For about a month, Florida bike blogs have been awash in calls to request the veto of Highway Bill 971 (HB971) by Gov. Crist. I was one of them. When I first saw the post come through Twitter, I immediately retweeted it to all my followers and posted about it here at Transit Miami.
Thing is, I’m not entirely sure WHAT about the bill is it that we’re raising a ruckus about. I assure you, I’m not being facetious or outright annoying; I just really want to know.
The call to arms centers around the changes to the state law dealing with bicycle lanes. Here is the actual text found on HB971 (PDF link) (strikethrough are deletions, underlined are additions):
316.2065 Bicycle regulations.—
(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, or substandard-width lane, that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.
(20) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a pedestrian violation as provided in chapter 318. A law enforcement officer may issue traffic citations for a violation of subsection (3) or subsection (16) only if the violation occurs on a bicycle path or road, as defined in s. 334.03. However, a law enforcement officer they may not issue citations to persons on private property, except any part thereof which is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic.
I don’t see what is wrong with the information above. Yes, it mandates that bicycles must use bike lanes when present, but it does not take away a bicycle’s right to the regular road use under circumstances which make the use of the bike lane impracticable. The call to attention is centered on the “must ride in the bicycle lane” part, but isn’t that the point of why we ask and advocate for bicycle lanes, so we can use them while we ride?
(The bill also raises other issues which I’ve always seen listed as secondary, like allowing for a process where a person convicted of 4 or more DUI can reapply to have their driving privileges reinstated after meeting a series of requirements. I’m all for second chances, but 4+ DUI convictions seems troublesome to me. But again, I always see this listed as a secondary reason for the request of a veto.)
So, I honestly ask, what exactly about that wording is it why we’re asking for a veto?
The following arrived via email in my Inbox this morning, from Gabrielle Redfern.
At today’s CIPOC meeting, (5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chambers, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach), the BAYSHORE neighborhood will argue for a change in their neighborhood BODR that will narrow streets and remove bike lanes in plan, (Meridian Avenue among others), and already on the ground (Prairie Avenue).
This could be a turning point in the administration’s attempt to build a bicycle-friendly City, and coming in the middle of Bicycle Month, the newest NIMBY assault to implementing a Master Plan makes my heart very heavy, as these fine folks in Bayshore are my neighbors and friends.
According to traffic experts and planners, a well-used bike lane is the best, natural traffic-calming device. My esteemed neighbors would rather force bikers and cars to share a 10-foot travel lane in hopes of slowing the cut through traffic in their ‘hood, rather than re-stripe wide streets and add dedicated bicycle facilities. Although we know their thinking this move will make the streets safer is wrong, their desires will be considered seriously by appointed and elected officials alike, placing the misguided views of a few residents ahead of the infrastructure needs of an entire community.
Until our City builds the required network of marked bicycle lanes that folks and families feel comfortable riding in, gridlock will continue to be our way of life here and less people will take advantage of the natural tropical mobility we are blessed with. Until we free the sidewalks of bikes, pedestrians will continue to walk in the streets, even in the dark of night. Until we say no to the continuing shifting of bike lanes to the next block and build them when we can, we will never live up to our potential of an urban and green tropical paradise.
I hate to argue with people I love, but it looks like a good fight is necessary to serve the greater good of advocating strongly to continue on the path to build an interconnected bicycle lane network in our City. I hope you will join me.
It came with the following PDF attached: a copy of the Capital Improvement Project Oversight Committee Agenda.
Miami Beach is behind the curve as it is in regards to bicycle facilities; letting small groups dictate general city improvement decisions based on their short-range comfort should not only be avoided, but actively discouraged. We should be working for the betterment of the entire community.
If you are able to attend, please try to do so. If you can’t and are a resident of Miami Beach (especially if you are a resident of Bayshore and oppose this move), consider sending an email to the Mayor and all City Commissioners letting them know of your opposition to the proposed plan.
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?
Friday, September 25th @ 6:30pm
101 NW First St
This will be the first Critical Mass ride of the 2009 Fall season. As always the ride begins from Government Center in Downtown Miami. The ride will pass through East Little Havana, East Coral Gables, Southeast Gables, Coconut Grove, Vizcaya, Brickell & Downtown Miami. 15 miles total. Bring your friends with bikes. See you there!
Participants are to keep a moderate pace, it’s very important that the group stays together. It makes corking easier and the ride much smoother for everyone involved (cyclists/motorists/pedestrians). Also, make sure to arrive on schedule, that’s 6:30pm. Bring bicycle lights, it’s the law! The ride usually leaves at 7pm sharp but it’s recommended to arrive earlier.
Get comfortable with riding in the road - it’s your right!
The Bike Miami Days Team invites you to a free bike ride through MiMo, Little Haiti & the Upper Eastside this Sunday to becoming safer, better, more confident city cyclists. No registration is required and it is completely free.
Officers from the City of Miami Police Department Bicycle Unit, will be on hand to teach you the basics of riding safe in the road so that you can confidently commute and run errands on your bicycle.
The day will start with an “A-B-C Quick Check”(Air, Brakes and Chain). You’ll learn how to fit your bicycle helmet for optimum safety. You will also learn the basic Rules, Rights and Responsibilities of Cyclists and Motorists before heading out for a short ride – just under 2 hours long. The ride will stop for water and bathroom breaks and learning opportunities as you’ll explore Miami’s Historic Upper Eastside neighborhoods. At the end of the ride, you’re invited to join the City of Miami Bicycle Coordinator, Collin Worth, and other volunteers for lunch. Destination to be determined.
Date: Sunday September 27, 2009
Where Upper Eastside City of Miami Net Office
6599 Biscayne Blvd View Map
Need More Info?
Copenhagen isn’t content with the fact that only 55% percent of its population bikes everyday. In order to encourage more bicycling, they are expanding their bicycling network to the outlying areas with bicycle superhighways. The idea is for bicyclists to maintain an average speed of 12mph by utilizing a series of three existing bicycle routes which will be converted into bicycle super highways with a series of improvements which include timed lights. Read more about it here. Simply brilliant.
The review of the final draft of the Miami Bicycle Master Plan will be presented on Monday by Mike Lydon from The Streets Plan Collaborative. Please join us as we peek into Miami’s bicycling future. City officials and the people that are making this happen will be present to answer your questions. Public input is a critical part to the success of our city. Please make your voice heard!
Date: Monday September 21, 2009
Belafonte Talcolcy Center
6161 Northwest 9th Avenue,
Questions? Ideas? Please email CWorth@miamigov.com or visit www.miamigov.com/bikes
This past weekend South America’s largest city, São Paulo (est. pop. 19,616,060) inaugurated their first bike lane. The city striped the first 5km of bike lanes and celebrated the event with their version of Bike Miami Days with an estimated 9,000 bicyclists, skateboarders, pedestrians, and rollerbladers participating in this event. Going forward, the city of São Paulo will close several streets every Sunday from 7am- 12pm, hoping to attract at least 10,000 participants. The limited street closures will connect three parks within the city, including Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo’s largest park. If successful, the route will be extended to the University of São Paulo which is already used on the weekends by bicyclists and triathletes as their preferred training ground.
São Paulo lacks green spaces and the few parks that do exist, such as Parque Ibirapuera, are usually filled to capacity on the weekends. Riding a bicycle on the streets of São Paulo is a virtual death wish; I know because I have done it. If a car does not clip you, chances are pretty good that you will get bikejacked.
The Sunday Ciclovia addresses both of these barriers to bicycling in São Paulo. With the increased police presence and partially closed streets, the chances of being hit by a car diminish substantially. Public vigilance is perhaps the best deterrent against crime, with 10,000 extra eyes on the streets, even the most brazen of criminals will think twice about mugging a bicyclist for their wheels.
Hopefully the new bike lanes are just the beginning for São Paulo. The opportunities for outdoor recreation are limited for the city’s inhabbitants, particularly for the poor and the lower middle class. This megacity could certainly use more bike lanes, especially protected bicycle lanes, as traffic and driving etiquette in this city are unlike anything that I have ever experienced.
Reporter Andres Viglucci wrote a nice piece chronicling the City’s growing commitment to becoming a bicycle friendly city. He writes:
Whether it’s out of fear of getting crushed by two tons of speeding metal, the clueless motorists or the near-total lack of bike lanes, Miamians have long been notoriously bike-averse.
So what’s a car-choked town to do if it wants to join a growing trend and foster safe cycling for recreation and transportation?
You do what the city of Miami — incredibly, perhaps — is starting to do.
First, you draw up a bike plan for the first time ever: identify suitable streets, create bike lanes and signage, provide bike parking and print up ”bike-friendly” maps.
And then, to show that people do want this, pick a day when main streets in the center of town can be closed to cars and turn them over to the citizenry to freely bike, walk, skate, jog, congregate.
Say, Sunday, Nov. 9.
To read more follow the link above, or hey, go old school and pick up a copy of tomorrow’s edition.
We filled you in recently on the North Bayshore Drive Bicycle lanes - from what we have heard, the city is working to adapt this project to include the lanes. No official word yet, but we will keep you posted as we hear more.
It has come to our attention that another critical bicycle access point will be entering a design phase in the coming months. This time it is South Bayshore Drive in Coconut Grove, one of the busiest Bicycling corridors in all of Miami-Dade County. South Bayshore Drive is a critical stretch of roadway for recreational and commuter cyclists, linking up with the highly used Commodore Trail and Rickenbacker Causeway. Since this a County maintained roadway and project, we’ll be posting up a new set of contacts in the coming weeks.
Evidenced by the articles below - our work with various groups (like the BAC) has already led to minor additions and improvements for Miami’s Bicycling Community. Now, with the Coral Way Bike Lanes underway, we turn our attention to another city project that could benefit from some public input. The city of Miami is working to redesign N Bayshor Drive north of the Venetian Causeway and initial plans omitted bicycle lanes. This project is critical. The addition of Bicycle lanes would provide a much needed outlet for cyclists crossing the Venetian Causeway’s bicycle lanes. It would provide a northern safe route to the Edgwater district (hopefully extending later into the design district) and Margaret Pace Park.
Send us letters in support of the addition of Bicycle lanes to this project and we’ll forward them along to the City’s planning and public works departments.
Transit Miami has just learned that bicycle lanes will now be included in an upcoming Coral Way road project. Thus, expect to see new bicycle lanes from Southwest 12th Avenue to Southwest 15th Road in the not-too-distant-future. Thanks to all who called and emailed their support, and many thanks to our support at City Hall from Mayor Diaz and City Manager Peter Hernandez. All of the support made the difference!
After a recent Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting I agreed to help Miami-Dade County MPO Bike/ped coordinator, Dave Henderson, count bicyclists. Dave has been doing his annual bicycle count all around downtown Miami recently and I decided to help him out with the Venetian Causeway portion.
The task was simple: find out how many bicyclists are using the Venetian Causeway between 7am and 9am on weekday mornings. By tallying these users on an annual basis the County will better understand how and where bicyclists are riding, especially as it relates to commuting. I conducted my survey last Tuesday.
Certainly no single day bicyclist count can determine average daily use numbers. Nonetheless, randomly tallying users on any given day provides us with an idea of how often bicyclists are using the streets and/or the few existing bicycle facilities that do exist. While counting I did my best to not double count. That is, to not include those bicycling past me east bound, only to whiz by me 20 minutes later heading west bound. This happened frequently, demonstrating that many people use the Venetian Causeway for exercise, not one-way morning commutes.
What I discovered is instructive. Overall, I counted 90 bicyclists. Interestingly, I saw no children, kids, or teens. About 60% of the riders were headed east, while another 40% were heading west. Those readily identifiable as recreational bicyclists were doing loops, while the rest, with their backpacks, saddle bags, and lack of spandex, were probably on their way to or from work.
Men outnumbered women by 40%, which says something about users, safety and preference.
As it relates to bicycle behavior, 100% of users were using the on-street bicycle lanes, opting to stay away from the sidewalks. What is more, 100% of bicyclists were riding with traffic. Almost anywhere else in Miami these impressive percentages would surely diminish. Indeed, when I bicycle downtown, west on SW 7th Street, Eastward on calle ocho, or all over the Grove, I typically see 50% of riders on the sidewalks or going against traffic in the wrong direction.
One can only attribute these virtuous behaviors to the presence of a bicycle lane (despite its shortcomings) clear and consistent signage, directional on-pavement arrows, and an ingrained bicyclist culture where riders know what is expected of them on the Causeway. To be sure, I do see bicyclists along the Venetian exhibiting less than safe behavior. Nonetheless, they are few and far between. What is worrisome, however, is that 46% of bicyclists were not wearing helmets. One must remember that a bicycle lane does not always mean you are safe.
Overall, the corridor is very active and relatively safe. It is just unfortunate that so many recreational bicyclists do not carry on into the the City of Miami. This is probably because the bicycle lane simply stops on the Miami side of the Causeway. Further more, it seems the general perception of downtown Miami and many of its inner neighborhoods is that of an unsafe and unattractive place for recreation. Sometime in the future the baywalk may coax recreational bicyclists further into the city, but for now efforts should concentrate on street facilities that help non-commuting or non-expert riders explore their city safely and without being isolated inside a hulking metal carapace.
I was spoiled by learning to ride my bicycle on the road in Gainesville, one of Florida’s most bicycle-friendly cities. Bus drivers in that city typically check for bicycles in the bike lane before pulling over into it to stop, or they stop outside of the bicycle lane altogether. This is in obedience with Florida Statute 316.085(2) that requires a driver to check that a lane is clear before changing lanes. In this regard, a bicycle lane is no different than a regular vehicular lane, just as a bicycle is no different than a regular vehicle. There is nothing wrong with the bus changing lanes into the bicycle lane when stopping, but the driver must make sure the bicycle lane is clear before doing so. Anything else is a violation of the law and a threat to cyclists.
Bus drivers down here seem ignorant of that law as it applies to bicycle lanes. At least the one who I ran into yesterday was ignorant, as was the cop who faulted me for the accident without finding me in violation of any law.
A message to all the local transit systems: train your drivers to drive carefully and lawfully as it pertains to cyclists! In this case, they need to check their right mirror before encroaching on any kind of bicycle lane. We are all part of the multimodal transportation system, and bicycles and buses are both good alternatives to cars. We would hate to see one kill off the other.
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