Government, News, Village Life

Support Grows for Pedestrian Safety

In the wake of the April 11 accident in which Ransom Everglades teacher  Kate Hamm was hit by an SUV in a Main Highway crosswalk near Commodore  Plaza, concern and anger about pedestrian safety are building throughout  the Grove. Pedestrian safety has been a simmering problem in the Grove  for years. This time, say community leaders, meaningful action has to be  the goal.

An obstacle to addressing pedestrian safety is the issue of  jurisdiction. The Grove’s major streets—notably Main Highway, So.  Bayshore Dr., and Grand Ave.—are controlled by the County. County  traffic engineers have continually stressed “throughput,” i.e., speed,  of motor vehicles to avoid congestion. When pedestrians have priority,  traffic has to slow down, and more congestion, in addition to improved  safety for pedestrians, is a result.

John Dolson, a longtime community leader and activist, expressed his  concern about the matter in a letter to the Spotlight that echoes the  sentiments of many other Grovites. “The injury highlights the real  problem we have in Coconut Grove with road safety,” he wrote. 

“The problem isn’t  so much enforcement, but a badly needed physical change in our road  design, such as ‘road diets,’” a type of ‘traffic calming’ that involves  narrowing the streets through the Grove to lanes no wider than 10 feet  (in most places along Bayshore, the width is 16 feet or more). Narrowing  the streets slows traffic, but does not reduce transit time, which is  controlled by stop lights and pedestrian crosswalks. More than one civic  group is working on this, and the current modification of road design  [on So. Bayshore Dr.] by the county for mitigation of flooding from sea  level rise provides the ideal time to seriously look at road design… Sea  level rise is real, and increased flooding a given. But taking into  account road safety should be just as paramount as mitigating  flooding. The time is ripe to bring more public attention to building a  culture of ‘safety first’ and modifying existing road design now, before  final plans are in place.”

Dolson concludes by  asking if Grovites want “a ‘pass-through city’ to Pinecrest, or a safe,  beautiful coastal city where pedestrians and bicyclists can enjoy what  we have to offer safely.”

Both the City of Miami District 2 office and the Miami-Dade County  District 7 office have been working to increase pedestrian safety.  Recent plans include proposed additions of new crosswalks on South  Bayshore Dr. The Spotlight will continue to cover this story as more  details are available.

To read the Spotlight’s report on the April 11 accident, click here.

Friends of the Commodore Trail has created an online petition asking the  designers of the proposed changes to South Bayshore Dr. and other parts  of the trail to make the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists a  priority. To sign the petition, click here.

To communicate your concerns about pedestrian safety to District 7 County Commissioner Raquel Regalado, click here. To copy District 2 Commissioner Damian Pardo, click here.

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