Currently viewing the tag: "Bikes"

On my morning ride on the Rickenbacker Causeway I saw a small army of police officers from the Miami Dade Police Department handing out tickets to motorists. There were at least two MDPD unmarked cars and a motorcycle enforcing the speed limit.  This is really great.  The MDPD has really stepped-up enforcement and it has not gone unnoticed.

Unfortunately, enforcement is not the sole solution.  We need to design a roadway which discourages speeding.  Even with all the added enforcement, I saw many cars speeding on Rickenbacker Causeway today.

Keep up the great work MDPD! You are part of the solution and we appreciate your efforts.

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.

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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.

The Old Cutler Road bike path is in shambles.  Below is a fire hydrant that has been placed in the middle of bike path. There are dozens of other obstacles that cyclists need to avoid on this path. The Old Cutler Road bike path is long overdue for a makeover. Root rot, dangerous intersections, poor placement of signs, and oncoming cars are just a few other examples of obstacles that cyclists need to avoid when riding here.

Fire hydrant in the middle of the Old Cutler Road bicycle path.

It’s been nearly 6 months since FDOT completed its auto-centric resurfacing project on Coral Way. Our readers may recall that I did a thorough analysis on the poor quality of the bike lanes which were striped on Coral Way. We were told that FDOT would go back and re-stripe the bike lanes correctly as they should have done in the first place. Well, it’s been 6 months and we’re still waiting…

Yesterday I was driving down this section of roadway and noticed all the cars overtaking me as they cruised in excess of 50 mph. This roadway has 14ft lanes which only encourages cars to speed. As I’m driving down the street I noticed a woman pushing her husband in a wheel chair while trying to cross Coral Way in front of the St. Sophia Church on Coral Way and SW 24th Road.  Unfortunately, this vulnerable couple doesn’t have safe options to cross Coral Way. The closest crosswalk to them is one block away on SW 25th Street. The next closest crosswalk is 10 blocks away on SW 15th Street. To make matter worse, the crosswalk on SW 15th Street is on a treacherous curve, making it very dangerous for even a healthy individual like myself to cross.

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

This signature FDOT project is just another fine example of their auto-centric mantra. The time is now to begin designing complete streets for all users.

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!

Streetsblog is reporting that over the past decade London has been reducing speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph throughout the city.  Today London has over four hundred 20 mph zones. As s result, Londoners have benefited from a 46% decline in fatalities and serious injury within the 20 mph zones during the past decade according to British Medical Journal.

A 2008 map of London's 20mph zones. Image: London Assembly.

The high speed limits within our densest population pockets discourage people from walking or riding a bicycle. Brickell Avenue has a 35 mph speed limit and Biscayne Blvd. has a 30 mph speed limit. However, the design speed of both of these roads often encourages drivers to travel at speeds of 40-45 mph.  The first step to making our roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians would be to reduce speed limits throughout Miami Dade County. The second step would be to introduce self-enforcing traffic calming measures such as: raised junctions, raised crosswalks, chicanes, road humps and roundabouts.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

So what’s it gonna take for us to step up to 20 mph speed limits?  Can you imagine how much more livable our streets would be if speed limits were reduced on our city streets?  The results of the London experiment were so glaringly obvious after 4 years that in 2004 the World Health Organization endorsed 20 mph speeds as an essential strategy to save lives.

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.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

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.

Mr. R.K Smith, 88, with his 1953 Schwinn Cruiser

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.

Photo: SFBC

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

Officers from the Miami Police Department lined up to catch speeding motorists.

Slow down pretty girl in the Porsche Cayenne. What’s your rush?

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 @ ecalas@miamidade.gov

Today was my first day back on the road bike since the deadly accident two weeks ago on Bear Cut Bridge. Quite frankly, I was a little spooked by the accident and it has taken me a couple of weeks to build some courage to ride again.

As usual hundreds of bicyclists and pedestrians were on the Rickenbacker Causeway enjoying the gorgeous day.  I noticed that there were more police officers present on the Rickenbacker Causeway than usual.  This is certainly an encouraging sign. Both Miami Dade County and Miami Police officers were noticeably present.  Enforcement certainly is a step in the right direction, but it is not the solution for our speeding problems on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  As long as we have a roadway designed to induce speed, the speeding will continue and bicyclists and pedestrians will continue to get hurt. Even with increased enforcement I noticed several cars on the William Powel Bridge traveling in excess of 65 mph.

My ride was going fairly well until I caught up to a small group of riders on Virginia Key. I was ridding in the back of the group (10-15 bicyclists) when all of the sudden a bicyclist in the group clipped the rear tire of the rider in front of him.  He took the rider behind him down with him; somehow I avoided crashing too.

The first cyclist to crash landed head first into the asphalt. Although he remained conscious he most likely has a slight concussion, his helmet was cracked in half. The second cyclist to crash walked away from the accident with a little road rash, but was OK. Fire-Rescue was called and within 10 minutes they arrived.

In all fairness, this group was riding slowly and they were not ridding aggressively as some groups do.  This really was just an unfortunate accident. Nevertheless, it was the 6th accident in the past 6 months that I have personally witnessed while riding in groups/pelotons.  I will no longer ride in large groups and quite frankly I believe something needs to be done regarding aggressive groups/pelotons which ride irresponsibly.  I am not sure what can be done.  If you have any suggestions please let us know. This problem needs to be addressed asap.

About ten minutes after witnessing this accident and still a little shook up, I was nearly t-boned by a car that was attempting to turn into the Marine Stadium.  I was traveling in the bike lane heading north back to the mainland, when a car traveling south bound on the Rickenbacker Causeway attempted to make a left turn into the Marine Stadium entrance. Rather than waiting for me to pass, the driver tried to make the left turn; I yelled and he stopped halfway through his turn. Luckily for me there was a Miami Police officer right behind him.  He witnessed the entire incident and pulled the car over. I turned around to thank the officer and then continued back home. I’m not sure if the police officer gave the driver a warning or a ticket.  My hope is that he was ticketed. Regardless, I am happy to see that the Miami Police department is being proactive and is pulling over drivers for reckless behavior.

After the second incident I decided to call it a day and cut my ride short; too many close calls for a Saturday morning.

fyi: A little road rash makes you look tough.

Earlier this evening, around 6:15pm, my fiancé and I decided to ride our bicycles to Miami Beach from Brickell. While riding on north on NE 1st Ave we were nearly sided swiped by two cars within a 30 second period.  The first car got away.  The second driver wasn’t so lucky. I caught up with him and we exchanged a few words.  I told him he almost ran me off the road.  He literally came within a foot of hitting me.  He proceeded to tell me that I had no idea about what I was talking about because he was a lawyer. My fiancé informed him about the three foot law, and his response was to say that we should be riding on the sidewalk.  When my fiancé countered that statement with the fact that riding a bicycle on the sidewalk was in fact illegal he decided to roll up his window and speed off. All the while I proceeded to take a photograph of his SUV and write down his tag number down.

He was driving a white BMW X6.  I believe the tag number is D59ZE on a Miami Dolphins license plate. My fiancé and I would make two good witnesses.

Boy, it sure would be nice if us bicyclists could do something about this.

TAG # D59ZE

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