Wednesday, October 12, 2011

bike lanes

Props to our local governments – the City of South Miami and Miami-Dade County – for continuing to build bike lanes and better sidewalks in the community. We have a long way to go, but the county’s efforts to provide bike lanes, shade and better pedestrian crossings are gradually improving our streetscape.

The recent improvements to 62nd Avenue are – hopefully – a harbinger of a better interventions to come. They show a good grasp of some important urban design practices:

There are bike lanes on both sides of the street, and a planted center median will help slow vehicular traffic by visually narrowing the roadway. This is a good technique for “calming” traffic, which simply encourages drivers to stay close to the speed limit. The medians and the sidewalks are planted with deciduous trees that will eventually grow broad canopies and bring the kind of shade necessary to encourage walking and biking.

A really nice detail: the gutter in the parking lane. The bike lane gets nice, smooth paving, while the rainwater – and the inevitable trash it carries – end up outside the bicycle path.

Some improvements we’d like to see: crosswalks. The major streets in Miami are laid out on a half-mile grid (there are major arteries every half mile, both north-south and east-west), and pedestrian crosswalks are typically spaced at half-mile intervals. This means that two kids living on SW 68th Street on either sides of SW 62nd Avenue would need to walk 2,700 feet to visit each other, even if they only live 100 feet apart. This encourages jaywalking, which, in turn, fuels the unconscionable pedestrian fatality rate in South Florida. We need more crosswalks.

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