Melting at the bus stop Pt. 2

In the last post I mentioned that I would “present the newest way Mayor Gimenez and the Miami-Dade Transit Department are helping you deal with the heat” so without further ado:

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Hialeah Metrorail Station

ONE AIR CONDITIONED BUS STOP AT HIALEAH METRORAIL STATION

The bus stop was installed in August of 2016 and was released as a test that would be expanded to other areas of the county. But alas here we are, almost two years later, with only one air conditioned bus stop and 5,983* without shelter.

Recently I was traveling through Hialeah and I happened upon this bus stop while waiting for a bus. The area where the bus stop is located is surrounded by beautiful trees that provide shade, shielding most riders from the rays of the sun. Inside the bus stop I found two older men wearing sweaters while they waited for their bus. A few feet away from this shelter were other benches with shelters and benches under trees. With so many bus stops in Miami lacking shelter, shade, benches, or any sort of respite from the elements one would hope their chosen location for a project would help address some of these issues but instead, as usual, they chose a place of convenience.

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As to not upset the natural order of all things Miami-Dade Transit the bus I was waiting for was late, and I waited over an hour for it to arrive. Once again my bus tracker lied.

*Data from the Miami-Dade County Bus Stops data set, updated annually

Melting at the bus stop

Now that summer is upon and the spring bus cuts have already happened it is time to think about how to handle the heat while waiting for the bus.

While sunshine, blue skies, and all the things associated with Miami summer are nice for when you are going to the beach when you are waiting for the bus they often make you feel like you are waiting at the gates of hell.

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Here is a typical Miami bus stop.

I have a couple of suggestions for the user on how to beat the heat and also I will present the newest way Mayor Gimenez and the Miami-Dade Transit Department are helping you deal with the heat.

Taking a cue from those laying by the beach the first suggestion is using umbrellas to protect from the sun. Umbrellas are great because they can protect you from the sun and the rain. While under the umbrella you can imagine you are at south beach waiting for the mojitos to arrive.

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The bigger (the umbrella) the better. 

The umbrella is a common accessory seen on bus users with 60+ years of experience living on this earth. They are often laughing at the youth from their shady spot. At least one crew in Miami thought that umbrellas on bus stops should be a “thing.”

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bus stops around Wynwood (by Kathryn and Mark)

The next suggestion is for those that really need a refreshing breeze but don’t mind the sun as much (these people exists, I’ve met them). The hand fan, or abanico, is a tool for creating airflow commonly used in the South of Spain and bu all the flamenco tablaos around the world. The breeze it provides is fresh, stylish, and can strengthen your fanning arm. Consider Miami-fying your fan with witty spanglish phrases, palm trees, and flamingos. The fan can become Miami’s hottest new accessory for the hottest time.

The next fan level includes misting. These small devices are recommended for those that don’t want to work out their arm, don’t mind spending money on batteries, and more importantly like to be nice and refreshed by a misty breeze. These are also useful when the bus a/c is broken and if you close your eyes you can imagine you have some a/c.

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Anthony is into it

But maybe, just maybe, the answer should be that Miami Dade Transit should fire their bus stop/advertising contractor and ensure that in the next contract they include actual designs of bus stops that would prevent bus riders from melting while waiting for another ghost bus.

Riding the 77

I went on vacation and for a while I forgot about Miami’s transit woes but now I am back. Today I decided to ride one of Miami’s most utilized bus routes, 77, that takes you from Downtown Miami to Norwood (NW 7 Ave and 199 ST). 

Come on! Follow me on my adventure!! 

18:45 – I wait for the bus, I should have looked at the schedule but I didn’t, let’s see how long it takes for the bus to arrive. Fourteen people wait with me, most are probably waiting for the 11 and the 77. 

19:03 – Man passes on a bicycle selling men’s cologne–buy it for a friend or a husband–he says. 

19:09 – Bus arrived. At the next stop, a block west, a lady yells at the bus driver that she is very late. 

19:13 – Bus is about halfway full after picking up at Government Center. The crowd is mostly older, African American and Latinos.

19:20 – There is an older couple on the bus. The man drapes his arm around her shoulder while she holds on to the rail and points at sites. The lady sitting next to them is wearing a headscarf with marijuana leaf pattern, you know. The views over the NW 7 Ave bridge are amazing at this time. 

19:26 – Building for sale. Anyone with enough capital to preserve this beauty? 

19:30 – Massive construction on NW 7 Ave until 36 ST bridge… very bumpy until then.

19:36 – Who decided the bus should stop at the Audrey Edmonson Transit Village?? Why make the bus go around the block, backwards, and back on NW 7 Ave if you could put the bus stop on the corner? Must read up on this development. 

19:40 – This bus driver is flying! A train stopped her flow for a bit but she didn’t leave a sliver for a car to sneak in. 

19:43 – I reached 79 ST and decided to get off because it was getting dark and I need to get back to Downtown to get on a bus that would get me home. The bus was pretty full and a lot of people were still getting on. I need to ride it further north to see where most people get off. 

That is all for now folks. 

Copenhagenize Miami

Last month (or longer) I attended a talk at the Idea Center on cycling and Miami. The panel discussion included four main speakers. The invited guest was Mikael Colville-Anderson of Copenhagenize Design who was invited to speak on how to build a more bikeable city. There were also two speakers from transportation agencies, Aileen Boucle from the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization and James Wolfe of Florida Department of Transportation. They spoke about their visit to Copenhagen and what lessons they learned from their cycling culture. The last speaker was Bernard Zyscovich of Zyscovich Architects and proponent of Plan Z, a bicycle super highway to Key Biscayne.

As a very Dutch professor once taught me, the key question to ask is ‘so what?’ So what was the point of that panel and presentation?

  • At face value it was a discussion on how to create a more bike friendly Miami but none of the speakers addressed that concern, except for Colville-Anderson who is an advocate of command+c, command+v design of transportation infrastructure.
  • I suspect the audience was meant to be dazzled by Plan Z because it fits so well into those Miami super projects but the lack of questions addressed to Zyscovich left me with the impression that people had no actual interest in the project. I will get into Plan Z on another post.
  • Wolfe and Boucle said we must not throw the baby with the bathwater when rethinking Miami’s transportation infrastructure but the baby has to get out of the bathtub! (that baby is way overdue). If we continue to plan and build with the car at the forefront then we will continue with the same problems we are currently facing.

Miami needs a leader that will make the decision to emphasize bicycles, public transportation, and vehicle sharing but right now everyone in charge is too afraid to be that leader.

Overheard on: Metrorail

“Yes I have papers but I work in construction… Yes, no, but I have papers.” 

Man heading South, talking on a cellphone.

Overheard on: Metrorail

[CONTEXT: train is late departing the station]

(with sighs and ughs) “Nooooo! I really should have taken the other train. I’m gonna be late to work.”

(in grimacing voice) “Move the train!”

[2 minutes pass–train closes doors]

“Okay! It’s gonna move.”

[train opens doors]

“Nooo! Oh come on move!!”

[train closes doors and begins moving after a 7 min delay]

(sigh) “okay.”

Guess who’s back? Back again?

ME, I’m back in Miami.

More than two years gone. I arrive and within a month I’m working in Downtown again, in the building across from my old job. Sometimes I wonder if I even left.

The most major update is that since Flagler street is in construction and so full of traffic I am taking the metrorail to work, which so far has been disastrous. I’ve been late by an average of 10 minutes. While 10 minutes is nothing in Miami time for this new Dutch model it feels like a lifetime and a massive disappointment.

Stay tuned for more updates…

Why fix the public transport if Miami is flooding (into oblivion)?

Rising sea levels is a reality!  And whether we like it or not Miami is one of the most vulnerable cities in the world.

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To develop a more resilient Miami is not enough to maintain dikes and keep the water off  our streets. It is important that we change our habits and transform our society’s relation with the environment. Miami has developed in a harsh yet delicate landscape and if we want to maintain this beautiful city for generations to come there needs to be a focus on shifting the way this city is continues to grow.

Most cities cannot afford to ignore the harsh effects of urban sprawl on the environment but also social relations. A multi-model approach to transportation offers alternative modes of traveling and also puts people in touch with other members of the community. As a long term user of public transportation I believe one of the most important qualities of it is the encounters with people from different walks of life. Sure I might not strike a conversation with most riders that sit or stand next to me but I am aware of their presence and I am exposed to different lifestyles. Not everyone rides public transportation by choice, sometimes it is because they cannot afford a car, the gas, or they have obstacles to obtaining a driving license, and it is important to understand that they deserve as much access and ease of movement as others in the community.

This bring me to the topic of cycling. I won’t call myself a cyclist, I am not even an enthusiastic bicycle user, but riding a bike  in the Netherlands offers me the chance to move around the city with ease, at my own pace, and allows me the opportunity to deviate from my routes in a way to other modes of transportation do not allow. Cycling has really opened my eyes to how much you miss of the social and built environment when you are enclosed in a car, a bus, or a train. When I’m on a bicycle I am able to have conversations with fellow cyclist; I can stop to visit stores and events with more ease; I save on gas and cost of maintenance; I help the environment; I build self-reliance (changing tires, getting dirty, helping fellow riders). The opportunities on a bicycle are endless and they are safe and useful at all ages.

It is really a shame that Miami has had such a difficult time diversifying the modes of transportation. It could be one of the crucial steps to building a more sustainable community and a more resilient Miami in the future.

There is a special place in hell for bike thieves

My bicycle was stolen.

I woke up on Monday morning and got ready to go to the library. When I left the house and walked to where I parked my bicycle I noticed it was gone. One might remember that a similar event happened with my previous bicycle last year. Adding insult to injury the thieves had cut the lock and left it right where the bicycle used to be parked.

My week was ruined and it feels like I will never find a new bicycle that can match the quality/price to my previous one. I am sick of spending money on bicycles. I really am. -_-

My housemate’s bicycle was stolen a couple of days later right in front of the house. They left the lock and seat cover on the side of the road. so rude!

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you can buy this awesome button @ Portland Button Works

 

Cycling Woes

I returned to the Netherlands and I also returned to cycling.

While living in Madrid the thing I missed the most about the Netherlands was my bicycle. It is a vintage Gazelle’s Tour de France with a mixte frame. (‘FUN’ FACT: Last year the Tour de France started in Utrecht.) I always think my bike is the most beautiful on any rack I park it, but I might be bias.  When I moved to Madrid a friend kept it in storage to protect it from the elements; Dutch weather can be a cruel thing. You know what can also be cruel? Dutch drunks.

When we were reunited my bicycle was in need of some serious loving. Up next: a list of all the repairs I’ve done in the past month and a half.

  1. Pumped the tires, deflate, repeat. When I got the bicycle I thought both tires were out of air and for the love of all the things bike related I couldn’t remember if I deflated them a little before leaving, or not. I pumped the tires a couple of times, in a couple of places, but the air kept going out so I thought for sure I had a set of flat tires. I tried to patch them up myself but could not find the holes anywhere. Imagine my frustration when I took out my back-tire and found nothing, ugh.  I took it to a bike shop, asked the worker for advice and to take a look and see if they could find something and when I came back the next day he said the tires were perfectly fine and to just pump them properly next time. In the 5-7 days it took me to figure this out I walked all over the city, which I was fine but and odd thing to do because ‘why walk when you can cycle?!?’
  2. One of the handbrakes was not working. The only thing I dislike about my bicycle is that is has drum brakes and unlike other brake systems drum brakes feel like a great mystery. When they stop working all I can do is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and go to the shop. Last year I repaired both brakes so I was pretty upset that one of them was not working anymore but as soon as I arrived at the shop and told the man the brake was not braking the brake started to work. That’s call power of intimidation folks.
  3. I had a broken kickstand so that had to be replaced. I went to What the Fiets, a great space at my university where you can pay a small fee and use their tools and expertise to repair your bicycle. You also pay for parts, of course. After some hacking we made one of the available kickstands fit on the frame and now I can park anywhere again.
  4. My bicycle makes all kinds of sounds, like any old bicycle here. After a while you learn to tune out all the rattling it makes but sometimes I worry that the sounds are actually the sign of something going awry and then the calamity happened!  For about two weeks the pedals made a clicking sound every 3-4 revolutions and then one day was happily riding when I began losing control of the pedals. After a week without cycling I finally took it to the shop and they told me a link in the chain was broken and they replaced it.

Owning a bicycle, no matter how beautiful, how vintage, is a chore because you have to constantly maintain it. Especially with this awful weather that rust everything. That said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cycling with cheese and tulips on my bike rack.