Friday, December 17, 2010
FDOT agrees to lower speed limit & make bike/ped improvements on Miami street
If FDOT can do this in Miami, transportation officials (state and; local) should be able to do this in Lee County. Darla
Miami Herald 12/15/10
Brickell Avenue speed limit to be cut
The Florida Department of Transportation now says it will lower the speed limit and make engineering changes to Brickell Avenue, after complaints that the road was dangerous for walkers and cyclists.
BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI
Bowing to persistent pressure from Brickell residents, bicycle and pedestrian activists, and city and county officials, state roadway engineers have agreed to reduce speeds along busy Brickell Avenue, as well as add crosswalks and ``share-the-road'' markings to improve safety.
The changes will be incorporated into a year-long,$9 million resurfacing of the 1.6-mile state road that is slated to begin in January, Gus Pego, district secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, said Tuesday. Pego stressed that the agency agreed to the bike- and pedestrian-friendly measures after new engineering studies conducted in the past few weeks found them to be justified.
``We've been responsive to the issues brought to us,'' Pego told The Miami Herald.
The alterations to the resurfacing project mark a significant concession by FDOT. Agency engineers had until recently insisted they could make few of the changes demanded by residents, activists and local officials.
Critics argued that a shortage of crosswalks forced people to jaywalk and complained speeding cars imperil the growing number of pedestrians and joggers along the avenue, the spine of Miami's densest district -- a rapidly changing area that residents and city planners envision as a walkable, bikeable urban neighborhood.
The dynamic began to shift for several reasons. Last month, a 30-year Brickell Bay Club resident, Rosa Encalada, 83, was struck and killed by a taxi as she tried to cross the avenue on a Sunday evening.
FDOT engineers, meanwhile, took a verbal beating from angry residents and activists at a public meeting last week and in blog posts by TransitMiami.com and the South Florida Bicycle Coalition. And public officials -- including Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff and Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez -- intervened forcefully with Pego.
Tuesday evening, Encalada's family held a candlelight vigil at the spot near 2300 Brickell where she was struck. `That's wonderful news,'' Teresa Encalada, the woman's daughter-in-law, said of Pego's decision. ``That's what we wanted.''
In return for FDOT's concessions, Sarnoff said, the city will immediately step up traffic enforcement along Brickell, including at a flashing-light pedestrian crosswalk recently installed by the state agency along the residential south half of the avenue.
Sarnoff said too many motorists have been ignoring the yield-to-pedestrians signal, as he found out when he drove the avenue every day for the past two weeks to gauge conditions.
``I watched a few old ladies try to cross from the west side to the east side, and motorists were just gunning it to beat them,'' Sarnoff said.
The issues brought up by residents, bike activists and leaders of the Brickell Homeowners Association included a neighborhood-incompatible speed limit of 40 mph along the residential stretch of Brickell, a shortage of marked crosswalks and a lack of signage or pavement markings indicating that motorists should share the right lane with bicycles.
FDOT has agreed to:
• Reduce the speed limit to 35 mph along the residential stretch between Southeast 15th Road and the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway.
That will make the entirety of Brickell 35 mph -- the same speed as the connected Biscayne Boulevard to its north. Though that's higher than the 25 to 30 mph some Brickell residents wanted, Sarnoff said it marks ``a step in the right direction.''
``Thirty-five is a manageable speed,'' he said.
• Add a new marked crosswalk in the 1400 block of Brickell, in the business district. Also, some crosswalks that now exist along one side of an intersection but not the other will be completed so that pedestrians will have marked crossings on all four corners.
• Southbound and northbound right lanes will be slightly widened and marked with ``sharrows'' -- chevron-shaped stripes and an outline of a bike on the pavement to indicate that motorists must share those lanes with cyclists. The road isn't wide enough to accommodate separate bike lanes.
During construction, Pego said, all speeds along Brickell will be reduced to 30 mph.