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: 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.