Just the other day I was crossing Brickell Avenue and SE 8th St on my bike with a green crosswalk light when a large SUV pulled up within inches and honked his horn.  I was startled of course, not only is the sight of a massive 4,000 pound hunk of metal a bit intimidating and a loud horn deafening, but I was looking at a green crosswalk light which indicated to me that the street was safe to cross.

I quickly turned around, and pointed at the crosswalk light, but the driver yelling at me through the car probably thought I  was pointing at a bird.  He thought he was in the right, and I was just in his way.

Unfortunately, this situation plays out over and over and over again, every day, of every week, throughout the entire year in Brickell.  An explosion of residents has translated into more pedestrians on unsuitable city streets competing with South Florida drivers who are not accustomed to pedestrians.

While the condo boom saw tremendous pedestrian oriented development in the area, the streets have not changed to accommodate the tremendous influx of city dwellers and pedestrians in the last few years.  With over 22,000 new condos and a handful of large new office buildings and hotels, Brickell Avenue is arguably Miami’s hottest urban center.  Just the other day, the Miami Herald ran a story titled: “Downtown Miami: The hot urban alternative to South Beach.”

If Brickell really hopes to attract the tourist dollars, it is important that Brickell Avenue get a face lift geared at making safer and more comfortable streets.  Brickell Avenue is an important piece of this equation.  On more than one occasion, I have seen tourists scrambling across Brickell Avenue - last year one was actually struck by a vehicle and killed.  Brickell Avenue is uncomfortable and dangerous - an embarrassing combination for an aspiring “world class” neighborhood.

The truth is Brickell Avenue is ill suited to accommodate the rising numbers of pedestrians and tourists crossing the streets  - and things are only going to get worse as the remaining condos are occupied, 1,000,000 sq ft of new office space are opened, and hundreds of new hotel rooms open their doors.   Furthermore, when the economy does pick up, Brickell is likely to be one of the first places where construction will restart.

That is why I see the upcoming Brickell Avenue reconstruction by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)  as a golden opportunity to transform Brickell into a friendly, pedestrian friendly, and safe urban street — as well as a tourist destination.  An opportunity to continue the progress made by city officials, developers, and urbanites in the last few years.  To transform Brickell into what it should be, a destination, not just a street used by cars to cut through the city.

With this in mind, for my first article as a contributing writer on Transit Miami, I leave you with a short video filmed yesterday at the intersection in front of my house on SE 10th St and Brickell Ave, one intersection south of where I was almost hit by the SUV.  I went at around 1:20 pm and stayed for about 15 min.

One can quickly see some of the obvious problems facing Brickell Avenue within this short clip.  Cars that do not respect pedestrians, a missing crosswalk, long wait times, no enforcement, and an increasing number of pedestrians competing for time and space against fast moving automobiles.

This video is just one example of the kinds of things that happen every day, up and down Brickell Avenue.  You will not see any sensational accident or near collision, rather, you will see a consistent pressure on pedestrians by incoming vehicles, as well as ill suited streets.  At the very least, you will see why Brickell Avenue needs highly visible and marked crosswalks on both sides of every intersection, something normal in any walkable urban environment.

As a new addition to the Transit Miami team, over the coming days and weeks, I hope to show why Brickell Avenue in its current form is dangerous to pedestrians, and why its current use is counter intuitive to the long terms goals of the neighborhood, its residents, and area businesses.   Together we can hopefully convince FDOT to do the right thing and ensure a more friendly, safe, enjoyable, and successful street suitable for the world renown Brickell neighborhood it represents.

With Brickell changing by the day, let us design a Brickell Avenue that looks into the future, not the past.

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7 Responses to Unsuitable Brickell Avenue

  1. Anonymous says:

    Since when do drivers in Miami yield for pedestrians (or bikes or children or elderly…) when turning? Since when do drivers in Miami bother to stop at red lights? The lack of marked crosswalks is a problem but won’t do much to change driver behavior.


  2. Felipe Azenha says:

    This bad behavior could be remedied in the Brickell/downtown area if the police department launched a month long campaign/crackdown against cars that do not yield to pedestrians. FDOT also needs to improve the infrastructure for pedestrians and create a more pedestrian-friendly zone that discourages speeding. A no right hand turn on red ordinance should be considered for brickell and downtown.


  3. Colin says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. I grew up in the Northeast, and while Boston and New York may have some aggressive drivers, the pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists up there are shown much more patience and consideration. I actually don’t slow down at non-signal crosswalks on Brickell because I worry that I’ll be rear-ended by the car behind me. There needs to be a combination of increased traffic law enforcement as well as a cultural change among Miami residents. I’d like to see the police start setting a better example by using their turn signals. That would be a great start.


  4. Rima says:

    The video of the car not stopping for the lady with a baby stroller was shocking, and yet so common in Miami. How many times have I been pushed off the street or dangerously cut off by an SUV with a “Pro Life” sticker on the back. Oh, the irony.
    I never, ever walk or bike in Miami. I only feel safe to do so on some select streets in Miami Beach. It is a pity. There is a lack of political will to change the street layouts, and the majority of the population is not pushing for change. They are happy with their cars, clogged streets, lack of alternative. They consider public transport/bikes something for poor people. Our only alternative is to move away.


  5. Adam Mizrahi says:

    What is crazy is that the city encouraged the kind of hyper development that brought masses of people to downtown, but have done absolutely nothing to to provide the safe streets needed as well.


  6. […] believe that a Florida standard residential/business area speed limit for Brickell Avenue is the most important thing - the fundamental step toward making Miami’s densest […]


  7. DaveMira says:

    I live in Brickell and have to take my 2 year old to class every day, only one block but it’s always an adventure, drivers have absolutely no respect for pedestrians, they’re just too busy trying to avoid the drawbridge while talking on the phone.
    Drivers need to be educated and/or fined for dangerous behavior.
    Also, have you ever seen a car getting fined for ‘blocking the intersection’? it’s supposed to be like $250 but I’ve never seen anyone get stopped for doing that.


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