Item Coversheet



TO: Neighborhood and Quality of Life Committee Members

Raul J. Aguila, Interim City Manager

DATE: March 22, 2021



At its February 10, 2021 meeting, the City Commission referred an item, sponsored by Commissioner Michael Gongora, to the Neighborhood and Quality of Life Committee (NQLC) to discuss Washington Avenue, including the current lane closures.

In May 2020, the City and the Washington Avenue Business Improvement District (WAVE BID) began coordinating a pilot program to assist businesses along Washington Avenue during the COVID-19 Pandemic.   In June 2020, the City Administration met with members of the WAVE BID and Mr. Bernard Zyscovich, principal for Zyscovich Architects, to jointly develop a new street concept intended to increase the economic resilience and accelerate the recovery of businesses along the Washington Avenue corridor from 5 Street to 16 Street.  At the meeting, City staff and WAVE BID members discussed the expansion of restaurants into the parking lane through the use of parklets to allow restaurants to increase the number of tables while complying with social distancing guidelines; and repurposing the outside travel lane in each direction to implement a protected bike lane (parking-protected in some sections) to promote safe biking.  The locations of the desired restaurant expansions were provided by the WAVE BID.  The pilot configuration resulted in a reduction of one travel lane in each direction to accommodate the parklets and protected bike lanes.

Transportation and Mobility Department staff developed the roadway engineering plans necessary for the pilot program within two weeks of the initial request and shared the plans with Miami-Dade County for permit approval.  The County approved the plans with the following permit conditions:

  • All restaurant extensions needed to be protected by crash resistant barriers
  •  Speed limit needed to be reduced to 25 miles per hour
  • All intersections shall meet intersection sight distance standards
  • Monthly updates shall be provided to the County with observations on the pilot for DTPW staff to consider and grant extension

Pilot Implementation (Figure 1 in attachment)

The City’s Transportation and Mobility Department coordinated with the Public Works Department to implement the pavement marking and signage modifications along Washington Avenue from 5 Street to 16 Street through one of the City’s contractors.  The pilot was implemented during the first week of August 2020.  The cost of implementation for the Washington Avenue Pilot Project was $62,050.  Given that some of the construction signs and barriers are being rented from a contractor, the pilot has a recurring cost of $2,580 per month.

Following the implementation of the pilot, staff performed observations and installed additional signage to help users understand the new configuration of the corridor.  The signs installed were intended to guide motorists and bicyclists on the new location of the bike lanes and to prevent vehicles illegally parking on the bike lanes.


With the implementation of the pilot project, on-street parking was modified throughout the corridor. While some of the parking was eliminated to accommodate parklets, most of the parking was relocated closer to the vehicular travel lane to enable the implementation of a parking-protected bike lane (first of its kind in Miami-Dade County).  It is worth noting that due to the more stringent intersection sight distance requirement established as a condition of the County permit, approximately 18 on-street parking spaces were lost.  While the City was able to relocate most of the freight-loading zones within the corridor, three freight loading zones could not be accommodated as part of the pilot due to conflicts with the proposed parklets.


Since the implementation of the Washington Avenue pilot, the City and the WAVE BID have collected data to track the performance of the pilot.  Using pre-pandemic and pre-pilot data as a baseline, the Transportation and Mobility Department collected traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle data through a consultant to determine the effectiveness of the pilot.  Data was collected in December 2020 and additional data is scheduled to be collected in March 2021.  Based on the data collected, the City determined that bicycle volumes have increased by more than 538 bicyclists per day, and approximately 915 bicyclists are using the corridor on a daily basis.  This data is indicative that the parking-protected bike lanes are successful in terms of increasing bicyclist safety, comfort, and use along the corridor.  Data collected in December 2020 by the WAVE BID and validated by Transportation and Mobility Department staff indicated that the average daily bicycle volumes along the corridor between 11AM and 8PM is approximately 723 bicyclists.


Given the primary goal of the pilot to increase economic resilience and revenues for restaurants along the Washington Avenue corridor, the City also requested that the WAVE BID track revenue trends for restaurants in the area.  Based on data provided by the WAVE BID, businesses reported an average increase in revenues of 28% between October and December 2020.  Based on the increase in bicycle volumes and business revenue in the area, it can be concluded that to date, the pilot has met its primary goal of promoting economic recovery during the pandemic.


In addition to the quantitative data, City staff has also received resident testimony in support of the pilot project.  For example, many residents who previously did not visit Washington Avenue have expressed that they are now visiting the restaurants and businesses along the corridor because of the new configuration on Washington Avenue.  It is also worth highlighting that the City’s Transportation and Mobility Department received a Complete Streets Champion Award at the 2021 Safe Streets Summit for its work on bicycle and pedestrian pilot projects in South Beach including the Washington Avenue pilot project.


Transit Operations (Figure 2 in attachment)


As part of the Washington Avenue pilot project, County bus and City trolley services were temporarily relocated to Collins Avenue.  Due to the limited right-of-way on Collins Avenue, the relocation of transit service did not include the installation of any permanent bus bays or passenger amenities (i.e. bus shelters); however, temporary benches were installed at the temporary stops. The relocation of transit service to Collins Avenue included the implementation of some bus bays by removing some of the existing on-street parking; however, these bays are not always available due to curb demand and illegal parking.  This condition causes bus and trolley drivers to frequently stop on the lane of traffic for boarding and alighting of passengers.  Given the low operating speeds for vehicular traffic on Collins Avenue between 5 Street and 15 Street, transit operations along this corridor is highly inefficient, uncomfortable, and unsafe.  One of the main safety concerns resulting from the temporary relocation of transit service to Collins Avenue is that delivery vehicles (often large trucks) frequently stop in the center left turn lane which significantly constricts the space on either side for transit operation.  County staff has expressed the following concerns with regard to the operation of transit service along Collins Avenue between 5 Street and 15 Street:


  • Significant amount of large trucks conducting deliveries from the center lane
  • Illegal obstruction of travel lanes by ride-share services
  • High pedestrian activity and jaywalking along the corridor resulting in frequent stops
  • Inability to approach the curb and use the bus bays to serve the temporary stops due to illegal parked vehicles and ride-share vehicles and unauthorized vehicles loading/unloading from the curb

These challenges are adversely affecting the safe operation of transit service, the County’s and City’s ability to provide reliable transit service, and adherence to transit schedules due to significant delays along the corridor.  As the level of activity continues to increase along Collins Avenue, the above issues and constraints will further impact the efficiency and effectiveness of transit operation.


To mitigate some of these concerns, Transportation and Mobility Department staff have identified various potential alternatives to implement temporary transit platforms and ramps on Washington Avenue in order to bring transit service back to Washington Avenue in short order under the current pilot configuration.  However, it is important to note that Washington Avenue is identified in the adopted Miami Beach Transportation Master Plan and the Miami-Dade County Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan as the priority transit corridor in this district.  Thus, all current transit amenities (bays and shelters) are located on Washington Avenue.  Ultimately, a permanent solution to safely accommodate transit service on Washington Avenue is crucial to ensuring mobility along the corridor.     


Miami Beach Police Department Concerns (Figure 3 in attachment)


As traffic volumes continue to increase in the area, particularly during Spring Break, the City of Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) has expressed significant concerns with the current configuration of Washington Avenue during the pilot project, including:


  •  Increased congestion resulting in gridlock during high demand periods
  • Delivery and ride-share vehicles parking on the bike lane
  • Scooters, motorcycles, and vehicles driving on the bike lanes during congested periods
  • Corridor lacks the space to perform periodic enforcement and conduct traffic stops

Furthermore, some residents of the Flamingo Park neighborhood have complained of increased cut-through traffic when Washington Avenue is congested, though no data has been collected to corroborate this claim.

Traffic Signal Timing Modifications


To mitigate the capacity reduction on Washington Avenue and high demand during Spring Break, the Transportation and Mobility Department has worked with Miami-Dade County to modify signal timing along Washington Avenue by adding 30 seconds of green time in the north-south direction for all the signal patterns running between 7AM and mid-night during weekdays and weekends. In addition, signal coordination was modified to try to improve traffic progression along the corridor. This modification has resulted in some improvement; however, given the single vehicular travel lane configuration adjacent to on-street parking and the lack of left turn lanes at various intersections along the corridor, all parking maneuvers, left turns, and right turns interrupt the flow of traffic.  This condition is the main cause of congestion along Washington Avenue.  

Potential Short-Term Options Being Explored


In addition to the option of temporary bus platforms and ramps described above, Transportation and Mobility Department staff is currently exploring other potential alternative configurations to try to improve the effectiveness of the pilot by reducing friction while retaining the parklets and bicycle lanes, minimizing impacts to on-street parking, and improving transit operations.  The preliminary alternatives being explored include temporary elimination of left turning movements, introducing shared bus-bike lanes, and reintroducing a second vehicular travel lane in each direction.  These alternatives are being coordinated with the Art Deco Cultural District (ADCD) Visioning Study currently underway.


ADCD Visioning Study


As part of the ADCD Visioning Study, the City’s consultant (Zyscovich Architects) is developing a long-term vision for the entire district.  In addition, the consultant has been tasked with looking at the existing pilots and identifying any short-term improvements to enhance the functionality of the district.  The consultant is regularly meeting with City staff to discuss transportation and mobility challenges and opportunities in the ADCD.  The consultant will also be conducting public and stakeholder workshops in the coming months to collaboratively define the short and long-term vision and develop concepts for the district.


This item is being presented to the Neighborhood and Quality of Life Committee for discussion and further direction.

Applicable Area

South Beach
Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14? Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?
No No 

Strategic Connection

Mobility - Improve the walking and biking experience.
Attachment - Washington Avenue Pilot ProjectOther