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.

9 Responses to Creating an Urban Bicycle Network

  1. Ellen says:

    Good idea. Funnel speeders onto other streets or they will pay dearly. Also double the fines for ALL violations with the UBN, like using the bike lane as a right turn lane, etc.

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  2. Andy says:

    Felipe,
    This is a great idea. Make it happen!

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  3. Neil Fritz says:

    Very, very interesting idea. You don’t see people speeding through school zones - this focused awareness could help drivers understand how to ‘share the road’.

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  4. good in theory says:

    your idea is good in theory, but you are essentially saying that no one should ride on most roads in our cities. This is contrary to bicyclists are traffic and should have the same rights. There are different levels of comfort for cyclists. maybe your level is 35mph streets, others prefer the flexibility of being at least allowed on Rickenbacker, Julia Tuttle, etc. Remember for some people this is not exercise its their mode of transportation.

    Roadways over 45mph need to consider dedicated safe areas such as you have shown for I-495 in DC. The new port tunnel project should include new bike ped seperated lanes for 1 billion dollars. Is that too much to ask- we all paid for the road.

    Fines would require state authority i believe. Right now I just want FDOT, Miami-Dade and our cities to uphold thier existing laws requiring bike lanes.

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  5. Felipe Azenha says:

    Hello Good in theory,

    I am not saying that cyclists should not ride on most roads in our cities. What I am advocating for is lower speed limits and more importantly that we design roads to discourage speeding. The design speed of the road is more important than the actual speed limit. Most people drive above the speed limit because our roads are designed in such a way that encourages people to speed.

    I consider myself to be a very experienced cyclist and my danger threshold to be high. If we want children, women, and the elderly (all have lower danger thresholds than me) to ride bicycles, I feel 35-40 mph is an acceptable speed where cars and bicycles can share the road comfortably. I 100% agree with you that (most) roadways which have a design speed (in urban areas) in excess of 45 mph should most likely have a protected lane/greenway.

    For the record, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on the Julia Tuttle and the design speed of the Rickenbacker should be reduced to 35-40mph. We need to make sure that when we do put a bike lane on a road that it will be safe for bicyclists. FDOT just stripped a bike lane on the Macarthur Causeway which is very dangerous.

    FYI: I commute to work on my bicycle and my bicycle is my prime mode of transportation, even though I have a car.

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  6. JM Palacios says:

    The problem with urban areas is that they should not have high speed roads designed to carry cars over 40 mph. (With the possible exception of interstates.) These are all a phenomenon of urban sprawl, connecting our many suburbs with city centers. We need to make a serious commitment to have no more high speed roadways in South Florida within any urban boundary, and to retrofit existing high speed arterials to make them bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

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  7. Thomas says:

    Dropping speed limits would certainly go a long way towards making the streets safer for bicyclists. One of the best areas to bike here in Fort Lauderdale is Victoria Park where the speed limit is 25mph.

    The Dutch have experimented with reduced speed limits and have found that such measures actually make public transit options more punctual and efficient.

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  8. Allan Kleer says:

    The Miami Beach city government has created easily identifiable and relatively safe bike paths in the South of Fifth District. This is a great area to go biking and much safer than other parts of Greater Miami.

    http://www.thekleerteam.com/blog/2010/01/Why-Miami-Beach-s-South-of-Fifth-Neighborhood-SoFi-is-an-incredible-place-to-live-.htm

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  9. I’d be careful of promoting bicycle lanes per se. In certain circumstances they can be useful, but far better use of funds can be made in making existing streets more bicycle-friendly: slowing down traffic, clamping down on illegal parking, ensuring there are parking facilities for bikes, communication campaigns etc. Bike lanes are not necessarily safer, and aren’t always done well.

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