minutes off peak.) The first light-rail/Tram line of the system dubbed LUAS, opened in June 2004, providing local service from St. Stephen’s Green to Sandyford (10km). In September of 2004 the second LUAS line, the red line, commenced operation linking Connolly Station to central Tallaght, a 15km route. The two lines operate independent of each other and feature minimal intermodal connectivity with the suburban rail. As such, the tram system still garners 90,000 daily riders while DART attracts approximately 80,000 more.

LUAS Green Line at St. Stephen's Green

LUAS Green Line at St. Stephen's Green

It’s important to note that Dublin’s Transport system is privately operated and fully profitable. The city’s former growth, dense and mixed use, is well suited for public transportation. Meanwhile, the city is working to curb sprawl and the destructive growth that has taken place since the dismantling of the tram network. Highlighted below are some of the new municipal planning initiatives that have been undertaken to revive Dublin. You’ll notice that much of the work is oriented towards reclaiming street space by curtailing the vehicular environment.

Traffic Calming Measures

Traffic Calming Measures

Above, notice the traffic calming measures implemented along this street. The use of chicanes lowers vehicular speeds in pedestrian areas. A truncated street serves dual purposes, opening up street space for pedestrians and as a loading zone in the early morning hours. The painted pavement (under the delivery truck) serves as a reminder to motorists of the pedestrian zone.

Dublin's Temple Bar Neighborhood

Dublin's Temple Bar Neighborhood

Above, a perfect example of how traffic flow should be restricted by truncating streets to divert traffic from a popular pedestrian thoroughfare. The end benefits are twofold: Traffic is slowed in pedestrian spaces and public space are established in neighborhoods without vacant land on which to work with.

A typical Main Avenue

A typical Main Avenue

A typical  avenue in Dublin allots tight space to a number of modes. Dublin’s extensive bus network operates largely along a dedicated bus lane system throughout the city center. While the sidewalk space is narrower than what would be ideal, bollards are utilized to protect pedestrians from motorized activity.

Cyclists at St. Stephen's Green

Cyclists at St. Stephen's Green

Dublin's New Bicycle Sharing Service

Dublin's New Bicycle Sharing Service

Slated to open this month, I was able to get a “sneak peak” at many of the new bicycle sharing facilities popping up all over the city. The city already has a decent bicycle lane network a requisite compliment for any sharing system.

Dublin's Black Gold

Dublin's Black Gold

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Okay, so this isn’t a “Transit Sarasota” blog, but I couldn’t resist sharing this tale with the greater Miami transit-minded public.

Yesterday, the Herald Tribune reported that Sarasota is still struggling to find a “solution” to the barrier US-41 creates to the city’s waterfront. In short, pedestrians find it difficult to cross the four lane road to reach what is actually a fairly nice waterfront.

Years ago, the planning firm that I work for suggested a “road diet” for this stretch of the road. That is to say, narrowing it from a four lane road to two lane, which would reduce automotive speeds and decrease the distance to the waterfront for pedestrians, thereby improving access for those not driving.

Well, the political and resident will was just not there to take on such a “radical” solution. Rather, the city had the following “sky plaza” drawn up to the tune of $7 million. This was supposed to be a potential solution.

Image courtesy of the Herald-Tribune.

Fortunately, it seems the City came to their senses and have put this ridiculous idea to bed. Nonetheless, they seem to be back at square one.

“What’s different this time is we are going into this understanding that somehow we have to slow the traffic on U.S. 41,” city chief planner Steven Stancel said.

“What is not on the table is reducing the number of traffic lanes,” he added.

So let me clarify. They don’t like the function of this thoroughfare and know that it is too auto-centric. But they refuse to take the necessary measures to solve the problem!

I say, good luck Sarasota.

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CGG has issues with a new pedestrian crosswalk installed along one of the most dangerous parts of Bayshore Drive. I drove past it this weekend and couldn’t pull out my camera quickly enough to snap a picture but luckily they had a picture posted. I bike through the area often and it sometimes seems like I’m walking alongside the track of the Indy 300. The enhancements enable pedestrians to press a button which sets off a number of strobe lights to warn oncoming cars. I think its a great idea, seeing that Florida is the capital of pedestrian deaths and the path links the waterfront parks with a number of prominent hotels. If this is what has to be done to encourage people to walk around without risking life and limb, I’m all for it. Sooner or later, Miami drivers will become conscious of those “pesky” pedestrians and hopefully we’ll see a substantial decrease in pedestrian deaths…

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