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Miami-Dade Transit Director Discusses Proposals For Safer Streets

Major thoroughfares like Interstate 95 northbound during rush hour can frustrate commuters, some of whom take 90 minutes to get to work, according to a new report by ApartmentList.com.

A 2017 Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles report foundthere were 66,000 vehicle crashes in Miami-Dade County that year, of which 32,000 were injuries and 285 were fatalities. That makes Miami-Dade County  among the most dangerous regions in the state when it comes to accidents. That year, South Florida also ranked the 11th most dangerous region for pedestrians in the country.

Now, leaders and lawmakers are gathering to discuss ways to make roads safer in the region. TheSafe Streets Summit, being held Feb. 25-26, is a collaborative effort between the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization, the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency. 

Alice Bravo, the Director of Miami-Dade County’s Transportation and Public Works Department, spoke at the conference. Before she did so, she joined Luis Hernandez to talk about solutions and take listener questions.

WLRN: When you hear those statistics how do you respond to that?

Bravo: In our county in terms of implementing projects there's a lot we look for in terms of design, but we also have to talk about the great majority of crashes are often caused by driver behavior and things that drivers themselves can control. So I think it's important that we talk about both sides of this coin.

When you look at Miami and how it ranks compared to other major cities in the U.S. [when it comes to pedestrian and cyclist safety] we're not very high either. Why? Is it the driving culture? 

A lot that goes into traffic engineering ... has to do with driver awareness. If you're in an area like downtown where there's a lot of pedestrians or bicyclists, the driver is aware of what that landscape is and is going to drive differently. But we have very suburban areas where the characteristic of the road is that everything's wider so you see pedestrians and bikers less frequently. Therefore the driver awareness goes down in those situations. And when there is an encounter with a pedestrian or a bicyclist that's where the reaction time is different. And we also have the issues that everybody's grappling with the distracted driver -- texting or other things that are going on. 

Credit Twitter
WLRN listener sent Sundial a tweet regarding driving culture.

People argue this city grew very fast and there was no planning. Do you agree with that argument?

If you look at the Metro system as it is today we were very fortunate this was a 25 mile system. What you want around that system is a lot of density. The closer that people live and work to these stations the more convenient it is to use it. And that's how you get your higher ridership. So I think when the system was built unfortunately the areas around the system did not want to increase the densities. There was just not interest from the development community and for whatever reason you didn't build that density around that system. And I think now developers are seeing a lot of interest from the public to live near that infrastructure system. Now you see the density going in and I have high hopes. We're going to have increased ridership in the future on our system.

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Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.