10 May CARLESS IN MIAMI? IT’S POSSIBLE, AND THE CHALLENGE CAN HELP
As a Miamian without a car, I’ve become accustomed to the transit challenges we face here. I chose to sell my car three years ago as part of my commitment to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. I quickly realized that I would need to become more strategic in choosing where to live and plan different ways to get around the city. I rely on public transit and my two legs to get from point A to point B every day. That’s why this year’s Public Space Challenge theme – mobility in Miami-Dade – is my personal favorite. (If you have an idea for how to make getting around our community easier, safer, more effective, we want to hear it – submit it at PublicSpaceChallenge.org by May 16th).
I recognize that even with the frustrations I’ve experienced over delayed buses and trains, I am still a part of the small percentage of people here who can make the choice to live near where I work and play – and near transit options. The Miami Foundation offices are in downtown Miami. Many of the transit options I rely on for my daily commute – bus, metro mover and trolley – are also concentrated here. I also like to walk. So it made sense for me to choose to live in the urban core part of the city. The Foundation also pays for my transit card. And, on days when I’m running late, I can grab a shared ride. Unfortunately, many Miamians can’t afford to make the same choices I have and, as a result, it affects their livelihoods.
A couple of weeks ago, a colleague who commutes to work by metro from the Coral Gables area into downtown every day, waited for nearly an hour for a train that never came due to delays and technical malfunctions. She observed how everyone around her responded. Most people reacted with a bit of anxiousness at the thought of being late to start their day. Some took pictures of the screen with the words “delayed” to text to friends, family and employers. After enough time had passed, the crowds began to exit the station to find alternative ways to get where they needed to go. While some ordered rideshares, others got back in their cars – in both cases offering to give rides to anyone in the crowd of people going in the same direction. Interestingly, not many chose the bus or trolley. She split a Lyft with a kind stranger.
Hearing this story got me thinking. First, we have a whole segment of the population that wants to use and knows how to use public transit, but sometimes is unable to use it effectively or efficiently. Second, it shows our community’s resilience, creativity and ability to crowdsource to get things done. This is where the Public Space Challenge comes in. We’re looking to fund the best ideas that focus on urban mobility, and projects that create, activate or improve how we get around and experience our community. Think protected bike lanes, solar-powered bus stops, safer walkways – all of these are public spaces, too! – or an app that would make taking transit or ride shares more efficient for you.
I often wonder if life would be easier if I went back to back to driving – but would it? There’s something about the prospect of potentially sitting in traffic that makes me want to focus on solutions for making Greater Miami more walkable, bikeable and transit-friendly.
What are your experiences? How can we make moving about our city easier, safer and more enjoyable? We want to hear your ideas! If selected, you could win grant funding to help bring your idea to life. Submit your ideas at PublicSpaceChallenge.org.
Chelsea Clark is programs and grants administration associate at The Miami Foundation.
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Photo credit: Miami Bike Scene