Miamians are taking to the streets on bicycles as they once did prior to the automobile era. Our street spaces and corresponding roadway culture aren’t changing as quickly as they should. This contradiction, marking the growing pains of an evolving transportation culture, will continue to result in unnecessary frustration, violence, and misery. . . . All the more reason to ride more: to make the change come faster.
TransitMiami would like to introduce you to our friend Emily. We wish it were under better circumstances though . . .
You see, Emily is one of those intrepid Miamians who — like an increasing number of Miamians across every neighborhood in the metro region — prefers the invigorating freedom of the bicycle to move around the city. Cycling is Emily’s transportation mode of choice.
That’s great news, of course; something to be celebrated.
Apart from her significantly reduced carbon footprint and her heightened physical and mental well-being, Emily’s choice to use her bicycle as her primary means of transport is also advancing a gradual transformation of our roadway culture.
As a practitioner of regular active transportation, Emily is helping to re-humanize an auto-centric Miami whose residents exploit the relative anonymity of their motorized metal boxes to manifest road rage and recklessness with virtual impunity. She’s contributing to the much-needed, yet ever-so-gradual, cultural transformation toward a shared, safer, more just roadway reality.
The more cyclists take to the streets for everyday transportation, the more motorists become accustomed to modifying their behaviors to honor cyclists’ incontrovertible and equal rights to the road. Likewise, the more cycling becomes a preferred mode of intra-urban transport, and a regular, everyday feature of social life, the more cyclists become conscious of and practice the behaviors expected of legitimate co-occupants of the road.
Indeed, it takes two to do the transportation tango.
And, of course, the more experience motorists and cyclists have occupying the same, or adjacent, public street space, the more they will learn how to operate their respective legal street vehicles in ways that minimize the incessant collisions, casualties, destruction, and death that have somehow morphed into ordinary conditions on our streets.
This cultural shift is one that will take place over several years. Just how many, though, is up to us.
It’s no secret: Miami has a long way to go before a truly multi-modal transportation ethos becomes the norm.
Any delay in the inevitable metamorphosis is due partially to the rate of change in Miami’s physical environment (i.e., its land-use configurations, street layouts, diversity of infrastructural forms, etc.) being slower than the speed with which Miamians themselves are demanding that change.
So what happens when some of the population starts to use its environment in more progressive ways than the environment (and others who occupy it) are currently conditioned for? Well, bad things can sometimes happen. The community as a whole suffers from growing pains.
Take our friend Emily, for example. . . .
On a beautiful Miami afternoon a week and a half ago, Emily was riding her bike through Little Haiti (near NW 2nd Ave and 54th Street), near Miami’s Upper Eastside. She was on her way from a business meeting to another appointment.
A regular cyclist-for-transportation, Emily knows the rules of the road. She was riding on the right side of the right-most lane. She is confident riding alongside motor vehicle traffic and understands the importance of also riding as traffic.
Emily’s knowledge still wasn’t enough for her to avoid what is among every urban cyclist’s worst fears: getting doored by a parked car.
In Emily’s own words:
I was riding at a leisurely pace and enjoying the beauties of the day and the neighborhood.
I suddenly notice the car door to my right begin to open, so I swerved and said, “Whoa!” to vocalize my presence in hopes that the person behind that door would stop opening their door.
For a split second I thought I was beyond danger of impact, but the door kept opening and it hit my bike pedal. I knew I was going down, and I had the strangest feeling of full acceptance of the moment. In the next split second I saw the white line of paint on the road up close in my left eye.
My cheek hit the pitted pavement with a disgusting, sliding scrape and my sternum impacted on my handlebars which had been torqued all the way backwards. My body rolled in front of my bike and my instincts brought me upright.
The time-warp of the crash stopped; my surroundings started to come into perspective and as I vocalized my trauma. The wind was knocked out of me, but I hadn’t yet figured out that my sternum had been impacted.
I was literally singing a strange song of keening for the sorrow my body felt from this violation and at the same time singing for the glory and gratitude of survival and consciousness.
In all fairness, one could argue that Emily committed one of Transportation Alternatives nine “rookie mistakes” by allowing herself to get doored. She should have kept a greater distance from the cars parked alongside the road, the argument goes. A truly experienced urban cyclist doesn’t make such careless and self-damaging mistakes.
Perhaps . . . but we cannot overlook the errors of the inadvertent door-assaulter either. . . . There was clearly a lack of attentiveness and proper protocol on the driver’s part too.
Who parks a car on a major arterial road just outside the urban core without first checking around for on-coming traffic prior to swinging open the door?
It’s hard to really to lay blame here. And my point is that it is pointless at this stage to even try.
The whole blaming-the-motorist-versus-the-cyclist discourse only exacerbates the animosity that is so easily agitated between the cycling and car-driving communities. The irony is that they’re really the same community. Cyclists are drivers too, and vice versa.
At this stage in Miami’s development trajectory, our efforts should be focused on pushing our leaders to ask one question: How can we change the transportation environment in ways that will minimize troubling encounters like this?
We can start by creating physical street conditions that encourage more cyclists onto the streets, where they belong, operating as standard street vehicles.
Show me a city where the monopoly of the automobile has been dismantled and I’ll show you a city where everybody’s transportation consciousness is elevated.
Best wishes on your recovery, Emily.
We’ll see you out there in our city (slowly, and sometimes painfully) advancing a more just transportation culture by riding on our streets as you should, even if the streets themselves aren’t quite ready for us.
The relentless siege on pedestrians and cyclists rages on in South Florida. In June alone, local media outlets reported on an embarrassing number of tragic accidents in the greater Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano area. While the recent Miami Bicycle Summit touted many plans and accomplishments in bicycle infrastructure, the troubling frequency of high-profile accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists requires a more aggressive response from local agencies and leaders. Below is a summary of some recent accidents. (The dates correspond to the date of the coverage, not the actual accident.)
Is this a more appropriate warning for pedestrians and cyclists in South Florida?
June 14th, Ft. Lauderdale
A mother and her baby, who was in a stroller, were taken to the hospital after being struck by a pickup truck in Ft. Lauderdale.
June 13th, Lake Worth
In what appears to be a classic ‘right-hook’ accident, a bicyclist is in critical condition after being struck by a tractor-trailer. No word on any charges facing the driver.
June 10th, Miami
In this horrific accident, the innocent victim, who was on the sidewalk, was actually severed in two by a vehicle after it collided with another vehicle at an intersection in Miami.
June 7th , Hollywood
On May 13th, Wilmar Galeano was riding his bicycle on the Sheridan Street Bridge, when he was struck from behind and killed by a speeding white van. The accident was caught on video, but the driver fled and the accident is still under investigation.
June 6th, Ft. Lauderdale
Jamie Valderrama of Miami Beach tried to leave the scene after striking and killing a pedestrian, Juan Herrera, with his Lexus. Charges against Valderrama are pending.
June 6, Lauderdale Lakes
June 2nd, Coral Gables
In this tragic accident, 4 pedestrians were struck when two cars collided in an intersection and careened into the sidewalk. One of the pedestrian victims, Olatz Conde Salcedo, who was head of human resources for Nextel in Bilbao, Spain, later died from injuries suffered in the accident.
Has South Florida actually become more dangerous for pedestrians? A recent Transportation For America Study showed Miami-Ft. Lauderdale to be the 4th most dangerous region in the USA for pedestrians. Is South Florida about to climb in this dubious list? Where is the vocal leadership on this most basic of issues that deteriorates our quality of life and the viability of our cities? How can a city thrive when it’s dangerous to simply cross the street or walk the sidewalks?
Of course, if you have money, you can drive recklessly and kill with impunity in these parts. Need proof? Read about the outrageously light sentence recently handed to Ryan LeVin who murdered two pedestrians in Ft. Lauderdale in 2009.
When are our public agencies and elected officials going to take pedestrians seriously? Streets are for people - not just cars.
Around 11:00am this morning a cyclist was hit on Brickell Avenue. The cyclist is currently in the trauma center with a broken leg and pelvis, his injuries are considered to be life treating. I spoke with two witnesses and this is what I believed happened:
The cyclist was traveling east on SE 14th street. I’m not sure if the cyclist was riding on the road or on the sidewalk, but apparently he was attempting to cross to the east side of Brickell Avenue. One of the witnesses I interviewed, a pedestrian, said she was crossing Brickell Avenue on the north side of SE 14th Street intersection from east to west. She confirmed that the “walk” signal had just changed; indicating pedestrians had the right of way. The other witness I spoke to claims the Ford Explorer was traveling west on SE 14th Street and was making a left turn onto Brickell Avenue heading south when he struck the cyclist. I also overheard the driver saying he had a green light. If these are the facts, then the driver failed to yield to the cyclist while making a left turn. If my assessment is correct, the Miami Police Department should have issued a ticket for failure to “yield to pedestrian”.
This afternoon I decided to shoot some video at the exact location where this accident occurred. (Brickell Avenue and SE 14th Street). As I was filming this 30-second video two women were nearly hit by a red Cadillac (20 seconds). They must flail their arms in order to get the Cadillac to yield. Also, watch as 5 vehicles fail to yield to the pedestrians that are in the crosswalk. This happens every single day. Again, there is no enforcement. The City of Miami could probably balance their budget in a week if they started handing out “Yield to Pedestrian” tickets.
When are our elected officials and the FDOT going to acknowledge that we have a serious problem on Brickell Avenue? How many more people need to be critically injured or must die before they act? Where is our enforcement? How many “yield to pedestrian” tickets have been issued in the past two years around Brickell? My guess is none.
We are still anxiously waiting for Commissioner Sarnoff, Mayor Regalado, County Commissioner Gimenez and the FDOT to announce more safety improvements as was promised during a recent press conference on Brickell Avenue. The FDOT is quick to make safety improvements for motor vehicles, but in the process they are actually creating more dangerous conditions for pedestrians. During the past year I am personally aware of at least a half dozen accidents around Brickell Avenue. This entire situation is utterly disgraceful. As the Brickell population continues to grow ,and our streets maintain an antiquated and autocentric design, the situation will only get worse. Deaths and injuries are certain to increase exponentially if nothing is done.
We hope the cyclist makes a quick recovery.
Please find links to all the accidents which have been documented below:
TransitMiami.com’s coverage of the recent fatal accident on the Rickenbacker has garnered its own press in The Miami Herald and now, MSNBC, as well.
The MSNBC piece focuses on our “an ambitious project to document the crashes that often prove fatal in and around Miami, using a Google map that keeps track of the accident sites and whether there were any fatalities.” You can read the whole article here. We need your help to ensure this project’s success. If you are aware of any bicycle collisions, please email us whatever details you can. It is our hope that this will serve as a tool for planners, engineers, policy makers and advocates. Learn more about the project in TM’s post below.
The Transit Miami team is proud to report on important transportation and urban planning issues that affect all of us in the Greater Miami area. Thank you to all of our readers for making TransitMiami.com one of the top blogs in our community.
I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say that Christopher Lecanne’s death last Sunday could have been avoided. There are a number of factors that contributed to that tragic event, starting with Carlos Bertonatti’s decision to inebriate himself and then drive back home under the influence. This was not an accident. Bertonatti may not have set out to kill Lecanne, but the moment he decided to drive under the influence he accepted, consciously or not, that he could be an instrument to death. And he was. But there was also an aspect to the event that has to deal with the bicycling infrastructure on which Lecanne transited, namely the bike lane that puts people on bicycles right next to cars on a road where drivers routinely overshoot the speed limit.
This event highlighted something that bicycle advocates in Miami have been telling those in positions of power for days, weeks, months and years prior: our roadways are not safe for people on human-powered vehicles. Key Biscayne is one of Miami’s premier cycling location, the place where, if anywhere, going beyond the strict requirements of the law would be worth it given the amount of people on bicycles that use it. And yet, as written by Esther Calas, P.E., Director of Miami-Dade County Public Works Department, the facilities there only meet the State and Federal requirements. That’s all they shot for, without consideration that this particular area could use some specifications that go beyond.
Key Biscayne is a microcosm of Greater Miami. The tragedy that took place on Key Biscayne last week can, and has, and will, happen elsewhere in Miami wherever bikes and car are forced to co-exist without the proper attention as to how that coexistence needs to happen for safety’s sake. Need proof? Look no further than October 2009 and the sad case of teenager Rodolfo Rojo, killed on Biscayne Boulevard.
How many more Rojos or Lecannes will it take before those people in positions of power, people put there by our very own votes, will finally get the message and take action to protect the bicycle-riding segment of the population they represent and serve?
As it is usually the case, the tragedy has acted as a catalyst and now we’re getting responses and promises from people like Commissioner Sarnoff and Miami Dade County Mayor Alvarez (still notably missing is Miami Mayor Regalado). I hope these lead to actual changes, I really do. Maybe this will make people realize that bicycle advocates are not just talking to hear themselves talk when we tell politicians over and over than more and better bicycling infrastructure can and does help keep people safe when on human-powered vehicles.
Bicycle riding isn’t a fad. It is an accepted, long-standing and continually-increasing form of transportation, one that has to be taken seriously and accounted for in current and future plans for the cities and county of Miami.
When it comes to Lecanne, could a separated bike lane have saved his life? We’ll never know for sure. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could figure it out before we have another such tragedy in our hands?
TransitMiami.com continues to reach out to local leaders for a response to Sunday’s fatal hit and run incident on the County’s Rickenbacker Causeway. City of Miami Regalado has yet to return our call but City of Miami Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff has issued the following statement:
“First of all, we cannot lose sight of the fact that a man made the decision to allegedly stay out all night drinking and then get into his car to recklessly drive home. There are far too many unanswered question from the tragic aftermath of this incident, but we can all agree that Carlos Bertonatti should face the fullest and most severe punishment allowed if he is in fact found guilty in the death of Christopher Lecanne. It appears to be a total breakdown by county dispatchers who should have immediately called in rescue teams from the City of Miami and Key Biscayne. According to our Fire Chief Maurice Kemp, Miami dispatchers called County to make sure they were aware of crash on a county road. Our dispatchers were told the County was aware. Twice during that conversation, City dispatchers asked the County if they need our crews to respond and told no. This is on tape and absolutely unacceptable. I know our Mayor is working with the County to find out exactly what went wrong and then take all necessary steps immediately.
This tragedy highlights the dangers our cyclists and runners face each day on our roads from careless and drunk drivers. Next Thursday, Jan 28th at 5pm, the City Commission will decide whether or not to extend the hours alcohol in local bars from 3am to 5am. I’ve already received hundreds of emails from local cyclists warning of the danger, since so many rides on the Rickenbacker originate in Coconut Grove. This was even before the tragedy with Mr. Lecanne. I urge anyone with concerns to attend this important meeting to ensure their voice is heard by Commissioners. It is our duty to keep our roads safe.”
Readers: Please let us know if you have been successful in reaching out to your local leaders. We hope to see you this Sunday for the Key Biscayne Memorial Ride at 9am.
Miami is a community of communities, and nowhere is that more true than among our cycling and walking advocates. South Florida is home to hundreds of walking groups, racing teams, transit advocates and mobility activists… the list goes on. The horrible death of Mr. Christophe Lacanne, witnessed by hundreds of people traveling along the county’s Rickenbacker Causeway last week, has united our groups with the desire to make a statement and prevent accidents like this in the future.
There is a lot to be angry about.
- All County residents should be concerned by the jurisdictional confusion that left Mr. Lacanne lying in the street for nearly half an hour while a Fire-Rescue truck sat less than 5 miles away.
- Anyone who uses our roadways should be shocked by the number of comments on the Miami Herald website illustrating a basic lack of familiarity with road rules and DMV guidelines.
- Cyclists want to know why our county designed a roadway where cars are encouraged to speed (by design) directly alongside a bicycle lane where speeds are typically 15-25mph.
- Lastly, how does a young man with over 40 traffic violations, a violent criminal record and a public persona that celebrated poor driving habits and no valid driver’s license still be able to drive his own car?
Thanks to those who responded in words and deeds, writing and calling our leaders to share these concerns, our politicians are responding.
Today, at 5pm, County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez will have a public meeting in his Downtown Miami Office to meet with constituents.
Mayor Alvarez has not issued a statement but his staff says that he is working with the Fire-Rescue department to address these issues.
In the City of Miami: Calls to Mayor Regalado’s office have not been returned. Commissioner Sarnoff is out of town on business, but we anticipate his response upon his return tomorrow.
Have you reached out to your local leaders or FDOT? We want to hear what feedback you have received. Please share your comments by clicking on the title of this posting and then scrolling to the bottom of the page.
As details begin to pour in about the hit and run incident that killed South Miami cyclist and family man, Christoper Lecanne yesterday morning, TransitMiami.com obtained the following statement from the motorist’s publicist:
This has been a terrible tragedy that resulted from this accident and both Carlos and his family are devastated. Lives were changed forever and two families are grieving and going through an extremely difficult time. Carlos’ wish at this time is for everyone’s thoughts and prayers to be with the victim and his family. He is profusely saddened and shocked with what has happened and his hopes are that we all reach out to help the family at this time for their loss. Him and his entire family extend their deepest condolences and pray that God accompany both families in such a devastating time. I thank you for being so respectful in your message and understanding this is a hard time for everyone involved.
Best Regards, Patty Rodriguez, The Rosemine Group
In sharp contrast to the hit and run death of fellow cyclist Rodolfo Rojo just a few months ago, this tragic incident and its aftermath was witnessed by hundreds of people and has elicited an outpouring of response from both the cycling community and media. More information is coming out about the victim, and leaders in our community - from former City of Miami Manny Diaz to Miami Bicycle Coordinator Collin Worth - are stepping up to offer their support for the Lecanne family and friends. If you would like to be more involved, please leave us a comment below. Follow TransitMiami.com for details of upcoming memorial rides and events and please, write to your representatives and ask them what they are doing to improve safety on our roadways.
The Miami Open Streets Team (formerly Bike Miami Days) regular meeting will be held tomorrow at The Wallflower Gallery at 6pm. The free and family-friendly meeting will be immediately followed by a discussion of this tragedy and you are welcome to attend.
This morning I witnessed a driver cut off two bicyclists, stop short, and in true team spirit of the sport, the passenger of the vehicle opened the car door, while the car was in motion, in an attempt to door the bicyclists. Upon witnessing this, a sense of righteous indignation filled me; I had no choice but to pursue the vehicle. About a mile later, completely exhausted, I miraculously caught up to the car at a red light. Please be on the look out for:
Tag #: S89 9GD
Rusty (clunker for cash candidate), late 80’s-early 90’s, dark-bluish American car, possibly an Oldsmobile.
This is the type of unfortunate, unprovoked aggressive behavior that bicyclists have to confront on a regular basis. Fortunately, we do have rights, as Commander Socorro from the Miami Police Department informed me today in an email exchange:
…if they (the victims) would have wanted to get involved, we could have sought the offenders out and arrested them for a felony”.
For their own reasons, which I can respect, the bicyclists who were directly involved in the incident did not want to escalate it to authorities. Regardless, this should be a lesson to both bicyclists and motorists that aggressive vehicular behavior should and will not be tolerated.
The Herald is reporting that a woman was struck and killed by a motorist while she attempted to cross the street in Kendall. The crash occurred at Southwest 104th Street and 150th Place (View Larger Map). In typical Miami fashion, the driver took left the crash scene. Police are looking for details, if you have any please make them known the proper authorities.
An SUV driver dramatically interrupted the Mack Cycle Key Biscayne Triathlon Trilogy on Sunday. The Rickenbacker Causeway was supposed to be closed for the race, but the driver of the SUV inched out in the way the pack of racers who were riding about 40 mph. Miguel Tellez, the leader of the pack and one of the area’s best triathletes, struck the SUV and went flying over it. Luckily for Tellez, he survived with a cut on his knee, a gash in his head, and a concussion. Check out the Sun-Sentinel article and photos of the race, plus get a little more detail on the location of the crash at Spokes ‘n’ Folks. A participant in the race also offered a more firsthand perspective at BeginnerTriathlete.com.
This isn’t your usual issue of a one-on-one collision where the standard rules of the road apply. The road was supposed to be closed for the race, yet somehow a car managed to sneak in. We always like to blame the driver, and maybe it was their fault. But where was the police officer whose job it was to keep vehicles off the course?
This reminds me of the incident at a bicycle race last June in Matamoros, Mexico. A photo of that incident at Sports Crackle Pop! shows a cop conveniently pulled out of the way of a drugged motorist who slammed into a pack of cyclists. While I’m grateful that this past Sunday’s incident didn’t kill anyone, I think it shows that Miami’s cops are as good at managing road closures for races as are Mexico’s finest. (EDITORS NOTE: the road closure was handled by the Miami-Dade County Police and not the City of Miami Police Department.)
And while we’re at it, let me point out a difference between cycle racing and auto racing. Has anyone ever heard of a race car in an event like the 24 Hours of LeMans running into a car that had strayed onto the course in the middle of the race? Yet here you see two examples for a cycle race. Perhaps race organizers and officials need to rethink how they close roads for events like these.
The Miami Herald is reporting a pedestrian was struck crossing Alton Road at 16th Street on Miami Beach. This just happened, so no details have been released. We will attempt to relay any updates as the day goes on, provided such information is reported. Let’s hope this is not another fatal incident.
The Miami Herald reports 67-year old Jose Munoz was struck and tragically killed by a Miami-Dade Police Officer while trying to cross Southwest 344th Street. Munoz heroically pushed his wife out of the way but was unable to avoid the oncoming car.
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