The rapid growth of Miami-Dade County has resulted in large swaths of sprawl across most of southwest Miami-Dade, and development patterns that strongly encourage automobile ownership and use over any other transportation mode. This proposal acknowledges the high number of private vehicle commutes in Miami-Dade as a major obstacle to improving health, safety, and mobility in the county. It aims to reduce the number of commuters in southwest Miami-Dade County which are choosing to drive east to their school or workplace.
Fortunately, Miami-Dade County Planning has produced studies and rezoned two of the key transportation corridors in Southwest Miami-Dade County: the Bird Road Corridor and the West Kendall Corridor. This plan aims to implement incentives that leverage and depend on the zoning created for these corridors.
Design Criteria: Cities are dynamic environments. This program was designed with these principles in mind, in order for it to weather the complexity and diversity of the urban realm.
- Flexibility: The goal is to implement the best solution available as quickly as possible for any eligible sites. This means hoping to work with developers on integrating transportation amenities and hubs into their designs, but it also means not having to wait and implementing transportation hubs on any budget available, sourcing materials creatively. As a site matures and begins to develop according to county plans, the transportation hub on site can continue to mature along with it and integrate with projects on site.
- Long-term consideration: Attention to county planning and site choices is important in order to design a solution that can maintain support from stakeholders in the long-run. It is also important in order to build a solution that works on the small scale and in the big picture. Finding a place in the future vision for Miami-Dade ensures compatability with public concerns, government efforts, and offers more stability to private investors, who want to know that their investment will deliver returns over a long period.
- Inclusion: This program is intended to be as inclusive as possible of many stakeholders. We can avoid "reinventing the wheel" by recognizing and including the work being done by other organizations and implementing it to suit the goals of the proposal. These organizations range from public agencies to private transportation companies.
What it looks like:
The result is a solution which pursues the following components simultaneously:
- Build partnerships and get buy-in. A long list of organizations wants to see transportation improvements:
- State and local programs promoting carpooling benefits and amenities want to enable more people to take advantage of their services
- Miami-Dade Transit wants to increase ridership on buses
- Rideshare companies are eager to invest in new infrastructure that maintains a "seat at the table" for them in the urban landscape of tomorrow
- Bikeshare companies and dockless e-scooter providers are also eager to get a "seat at the table", and may be willing to invest in infrastructure that provides a clear role for their services in the transportation landscape.
- Public agencies want to make Miami an attractive urban setting that allows for healthy lifestyles and less car use.
- Commuters want easier alternatives to driving
- Solicit property owners: Find eligible sites for development, work with public officials, property owners, and stakeholders to build agreement and interest.
- Design and construction: based on input from stakeholders and budget available, a transportation hub can be constructed. It may be made of temporary materials, semi-permanent, or part of a mixed-use development. It may be considered an asset to a planned development, or it may be considered an amenity to attract development.
What it offers. Some examples of what the results could look like:
- Low end: on a parking lot site which has not yet attracted development or which the property owner is not ready to develop. The hub can be built adjacent to or near a bus stop for a major line. The surface area of the sidewalk near Bird Rd. or Kendall Drive can be expanded with temporary structures and connected to the site. Semi-permanent structures can be introduced to the site that can host air-conditioned bicycle parking and a small bike repair and accessory shop. The secure bike parking can be offered for a small fee, and can help cover the operating costs of the shop. What used to be a 20-30 minute walk to a bus stop can now become a five minute bike ride for residents living within three miles of the hub. Those who have been wishing to avoid driving can park their bikes in a safe place and switch to a bus or carpool. Companies involved in dockless bike and scooter sharing such as Lime or Byrd can invest in producing designated space for their own fleets here. Centralizing transit amenities for the local area will make managing these fleets easier, as the use pattern can end up looking the way it does in communities around train stations. Commuters pick them up near their homes to head to the transit station in the morning, and pick them up at the transit station to take them home in the evening. A parking space for food trucks can be maintained near the site, and some open "parklet" area can be built for people to enjoy. A lane for carpool pick-ups can also be provided here. State and local carpool services can be taken advantage of to connect drivers to passengers, or a simple low-tech "casual carpool" can be implemented, modeled after that used in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1980s. Passengers customarily give $1-2 in cash to the driver that cover tolls and expenses. All of this can be done without breaking ground in a parking lot.
- Mid-level: Modular mixed-use development. Prefabricated structures requiring minimal foundation work can be installed on an eligible site. The site can host ground floor commercial space and 2-3 floors of residential space, according to county planning regulations. Most of the amenities in the low-end example can be included here, but with additional infrastructural changes that can serve the new residents. It may be possible to build a pull out for the bus line and move the bus stop to this site, giving residents and bike/ebike commuters the benefit of immediate access. The new commercial space can host retail or restaurant business which may benefit/contribute to the development of parklet area, and enhance the public realm adjacent to the project.
- High-density and formal infrastructure: As a partnership with a developer at a high-density site in one of the two chosen corridors, permanent changes in infrastructure can be made which offer all the previous amenities, but may also include higher-cost transportation amenities, such as access to an air-conditioned lobby for bus or carpool pick up, digital displays with transit or weather information, water misters outside, or higher levels of beautification.
The common thread between the three given examples is that they all depend on and serve the interests of various stakeholders in the community, and they bring actors together in a way that serves their interests, at minimal public cost. As these spaces will all be private-public partnerships, they will include the typical benefits of these spaces: maintenance costs covered by private owners, interesting and unique design flourishes that reflect community or stakeholder interests, and a capacity for detailed customization to the needs of the local area.