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.
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