|Public Safety and Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee Members
|Alina T. Hudak, City Manager
|March 22, 2023
|PROVIDE THE COMMITTEE WITH AN UPDATE AND UNDERSTANDING OF SIDEWALK SAFETY IN THE CITY
At its July 20, 2022 meeting, the City Commission approved a referral to the Public Safety and Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee (PSNQLC), to provide its Committee members, an update and understanding of sidewalk safety in the City, including protocols, procedures, and ADA compliance concerning sidewalk safety for pedestrians, in particular, safety for those persons requiring mobility aids and those who are blind or visually impaired. This includes construction, maintenance, and improvement projects that affect, obstruct or alter the sidewalks within the City of Miami Beach. This request originated from a recent Human Rights Committee (HRC) and Miami Beach Disability Access Committee (DAC) discussion, where sidewalk safety for pedestrians was addressed.
At its September 21, 2022 meeting, the PSNQLC members discussed safety concerns raised by the HRC and DAC members during its recent meeting, and efforts that were already underway by the City. Another item discussed was the ease of access to ADA resources on the City’s website.
Public Works shared that in response to the navigation concerns, the City had implemented an application called AIRA, which consists of a videocall with a live agent service, who assists people who are blind or with visual impairments in navigating City streets by describing the route ahead of them. This application, which is for resident and visitor use, charges on a per-minute basis, and the data cost is paid for with City funds.
Committee members made a motion to continue the use of the AIRA application and service, improve ADA information on the City's website, and to come back in January/February to provide an update.
The City of Miami Beach requires permits for any maintenance, repair, improvement work or special events on the public right-of-way. In order to maintain pedestrian safety and accessibility during construction or during event sidewalk closures, a pedestrian MOT (Maintenance Of Traffic) plan is required as part of the permit.
Pedestrian MOTs must comply with all the requirements by FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) and the City of Miami Beach's Public Works Manual, which provide guidance for safety and accessibility. The Public Works and Code Compliance Departments perform routine inspections of work in the public right-of-way to ensure safety and compliance.
One of the duties from the Public Works Department's Right-of-Way (ROW) Division is to continuously visit the sites that were permitted MOTs to ensure compliance and enforce as needed.
Additionally, to ensure existing sidewalk conditions, provide and maintain pedestrian safety and accessibility, in 2017 the City completed a Citywide sidewalk and pavement assessment to identify all problems and developed a multi-year plan for repairs and improvement of sidewalk conditions. The City is currently working on updating the Citywide assessment to incorporate improvement projects by other departments and private projects.
In 2017, at the request of the Disability Access Committee (DAC), in response to the challenges faced by people who are blind or have visual impairments to navigate construction areas and pedestrian detours, the City implemented the AIRA app as a Pilot Program, which provides access to a live agent that can help the person navigate construction areas, pedestrian detours, pedestrian crossings, and other conditions with the use of a smartphone’s camera and speaker.
The feedback received by the DAC users of the app was very positive; although members still expressed the need for assistance from a crossing aide for certain conditions. The City is currently in discussions with the AIRA vendor on continuing the service and reviewing their program changes and terms of agreement.
The Public Works Department is also looking to improve inter-agency project discussions with Miami Dade County and FDOT, to ensure outside agency projects in the right-of-way within the City boundaries meet the needs of the local community and align with the expectations of the Department.
The Right-of-Way Section of the Public Works Department is currently looking into options or alternatives for audible notifications at pedestrian detours and sidewalk closures. There are small and inexpensive devices that are being explored, however, vandalism of these devices is a concern, similar to what staff has seen happen to Audible Pedestrian Signals in some areas of the City. This is an on-going effort.
The City will continue to seek opportunities to enhance sidewalk safety, including:
- Continuation of the Citywide sidewalk and pavement upgrades
- Continue the AIRA application program for navigation and wayfinding
- Coordinate with FDOT and Miami-Dade County's Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) on projects within the City's rights-of-way
|Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14?
|Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?