How Can Miami Make It Safer to Walk Around?

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On Dec. 10, construction was completed on a pedestrian bridge over the U.S. Route 1 highway at Mariposa Court. The overpass was erected to help reduce accidents between cars and pedestrians. With the completion of this bridge, Miami residents may also wonder what else is the city doing to keep pedestrians safe?

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University of Miami students began lobbying for a pedestrian bridge nearly 11 years ago, after a freshman was struck and killed by a car while crossing the busy intersection, according to UM News. Miami-Dade commissioners greenlighted the plan and it officially broke ground in 2015.

During the opening ceremony, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez called the $6 million project “a giant step” in protecting more than 1,300 pedestrians who cross the intersection every day, according to UM News.

The bridge is a major move forward for pedestrian safety in Miami and shows one of the many ways that the city is working to improve street safety. Here are a few actions that our city is taking in order to protect pedestrians.

Lowering Neighborhood Speeds to 25 mph

In an effort to reduce pedestrian collisions with cars by 10 percent a year, Coral Gables lowered its speed limits on residential streets to 25 mph and 20 mph, according to the Miami Herald. The neighborhood also wants to encourage more of its residents to walk or bike instead of driving by making its streets more inviting for people who are not in cars.

Between 2011 and 2015, 323 pedestrians and cyclists across the Gables area were struck by cars, resulting in five fatalities, according to the Miami Herald. Many residents have complained that motorists fly down streets at speeds above the previous 30 mph speed limit.

Reducing the speed to 25 mph can be the deciding factor between life and death for pedestrians. Studies have shown that about 5 percent of pedestrians would die when struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph, compared to 40 percent for vehicles traveling 30 mph and approximately 80 percent for vehicles traveling 40 mph, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The facts are undeniable. The lower speed limits create safer environments for our children to prosper. There is also a big community of individuals in Coral Gables who enjoy walking and biking. Lowering the speed limit is key to allowing that quality of life,” Gables Commissioner Vince Lago told the Miami Herald.

Protected Pedestrian Path on Julia Tuttle Causeway

The Julia Tuttle Causeway will also see new safety measures in place to keep pedestrians safe. The perilous freeway that connects midtown Miami to Miami Beach has had several deadly accidents over the years, including the death of a pedestrian last April, according to the Miami New Times.

In order to reduce pedestrian accidents on the freeway, the Florida Department of Transportation plans to implement a ten-foot wide barrier between the outside of the road and the travel-way, according to the Miami New Times. The protected path will keep cars out so that pedestrians and bicyclists could travel safely to their destination.

“We’ve gotten a lot of requests for a protected path. We’ve come to realize we really need to address every mode of transportation — not just cars. Mixing high-speed traffic with bicycles is intimidating, and there should absolutely be a barrier,” Zak Lata, the FDOT bicycle coordinator for Miami, told Miami New Times.

New Public Space

In an effort to help maintain a safe community for the residents of Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami committed up to $50 million to The Underline, a plan to turn 10 miles of dirt beneath the Metrorail into an urban park, according to the Miami Herald. The Underline will help to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety by creating a mobility corridor that integrates transit, car, biking, and walking.

The design team is focusing on three major aspects of the plan, including intersections to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, according to The Underline. The plan also proposes improvements to crosswalks, intersections, and street lighting.

With the completion of the pedestrian bridge across the U.S. 1 freeway and the implementation of several innovative safety measures, Miami is showing just how important the safety of its residents is. However, even with all these protective measures in place, accidents still happen.

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