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In Miami, We Don’t Stop for Pedestrians

The Rules in Miami are Always Different, and That Especially Applies to Pedestrian Right-of-Way
June 11, 2012 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Local News  | 52 Comments

image

Chickens have more rights to cross the road than you do.

In Miami, drivers are more likely to stop for one of our many stray roosters than for a pedestrian. That is just how it works here. If you don’t like it, don’t come.

BEING ON FOOT DOESN’T MAKE YOU SPECIAL

Part of the charm of Miami is our abundance of Latin culture. And for the unaware, part of Latin culture is a set of driving rules that leaves little room for pedestrians. So if you came to Miami with the idea that people were going to yield to you in crosswalks, guess again.

Pedestrians in America seem to have a sort of sense of entitlement on the road. Like for some reason because they’re on foot, cars have to stop for them. Various pedestrian-friendly traffic laws are probably to blame for this, but whatever the cause it’s a pervasive attitude among walkers in this country. But like most things, in Miami we don’t do it like the rest of the country.

Turning right on a red? As long as there’s no cars go for it. Doesn’t matter if a family of five is trying to cross. If they live in Miami, they know to stop. Crosswalk without a stop sign? That’s what we in Miami call a colossal waste of street paint. Nobody’s slowing down, and cars are a lot bigger and faster than you. Chance it if you like, because you think you have some sort of “right of way.” But the consequences if you’re wrong aren’t worth trying us.

LAWLESSNESS = EFFICIENCY

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Now some would complain and say this makes Miami a dangerous city. I say it actually helps us be more efficient. Traffic here – especially street traffic – is bad enough as it is. And what with the new red light cameras curtailing our trademark “Four to a Red’ move, it’s getting even slower. Could you imagine if our drivers had to wait for slow-moving tourists to cross the street too? We’d never get anywhere.

This is not to say that it is legal to ignore pedestrians in Miami. Technically, we have the same pedestrian-biased laws that your hometown does. The difference is here, they’re not really enforced. Recently, City Commissioner Marc “I Hate The Grove” Sarnoff has tried to increase enforcement in the City. But once traffic in this area becomes unmovable because of this “pedestrian friendliness” people may backlash.

And in Miami Beach, it’s still unheard-of. Pedestrians have a lot more options as to where to walk than drivers do as where to drive. In Miami, we understand that and for the most part give drivers preference.

So if you’re coming here and trying to cross the street, understand we’re not stopping for you. If you want to be safe, make sure no cars are anywhere nearby, then cross as fast as humanly possible. And never, EVER, hold up traffic so you can cross. That is just being a rude and inconsiderate visitor. Locals have places to be, please respect that. And enjoy your vacation!

Update: No Respect - Pedestrian Crossing on Brickell Avenue by Transit Miami Films - Watch the Video.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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52 Comments on

"In Miami, We Don’t Stop for Pedestrians"

Doug says:

I actually found the people in South Beach were more likely to stop for me in a crosswalk than they were in New Orleans.  I’ve also noticed that people with the least education and income seem to be the most aggressive toward pedestrians.  It’s a way of going after the (perceived) lowest man on the totem pole, I guess.

Posted on 06/12/2012 at 1:10 PM

Craig Chester says:

Wow. Absolutely wow. Clearly Melzter is not a business owner. Um, you can’t to retail at 40 miles an hour. You can’t do retail where people are scared to cross the street. I WANT PEOPLE WALKING SAFELY BY MY BUSINESS. It’s why the best, most vibrant retail areas and cities in the USA are the ones that are are the most difficult to drive in! Lincoln Road, Midtown Miami, West Village NYC, Venice! Rome! Stockholm! This is the most insane, inane, idiotic, anti-human posting I think I’ve EVER read. Cities are for people! Not Cars! Does he not understand how value is created in a city! It’s by human activity. And human activity is incompatible with speeding vehicles.

I could go on but the level to which Meltzer holds actual human beings in such contempt for merely NOT driving is surreal and isn’t worth my electronic ink any longer.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 2:59 PM

Chris says:

Clearly the author of this article lacks education and decency. Perhaps you and your family ought to get hit by a driver with no insurance who decides to take off leaving you to die on the side of the road. Perhaps that would change your disgusting and pathetic way way of thinking. You’re in the wrong business if you think vile article is suppose to appeal to tourists or locals.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 3:15 PM

David says:

Really,you’re complaining about traffic, in Miami?!  Have you been to any other big city; DC, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco? There is much worse traffic in those cities and they still treat their pedestrians with respect as they are part of the culture. Unfortunately, this is the exact mentality that is holding this city back from actually making progress in public transportation and pedrestrian accomodations.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 3:32 PM

ErikS says:

Matt.. it sounds like you recently got a ticket for not yielding for a pedestrian.

Fyi…some of us that are natives remember our manners when behind the wheel.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 3:40 PM

Elsa Roberts says:

I know this information may blow your mind, but not all pedestrians are tourists. Some pedestrians are Miamians who also have places to go and we would prefer to arrive at our destination in one piece, without having to fight for our right to access the road each and every day.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 3:46 PM

MB Neighbor says:

As a resident of MB, I urge you to ignore this RUBBISH, as it’s obviously the ramblings of someone who’s mental state should be questioned.  Our city has a successful bike and pedestrian program in place, and plans to make it even better are currently in the works - efforts that recently earned us national recognition as one of the most livable cities. As you can see, we do have some “bad apples” who don’t have an once of respect or consideration for others… but what city doesn’t?  However, most of us LOVE to have visitors strolling down our street enjoying our beautiful city!

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 4:00 PM

Yakov Hadash says:

This article is extremely misguided and offensive. If drivers are unhappy with congestion, they should get out of their cars and walk, bike, or take transit. If they want to stay in their cars, they have to follow the laws that are in place to protect themselves and others. I would be disappointed to see this type of article written on “The Onion” or a personal blog, but it is downright appalling to see this posted on the official Miami Beach tourism web site.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 4:27 PM

tjblaze says:

You’re wrong, Matt.  That attitude has nothing to do with Latin culture or Miami Beach.  If it did, the pedestrian injury rate would be higher there than in other cities and in fact, the Miami area ranks behind Tampa and Orlando in that regard.  Your attitude, well expressed, is actually the result of 80 years of brainwashing by the automobile and oil industries.  It’s a false value.  In reality, people (mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, lovers) are all much more important than the efficiency associated with getting somewhere faster.  And if you can’t see the inherent beauty in the slow gait of a frail elderly woman, you are more blind than the man cautiously finding his way across the road with a white stick.

What is really ironic is that in communities with higher density the automobile model fails and causes the inefficiencies and congestion that foster your frustration as a motorist. The leaders in the best cities in the world understand that they must enact policy that will discourage people from bringing cars into their central business districts because minimizing car use in those areas actually facilitates the movement of people.  And more movement of people means more business.  These visionary leaders get a lot of pushback from those who are thoroughly brainwashed and unimaginative and who resent the notion of actually having to be thoughtful about their transportation decisions.  Miami Beach is a great example of a City that would benefit economically from good, efficient transit connections from the mainland.  Lots of us don’t go there precisely because the traffic congestion is so bad and no alternative is provided.

What we commonly call “roads” are actually rights-of-way - part of the public commonwealth reserved for freedom of movement - a basic necessity in the “pursuit of happiness”.  That they have been so overwhelmingly conscripted by a single mode is a real tragedy for our communities.

As someone who lost a sister as a pedestrian victim, your post is particularly offensive and pitiful.  I hope it is a failed attempt at humor.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 4:30 PM

@QsFreeMiami says:

OMG I love this article.  Being a transplated Californian (before I could drive) when I first moved I thought how ridiculous it was that Miami Drivers doesn’t respect pedestrians but now that I live and drive here I completely agree with this article.  Dont get me wrong I am not going to run down a pedestrian but half the time, especially on the beach they don’t even use cross walks so in my book that means cross at your own risk wink
I try to be slightly more consderate in the summer, becuase it sucks to be walking in our humidity but the other months of the year hed the warning in the last paragraph.

I litterally laughed out loud at this article because it is SO true.
I love Miami we one of a kind! wink

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 4:45 PM

Gus says:

Folks, if we can take just a moment from tarring and feathering Matt, I don’t believe he is saying that motorists have more rights to the road than pedestrians. He is just stating the facts about how most Miami drivers view pedestrians.

When I moved to Miami from California, I thought the rules were the same here. I would often be walking on the street, and just brazenly walk into traffic, paying drivers no respect, and expecting them to happily yield my way. When my friends from South America saw how I was behaving, they were shocked by my actions and told me they thought I was acting rude. I learned my lesson and don’t do that anymore.

I interpret Matt’s article as tongue-in-cheek public service announcement, directed toward naive pedestrians like I used to be, who thought the world revolved around them when they’re crossing the street.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 4:49 PM

Michelle says:

I agree with Gus and @QsFreeMiami.

Matt is just warning people who walk around town, completely clueless as to how people actually drive here, to stop them from getting hit.

Our melting pot of a city gives some VERY BAD drivers licenses, and stopping for pedestrians is not in their dictionary.

How many times have you honked, or heard someone honking at people that were crossing the road?

Maybe this heat has gotten everyone a little cranky…let’s not be so serious.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 5:35 PM

Safe Streets says:

“Congratulations on publishing the most idiotic blog post I’ve ever read, and I’ve read many. Your website purports to be a resource for Miami Beach tourism and a destination for information for those visiting Miami Beach. Yet Matt Meltzer’s article, In Miami, We Don’t Stop For Pedestrians (http://www.miamibeach411.com/news/miami-pedestrians) takes the preposterous position of advocating against pedestrians having the right of way. Mr. Meltzer calls for open season on Miami pedestrians and tourists, going so far as to state “So if you’re coming here and trying to cross the street, understand we’re not stopping for you.” The story is published along with a graphic displaying “Pedestrians Worth 10 Points.” How irresponsible. How reckless. And on a Miami tourism website, no less.

If you were truly interested in helping Miami’s tourism industry, thereby directly benefiting your website, then you would not have imagined publishing such garbage. I had hoped that your story was published tongue-in-cheek, but then I read the forum linked under Mr. Meltzer’s story (http://forums.miamibeach411.com/general-discussion/8941-miami-beach-crosswalks-unsafe-pedestrians-why.html) and saw that he truly holds these opinions and attempted to defend same on the forum.

Although I shouldn’t have to explain this to a professed tourism website, but study after study have shown that those cities with the best pedestrian infrastructure – i.e. the most crosswalks, the most bike lanes, and the best public transportation – are the most livable and best places to visit. Tourists flock to cities where they can feel safe walking or biking the city streets, because there is no better way to see and experience a city on vacation. I can’t imagine being a tourist and stumbling upon Mr. Meltzer’s article. No doubt I would strike Miami off of my list of places to visit.

Worse, this article buys into long-held beliefs that Miami is some kind of Banana Republic, a bastion of lawlessness, a outpost at the end of the country where traditional laws don’t apply. You do a disservice to those local leaders, such as Commissioner Sarnoff who Mr. Meltzer references in his article, who are trying to change those perceptions. Moreover, there are organizations out there, like Green Mobility Network/SafeStreetsMiami, Transit Miami, and others, working to make Miami’s streets safe and educate drivers to be more respectful of pedestrians and cyclists. This article reflects especially poor judgment on your part with the recent spate of well-publicized pedestrian and cyclist deaths in 2012.

Perhaps this story was posted for the sole purpose of creating controversy and driving traffic to your website. If so, congrats on the short-term spike in visits to your page. In the long-term, however, prepare for the backlash, as you’ve lost all credibility as a Miami Beach tourism website. I’d venture to guess that your website would love to have the endorsement of the City, County, and even the Chamber of Commerce; rest assured that no one would think of endorsing or legitimizing this ridiculous article.”

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 10:01 PM

Rima Gerhard says:

This is a disgusting article. You should immediately remove it and replace it with a piece on educating drivers on how to respect the weakest link out there, pedestrians and bicyclists. Shame on you.

Posted on 06/14/2012 at 11:38 PM

Steven says:

I was planning a trip to Miami with my family but now maybe I will think again. I do not want to go to a place and spen my hard earned dollars where I have to fear for my kids lives when simply crossing the street. Maybe I should take my family elsewhere, somewhere where the basic rights of a person are respected, not someplace where pedestrians are treated like mushrooms in Mario cart. Thanks for the heads up Miami tourism site.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 12:04 AM

Hank says:

This piece illustrates why maybe the blogosphere and free speech have gone too far. The author was obviously trying to think of something clever to say. It’s not clever, it’s stupid and crude. Sort of like a frat-boy movie with lots of idiots drinking, vomiting, farting, and leering at half-naked babes who are too smart to give them the time of day. This is how a lot of the world still views Miami—one giant frat party overflowing with rude, inconsiderate jerks. Thanks, Matt!

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 4:54 AM

David says:

Mr. Melzer I find your article disgusting and extremely offensive. The laws that are in place are in place to protect pedestrians from being killed by careless scofflaw drivers. Those laws need to be enforced, NOT ignored. I do know my place Mr. Melzer, I have the right to walk in Miami without being afraid for my life. And I will keep on complaining to the police whenever I nearly get run down by a reckless scofflaw driver and keep on applauding them when they do their job and issue tickets to drivers who DON’T OBEY THE LAWS OF THE ROAD.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 7:11 AM

Saul says:

MiamiBeach411, you have gone very, very low just to get some traffic to your site. Disgusting. I will remember this article for a long time and surely never contribute to your site again. This is not funny or “tongue-incheek”. It’s just dumb and offensive to any human being out there. Remove this load of bollocks now and don’t let Matt write any more such pieces of wisdom.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 9:04 AM

Gus says:

Craig, I updated the end of Matt’s article to include the video you made, showing pedestrians trying to cross the road in Brickell. The video is excellent. I encourage everyone to watch it…

... But is what Matt says very different? I don’t think so. He does not advocate drivers break the law, like some of the comments have said. Matt does not say, screw you pedestrians, drivers legally have the right of way. Just like you did with the satirical music you selected in your video, Matt uses satire to point out the fact that pedestrians don’t get much respect on the street.

As the Official Miami Travel Site, we believe it is important to inform visitors about Miami’s true rules of the road. Miami Beach 411 has never stuck our head in the sand and sugarcoated how Miami works.

If all you want to do is read phony news stories and regurgitated press releases, go to Miami.com and the Greater Miami Convention Bureau.

Miami Beach 411 is committed to telling people how it really is.

I am sorry you don’t get Matt’s sense of humor.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 10:17 AM

Craig Chester says:

Gus,

I’m not sure why you address me personally in light of all the other comments here. However, I’ll gladly take the opportunity to tell you exactly what the difference is.

The video I made for Transit Miami you reference, No Respect, was done to draw attention to an endemic problem in a very prominent Miami location. The underlying purpose was to create an easily-sharable video that brought this problem to the desks and screens of key decision makers in Miami - local politicians, police and transportation officials. If you watch the entire video, I suggest Miami follow suit and conduct ‘crosswalk stings’ to fine dangerous motorists.

Guess what? It worked. Our local commissioner Marc Sarnoff requested that traffic detail shift from radar enforcement to include pedestrian/motorist scofflaws. The Miami Polcie wrote 47 tickets in one hour, netting almost $10,000 in fines, as well as finding drivers with suspended licenses and worse. In all, the video was created to achieve a productive end result that resonated loudly with the community. The Miami Herald also covered the operation, and resulted in a front-page news story in the print version of the paper.

What’s the difference you ask? The difference is Meltzer’s amateurish and feeble attempt at satire successfully managed to enrage a whole host of Miamians that are fed up with this attitude that pedestrians are second-class citizens. It would be a bit more palatable if Meltzer had not rigorously defended his misguided opinions in a separate forum on this website. Instead of advocating for change, here is what Meltzer had to say about pedestrian crossing operations….

“I still don’t get why people think this is a good tihnk. It slows traffic immeasurably. downgrading our quality of life. rtraffic on Brickell is bad enough as it is. We want MORE lights? And people to go SLOWER? AND stop for people crossing?”

“Make it more pleasant because we have more drivers than pedestrians.”

“Lawlessness = efficiency”

Gus, your pathetic attempts to defend this failed satirization of a very real and dangerous problem in Miami offers no solace to the authors of dozens of letters and comments you’ve no doubt received in response to Meltzer’s drivel. The best of which being from Eli Stiers of Safe Streets Miami (posted above) whose group is working diligently with local politicians and officials to return sanity to our streets and create a healthy, livable and productive Miami.

If you spenT half the amount of time advocating for change instead of perpetuating and cheerleading the intolerable status quo, we’d have a better city because of it. But you would not be interested in that, would you?

Craig Chester

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 11:31 AM

Gus says:

Craig, I addressed you personally because you were the one who made the video and you also called our office to voice a complaint.

I commend you for getting the city to take notice of the problem in Brickell. That is a very dangerous intersection, as your video shows. However, I feel the video addresses a bigger issue, demonstrating Miami drivers overall lack of respect toward pedestrians, and supports what Matt is saying.

Miami Beach 411 is an advocate for change and a champion for breaking the status quo. Our cheerleading style is just different than you.

Thank you for sharing how you feel.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 12:18 PM

susan says:

Gus, this article is neither cheerleading nor groundbreaking. Its dumb and offenive. Remove it and stop defending this worthless junk of a blog post.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 12:38 PM

Gus says:

Susan, I did not say we aim to be a cheerleader. I said, our cheerleading style, is different than Craig’s. And with all due respect, I believe Matt’s article is groundbreaking, because until he posed his opinion, there have only been a few people to raise the issue.

Thanks for commenting and I wish you a good day.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 1:01 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Wow! I missed hate like this…..

Lighten up, people.  The guy nailed it when he said this is a warning to visitors. Told in a much more entertaining way. Kinda like telling people to wear sunscreen or brush up on their Spanish.

Did it ever occur to anyone that these cities with worse traffic. Have it BECAUSE they stop for pedestrians so much? Think about it.

What you all don’t get is that I probably cycle more miles a year than most of you combined. But I know my place. I don’t run light, I don’t go out in the road with card. In short, I respect vehicles and givev them the right of way. And this makes life easier forvthe MAJORITY who are in cars. Maybe you pedestrian and cyclists should be more considerate too.

Thank you Gus and Michelle for getting my point and having my back. It’s owners like you that make this Site in a league above what the cvb could ever do.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 2:17 PM

Hernan says:

“Not TV or illegal drugs but the automobile has been the chief destroyer of American communities.”
― Jane Jacobs

“Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.”
- Lewis Mumford

“You can have a city that is friendly to cars, or a city that is friendly to people. You cannot have both.”
- Enrique Penalosa

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 3:05 PM

Rima says:

We won’t lighten up because you are wrong, Matt. You are so dead wrong on all counts. Great job for getting everyone in your city to hate you and the site you write for. You should consider moving to a city where you will never have to get out of your car, ever. We don’t want you here, and we don’t want this kind of article published about the community we live in.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 3:26 PM

Yakov Hadash says:

Matt, you said (in reference to cycling), “I don’t go out in the road with car[s].”

I would like to refer you to http://www.dot.state.fl.us/safety/ped_bike/laws/ped_bike_bikeLaws1.shtm
“A bicycle is classified as a vehicle.  A person in control of a vehicle on a street or highway is a driver.  As a driver, a cyclist must follow the traffic rules common to all drivers.  As the driver of a bicycle, he must also obey regulations adopted specially for bicycles.  A person riding a bicycle has all the rights applicable to any driver, except as to special regulations for bicycles.”

Cyclists who choose to ride on the sidewalk create a danger to themselves, motorists, and of course, those pesky pedestrians. Here is one of the many, many articles on the subject: http://www.bike.cornell.edu/pdfs/Sidewalk_biking_FAQ.pdf

Your suggestion about the causes of traffic is an interesting but inaccurate one. As anyone who has been backed up on 95 knows, bad traffic is caused primarily by cars and trucks.

The idea that drivers or cyclists SHOULD repeatedly, flagrantly, and habitually violate the law (for example http://bit.ly/MENtru ) in order to move faster is so inane that nobody needs to engage in debate on that subject.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 3:27 PM

Gus says:

Hernan,

Thank you for not attacking us and posting those thoughtful quotes… Hearing big ideas like that helps make a person see things from another perspective.

Respectfully to all those who have commented thus far, I still don’t feel Matt was trying to be threatening, like some have claimed. However, based on a comment left by Vernon at DC.StreetsBlog.org, I removed the “Pedestrians” Worth Ten Points” image that was highlighting the article on our main “News” page.

I do wonder if Carl Hiaasen, or Dave Barry would have said remarks like Matt, which is not out of the norm for them, would people be as hostile toward them? You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want. I’m just thinking out loud.

Best regards, and thanks again for sharing the quotes.

Gus

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 4:30 PM

Just about Offensive to Everyone says:

First rule of bike riding in a city: respect the 2 ton vehicles moving 30mph that takes 109 ft to stop.
First rule of pedestrians in a city: respect the 2 ton vehicles moving 30mph that takes 109 ft to stop.

What happened to the pedestrian = 10 points picture? That was funny. I have a hard time believing the people commenting here have not said the same thing about cats, opossums, or hippies. Not dogs, dogs are cool. Regardless, get off your stump and grow a sense of humor. Yes people have died, yada yada, but that’s life people, shit happens, move on, it sucks, but move on. You know in the grand scheme of your everyday life this is sooo important [says with mocking scowl shaking head in disapproval]. Save the whales and all that. Is pedestrian safety really your, you know, “thing?” [Whispers to friend, “someone needs a hobby”]

Interesting thing about that video too, that is a horribly timed light. It appears the left arrow is on thus allowing cars to freely turn left. It also appears the walk signal turns on immediately after that turns red and from my understanding, Miami culture ignores and 2 or 3 cars try to squeeze through to beat the light. Whats interesting is that the walk light turns on before the green light for he on coming traffic. Those cars often sit idle in the video, waiting for the light to change. I would recommend maybe a delay on the walk signal for the safety of all those involved. Cars won’t be streaming across the cross walk because they will be contending with the on coming traffic. You know, respecting the 2 ton vehicle moving 30 mph. Problems solved, Feliz Navidad, you’re welcome!

Oh and your Mom is fat and ugly, and recycling is stupid.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 6:07 PM

jess says:

Wow. A lot of hate has been posted here. What a shame.

Meltzer is a friend of mine, and a fantastic writer. I have read his work here for years. He writes in a conversational tone of voice as if he is the city speaking. This article to me reads as a tounge in cheek warning to people coming here from other cities, who may not understand our road rules. I just got back from NYC and was shocked how all cars stop for pedestrians. Never happens here.

He isn’t saying its right, he is just saying how it is in Miami. Yes, road rules need to be changed here, but until they make texting when driving illegal, or force motorcyclists to wear helmets, I doubt they will. At the very least, this article may make unsuspecting tourists think twice before crossing the street here. And that to me is a message that should be out there.

Jess

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 7:32 PM

Creativepea says:

Wrong. The message that should be out there is the one that goes to drivers to respect pedestrians and cyclists, not the other way around.

I would love to believe that he is a “fantastic writer”, but this sorry attempt at humorless, offensive, disrespectful prose is not proof of it.

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 7:40 PM

Hernan says:

Thanks Gus. By the way, I watched Craig Chester present a fantastic talk at Ignite Miami recently called “Beyond the Automobile”. He gets it. Cars are damaging the human living environment. Here is a link to the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qan2FhhZuY

Posted on 06/15/2012 at 9:53 PM

J says:

This article is an obvious satire from the perspective of the City/County.  Generally speaking, the author’s tone and content sums up the perspective of many drivers in South Florida.  Like it or not, pedestrians and cyclists are not well-regarded or well-respected; as the video shows, most pedestrians get it and do their best to avoid traffic despite their legal right to walk across the street.  Safe Streets - although your org and others are doing good work, should we pretend that pedestrian doesn’t happen in Miami to appease the Chamber of Commerce?

Certainly pressure to enforce laws is needed and a culture change for drivers is required. But if your aim is reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities, the most effective short-term means would be for pedestrians to get the heck of the way. 

Also, Craig:  this is a Miami Beach tourism web site, not a pedestrian advocacy group.  What exactly do you expect?  There are many worthy causes in the world that I imagine you and your organization would support but do not advocate for (i.e., famine, human trafficking, forced marriages) so let’s not judge a website too harshly here. 

From what I can see based on the reaction and commentary, the most pressing concern South Florida and our country appear to be facing is reading comprehension.  So let’s band together on this very troubling issue and not crucify the author, who whether you agree with him or not, probably reduced the risk of tourists getting hit by cars, allowing them to have an awesome beach vacation and spend lots of money in Dade County.

Posted on 06/16/2012 at 3:46 AM

Doug says:

I’ve worked at Miami Beach 411 and written for it for more than 5 years now, and I have to say that I enjoy reading Matt’s articles.  It’s kind of like going to one of those restaurants where the staff is intentionally rude - like it or not, it’s part of his shtick.  As for this article, I agree when he says this is how it is, and I strongly disagree when he says this is how it should be.  But, like Gus says, it’s got people talking about the issue, at least.  And this website has always been a place where each of us are encouraged to express our own ideas.  There is no company line we have to tow.  And that’s one of the reasons I enjoy working here so much!

Posted on 06/16/2012 at 3:43 PM

Bill Cooke says:

Matt’s post is right-on point.

Here’s a typical, self-entitled driver from Miami Beach who wants to invent his own traffic laws….on West Ave in the middle of the day. According to him, all you have to do is slow down for pedestrians…but not stop.

http://youtu.be/pn35PSuVWuQ

Write on Matt!

Posted on 06/17/2012 at 12:14 PM

Jess says:

That video, wow… what an idiot! The driver is so self important filming the very polite cop, who tells him straight how it is. I am glad he got that ticket.

Posted on 06/18/2012 at 9:27 AM

Jordan Melnick says:

To advocate for Miami drivers—already a notorious bunch—to break the rules of the road in the name of efficiency is self-evidently stupid. More thoughts here: http://www.beachedmiami.com/2012/06/18/miami-beach-411-matt-meltzer-pedestrians/

Posted on 06/18/2012 at 12:10 PM

swampthing says:

The 411 on man vs machine:
Being on foot makes us autonomous.
Being in a car makes Meltzy stupid.

Posted on 06/18/2012 at 10:08 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

I think there is a major editorial problem here—the naive tourist taking this at face value as opposed to the jaded local who knows better.  The site might not want to sugar coat the destination, which is great, but on the other hand, Matt’s perspective comes across as vapid and satirical, and knowing him personally as a fellow and former colleague, I hate to see that. If MB411 were exclusively a satirical website that would make sense ... but I’m afraid many tourists would misinterpret this kind of writing and that doesn’t do a good service to 411. It’s as if 411 isn’t paying attention to rhetoric or audience.  If Matt were writing about a non-critical personal issue, I could accept the satire.  But in this case, when it affects so many people, I think it’s naive to assume everyone would understand Matt’s tongue-in-cheek style.  I mean this in the best way. Matt is really good at his style, but perhaps this wasn’t the best way to write this story.

Posted on 06/19/2012 at 8:24 PM

Gus says:

Maria, please help me understand what you mean. Can you tell me what exactly a tourist could misinterpret?

The only part of Matt’s article I disagree with is the sub head “LAWLESSNESS = EFFICIENCY” and the sentence “Now some would complain and say this makes Miami a dangerous city. I say it actually helps us be more efficient.” Those parts of the story sound pretty stupid to me, but I know that’s Matt just tying to being entertaining.

In my opinion, everything else he says is good advice for our readers, especially after watching Craig’s video.

Miami Transit, Beached Miami, and their friends have never participated on our site, until now. Are they the audience you feel that we’re not paying attention to?

Please help us get where coming from, because it seems like what your feeling is more influenced by other people’s remarks, rather than anything specific Matt said.

Posted on 06/19/2012 at 9:14 PM

Frank says:

Thanks for alerting us tourists! In my city I am quite used to walking everywhere and cars mostly stopfor me. I had no idea Miami Beach was this dangerous. I wantrd to spend some time there next winter but now I am reconsidering my options. I prefer a city with safe streets. I heard Austin is making great progress, might just end up there instead. Thanks so much for the heads up Matt!

Posted on 06/19/2012 at 11:04 PM

rk says:

This is a strange article. If it was supposed to be funny, I must have missed the punchline. I suppose it may be considered funny in the same way as yelling “fire” in a theater may be funny for some. Sadly, the main point that I think Matt is trying to make, that disobeying traffic laws somehow makes Miami traffic more efficient, is utterly false. I have been in enough cities around the world to know that those with the worst and most unsafe traffic (for both drivers and pedestrians) are the ones where traffic laws are poorly followed.

I am not saying Matt is a bad writer, or a bad person, and this site is one of the best. It’s just this article which is in poor taste, and wrong at every level.

Posted on 06/20/2012 at 1:34 AM

Gus says:

Frank, your ip address is coming from Miami Beach, from the same ip as another Miami Beach commenter who posted in this discussion. It appears that your being dishonest. I allowed your comment, though, because you are obviously passionate about how you feel, and we try not to censor people very much at Miami Beach 411—we encourage freedom of speech, creativity, and self expression—even if it’s not politically correct.

Posted on 06/20/2012 at 3:16 AM

Gus says:

rk, I agree with you. Disobeying traffic laws does not make traffic more efficient… That is a foolish idea, but in my opinion, it was not the main point, Matt, was trying to make. No doubt, he made a couple bad jokes that some people didn’t get, but the focus of the story was to inform visitors about the reputation Miami drivers have for aggressive driving. I am sorry the message was lost on you. Next time, we will try harder to make sure the comedy does not overshadow the message.

I still encourage Matt to keep swinging for the fence and being the entertaining and insightful writer that he his.

Posted on 06/20/2012 at 3:33 AM

Gus says:

Matt, Congratulations. Your article was awarded “Post of the Week” by South Florida Daily Blog. Here’s how they describe all the brouhaha you started:

Miami Beach 411 has been around the blogosphere forever it seems and has always been a huge advocate for South Florida no matter what it seems to do. MB411 writer Matt Meltzer has also spent his share of time in the 305 and knows what makes it tick. He also knows what buttons to push to make South Floridian’s heads explode. Which is exactly what he did in his post, In Miami, We Don’t Stop for Pedestrians. Unfortunately, Meltzer’s use of satire was widely misinterpreted by readers but that created for epic back and forths on blogs that decided to feature the post. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to admit that Meltzer’s words were thought-provoking and fueled discussions that probably should be held more often in this town. Because of those reasons, it was the South Florida blogosphere’s most significant post last week and captures SFDB’s Post of the Week honors.

http://southfloridadailyblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/sfdb-post-of-week_20.html

Please add an extra $100 to your next invoice as a bonus for fueling a discussion on this important subject.

Posted on 06/20/2012 at 9:04 AM

Acky says:

I never found the traffic in Miami a problem from a pedestrian perspective. If the light was telling me to walk I walked. I know its a little different than here in the UK but it seemed fine when I was there! I even remember drivers letting us cross when it was their green light.

Posted on 06/20/2012 at 10:22 AM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Hi Gus, just to reply to your questions, I am not influenced by anyone else’s remarks.  All opinions my own.

This is Matt at his “White Dade” finest, which is fine for that context but I don’t see how this writing style would help any first-time tourist here or someone interested in relocating. You know in my seven years of working the forums how many questions we get from people who are bewildered and overwhelmed by Miami as well they should be considering the huge urban sprawl.

I respect you and your right to publish whatever you want on your site, but I found this kind of satire very disrespectful to the tourist now that you are rebranding the site as a traveler’s helpline.

As well, there is really nothing truly useful here on those terms either.  Matt doesn’t interview anyone, doesn’t post links to Miami-Dade transportation links, no research on number of jaywalking tickets, nothing. He also talks about Miami like it’s one all-encompassing place, which we know is not true. South Miami, where I live, is a pedestrian paradise, for example, and one of the reasons I moved back here. 

Again, there is nothing wrong with an opinion piece, which this is—it is hardly a piece of journalism with useful info— but I find the satire in very poor taste and not becoming of this website which has worked very hard to become a premier stop for travelers.  In another website like White Dade, for example, that’s fine.

You and I spoke about this late last year.  And this reminds me again of when Matt posted about Miami’s tech and social media scene after SxSw without researching one iota about the scene itself.

I’m thinking like an editor here, Gus. And please don’t take this personally. I consider Matt a friend and you and the 411 team as family, even if I no longer work here.

But I do take exception to this post and much of it because I still care about how 411 is perceived because I personally know the love and hard work that has gone into it. I honestly think this kind of writing does a disservice to your company’s public image.

Posted on 06/21/2012 at 12:21 PM

Gus says:

Hi Maria, thank you for writing back. I respect your opinion and will take what you said into consideration in the future. You’re right, we could have done more research and included some facts to back up our opinion. I will speak with Matt about being more thorough, but personally, I like his style, and want him to stay true to his voice.

Although we have taken some heat, I am not ashamed to have this article on our website, because as the South Florida Daily Blog, Craig Chester, and others have said, Miami’s aggressive driving habits toward pedestrians is an important subject to bring to light—and that’s what this article is about.

I apologize if we overshadowed the message for some people, with too much satire, but as the saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

Thanks agian for telling us how you feel.

Posted on 06/21/2012 at 1:14 PM

TheTibetanMonkey says:

Chicken got more respect because they have the support of the Humane Society. Funny thing is that we are more humane toward animals than other human beings.

I would say this rage keeps many pedestrians and cyclists from ever coming out of the cage. So we are chicken in the cage.

Posted on 10/27/2012 at 5:04 PM

Zaidat Bombata says:

People complaining about the article are idiots. If you can’t recognize sarcasm then you need to read the article again.

Posted on 03/08/2013 at 10:24 AM

Cheo_D says:

Must say, the times I’ve been a pedestrian in MIA-Dade (Mostly in MB, but some in the Grove/Brickell) I have not felt especially more endangered than in other major Eastern urban centers—but then again, I’m not in a very large theme park but in the middle of an actual commercial district in an actual large city, and drivers there are as likely to be driving distracted as anywhere else, so it doesn’t hurt to have another reminder now and then.  OK, so the remark about Latin culture is reminiscent of Dave Barry’s “it’s just that everyone is respecting what the rules of the road were back in their home countries” but sometimes buttons need pushing so people will wake up.

Posted on 05/02/2013 at 9:31 AM

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