Alton Road Redesigned by FDOT….again misses the mark

It seems like we’ve been tracking the Alton Road reconstruction for years. Well we have. This project has been under design for what seems like an eternity. Today, the Alton Road Reconstruction Coalition released news the FDOT just redesigned the project…again. ARRC had advocated originally for an excellent design that expanded bicycle and pedestrian space, green space.

Unfortunately, FDOT agreed to a 17′ wide median at the expense of a shared-use path and expanded sidewalks. This was pretty unfortunate given ARRC’s original proposal, but to make matters worse, the new designs proposed by FDOT have very little in common with either the original proposal or the one that followed. The 17′ wide planted median has been replaced by a narrow strip of green, with very wide turn lanes. This is a disaster for such an important main street. Check out the proposed FDOT design – what do you all think?

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Miami Bike Month

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado issued a proclamation today proclaiming March as Miami Bike Month. We don’t have to remind you how far we’ve come in Miami with regard to bicycle use and infrastructure. Since our inception, we have been intimately involved with the City of Miami, and are proud to be a part of the movement to make Miami a safe and convenient place to bike and walk. We know we have a long road ahead, but here is to continuing the work of making Miami a safe and convenient place to bike, walk and run!

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Xavier Suarez Meets with Bicyclists, Agrees That Change is Needed on the Rickenbacker

Bike advocates convened today at the office of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez (District 7) to discuss improving bicycle safety on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The meeting was called by Commissioner Suarez to reiterate his commitment to better bicycling in Miami-Dade and to reach a consensus on both short term (micro) measures that can be implemented in now, while also focusing on the long term (macro) design of the causeway.

Cyclists cross Bear Cut Bridge during Friday afternoon rush hour. Two started on the bike lane then melded with motor traffic as cars edged toward the concrete barrier.

Cyclists cross Bear Cut Bridge during Friday afternoon rush hour. Two started on the bike lane then melded with motor traffic as cars edged toward the concrete barrier.

Among the attendees were Green Mobility network board members Eli Stiers, Eric Tullberg and Tony Garcia,  Mart Jane Mark & Sue Kawalerski (representing Mack Cycle), Hank Sanchez-Resnick, Xavier Falcone ( Everglades Bike Club), Felipe Azhena (Transit Miami) and Markus Wagner (among others). Also in attendance were city of Key Biscayne City Manager and Chief of Police, Miami-Dade Police, and Commander Morales from the City of Miami. 

The discussion centered around the topic of increased safety for all users of the road – bicyclists and motorists included, with a focus on the short term, low cost actions that could be taken, and other longer term items that need to be accomplished moving forward.

Among the major short term measures that were communicated are:

- a consistent 35 mph speed limit along the full length of the causeway (current speeds range from 45-25) (see this diagram showing the differences in speed limits current as of 2-11-2014)

-increased enforcement of speed limits at targeted time periods, to coincide with the times of greatest bicycle activity. (see this reference sheet showing the enforcement actions for 2012 and 2013 – not a bad start, but much more needs to be done!)

-signage that indicates bicyclist rights and responsibilities along the causeway

 

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One major safety concern is the upcoming removal of the toll booth at the entrance of the causeway, to be replaced with a Sunpass system. All were in agreement that this would only encourage more speeding and that enforcement was a top priority moving forward.

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The longer term vision presented by those in attendance is a redesign of the road that would impact the design speed; a redesign that envisions the causeway as a linear park – not a highway.  For the long term success of this corridor, the road must be designed to reduce speeds, and improve safety for the thousands of daily visitors. Current lane widths are 11′ from the entrance of the Rick to the bear cut bridge, and 12′ from there to the Village of Key Biscayne. While this latter section is being narrowed to allow for an increase in the current 3′ bike lane, the former section is not.  Narrowing the lanes will reduce speeds, and provide more space to bicyclists and pedestrians. Conversion of the entire causeway into a linear park, consistent with William Lyman Phillips original vision for the corridor, should be implemented. Phillips envisioned the causeway as a part of the Miami-Dade park network; a recreational asset as much as a transportation corridor. This vision is more valid today than ever before.

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Green Mobility applauds Commissioner Suarez for taking the initiative to convene the group, and is hopeful that the consensus reached at the meeting will lead to actual changes on the Rickenbacker and continued dialogue with the bicycle/pedestrian community.

Miami-Dade Representatives Sponsor Equity Bike Bill

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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at the 2013 Gables Bike Day

Thanks go out to two of our local House Representatives, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen  (R-Fl) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fl)  for co-sponsoring a house bill that will allow communities to take advantage of low-cost financing for projects that make streets and sidewalks safer for all users through a new federal credit assistance program that would direct millions specifically for low-income communities. GMN is a proud advocate of the bill considering the large percentage of low-income Miami-Dade residents who have no other means of transportation than walking and biking. The bill would redirect a percentage of current spending toward bicycle/pedestrian projects in low income communities.

More about the bill from the League of American Bicyclists:

So what does the bill do?

  • It creates a low-interest long-term loan program for communities to build biking and walking networks.
  • 25% of the funding must be spent in low income communities
  • The funding, $11 million, is a set aside from the $1 billion dollar TIFIA loan program funded in MAP-21.

Provides common sense transportation solutions

  • The bill offers a new tool for Mayors and local governments to finance needed transportation infrastructure. According to Sires: “This novel approach will add another tool in the toolbox for mayors, governors, and private investors to reinvigorate their communities and develop a strong, vibrant middle class.”
  • The bill doesn’t add any new costs to the transportation bill, or to the federal budget.

Builds better integrated bicycling and multimodal networks that reduce transportation costs and close gaps in job access for low-income families and individuals.

  • Nationally the average family with an income less than $50,000 spends 30% on transportation
  • Residents earning less than $30,000 per year account for 28% of bike trips in 2009- more than 1.1 billion bike trips overall.

Helps commuters

  • Americans are driving less, and want to bike and walk more. Creating safe infrastructure gives commuters cheap and safe options.
  • Between 2000-2012, bike commuting rose 61% nationwide, and rose by 80% in bicycle friendly communities. Where infrastructure is safe and accessible, people bike more.

Meets the need for safety and infrastructure

  • There are still disparities in access to safe infrastructure for low-income communities and people of color across the country.

  • Bicycling and walking make up 12% of all trips, but over 16% of all fatalities

  • The fatality rate for Hispanic bicyclists is 23% higher than for white bicyclists and 30% higher for African American bicyclists than for white bicyclists.

  • 71% of people of color agree that safer bicycling would make their community better.

Read more about the bill here.

Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Gardens this weekend!

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 3.18.23 PMThe 2013 Annual Mango Festival is here! This Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Sunday, July 14, 2013 from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM at Fairchild Tropical Garden.This year’s stars are the mangos from Mexico, and you will get to try them in every culinary way you can  imagine. There will be  culinary demonstrations, tastings and workshops through out the weekend. Bike to  Fairchild, we will be  hosting a Bike Valet for your convenience. Drop by and talk to us!

Black Creek Trail is New Again

The refurbished eastern end of the Black Creek Trail is just about finished, and we’re so excited about it we’re organizing a ride on it for this Saturday.  Eric Tullberg has mapped a 23.4-mile loop that will take in all the good new parts and provide a morning outing of three and a half or four hours. See our calendar for directions. Then come back often for other fun and sometimes important events.

Miami Cyclists Honor the Lost

A tip of the helmet to Maria Luisa Hoover and John Voss, of the Everglades Bicycle Club, for organizing Miami’s edition of last night’s Ride of Silence, honoring cyclists killed or injured by cars. Miami’s organizing task was an extra challenge this year because the usual Rickenbacker Causeway route wasn’t available. Here’s one participant’s record of the cyclists. Note the wide variety of participants. This is not just your racing crowd — which makes the point that cycling is an activity for just about anyone.

Join Us in the National Bike Challenge

National Bike Challenge, 2013We’ve signed up for the National Bike Challenge — and we’d love to have you be part of this friendly competition for prizes and bragging rights among bicyclists all across the land. Already there are 17 Florida teams (325 riders as of 4 p.m. today) planning to log their rides between now and September 30. So, whether you bike to work or work up a sweat with your peloton pals, you can get in on this new level of fun without spending a cent.

The competition is made possible by the League of American Bicyclists and Endomondo, the Danish company whose line includes physical fitness monitors like those that some of you already use. I just downloaded the Blackberry version of the Endomondo app, and there are others for the smartphone in your family. You don’t have to have a smartphone to take part; it’s just an available option.

Oh, you want to know about prizes? Think bicycles. Think riding gear. That kind of stuff. But the main point is the fun. Your click here can start you on your way. .

Florida House OKs Anti-Texting Bill

The Florida House passed an anti-texting bill today after embracing an amendment yesterday that limits how police could use the legislation. Because of the amendment, by Rep. Jose Oliva of Hialeah, the bill must go back to the Senate in the last-week logjam of the 2013 lawmaking session. Rochelle Koff, who has been following the bill for The Miami Herald, wrote earlier that Gov. Rick Scott hasn’t signaled whether he’ll sign the bill into law.

Drivers texting at the wheel are increasingly the subject of complaints by bicyclists and runners, as well as other motorists. And there’s been growing awareness in recent years that driver attention to the road is distracted not only while they’re texting but also when they’re on a cellphone call. The outgoing U.S. secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, campaigned avidly for awareness about distracted driving.

SB 52 provides a relatively small penalty, and because it classifies texting as a secondary offense a driver won’t be charged with it unless a cop has stopped him or her for some larger offense.

With the Oliva amendment the possible law is narrowed further: It states that the authorities may not subpoena a driver’s cellphone record unless the driver was involved in a crash causing death or personal injury. You can imagine this roadside scenario: trooper stops a car for speeding on Bird Road, adds on a charge of texting at the wheel, and the driver denies he was texting. Driver hires a ticket lawyer, goes to court, and because the state can’t show the cellphone record the judge faces a he said-she said dilemma.

Improving walking, bicycling, and living in Miami, Florida