Transit & mobility in the era of Covid-19

Good Afternoon Governor DeSantis and Mayor Gimenez, 

Hope this email finds you and your families in good health during these challenging times. 

I’d like to start off by congratulating both of you for handling a difficult situation which we have found ourselves in. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article a couple of days ago and it seems like Florida and Miami Dade County are doing a lot things right, but as always, there is room for improvement especially when it comes to addressing mobility in the era of social distancing. 

Here are some facts:

  • Miami Dade Transit ridership has fallen by 80% since mid-March (Miami Today News)
  • In the last 6 weeks VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) have decreased by as much 50% in the country’s largest cities (24/7 Wall St.)
  • Travel speeds are increasing in cities by as much as 70% since social distancing orders were put in place (24/7 Wall St.
  • Bicycle use has surged in the US during the past 6 weeks. (Reuters)
  • Nearly 20% of Miami households don’t own a car (Governing)
  • The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)  and Miami Dade County control our roads

Seems fair to assume:

  • Transit ridership will suffer in the short term until a vaccine is discovered or we reach herd immunity (whichever comes first).
  • We need to provide alternative mobility options for our residents while social distancing is in effect. 
  • As long as our children cannot return to school or attend summer camps, traffic levels will remain low. 

During the past 6 weeks there has been a tremendous increase in people using bicycles for transportation and recreation. Many people still need to get to work and are afraid to use public transit. Unfortunately, there is a significant percentage of Miami’s population that cannot afford a car nor do they feel safe riding public transit, so it’s no surprise that cycling has become the transportation of choice for many. 

Cycling has also become a leading recreational choice since mid-March. On weekends there are now tens of thousands of people riding bicycles with their families on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Cyclists easily outnumber cars 50 to 1 in Miami’s CBD (Bayshore, Brickell, Rickenbacker Causeway, Biscayne Boulevard and the Venetian Causeway) on weekend mornings, yet the County nor FDOT have done anything to make our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians. 

Given that VMT has decreased significantly and cycling and walking has increased exponentially during the past 6 weeks, why hasn’t Miami Dade County and FDOT created bicycle-only travel lanes on the aforementioned roads to allow Miami Dade County’s residents to properly social distance and get much needed exercise on temporary protected bike lanes? 

What are our next steps to make this happen? Here are some ideas that other cities are embracing. 

This does not need to be an expensive undertaking nor do we need to overthink this. Orange traffic cones are an inexpensive solution that can be implemented quickly. 

There are a number of cities across the world that are taking action to make our cities more livable during these challenging times. Let’s lead by example. 

Look forward to working with FDOT and Miami Dade County to make our streets safer for our families during these challenging times. 

Felipe Azenha