Reimagining Biscayne Boulevard
Imagine a Biscayne Boulevard moving people and vehicles more safely and efficiently. Imagine a boulevard that allows for cafes lining the street with outdoor seating… By Aaron DeMayo.
Lined with 900 Royal Palms, and featuring high-end shops, Biscayne Boulevard was built as an iconic street. As vehicles transitioned from a luxury item to an object within reach of many households, streets prioritized cars not people. Currently, Biscayne Boulevard is dangerous and ineffective for everyone. Traffic and congestion routinely cause delays, and accidents are common. People avoid walking on the sidewalks, instead opting for short car trips that further exacerbate the issues and cause a decline in quality of life.
Imagine a Biscayne Boulevard that can move people and vehicles more safely and efficiently. Imagine a boulevard that allows for cafes lining the street to host outdoor seating, add more shade trees making it more comfortable to walk to our world-class museums and local shops. By reorganizing how vehicles enter and cross the Boulevard, Reimagine Biscayne Boulevard, a proposal by local planning and design firm Future Vision Studios will allow traffic and people to move more safely and efficiently.
In 2018, average daily car counts along the Boulevard were 34,000 to 35,000 vehicles in each direction. The percentage of pedestrian fatalities in Miami-Dade County more than doubles the US average. Regardless of posted speed limits, how a road is designed leads to the speed with which drivers feel comfortable. On a boulevard with wide lanes and long view corridors, speeding occurs regularly. Congestion and collisions occur frequently. FDOT added Yellow Flashing Beacons at mid-block pedestrian crossings. The Beacons are knocked down often.
Edgewater and the downtown proper are already two of the densest neighborhoods, and based on existing zoning, will only become denser. Biscayne Boulevard needs to act both as an essential north-to-south corridor and a main street for the neighborhoods. To accomplish these goals, Miami-Dade County has developed the Great Streets Vision. The underlying philosophy is that a roadway should take on different characteristics based on the adjacent land use.
In evaluating Biscayne Boulevard, Future Vision Studios identified some of the causes for congestion and dangerous driving, including inefficient signalized intersections due to a lack of left-turning lanes — causing a small number of vehicles to make it through a light cycle. As a result, drivers use mid-block intersections with stop signs and forcefully pull out into traffic with all sorts of dangerous and illegal maneuvers. This creates hazardous situations for everyone on the street, including those following the rules.
The proposed area is from NE 13th Street to NE 36th Street. FVS will release an additional proposal for SE 4th Street up to NE 13th Street. Applying the objectives of the MDC Great Streets vision to Biscayne Boulevard, Future Vision Studios proposes 8 improvements: 1) Limit left turns on and off Biscayne to signalized intersections; 2) Extend queuing areas for making left turns off of Biscayne; 3) Allow for only right turns at intersections with stop signs; 4) Remove the existing signals at 22nd and 26th streets; 5) Add signals at 23rd, 25th, 27th, and 31st streets; 6) Add ten landscaped medians with shrubs and shade trees; 7) Remove all mid-block pedestrian crossings; 8) Add a new pedestrian crossing at NE 18th street to reconnect the east-to-west greenway.
These modifications will allow Biscayne Boulevard to function as an essential north-to-south corridor and a centerpiece for the neighborhood. These outcomes will support a high mobility index that safely moves vehicles and pedestrians of all ages, reduces the heat island effect, improves air and water quality, and builds a more resilient community.
Aaron DeMayo, Principal of Future Vision Studios. This story was adapted from a more comprehensive work, which is available at Futurevisionstudios.us/mobility