Currently viewing the tag: "Upper East Side"

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.

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.


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

Phone:  305.416.1445

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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!

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