Eh? Stress is in rapid transit like a fish is in a bicycle

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Written by Michael Lewis on October 12, 2021

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Eh?  Stress is in rapid transit like a fish is in a bicycle

As three planning committees begin this week examining adding an Underline Walking and Bike Park to the county’s smart six-lane plan to build vital rapid transit, our reaction is – huh?

A 10-mile Underline directly under the Rapid Metrorail may add secondary mobility, but the Smart plan being developed to add rapid transit to serve Miami-Dade County is another world.

A recent move led by County Commissioner Raquel Regalado to merge the two is like planting apple trees in an orange grove – they’re different.

To quote the Transportation Planning Organization, “The Smart Plan intends to advance six of the [People’s Transportation Plan] rapid transit corridors, as well as a bus rapid express transportation service network system, to implement transit projects in Miami-Dade County. “

The key words are “rapid transit” and “public transit” – a walking and cycling park, even a linear park, is not suitable.

Money is still lacking to realize the six rapid transit corridors of the Smart plan, which have the specific objective of connecting the areas which now lack any rapid transport. Why divide these scarce funds with a path directly under the very functional public transport, the Metrorail?

The most likely reason is the subsidies, as billions of federal dollars are about to be allocated for transit and other infrastructure nationwide.

Commissioner Eileen Higgins was clear on this during the September 30 Transport Planning Organization meeting, which discussed including the underline in the Smart Plan. There might be opportunities to get grants for Underline, she said, “so there is funding that could come out of it rather than costs the county might incur.”

But more likely, the subsidies would come from building smart corridors for quick trips to a trail, as well as perhaps a large chunk of the county’s half percent sales tax for transit.

Commissioner Regalado said that “the idea is to add this to the Smart plan so that whenever we develop these Smart plan lines we take into account the mobility elements for pedestrians, cyclists and scooters and all. regarding micromobility “.

Then again, Metrorail is already passing just over the Underline, so why consider the Underline when developing the Northeast Corridor or the East West Corridor or transit between Miami Beach and Miami? It sounds more like an excuse than a reason.

Make no mistake, we love the Underline. The High Line in Manhattan – the inspiration for the Underline – is a very pleasant walk. The underline must be the same, or better.

But to be politically incorrect, the Underline has a lot less to do with public transport than with parks. Some may walk or cycle to a destination, but for most users the focus will not be transportation but recreation. Other than exercise (the park component), very few people will walk or cycle for miles on the stretch from the Miami River to Dadeland to actually get anywhere. They will just turn around and go.

Calling the Underline a transit route is like calling a cruise ship a transport vehicle. Cruise passengers sail, have fun and get back to where they started in one trip. A cruise is not a transport but a leisure.

In fact, the 1.45 mile long High Line is run by a parks department, not by transport officials. Users are primarily looking for recreation. Emphasize switching, trips to the store or visits to grandmother will be few.

The offer to add Underline to six expected rapid transit corridors is an exercise in gold digging in extracting something completely different. It’s understandable, but not logical.

The President of the Transportation Planning Organization, Oliver Gilbert III, was correct at the September 30 meeting to stress Ms. Regalado’s objection that the organization is considering the potential tax impact of the addition. from the Underline to the Smart plan. That’s what it is – money.

Of course, all types of mobility can fit together – a return on foot from a bus stop is mobility that facilitates public transport. If you want to watch the Underline like little Joey biking around the neighborhood – mobility – fine. There are many ways that transit planners can visualize the linear park.

Just don’t try to stick the Underline down six underfunded but vital high-speed corridors aimed at connecting the county to each other.

If the commissioners want the Underline to seem important in the world of mobility such as cycle paths, fine. There things are going well.

But for high-speed transit in the county, pushing in the Underline is a very poor choice, as three transportation planning committees should quickly find out. This idea is irrelevant.


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