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25
February

Demand Bicycle/Pedestrian Improvements

Miami-Dade County lags behind when it comes to infrastructure quality and safety. We can change that.

 


             


















In these economic times, people who have been die-hard automobile fans are now reconsidering walking, cycling, car/vanpooling, and other methods as viable ways of getting around, and as ways to save money, reduce traffic, and save the environment at the same. We can already see these changes right here on our very own campuses. More people are choosing to walk and ride their bicycles to class/work, and FIU has accommodated them by adding more bicycle racks and adding/improving walkways.

 

However, problems arise once one decides to leave campus. FIU's main campus, for example, is sorf of a 'walled-garden' - a beautiful park/urban paradise, in the middle of a desert. A good example of this 'desert' quality is Southwest 8th Street, which borders the campus to the north. The street has a 45 mph limit, with cars often traveling at speeds higher than that. Cars trying to beat the light (and those that can't, but keep going anyway) are a common sight, putting pedestrians in danger. In the few times that I've tried to cross 8th street at the 109th avenue entrance on foot (I'm usually riding my bike), I've almost been hit three times by people running the red light at well over 45 mph.

 

Another example is Biscayne Boulevard & Northeast 151st Street - the entrance to FIU's north campus. Attempting to cross the street there is just as bad, if not slightly less. Cars are moving too fast, putting pedestrians at risk.

 

Biscayne Boulevard (US-1) and Southwest 8th Street (US-41) both have something in common - they are managed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The FDOT is a state agency that has the duties of overseeing and managing public transportation. This includes designing the roads that they have jurisdiction over (and freeways), as well as ensuring the safety of these roadways.

 

It's widely known that the roads that the FDOT maintains are generally unsafe. Blogs like Transit Miami, Miami Bike Report, and newspapers like The Miami Herald have all covered this issue before. The consensus (admitted by the FDOT's very own traffic engineers) is that the goal is to move cars as quickly as possible, and they "ensure safety" by widening roads, removing trees, and taking away parts of people's front yards.

 

In an email sent to Ken Jeffries, the District Six transportation planner for the FDOT, he was asked about adding plastic bollards to bike lanes located on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or higher. His response was: "Thank you for contacting the Department. Bollards separating on-road bicycle lanes from the [car] travel lane are not part of the Department's standards." This is coming from an agency that wants to "ensure the safety" of their roads! Obviously they prefer to stick to arcane, auto-centric standards that do nothing but harm all road users.

 

There are many more examples of conversations with representatives from the FDOT, but I think that the two provided here are enough. The moral of the story here is one that already exists - the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation echoed this statement in a tweet by saying: "want bike/ped improvements? Consider getting LOUD."

 

We can get loud by making phone calls, sending emails, and any other way we can get our voices heard. Below are a few contact details of FDOT representatives you can contact:

 

Omar Meitin

omar.meitin@dot.state.fl.us

305-470-5336

 

Marta Rodriguez

marta.rodriguez@dot.state.fl.us

305-470-5477

 

Ken Jeffries

ken.jeffries@dot.state.fl.us

305-470-5445

 

Gus Pego

gus.pego@dot.state.fl.us

305-470-5197

 

 


by: Brandt Absolu


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