State DOT "Improvements" Imperil Pedestrians in Florida

It’s been pointed out many times that state DOTs often seem blind to any mode of transportation other than the single occupancy vehicle. But the Florida Department of Transportation is making it too easy.

Miami's Brickell Avenue, already a nightmare for pedestrians, is about to get worse at FDOT's behest. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/brickell-condos/2606471205/## Flickr, Daniel Hornek##

Residents of Miami’s Brickell neighborhood have been fighting long and hard for basic safety measures for deadly Brickell Avenue. Network blog Transit Miami has led the charge in the campaign for a reduced speed limit and a few pedestrian improvements.

Despite public outcry and a number of pedestrian-involved collisions, with at least one resulting in death, FDOT has barely budged. A call to lower speeds to a life-saving 25 mph, for example, was rebuffed. Adding insult to injury, FDOT is taking steps to improve safety on Brickell Avenue — for motorists. The planned changes are likely to make conditions worse for neighborhood pedestrians, writes Transit Miami’s Felipe Azenhat:

The FDOT fails to recognize that by closing the median opening at Southeast Sixth Street they are reducing intersection density.  Reducing intersection density does not calm traffic; in fact it has the opposite effect. It will only encourage more speeding on Brickell Avenue. This is the last thing we need.

According to an FDOT study there were least 82 accidents on this segment in 2008, including 62 sideswipes and rear-end collisions. Twenty were caused by northbound cars making left turns without yielding to southbound traffic. Lost in this study is the fact that a pedestrian was killed in this very same area several years ago. This statistic is not highlighted in the FDOT study and nothing is being done by FDOT to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety here or anywhere else on Brickell. Safety conditions for pedestrians in this area are obviously not a FDOT priority.

Meanwhile, our local elected officials have promised more safety improvements for Brickell Avenue. We here at Transit Miami have high expectations from FDOT and our elected officials.  Please do not disappoint us. We don’t consider this a safety improvement. Nice try.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Pointing to a LEED certified car dealership, Transit in Utah asks whether a certification system for transit oriented development might be in order. Write of Way highlights a new Active Transportation Alliance initiative to give Chicago cyclists real-time updates on conditions on the lakefront trail. And Cyclicio.us shares the sad, sad story of a visually impaired Illinois couple who were struck by a distracted driver while riding the tandem bicycle they relied on for transportation.

  • Henry

    Why don’t we install speed bumps in intersections like this: #

  • Same reason we don’t install them on Broadway or Lexington. Because they would be pointless. To truly change driver behavior you need more than a cosmetic fix – you need a design that makes drivers uneasy about traveling faster than 30 mph and places all modes on a more equal footing with automobiles…

  • At a recent meeting with FDOT officials we asked for raised crosswalks. Unfortunately, the FDOT representatives that were present didn’t know what they were. I told them to Google “Raised Crosswalks”. Hopefully they did.
    Transitmiami.com

    Thanks for keeping this issue in the national spotlight Streets Blog! We aren’t giving up on Brickell and FDOT yet.

  • Al

    One reason the FDOT officials don’t see the bigger picture is their location. Speaking from the view of a fellow Tallahasseean, it is a rarity, at best, to see a pedestrian in Tallahassee. Starmetro, our local BRT system, has taken strides by improving service around FSU and FAMU campuses and the “We get around” ad campaign. However, Tallahassee still remains a largely auto-dominated town, with large, sprawling developments such as Killarn and Southwood on the north and east areas of the city.

  • LazyReader

    I’m all for BRT and improvments to buses. Different cities have ways to appease pedestrians. Cold cities have networks of sky ways. But that seems uncomfortable and expensive for Tallahassee. Whenever city streets have parked cars on the side of the street, a lot of people see that as a waste of space. But it helps to have a layer of dead metal along the sidewalks acting to protect the pedestrians.

    Turning Avenues into one way streets can actually save lives. One way streets have the obvious advantage that pedestrians and drivers need look only one way when watching for traffic. In the 1970s a new goal of reduced air pollution led to more conversions of two-way streets to one-way. The smooth flow of traffic allowed by signal synchronization meant less auto emissions. Since cars pollute more at slower speeds and in stop-and-go traffic, one-way streets can generate significantly less pollution than two-way streets.

    As for accidents, the evidence that two-way streets are more dangerous than one-way is overwhelming. In many cases, two-way streets result in twice as many pedestrian accidents as one-ways. Groups did studies indicating two-way streets caused 163 percent more pedestrian accidents in Sacramento, and 100 percent more pedestrian accidents in Portland, Oregon, Hollywood, Florida, and Raleigh, North Carolina. The study called one-way streets “the most effective urban counter-measure” to pedestrian accidents. It also showed traffic-calming delay emergency service vehicles which kill far more people than will be saved by the slower speeds. Why not simply clear obstacles so drivers can better see pedestrians on the sidewalk. Newspaper stands, mailboxes, banners, flagpoles, etc. Objects that tend to distract people.

  • Craig

    The FDOT are unelected stooges held only
    responsible to their traffic manual in Talahassee and not local residents.
    Local representatives have stepped in but its not enough. Florida is
    way too dangerous for pedestrians so you’d think its a reputation
    they’d like to change, but no. If this project goes forward as proposed we HAVE to protest the FDOT. How about a few dozen people posing as dead or injured pedestrians and cyclists?

  • kevin

    The FDOT only thinks about cars, and coming from BFE Tallahassee, where all they have are cars, they obviously don’t understand the high-density, urban nature of Miami. Especially in areas like Brickell and Downtown, with some of the country’s highest population densities, people walk, and take the Metro A LOT, more so than drive.

    FDOT needs to recognize that not all places in Florida are the same, and Miami needs road planning for pedestrians and bicyclists too, not just cars. In the city, cars are more a hassle than they are a convenience.

  • kevin

    Brickell needs more crosswalks, and preferably raised. As it is now, many crosswalks on Brickell Avenue lack markings, signs, or cross lights. People walk through the medians, and it’s ridiculous. Pedestrians shouldn’t have to risk their lives to cross the heart of the city, come on! F

    DOT should also consider lowering the speed limit and narrowing the road to promote lower speeds and perhaps even bike lanes for Brickell and Downtown Miami’s large bicycling population. But I’m just dreaming here, this is FDOT we’re talking about, they’d make Brickell an elevated highway if they could.

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