Monday, September 22, 2008

Right on Red to US1: Suicide or Manslaughter?

Here's an easy fix that may help cyclists and motorists as well, a "two-fer".

SW 16th Avenue's intersection with US-1 is a "T"-type. There is no continuation of 16th Ave east of the Highway. The roadways are signalized but the crossing is not.

There is a sign hanging above the roadway facing 16th Ave which reads: "Right Turn On Red From Right Lane Only". And yes, there is second southbound lane on 16th Avenue so in order for a motor vehicle to turn right on red a driver in the right lane would have to :
  • nose his vehicle out far enough to see around the vehicle next to him in the other lane
  • to gain the required visibility to the high speed traffic coming south on US-1 he/she would by necessity have to cross the stop line and completely block the striped crossing
  • because of the continuous southbound US-1 traffic during most of the day the entering driver could not afford to take his/her eyes off of the line of traffic and would therefore NEVER see a bicyclist or pedestrian approaching from the south on the M-Path

So by permitting this turn the vehicle driver is forced to break the law in order to even make an attempt to enter the traffic flow without signalized assistance. Look, what's the chance of making a safe merge onto a busy US-1 anyway? Why not use some common sense and replace the sign with one that says: "No Right On Red"?

There are other intersections with permitted right-on-red turns to Southbound US-1 along the M-Path. Who needs them? They are inconsistent and dangerous to drivers and M-Path users alike. I urge the County, City (who does have the authority?) to prohibit these turns all along the Path, BUT LET'S START AT SW 16th AVENUE!

Appreciative nod to the grass cutting crew working along the Path in the Gables this morning. They courteously parked their truck off of the pavement.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm A Traitor

Recently, I was at a Saturday Critical Mass ride, and I was telling someone about how I take the M-Path home from work everyday. He was telling me that he didn't like the M-Path, because it's hard to gain any speed, and that he takes Ponce instead. After a while I decided to give it a try, and I have to admit, it's not too bad, and I definitely dropped my commute time by about 5 minutes. The reason I bring this up is because it is part of a larger cycling debate that many of us are aware of. Basically, separate cycling facilities are important. Versus, as long as we practice the principles of vehicular cycling, separate infrastructure is not necessary. The problem with this debate is that it is usually carried out by cycling geeks, so they are not incorporating the mindset of the average commuter or pedestrian into their argument. 

As someone who became a cycling commuter within the last year, I still retain some perspective of a non-cyclist. I can now get home easily from South Miami to downtown without setting wheel on the M-Path, but I can say with complete certainty that without the M-Path, I would have never attempted to commute to work on my bike. The M-Path gave me the confidence and skills to brave the streets. Furthermore, not all cycling is about going from point A to B in the shortest possible time. Sometimes we just want to go on a nice relaxed ride without cars whizzing past, and when that's the case, I still hop on the M-Path, so I can smell the flowers as I ride. 

A 'Thanks', GMN debrief

Hank previously highlighted a frequent problem involving vehicles parked smack in the middle of the path. The usual culprits in my experience are landscapers and FP&L, and wanted recognize this Miami-Dade Transit van to illustrate my point. Thanks to the driver for the courteous display, whoever and wherever you are. Sometimes it's the little stuff that counts, and it is appreciated.

Re: Tuesday's Green Mobility Network meeting

The turnout was fantastic - JHop is claiming around forty - but even more exciting was the draft of the Bicycle Action Plan for the City of Miami. Though the M-Path is the County's domain, several bike lanes are now in the works that would intersect the path.

I will wait for the finalized plan to dive into specifics, but key East/West lanes seemed priority on the presented draft. This is both an exciting and critical moment for improving the bicycling infrastructure in South Florida. Though Mayor Diaz was a no show, he dispatched staff members who adamantly proclaimed his intent to create the action plan and set it in motion.

Now, if not more than ever, the importance of the M-Path is visible as a potential main artery for bicycling traffic south of the downtown area. For the sake of connectivity, it is absolutely imperative that the county cooperate with the City of Miami and respond to our initiative.

Finally, A big shout out to Mike Lydon from Transit Miami who worked very hard on developing this action plan alongside city staffers - and took the time to patiently go over the draft with everyone at the meeting.

Monday, September 15, 2008

GMN Meeting This Tuesday

The Green Mobility Network, quite possibly the solution to the rusted, clunky drive train that is South Florida's bicycling advocacy, will hold a meeting tomorrow night near downtown Miami.

There are all sorts of reasons you, the concerned cyclist and/or pedestrian, should attend. One is to take a sneak peak at portions of the inaugural Bicycle Action Plan for the City of Miami, drafted by city staffers and volunteers. Another reason to go is to network with like-minded cyclists/pedestrians and check out some good opportunities to find ways to do your own advocating (other than just riding and yelling at distracted drivers, of course).

I've attended a few meetings and the draw is usually very diverse, spanning all types of citizenry and everyone is very approachable. So don't be shy.

Place: Garden Center @ Simpson Park
Time: 7:30PM, Tuesday, September 15
Spoke's has the details.

Wait, wait, wait - bicycle, action, plan, AND Miami... all in the same sentence? If you didn't just fall out of your chair, you need to wake yourself up.

May your track stands be lengthy,


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back In Town

I've been back on the M-Path this week after almost two months away with only a few days in Miami during that time.

Some observations after my first couple of rides:

The new paved path from the north end of the South Miami transit station to the controlled crossing at US-1 and SW 70th St is nearly complete. CONGRATULATIONS to Miami-Dade Transit for this improvement to safely lead users of the M-Path and station to and from this crossing point.

But what's the new fence and gate all about?

Will this portion of the otherwise open station be closed at certain times? If so, why and how would M-Path users know?

Also, because of the gate installation at the south end of the new pavement it remains very narrow where it joins the old path. So the old blind corner has not been substantially relieved. Why not lose the gate and make the intersection of the paths wider?

Yesterday there were 2 grass cutting crews working along the Path. Neither was blocking the pavement, a very good thing. Today there was another and, you guessed it, smack in the middle! I politely asked if next time the truck could be parked on the grass and was politely received. But wouldn't be easier to simply have a "no blocking" requirement for any contract or other maintenance work on or around the Path?

The work on the condominium constructuion at SW 1st Rd, south of Broadway has at least temporarily given back the street. No need these last few days to detour to S Miami Ave, although the resurfacing of Broadway has caused some resourceful re-routing. That should be completed by the end of today.

More later.