Tactical urbanism is an approach to neighborhood building that addresses urban challenges using short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyze long-term change.
The concept is an organizational approach to urban change, incorporating grassroots projects of varying scope and size, but with the common theme of using low-cost materials to experiment with design changes to public spaces. Some examples include: better block initiatives to temporarily transform retail streets (e.g. food trucks); de-fencing and de-paving; open streets providing temporary places for alternative mobility (e.g. Ciclovia, which originated in Bogota, Colombia); pop-up uses (e.g. pop-up cafes, parks, or retail); and protected bike lanes.
In recent years, the City has implemented programming and projects that are identifiable as tactical urbanism measures. For example, the closure of Rue Vendome which included the activation of Normandy Fountain and the pedestrian plaza with cultural and artistic programming; temporary closures of City rights-of-way for Cicolvia, MBPD block party events, and the bimonthly Antiques & Collectibles Market on Lincoln Road (which temporarily closes Michigan Avenue between Lincoln Lanes North and South); existing and planned parklets on Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue; food trucks in North Beach; and the LGBT crosswalk at 12th Street and Ocean Drive. Future joint private and public cooperative efforts may include the proposed pedestrian connectivity plan to traverse from Ocean Court to Lincoln Road via Espanola Way (and possibly Drexel Avenue).
The July 2019 Commission referral memorandum attached a letter of interest from an urban design firm, Streetplans Collaborative. The memorandum suggested the City consider collaborating with the firm on a pilot project such as an artistic crosswalk and/or sidewalk by Miami Beach Senior High School.
Previously, Streetsplan Collaborative assisted the City in producing its Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan and the firm suggested the City look to fund tactical urbanism projects offering mobility, safety, and traffic calming benefits. For example, projects like protected bike lanes, protected bus lanes, crosswalks, parklets, bus stop improvements, traffic calming, and wayfinding. While tactical urbanism can serve to test the effectiveness of certain mobility treatments on a pilot basis, it is important to note that these types of projects have been difficult to implement in Miami-Dade County.
Currently, several tactical urbanism projects proposed and funded by the City are stalled at the County level, including proposed protected bike lanes on 72nd Street, 73rd Street, and along Euclid Avenue. County concerns inevitably arise when the effectiveness of the tactical project’s implementation relies on the relaxing or waiving of roadway engineering design standards. Other Miami-Dade municipalities are facing similar challenges with securing County approval to implement tactical urbanism projects on roadways. In addition, another constraint is the fact that some projects would require HPB and DRB design review approval.