Currently viewing the tag: "Walkable"

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

I am sorry, in my previous post I neglected to mention that there is an improvement in the new Alton Road: They propose increasing the parking lane to 9 feet!

On-street parking is a dangerous, highly addictive habit. When you know it is available, you want it, and may not stop at anything to get it. Plus, not to mention, it is likely cheaper than any parking garage. You let its availability control your life: you plan and scheme to get your fix of it and you will fight to defend your right to stop a lane or two of traffic to maneuver your Hummer into a space.

I want to thank the members of the Alliance for Reliable Transport (ART), for forcing FDOT and the City to see a vision of the future that is different and will, then by definition bring new and needed results. Even I was skeptical when a respected ART steering committee member returned from far-flung historic and highly urbanized Cities around the world with pictures of streets built properly. Streets with wide sidewalks, luscious shade trees and dedicated bicycle lanes. Could this really exist here at home? ART showed us that it could. Yet, no one seems to listen.

If the city and DOT do not listen to ART, at least listen to the neighborhoods: Flamingo Neighborhood, led by Judy Robinson or the Westies, always well represented by Arthur Marcus (and Benita Argos). They know you cannot cross Alton Road, ride on Alton Road, or enjoy a peaceful alfresco meal without inhaling exhaust on Alton Road. We are begging FDOT and the City for something different.

If not the Artists or the Neighbors, listen to the City Engineer, the Traffic Manager or the Public Works Director: Wide sidewalk and a demarked bicycle facility for non-motorized vehicles will increase mobility…. mobility is the key to our economic engine: getting tourists in, getting around, spending their money and leaving to make room for the next.

We should listen to the Costal Communities Transportation Master Plan (CCTMP) that says the traffic and congestion problems do not come from our neighbors; it is internal. The congestion occurs because we believe that we can only get around our seven squares in our cars due to the abundant on-street parking! We should follow the lead of the Mayor of Paris who banned parking on the Champs Ellissee!

Nothing causes more congestion than parking. It takes away the opportunity to do anything else with our precious right-of way but store a ton or two of steel and plastic. Parking is not traffic calming. It is parking. At $1500.00/space (the average revenue per year), the City adds $487,000 a year to its coffers (well, not really into the general fund because parking is an enterprise fund.) Is it worth it? Is $500,000, more a year into the bottomless and questionably productive Parking Fund worth the death of businesses or a pedestrian trying to cross the street?

The misconception that there are not enough parking opportunities on Alton Road with out the 325 on street parking spaces is just that: a myth. The City is spending $15 MILLION dollars for 1000 parking spaces at 5thth and West, not to mention that the Herzog & de Meuron Garage and the Robbins Garage will add hundreds spaces. There is ample parking in the area, so when will we be able to re-purpose on-street parking? There is no time better than this project. and Alton, there is parking at 10

Finally, there is the little matter of a memo related to non-motorized vehicles on Alton Road, among others and FDOT statue 335.065(1)(a). In December of 2006, the City declared many of our streets “generally not safe” for non-motorized vehicles”. Don’t we then have an obligation to make them safe by adding a segregated facility for them? Here is our opportunity and an accompanying Florida Statue! The State has a legislative mandate to add the bicycle lane, enhance pedestrian accessibility, and improve safety for all modes of transport. Nowhere in the State Statue or in the City Code is parking (on street parking) given the same kind of priority. Instead, we make that up and justify it with a 10-year-old report called The Walker Study.

Come out on June 26 and tell the City of Miami Beach and the State of Florida that any renovation or rehabilitation of Alton Road that does not include a dedicated bike lane, 20 foot sidewalks, and a travel lane 12 foot wide to accommodate the Baylink is not an Alton Road we want to waste our money on. Tell the bureaucrats and politicians that we will not sit through two torturous years of road construction to end up with the same road we have today.

Alton Road on Miami Beach does not work. Traffic is clogged, pedestrians cannot cross, and bicyclists cannot ride safely. On Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm in the Miami Beach City Hall Commission Chambers, The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting, which will be our last chance to make Alton Road work for the future. In terms of road construction projects, especially in an urban historic setting, opportunities to do something different are few and far between.  We will gather that day, to be handed an opportunity from the State of Florida to make Alton Road work by doing something different.

Instead, it looks like we will be getting more of the same.

The plan that was recommended by the land use committee and from the City Commission as a whole is the same Alton Road we have today. The same. Same seven lanes of traffic. Same marginally wide enough sidewalks, and same bumper-to-bumper on-street parking.

Let us start with the 100’ right of way. 100 feet! 75 of which are carved out for the seven lanes of traffic. Note: seven lanes is essentially equivalent to the south bound segment of I-95.

Alton Road, Miami Beach

Image Via Zickie’s Flickr

Onto the sidewalks

13 feet. That’s it. It might sound like a lot, when compared to the highly touted but very ineffective ADA requirements of 3 feet (remember this three feet is brought to you by the same people who think $6.25 should be minimum wage) but 13 feet is hardly adequate for the most pedestrainized area in the state.

This is Miami Beach. People have been coming here since the Smith-Avery family began ferrying them over here to experience our amazing climate. Our outdoor dining scene rivals some of the century’s oldest ones established in Paris and Rome, and we are barely 75 years old! I often shake my head at the folks who sit on 41st street outside Arnie and Richie’s crammed between a light pole and a trash can, while I barely have two feet to walk past by. Miami Beach is a tourist destination.  Tourism is a mainstay of our economy that will ride us out during oscillations in the real estate market. We must do everything we can to bring people here and get them around in an economical and environmentally friendly manner.

Let’s not forget another Miami Beach mainstay: our vibrant Orthodox community, a group that promotes walking as a virtue. This absence of adequate pedestrian facilities forces hundreds to walk the streets two days a week. We need wide sidewalks. Wider than most and Alton Road with the bus shelters, parking stations, pedestrian lighting, street lighting, and trash cans can barely accommodate a café table, let alone folks strolling and patronizing the shops and living and crossing. Yet the plan that was recommended out of our City Commission is more of the same.

Someone smarter than I defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The State of Florida is coming to us, wanting to fix our road, give us wider sidewalks, more options for non-motorized transport, rational public transit ways, more landscaping and this solution, this opportunity for real change, and therefore real results is being lost to petty politics and 325 parking spaces.

More on the parking issue in segment 2.  Stay Tuned.

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