Ever been walking, biking or using transit in Miami and found yourself thinking, “If only we could just fix this one little thing, this would be a million times better?”
The Transportation QuickBuild Program is here to help make some of those little fixes with big impacts happen.
New York-based nonprofit Transit Center Agency has handed $150,000 to Miami-based nonprofit Green Mobility Network to carry out the program with support from the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works. They’re asking citizens to pitch their ideas. Then they’ll choose the winners, give them a budget, and help make the ideas a reality. They’re taking pitches through May.
It’s pretty open-ended, but there are four key criteria for a good project: it’s pretty narrow in scope, it doesn’t take an insane amount of cash, and it can be completed in a couple days – ideally by a handful of people with materials that could be picked up at a local Home Depot. It should also be connected to transit in some way, whether direct improvements to it or something that will make people more likely to use transit.
This small input, large payoff concept is called tactical urbanism and it’s pretty much the hottest idea in urban planning right now, both in Miami and across the U.S. You’ve seen it before: Biscayne Green and the Ludlam Trail are good examples. It got its start right here in Miami, with Tony Garcia, the principal of local urban planning firm Street Plans Collaborative.
Garcia and his colleague Mike Lydon got to thinking about quick, low-cost, often short term changes that could skip much of the bureaucracy that confronts bigger urban projects. They were not the first to think this way, but they’re pretty well acknowledged as the ones who gave the concept a name – “tactical urbanism.” They penned four open-source guides and a book on the concept, helping to spread the idea across the world.
Tactical urbanism has a few defining characteristics. It’s cheap, as far as urban planning projects go. It isn’t meant to be permanent. And while ideas often begin with the community, they build on plans already in place (although often never carried out).
You don’t need big bucks developers or huge capital outlays from the government to get them off the ground. The funds required for these projects are small enough that they can be covered by foundations – here in Miami, many of these projects get money from the Miami Foundation, through programs like the Public Space Challenge – crowd-sourcing, or minor outlays from corporations.
Street Plans Collaborative will be a technical consultant on the projects, helping to select the projects and advise them on bringing them to reality. He expects a lot of low-cost pitches like additional crosswalks and traffic calming measures. He hopes to see citizens partnering up with local municipal officials to accelerate already existing ideas.
At the first workshop on the program, a local pitched a series of minor improvements to NW 5th Avenue in Wynwood, like improvements to bus stops and more lighting. Many of these things are already part of the Wynwood master plan. His partner on the project is a City of Miami official who worked on the plan.
Interested? There are four more workshops where you can learn more:
- Feb. 21, 6 p.m., South Dade Regional Library
- March 28, 6 p.m., EcoTech Visions (North Miami)
- April 5, Kendall (exact time and location TBD)
- April 6, 6 p.m., Ball & Chain (Little Havana)