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.