Protesters Demand that Downtown Miami Streets Be Made Safer
Pedestrian deaths in the United States are at their highest level in nearly 30 years, and Florida
is among the most dangerous of the 50 states.
The Governors Highway Safety Association released a study in February 2019 that showed
pedestrians accounted for 16 percent of all traffic deaths in 2017, up from 12 percent in 2008.
Florida had 330 of those fatalities. It was the second-highest total in the nation, behind
California. The state also has the fourth-highest rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents
(1.55), behind only New Mexico, Arizona, and Louisiana.
Why Pedestrian Safety Is an Important Issue
It’s not a new issue in Miami or in Florida, where pedestrian safety has long been on residents’
minds. Some of them spoke out on Biscayne Boulevard, as they protested at the annual Safe
Streets Summit. From the Miami Herald:
Inside the summit, participants from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties discussed how to improve mobility, walkability, accessibility
andpolitical accountability. Awards for Complete Street projects and community upgrades were given to Miami’s Downtown Development Authority, the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority, Broward’s redesign of A1A by engineer Steve Braun, the Clematis Streetscape, and the cities of Doral, Sunrise and Palm Beach Gardens.
Planner Chris Sinclair talked about his journey from Miami International Airport to the
Intercontinental Hotel on Monday morning and how the quickest option was to take Uber (20 minutes) rather than public transportation (54 minutes).
“We have to look at complete trips and the way users look at the world,” Sinclair said. “The data is out there. It just requires a level of precision planners are not used to. It’s door-to-door planning and the home door or job door must be as close as possible to the transit door. A quarter mile is
the sweetspot. Beyond that, ridership declines.”
Protestors called for the Safe Streets Summit to produce real results, which they said has not
happened in the previous five years. The summit is a collaborative effort among municipal
planning agencies from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach with an aim to “design and
implement safe and equitable transportation facilities for all modes of transportation.”
What the Numbers Say
It’s an urgent matter, as study after study highlights Florida as an exceptionally dangerous place for pedestrians. Smart Growth America finds nine of the 14 most dangerous metro areas for walking are in Florida, including the top six. South Florida is represented by Cape Coral-Fort Myers (eighth) and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (14th).
Within the Miami area, two malls — Aventura and Southland — had 16 and 13 pedestrian accidents, respectively, from 2013-17. Julia Tuttle Causeway saw four pedestrian fatalities and another bicycle fatality in that period.
These are the type of statistics that had protesters out at the Safe Streets Summit, demanding change. From the Miami Herald:
Protesters Simon Rose and Lucy Binhack are avid cyclists who said Miamians are desperate to get out of their cars but see no evidence of a protected network for walking and biking.
“I felt safer cycling in Manhattan than in Coconut Grove,” Binhack said. “Other cities have
proven it can be done, and it doesn’t take forever to turn all this unhealthy car-commuting space into livable space.”
Contact a Trusted Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
Florida did appear for the first time on Smart Growth America’s list of Best Complete Streets
Initiatives in 2017, for a manual from the Florida Department of Transportation that sets design
criteria for FDOT projects. But it will take time for those initiatives to trickle down to municipal
levels, if they ever do.
If you are pedestrian who is involved in an accident, contact Kaire & Heffernan LLC to learn
more about your legal rights and options.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.