The Miami Herald is reporting that FDOT has begun a resurfacing project on Bird Road. According to the article:
Workers will repave and restripe the road; widen the bridge and road shoulder; build a new sidewalk on the north side of Bird Road as well as upgrade sidewalks and curb ramps.
Crews will also make drainage improvements to alleviate water buildup in the swale area. Landscaping will improved. Lighting will be improved and new traffic and pedestrian signs and signals installed.
A pedestrian bridge will be built. Workers will remove existing guardrail and installing new guardrail at various locations.
There is no mention of new bicycle facilities. I have contacted Transit Miami sources within the City of Miami and the County and they are unaware of any bicycle infrastructure improvements. The $2.5 million improvement project on Bird Road will occur between Red Road and Southwest 38th Avenue. Coral Gables High School happens to be on this stretch of roadway. Connecting a high school with bicycling infrastructure would be the smart thing to do; it encourages students to bike to school. Also, there is a bridge that crosses a canal on this stretch of roadway. Bridges are often the most dangerous areas for cyclists; they must converge on bridges to cross any body of water. I’m glad to see a pedestrian bridge will be incorporated in the design plans, but the transition should also be seamless for cyclists too.
For the record, FDOT has recently completed 2 resurfacing projects which are second-rate (MacArthur Causeway, Coral Way). FDOT seems very hesitant to accommodate cyclists on Sunset Drive and now it appears that cyclists were not considered in the Bird Road project at all. This is not a pretty track record. Please contact Transit Miami ally Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera and FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and ask them why provisions for bicyclists were not made to this very important route.
The Transit Miami eye is watching every FDOT project closely.
I began biking on the Rickenbacker Causeway about 10 years ago. Back then no one knew who Lance Armstrong was and cycling was not nearly as popular as it is today. I have seen the Rickenbacker Causeway change significantly since 2000. Ten years ago there wasn’t as much traffic or the number of cyclists we have today. Unfortunately the infrastructure to support these changes has not kept pace with the increased demand by cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.
About 3 years ago the County resurfaced the Rickenbacker Causeway. The resurfacing project was an improvement, but did not go far enough to protect all users. Today we find ourselves with a bike lane that is adjacent to a highway where many cars regularly travel in excess of 50 mph. Over the years I have witnessed several accidents during my rides. Below is a brief summary:
- February 2006: Omar Otaola, a 33-year-old cyclist, was killed by a motorist when he swerved to avoid a curb where the bike lane precipitously ended. This accident was caused by a design flaw which forced cyclists into the traffic lane
- April 2007: Cyclist (name unknown) hit by a car during the tennis tournament (Crandon Boulevard)
- May 2007: 30-50 cyclists were injured during the resurfacing project due to uneven pavement.
- January 2008 Cyclist (name unknown) falls and breaks her arm on the William Powell Bridge due to uneven pavement. I reported the design flaw (uneven pavement) to PWD and it was fixed.
- January 2010: Christophe Le Canne, a 44-year-old South Miami resident, is killed by Carlos Bertonatti in a hit and run DUI accident. (Bear Cut Bridge)
If you are aware of any other accidents which involved a motor vehicle or a design flaw, please share it with us in the comments section.
Several months ago I had lunch with Chief Press and Deputy Chief Jose Monteagudo from the Key Biscayne police department. Chief Press invited me to meet with him after I posted a blog regarding the ticketing of cyclists on Key Biscayne. We agreed on mostly everything, even the fact that bicyclists needed to be ticketed because most were riding their bicycles through Key Biscayne as if it were the Wild West.
Education and enforcement is certainly working on Key Biscayne. Recently I have noticed an increase in the number of cyclists that are stopped at red lights on Key Biscayne. Chief Press explained to me that along with enforcement his officers have been educating cyclists. Most cyclists who are caught breaking the law are cited. I was shocked to hear that the Key Biscayne Police department had cited several cyclists for repeated infractions. This is unacceptable. Cyclists which regularly break the rules of the road are the very same ones that give all cyclists a bad name. Grow up. This ain’t the tour.
Yesterday I went for a bike ride on the Rickenbacker Causeway. This is what I witnessed:
- Several hundred bicyclists
- Hundreds of pedestrians
- Two Miami Dade Police cruisers enforcing the speed limit
- At least 7 cars driving in excess of 50 mph
- Five cars driving in excess of 65 mph on the bridges
- A SUV swerve into the bicycle lane while doing about 45mph
- Two cars parked in the bicycle lane
- A driver aggressively accelerating towards me as I overtook another cyclist. The driver then yelled at me and told me I only belong in the bicycle lane.
It’s been nearly three months since the tragic accident that killed bicyclist Christope LeCanne, yet no additional safety measures have been implemented on the Rickenbacker Causeway. All the dangerous existing conditions still remain there. I would like to remind everyone that over the past 5 years we have averaged about a death every 2.5 years on the Rickenbacker Causeway, in addition to many other serious injures. Please reach out to County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and ask for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway for everyone. Commissioner Gimenez is one of our greatest allies, but he needs your support. Please also suggest to him that we close a lane of traffic every Sunday for cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the best South Florida has to offer.
Enough is enough. Cyclists in South Florida are sick and tired of FDOT’s antics. FDOT chooses not to include or even consider bicycle lanes in most of their resurfacing projects in District 6. Last night about 35 cyclists attended an open house in which FDOT told the attendees that bicycle lanes would not be included in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project; so much for public participation.
Yesterday the newly energized South Florida Bicycle Coalition announced they would seek legal action if FDOT does not include bike lanes in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project without the required design exception, traffic and impact studies.
Well done South Florida Bicycle Coalition! Keep up the great work!
Our expectation is that FDOT should design a complete street that includes sidewalks, bike lanes, narrower traffic lanes, lower speed limits and additional traffic calming devices. We will no longer tolerate shoddy FDOT workmanship such as the bike lanes on Coral Way and the MacArthur Causeway. FDOT has a responsibility to provide safe bicycle infrastructure that exceeds their abysmally low minimum design standards.
It should be noted that this is a MAJOR route for cyclists traveling east/west. Trinity County Pineland Park and three elementary schools sit on Sunset Drive. These attributes make this stretch of roadway the perfect candidate for a complete streets initiative by FDOT.
Today I received this email from Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera that stated in part:
As far as the Citywide Bicycle Lane Master Plan completed in December of 2004 by Marlin Engineering, I plan on formally requesting that we start the first phase of it. If you recall, the first phase was re-stripping a number of existing roads. Stay tuned…”
This is the kind of leadership that we need. This is a good first step Commissioner Cabrera. Keep up the good work!
Until recently Miami had never really given bicycling much consideration. During the past year or so the bicycling movement has gained momentum here. The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was approved by the Miami commissioners, bicycle lanes are slowly popping up and we see more and more cyclists on the road everyday. This is certainly a good thing; however I’m a little concerned about the quality of some of our bicycle lanes on roads were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph.
For example, here in Miami we have had several bicycle lanes placed on roadways were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph and we can even find unprotected bicycles lanes placed adjacent to roadways were the design speed is closer to 50-65 mph. The probability of death or serious injury to a vulnerable cyclist increases substantially as motor vehicle speeds increase. Therefore before painting unprotected bicycle lanes, we need to make sure that the speed of traffic does not exceed 35-40 mph.
So this got me thinking, perhaps the best way to bring cycling into the mainstream in cities that are not accustomed to cycling would be to create a bicycle network which designates specific roads as high priority routes for cyclists. Cities would focus spending and market these high priority routes; they could be called Urban Bicycle Networks. Marketing is key and fundamental to the Urban Bicycles Network’s success; it would be seen as sexy and cool and would be a matter of pride for a city.
The high priority routes would serve as the backbone to a city’s Urban Bicycle Network. Once a city designates the high priority routes, speeding fines within it would double much like in a road construction work zone. Of course, there would need to be clear markers so that motorists and bicyclists are aware of the special conditions that prevail within the road they are traveling on. The Urban Bicycle Network would not be expensive to implement and 50% of the total fines from moving violations within it would be reallocated back in to the network to make improvements and for maintenance.
I’m not sure if what I am suggesting is legal, but I’m trying to think out of the box here. The doubling of speeding fines within the Urban Bicycle Network would quickly educate motorists about the cyclist’s right to be on the road, reduce the speed of traffic and cyclists would be encouraged to use those roads which are safest for them.
In my never-ending quest to add a truly vintage bicycle to my collection, this morning I stopped by a garage sale in Coconut Grove while on my morning bike ride. There out of the corner of my eye I spotted a 1953 Schwinn cruiser owned by Mr. R.K. Smith. Mr. Smith, a World War II veteran, purchased this beauty in Coconut Grove that very same year. Mr. Smith informed me that he rides his Schwinn Cruiser everyday for about a mile and a half to the Coconut Grove Library; this Halloween he will be 89 years old.
Mr. Smith is an inspiration to me. I sure hope that when I am 88 I am still healthy, enjoying life and riding a bicycle everyday. When designing bicycle infrastructure we need to consider all users. We would be a much healthier society if everyone who reaches the age of Mr. Smith were still on two wheels.
Mr. Smith told me that a lot of people have offered to purchase his bike. He won’t sell it; and rightfully so. She’s been with him for the past 57 years. It’s a beautiful bike which needs to remain with its owner. Thank you for serving our country Sir and being an inspiration to all cyclists.
Transit Miami’s very own Kathryn Moore has been appointed Executive Director of the South Florida Bicycle Coalition. Kathryn is an excellent choice for the Executive Director position. She was instrumental in coordinating Bike Miami Days and she was awarded the Young Professional of the Year by the Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals. Her experience and enthusiasm for cycling will undeniably be an asset for the SFBC. The SFBC is in good hands with Kathryn. Congratulations Kathryn!
In other news, the SFBC coalition just returned from Washington D.C. where they attended the annual National Bike Summit. Kathryn along with SFBC President Jeffrey Lynne were in D.C. rubbing elbows with the who’s who in the cycling world. You can rest assured that the SFBC is energized and ready to make South Florida safer for all cyclists.
Soon you will be able to join the SFBC as a member. Please check back with us for more details or check out the SFBC blog. The word on the livable streets is that the SFBC will be a holding a fundraiser with plenty of alcohol! What can be better than talking about bikes over some booze?
We have some good Rickenbacker Causeway news to report this week.
A Transit Miami Shout-Out goes to Commissioner Carlos Gimenez. Commissioner Gimenez has proposed a resolution to conduct an analysis of the current expenditure of toll revenue generated by the Rickenbacker Causeway and to develop a work plan to allocate 25 cents of every toll collected to projects promoting pedestrian and bicyclist safety along the Rickenbacker Causeway. This proposed resolution will go to the full County Commission next month.
This is a great fist step Commissioner Gimenez! Keep up the good work. Commissioners Jose Diaz, Sally Heyman, and Rebeca Sosa co-sponsored the resolution. Please contact Commissioner Gimenez and thank him for his initiative.
The Miami Police Department also deserves a Transit Miami Shout-Out. Ever since the deadly accident on Bear Cut Bridge last month, the Miami Police Department has been noticeably present on the Rickenbacker Causeway. They have stepped-up enforcement in a major way; increased enforcement plays an important role to ensure the safety of all users on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Thank you MPD! Keep up the great work. Check out the pictures of the MPD in action on the Rickenbacker Causeway this morning
Please check out the editorial in the Miami Herald regarding the accident which occurred on the Rickenbacker Causeway two weeks ago that killed bicyclist Christopher Le Canne. Three residents ring in with their opinions.
Michael Muench from Miami calls for improvements to the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway, which include physically separated bicycle lanes. Physically separated bicycle lanes may not necessarily be the best solution as Mr. Muench suggests. One thing is for sure, as long as we insist that it is OK to have a highway next to a bicycle lane accidents will occur. Road design certainly contributed to the accident and will continue contributing to future accidents. We cannot allow the current roadway design to remain. Major improvements need to be made; the current design is too dangerous for all users of the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Bruce Nachman from Miami, correctly points out that the Fire-Rescue response time needs to be improved. Unfortunately, this will not solve the underlying problem. If a pedestrian or bicyclist is hit by a car going 60 mph the chances of surviving are less than 10%.
Lastly Janis Ball from Miami Lakes is outraged by the fact that the driver was set free on bail. Carlos Bertonatti should never have been driving in the first place, but to set bail so low for such a horrific crime is unacceptable. We need to start taking hit and run crimes a lot more seriously.
If you believe that the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway contributed to the accident please send Mrs. Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email asking for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway @ email@example.com
The Miami Herald is reporting that 2 boys died in separate bicycle accidents in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Twelve-year-old Mitchell Bowers, died Tuesday evening. He was riding in the bicycle lane when he reportedly turned left in front of a car and was hit. He later died at the hospital.
The second boy, 11-year-old Bryan Lebron Jr., was hit while trying to cross a busy street Wednesday to catch up with his father and another sibling. Lebron also died at a hospital
Neither driver has been cited. Our condolences go out to the family.
Tomorrow, Wednesday January 27 @ 5:30pm, the monthly BPAC meeting will be held. All of you that have concerns about pedestrian and bicycle related issues in Miami Dade County should attend this very important meeting. We need to keep momentum on our side. Our elected officials are listening. You can find all the information about the meeting here.
An estimated 4000 bicyclists and pedestrians showed up this morning for the Key Biscayne Memorial Bike Ride to pay their respects to Christophe Le Canne, the bicyclist that was killed last Sunday by a hit and run driver.
Bicyclists came from as far as the west coast of Florida, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. I hope our elected officials are listening to us. Our unified voices will only become stronger. We will be writing more about what this means for the cycling community in Miami and South Florida.
A special thank you to the County Public Works Department and the Miami Dade, Key Biscayne and Miami Police Departments; without them this event would not have been possible.
We expect a large turnout for the Key Biscayne Memorial Ride on Sunday. The County Public Works Department along with the Miami Dade, Key Biscayne and Miami Police Departments have been working tirelessly over the past few days to ensure our safety. We expect between 1000-2000 bicyclists and possibly more. Cyclists from as far as Broward and Palm Beach County have confirmed that they will be attending this event to pay their respects to Christophe Le Canne, the bicyclist that was killed last Sunday by a hit and run driver.
We need everyone’s cooperation to make sure no one gets hurt. The police will be on hand to help us and are providing an escort for the large group that will be meeting across the street from the Mast Academy at 9:00 a.m. We will leave promptly at 9:15 a.m., stopping at the Christophe Le Canne memorial sign which the County Public Works Department has very thoughtfully placed on Bear Cut Bridge where the accident occurred.
After a twenty minute stop we will proceed to the entrance of Bill Bagss Florida State Park on Key Biscayne. We will turn around before the entrance to the park and head back towards the mainland. At this point the police escort will effectively end. Please use caution after the escorted ride is over; regular vehicular traffic will be present. Remember we must also follow the rules of the road; share the road works both ways.
*The Miami Seaquarium has invited us to use their parking lot as a staging area for the 9am ride. They ask participants to use the main Marquee entrance to enter the parking lot and park as close to the causeway as possible.
Family & friends of Le Canne are asking those who wish to help to donate funds to Haiti Relief instead.
Make checks payable to:
American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013
Notation on check:
AP 2885 – Haiti Relief – IMO Christophe Le Canne
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