Better Streets Miami Beach

Our Positions at the October 19, 2022 Public Safety, Neighborhoods, and Quality of Life Committee

We’ve reviewed the agenda and have taken positions on the following items. To view the full agenda click here. Our positions are below:

25. Discuss and take action on the potential use of Alton court alleyway as an alternative path for pedestrians, bicycles and micromobility devices.

While we appreciate the effort to try to increase safety of micromobility users, we wish there would had been outreach to the advocacy community prior to the referral. While there are likely good intentions behind this proposal, there are also a number of concerns:

  1. Alleys are designed to keep unsightly back of house operations out of the public view. And as a result they are heavily used by large trucks. There have been numerous crashes on Miami Beach between truck drivers and bicyclists that have unfortunately resulted in deaths. Where possible interaction between trucks and bicyclists should be avoided.
  2. The intersections between numbered streets (e.g. 15th Street) and the Alton Court alley do not have all-way stop signs. This would not only open up bicyclists and others to danger as they cross the street, but would also impede the intended use which is as an alternative north-south through route.
  3. In addition, many buildings are built to the property line which also impedes sight lines at intersections. Combined with the lack of stop signs this presents an unnecessary danger to people walking, biking, and utilizing scooters.

There may be some merit for this as a temporary measure during the West Avenue N.I.P. which is hoped to begin construction sometime next year, so long as safety is the number one priority.

Once again, we appreciate the thoughtfulness, but again we urge collaboration with the large community of residents, visitors, and employees that bike, walk, and utilize micromobility devices prior to advancing this idea. We also urge following best practices, NACTO guidelines, Miami Beach’s Street Design Guidelines, and sight line standards.

14. Discussion regarding the Chase Avenue and 34th Street shared-use path project

We agree with the City’s Transportation, Parking and Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee in supporting this Commission approved, GO-Bond voter approved and funded, and recipient of state FDOT grant project. This off-street path will serve as a critical east/west link between existing north/south bicycle lanes on Prairie Ave, the Neighborhood Greenway on N. Bay Road (towards Sunset Harbor), and the planned protected 2-way cycle track along Alton Road.

This short, one-third mile, pathway is indicative of the lack of progress the City has made implementing its adopted Bicycle Master Plan. In multiple recent public meetings City Staff have repeatedly stated this project is moving forward, is funded, and will be put out to bid soon. We urge its quick construction and completion.

Beachwalk Items:

11. Discussion regarding an update on completing installation of camera technology for the entire beachwalk, and police presence and enforcement efforts on the beachwalk

26. Discussion regarding how to define those areas of the beachwalk intended to provide a clear pedestrian pathway for ingress and egress to the beach

27. Discussion regarding the addition of stop signs on main beachwalk intersections.

The Beachwalk is a critical dual-role piece of infrastructure: It provides a vital off-street north/south route for people to travel without cars and is also a well used recreational facility.

We urge a comprehensive plan before any dramatic changes are made to this seven-mile path that is used by thousands of people a day. As we recently saw with the pilot on 15-24 streets, we set ourselves up for failure if we lack a plan.

There are many ways where money could be more effectively utilized before cameras along the beachwalk:

  1. Vehicle Bollards – Recall there was an attack in New York City where 8 people were killed and dozens injured along the Hudson River Greenway.
  2. Shade – Comfort during hot summer months, and decrease risk of skin damage.
  3. Drainage – After rain events there is ponding which forces people into narrow areas and increases collision risks.
  4. Curb ramps at street ends for ADA accessibility and people on micromobility devices.
  5. Emergency call buttons – Cost effective and proven technology that can summon help when needed.
  6. Signs encouraging people walking across the beachwalk to look both-ways

An ad-hoc piece meal process isn’t right for this amenity and critical piece of infrastructure enjoyed by thousands every day.

7. Discussion regarding the city’s enforcement efforts relating to noise emanating from vehicles, including vehicle exhausts.

We support efforts that hold drivers accountable for their actions. At night a single driver can disturb hundreds of people with their loud, and often illegal, auto modification. To that end, we urge the Miami Beach Police Department to conduct vehicle equipment checks and to enforce existing laws on the books. We are curious to know the number of tickets that have been issued in the past 5-year period on this topic.

20. Discuss options for incorporating artistic designs on sidewalk/bicycle lane barriers

We support the use of asphalt art and other decorative elements as place-making strategies. Last fall, we presented to the City Manger and her team successful examples from around the United States, including many in New York City, where these strategies have been effectively used. We urge consideration in our public spaces, especially along Ocean Drive.

23. Discussion regarding the maximum distance separation for valet storage from the valet point of service location

We oppose efforts that would increase the maximum distance separation between valet ramps and where the vehicles are stored. This adds extra cars onto our streets, increases traffic, and contributes to the perception of congestion during busiest times. In addition, valet staff have been known to drive in dangerous and aggressive manner when servicing vehicles. Valet needs to be used diligently and should be discouraged as much as possible.

Policies should always encourage fewer cars on our public streets and this proposal does the opposite.

24. Discussion regarding the city’s enforcement efforts with regard to commercial trucks and other vehicles obstructing streets and rights-of-way, aggravating traffic and creating other public safety hazards

We support efforts to enforce illegal stopping of vehicles on our public streets. We have seen other cities utilize Parking Enforcement Officers on bicycle with great success. These officers can quickly (and without further blocking streets with their cars) enforce the stopping/standing/parking rules in our City.

Most recently, there was a serious crash on the 300 block of Ocean Drive where a delivery driver had illegally stopped in the bike lane (even though curb lane was available) and they were struck, and seriously injured, by a driver traveling on the street. This tragic crash was preventable and quick, swift, and effective enforcement could help to minimize public safety hazards.

We encourage the Parking Department to look into bicycle-based PEOs.