Tuesday May 6, 2008

Alton Road bike lanes? Weather we like it or not, Alton Road is soon to be torn up. So, Miami Beach commissioners had a choice to make. Look at the two proposals below, and see if you can guess which they chose to recommend to FDoT.

alton road proposed reconstruction



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  1. Mikhail    Tue May 6, 03:06 PM #  

    Super wide sidewalks eh?

    Funny, never seen anyone walking on Alton… Why the hell do they need super wide sidewalks?


    Bring on the bike lane damn it!

  2. Adam    Tue May 6, 03:23 PM #  

    they forgot the third proposal: don’t put the Target complex on 5th, and take out a lane of cars.

  3. alesh    Tue May 6, 03:56 PM #  

    Target… is THAT what they’re building there? I dunno, Adam, but that sounds pretty sweet to me.

    It’s true that cyclists outnumber pedestrians by several orders of magnitude on the Beach, but you know… now that I’m thinking about this — and trust me, when I first saw this I had the same “what morons” though — personally, when I’m cycling south towards 5th, I almost always take Michigan or West Ave, never Alto, and I’m not sure that would change even if there were bike lanes on Alton — it’s still a traffic-clogged street. Maybe in this instance they’re on to something?

    My vote: leave Alton in it’s semi-grungy glory and beautify something else.

  4. margaret    Tue May 6, 04:30 PM #  

    I walk, I pedal (mostly), I drive and I’ve occasionally used the metrobus (almost daily in jr. high). All the FDOT plans were miserable for one reason or another. Pretty much, if it were up to me, I’d put the bike lane on West Ave and give priority on Alton to peds, landscaping, street “furniture” (signs, busstops), and then cars. There is no room for everything on Alton, so somebody has to be put out. The least put out are the bicyclists.

    As a bike rider, West is way better and I’d probably continue to use it even with a bike lane on Alton. It’s just safer. It also takes almost no effort to go that one block farther. With a street bike lane, you will still have to watch out for nutjob drivers. With sidewalk level bike lane, the pedestrians will use it and still bitch about bikes. West is the natural solution now and will be until Alton is unusable to drivers.

    The bike lane solutions will hurt business as much as the drivers they are intended to discourage. Not everyone can or will walk from the garages on fifth and lincoln to those businesses especially in the Summer heat. Also, if you take away those spots, the people who park there now will park in the neighborhood not at the garages, screwing over residents like me.

    Side note: Another bit of misery from the FDOT is that they want to extend medians across signaless intersections to prevent left turns from side streets—forgetting that will just encourage people to make U-turns at the next intersection. Ugh. It didn’t occur to them to try “right turn only” signs first. Idiots.

  5. Jeremy    Tue May 6, 04:43 PM #  

    Never seen anyone walking on Alton? Are you a local? If you were, you’d know that’s where Beachers do most of their errands and shopping. Alton is a pedestrian nightmare — I’m all for narrowing and greening it. Cars will move just as smoothly (that is, not smoothly at all) and bikes can use West, which as Margaret said is safer and just as easy.

  6. that guy    Tue May 6, 06:49 PM #  

    Funny, they objected to running Baylink down Alton since it would have torn up the street. Now they’re gonna do just that, except there won’t be a convenient mass transit line put in.

  7. Albert    Tue May 6, 07:30 PM #  

    The super wide sidewalks mean more space to ride despite the pedestrians. I’d prefer the lanes, but then again, I’d also like the drivers to be less cunt-ish, and that shit is not happening any time soon.

  8. margaret    Tue May 6, 08:23 PM #  

    The only thing Baystink was convenient for was selling those condos in the OMNI area.

    If they really wanted to give us viable options that aren’t likely to destroy property values, they would have already implemented ferries. The DUKW tours prove it can happen faster and cheaper and prettier than rail.

  9. dreaming    Wed May 7, 04:52 PM #  

    i live on west. it’s preferable to alton for biking. but west is hardly much safer. you can get mowed down by bmws and benzes careening off alton onto west in search of a better place to speed.

    if they widen the sidewalks on alton, that’s where i’ll be riding.

    painted lines on alton for bike lanes wouldn’t make you safe on your bike there. believe me.

  10. alesh    Wed May 7, 04:56 PM #  

    margaret~ FERRIES? you’re serious? I thought the idea behind baylink is that it’d be faster and more convenient then the bus. A ferry would certainly be scenic, and great for tourists, but not faster or convenient… witness the faliure of water taxi. Or, what am I missing??

    dreaming~ True… but bike lanes on West would work. The lack of on-street parking would make them fairly mindless for those speeding drivers to observe.

  11. margaret    Wed May 7, 07:10 PM #  

    I’m totally serious. Of course, I dont even think we need them either. How many times a year do you actually go downtown? The buses are fine (when they run on time) and it’s a quick ride on a bike (I’m a total slowpoke). Frankly, even a car ride is not so bad other than the parking issue.

    But what you are really missing is that elevated rail will lower property values and increase crime. This is a pretty universal rule unfortunately. That bit of highway between the MacArthur and I-95 destroyed Overtown and turned it into a ghetto in the worse sense of the word.

    The trolley system while cute and better suited to the neighborhood will cause its own traffic congestion and I’ve never been on one anywhere that went faster than a metrobus does down MacArthur. Those metrobus ladies really floor it sometimes. :) So timewise, they are the same as buses, just better suited to tourists and yuppies.

    But, the real purpose of the metrorail was to sell those condos on Biscayne and in the Omni area. That’s why miami was pushing for it and the Beach was reluctant. We get no benefits from it, but Miami got all those condos downtown instead of where they wouldn’t extract $$ for the city.

    BTW, when government offers traffic congestion solutions it is never ever about making it faster for you to get around town. It is all about making the city denser and increasing the tax base. Traffic flow is natural population control. They all know that. If you make transportation easier for more people, then more people move in until it is too congested again. Then the population stabilizes and the whole cycle begins again.

    I’m probably forgetting a few of the complaints I had when it was first offered, but I think that was the main problems. Cost (including property values dropping), crime and effectiveness. Baylink just doesn’t add up.

  12. adam    Sun May 11, 05:04 PM #  

    wait a minute, elevated rail lines might have increased crime and lowered property values when they were installing in the 60’s and 70’s—but this was before massive traffic jamming, back when suburbia was still an idyllic utopia and the city centers were shunned by the middle class and wealthy. Things have changed a lot since then. Look at property values along train lines in places where transit functions today—places like chicago and NYC—and you will find that property values are UP along elevated rail lines. No rail line has ever ruined a neighborhood like a freeway does.

    Also, as the current glut of half-sold condominiums on the beach are filled, there is going to be traffic at all hours. Every month in the winter there is a big convention or show that makes it very hard to get across the causeways, Parking is already a big issue for people coming to the beach (especially now that the 17th street lots are gone), and the mainland is making some inroads, culturally, to attract local visitors that might otherwise go to the beach. I would love to be able to get out to the beach for some drinks and a club without having to worry about getting a two buses home at 4AM or an expensive taxi or driving drunk. I’m sure plenty of Beach dwellers would love to be able to come across for gallery openings and music events and be able to count dependable rail service at any hour to get back.

  13. alesh    Sun May 11, 06:13 PM #  


    … when government offers traffic congestion solutions it is never ever about making it faster for you to get around town. It is all about making the city denser and increasing the tax base.

    Sorry, but that’s sounding a little like crazy talk to me. High density i_ the opposite of sprawl, and it’s a good thing in every way I see. It leaves more open space for nature, decreases transportation time and cost, and generally makes everything more efficient and less environmentally detrimental (the average carbon footprint in NYC is like an order of magnitude lower then average US-wide).

    Also: I’ve tried riding my bike from my apt (Flamingo Park) to the downtown library, and I end up sweaty when I get there. I wish it worked — it doesn’t. The bus is better, but yeah, it’s slow (perhaps “because” it makes many stops) and is a pain in the ass, especially with a bike.

    A fast rail connection between DNTWN and the Beach will make them feel more like two parts of the same metropolitan center, which is what I think most people in both areas want to see. My sense is that the house-owners on the Beach are the holdouts (they’re older and more likely to own cars, not to mention less likely to leave the house) — there’s fewer of them but they VOTE much more often then apt-dwellers.

    I’m with Adam on this one, esp. his last sentence — with a decent rail line between the Beach and the mainland I betcha Studio A would be going strong right now.

  14. margaret    Tue May 13, 07:50 PM #  

    Alesh, do you know what city is the densest in the US? It’s Los Angeles. Miami is 13th, according to the 2000 census. New York is only fourth. Only the core of NYC is at a super high density that outdoes LA. LA is more dense throughout it’s “sprawl”.


    The reason property values near the subway lines in NY are higher is because you are totally screwed if you dont have access to the subway and you need to get into the city. The same has not been true everywhere.

    I vaguely remember when Portland got its light rail in the 90s. The govt at one point admitted it wasn’t to relieve traffic but to increase density. In fact, they rezoned along the light rail route to make sure that they got that density. I wish I could find that article online. It might help if I remembered where I read the damn thing. :) But it is absolutely true that traffic congestion is natural population control. That’s common sense, not nutty conspiracy.

    I also imagine neither of you want a monorail outside your homes. A couple blocks away next to somebody else’s bedroom window perhaps?

  15. Adam    Wed May 14, 09:10 AM #  

    I want a monorail outside my home, that would be awesome. I mean, come on!

    Also, your LA is dense argument depends on where you draw the boundaries of LA. People regularly commute to LA from as far north as Santa Barbara. If you are going to include Connecticut in NY, then you should be including San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, etc. in LA.

  16. margaret    Thu May 15, 01:02 AM #  

    The US Census bureau draws the boundaries. It’s their argument, not mine. Here’s how they do it.


    If you are going to add the Inland Empire and Santa Barbara, then why not add Trenton and Philly? My cousin commutes to NYC from Princeton everyday for work. Add that too. Look down the list. You might be surprised to find Trenton is denser than Philly, but neither is as dense as Riverside, Oxnard or Mission Viejo. Juggling the areas may or may not knock LA out of the first spot, but LA will remain right up there with NYC no matter what you do.

    BTW, I think another reason why I might unimpressed by the Baystink is that I was around for the Metrorail salespitch. I dont remember much anymore other than being very disappointed when it finally opened. Ya know, if they had not built it, all those Kendall people would have moved closer to downtown 20 years ago. ;)