Friend of Transit Miami Dana Weinstein recently wrote an editorial for the Miami Herald to commemorate Bike Month. Although Dina commutes with her two children to school on bicycles, she does not suggest that inexperienced cyclists/parents follow her lead. She says, “It really takes someone with almost a death wish to walk or bike”.

Part of me agrees with Dina.  Ever since Christophe Le Canne was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway in January, I have come to view bicycling as a dangerous activity.

I love biking; it is part of who I am. I used to be fearless and after my stint in the Peace Corps I biked with 2 friends from Guatemala to Panama. Bicycling brings me great joy, but I no longer feel safe biking in Miami. What I feel is vulnerable. This is particularly true on our causeways, where bicycle lanes are placed next to cars which are moving at 45-75mph without any sort of hard or soft barrier to protect cyclists (i.e. Rickenbacker Causeway and MacArthur Causeway).  When I do bike now, I choose roads where the design speed of the roadway does not exceed 25-30 mph.  Even when bike lanes are present, such as the Coral Way bike lanes, I do not use them because cars are moving at 45-50mph. I prefer taking a side street were traffic moves slower.

Perhaps I am just getting old. Or perhaps now that I am married I am aware of the tremendous loss I would leave behind if I suffered the same fate as Christophe Le Canne. But the lack of proper bicycle infrastructure in Miami has been forcing me recently to drive my bicycle up to Oleta River State Park so that I may get the exercise I enjoy.  I feel defeated that I have been relegated to biking in a park.

In the interest of full disclosure, I still ride my bike (in my suit) to work everyday. Although it is only about 6 blocks away I have way too many close calls on a regular basis.

Is this the way we must live? My hope is that we can develop streets for all users in South Florida.

2 Responses to Death Wish to Bike in Miami?

  1. Robert Rosenberg says:

    Dina is absolutely right, but there’s a big BUT for me as an avid cyclist and someone who often uses my bike to get to jobs (I’m a freelancer). Except where forced to by the street grid, bikers should always choose to take quieter side streets where the speed limit for cars is lower. That’s why I use the Venetian not the MacArthur, in general. That’s why along Coral Way I’ve mapped out an alternate route that zig zags along parallel residential streets. That’s why in South Beach I don’t and on biker should bike along much of Meridian or in the street on Alton -they are too dangerous, cars move to fast, and the street is too narrow. It’s just defensive biking until and if ever our bike-unfriendly government decides to put safe, dedicated bike lanes there actually separated from speeding cars. When I lived in NYC I did the same thing - I sought out side streets when possible to avoid crowded avenues. Now, when you can’t, yes, you take your life in your hands here (and in NYC!). Break the law and use the sidewalks to get through those blocks, even if it slows you down (like on Biscayne Blvd). Life is too fragile.

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  2. Felipe Aazenha says:

    Agreed Robert. Unfortunately our bike-unfriendly government believes that by painting a white line on a dangerous street and calling it a bike lane somehow makes it safer for bicyclists. In certain cases quite the opposite is true. I feel like some bicycle lanes actually encourage bicyclists to ride on dangerous roads. The bike lane may actually give some bicyclists a false sense of security. If we are going to paint a bike lane on a road, we better make sure its safe to bike on. Particularly on streets were the design speed exceeds 30 mph.

    I too avoid the Coral Way bike lane and have mapped out an alternative route when riding from Brickell to Coral Gables. Should we really be encouraging inexperienced riders and children to bike on the Coral Way bike lane? I don’t think so. I consider myself to be a very experienced bicyclists and will no longer use this bike lane. Cars are moving too fast and there are too many cars parked in the bike lane, forcing cyclists into the the path of cars.

    In certain circumstances I find myself riding on sidewalks when the design speed of the road is greater than 30mph. I few extra minutes on the sidewalk may save my life.

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