By: Harry Emilio Gottlieb 

How many more cyclists need to be sliced and diced on
cheese grater surface before FDOT is motivated
to improve safety with nonslip bike lane?


So you wake up this morning and decide to great the day with an enjoyable and healthy bike ride. You determine today’s destination and plot your rout. It will to take you over the Miami River and Intercoastal. There is light traffic, the wind is in your favor and there is enough cloud coverage to make it comfortable. You have ridden across that drawbridge many times before. But this time it will be just a little different. A few hours ago there was dew in the air or perhaps a drizzle of rain. The moisture has mixed with the fuel residue from cars, trucks and boats. The surface of the metal grate at the crest of the drawbridge is now covered in a slippery film that may be a challenge to most cyclists, especially those on Road and TriBikes, out for a bit of exercise. All of a sudden you sense something is very wrong. Your bike is sliding and perhaps even fishtailing. Your priority is now to keep calm, your deal with the new tense situation, adrenaline is kicking in. Your immediate goal is to avoid falling on the “Cheese Grater”. You pray there is no car, truck or bus behind you and will somehow safely reach the solid road ASAP.

Needless to say some cyclists have not been so lucky. They were unable to control the slippery surface and crashed upon the metal grate. Some have received the worst road rash of their bike riding lives and others have experienced fractured ribs, wrists and collarbones. Rising up from the terrible fall one tends to quickly inventory the quantity of healthy fingers remaining in one piece.

There have been numerous cases of cyclists slipping and falling on our drawbridges. Many have been seriously hurt, endured pain, suffering, costly medical bills and damaged or totaled bikes.

So you may ask…
Why hasn’t FDOT taken steps to make drawbridges safer for all cyclists?
Why have they not installed designated bike lanes?
Why have they not installed a no-slip surface?
Why is there not a sign that advises bridge users of whom to contact when an issue arises?

FDOT has not seen a need to do so, because they claim they have no record of anyone reporting a drawbridge cycling accident. The fact is that many cyclists just pick themselves up, go home or seek medical treatment on their own. Unless the accident is very serious in which case the paramedics will be called and a report is filed.

Transit Miami inquired with its readers about their drawbridge concerns and suggested solutions. These include the use of anti-slip metal plates or the filling in of the space with solid material (weight considerations will certainly be an issue). This information was shared with Broward and Miami New Times and they also championed the issue.

Now it is up to the local FDOT office to recognize the need to “Do The Right Thing” and improve the safety of our drawbridges. Its sister office in Broward has previously installed a smaller diameter metal grate in a designated bike lane on the A1A drawbridge just north of Commercial Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale as have other agencies around the country.

IMG_0636        IMG_0634

Photos courtesy of Yamile Castella. 

Another solution would be to designate a bike lane with paint and fill in the dangerous grates with concrete or rubber.

Your help is required to help improve drawbridge safety. Share your concerns and suggestion with TransitMiami in the comments below and while you’re at it, let FDOT personnel know what you think of their inaction. Just as important, report serious accidents to police so that FDOT can no longer claim that they are unaware of doing the right thing, which should be utterly uncontroversial.

Ride safely, especially over drawbridges.


2 Responses to Drawbridges Over Troubled Waters

  1. Dean Rodriguez says:

    These draw bridges are dangerous even when they aren’t wet. Cyclist need to walk it even in the slightest of rain due to how bad it is.


  2. Mike Arias says:

    I whole heartily concur that, the metal corrugated surfaces on the draw bridges are hazardous for bicyclists and lets not forget the motorcyclists as well as the motorists especially whenever these metal surfaces are wet or have moisture on them from the early morning dew.

    So therefore, everyone needs use extreme caution at all times whenever traveling on these slippery metal surfaces regardless of the transportation mode of choice being utilized in order to be safe.

    On another note pertaining to another public safety category which is currently an issue of great concern for ALL motorists traveling on Killer Krome Ave / State RD # 997 / 177 ave.

    Since January to current date over 125 collisions and 11 fatalities have occurred thus far on this very hazardous 2 lane undivided public roadway not mention hundreds of motorists which have lost their lives or were seriously injured over decades.

    Of the 11 fatalities which have occurred thus far 7 of these occurred primarily due to crossover frontal high speed collisions since this roadway is NOT divided with a much needed safety barrier, 2 fatalities occurred due to errant vehicles departing from the roadway since it does NOT currently have guard rails installed on the sides of the roadway, and for the last 2 fatalities the causes are currently unknown at this time.

    To make matters worse there is no routine traffic enforcement currently occurring on this roadway, there are no lights in many areas where this very dark / desolate roadway passes thru Miami Dade County.

    FDOT currently has plans to widen the roadway to 4 travel lanes starting in 2015 thru 2022 without the much needed safety barrier installed in the center of the roadway and guard rails installed on the sides as well so this roadway ( Killer Krome Ave) will continue as it has for decades to continue to claim countless motorists lives.

    In addition, during the interim 7 year that, the roadway construction project is performed what are the motorists suppose to do while traveling on this hazardous public roadway ?

    If you recall the same preventable tragedies (average 1 fatality per month or more) would often occur on US # 1 ( Overseas Highway) from Florida City to Key Largo until finally FDOT installed a much needed safety barrier in the center of the roadway.

    Although the safety barrier currently has numerous scuff marks on both sides where errant vehicles have made contact with the barrier since then there has thus far NOT been 1 single fatality occurring due to a crossover frontal head on high speed collision occurring on this divided public roadway.

    I urge all of the readers / friends, family members of Transit Miami and ALL residents as well in Miami Dade County to contact the Governor Scotts office via email at and flood his office with numerous emails ref Killer Krome Ave to make it safe by installing the much needed safety equipment on it so that, we can hopefully STOP the lives of lives repeatedly currently occurring on this hazardous undivided roadway and similar numerous ones as well.

    Last weekend, 2 motorists unfortunately lost their lives on Tammiami Trail / 15 miles west of Krome Ave due to another crossover frontal high speed collision which occurred on this undivided roadway very similar to Krome Ave.

    There is currently a public safety roadway petition underway whereas the public readers from Transit / Miami can hopefully sign at either LOST LIVES of KROME Ave (a non profit public safety roadway advocate group) or on Facebook at FIX KROME AVE to hopefully STOP the loss of lives occurring on this very hazardous public roadway.

    Lets ALL work together in order to make Miami Dade County which is currently ranked 1 st in the State in ALL motor vehicle related categories and the State is currently ranked 3 rd in the Nation to eventually someday become ranked LAST in these categories which would be in every motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians public safety vested interests.

    Be very careful while traveling on ALL of the hazardous public roadways throughout the Miami Dade and the State of Florida as well since it is undoubtedly a matter of life or death !!!!


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