Kudos to this el nuevo herald article by Daniel Shoer Roththat reinforces what we have been saying for a while: we need to prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists in the re-design of roads.  (translated by google)

Throughout Miami-Dade, I see workers working on the rejuvenation of the main avenues..Transportation officials are taking advantage of the flood of economic stimulus dollars to repave major roads cracked and realign their paths…These projects happen once every two or three decades, so a coalition of cyclists and supporters of a multimodal transport system are pressing officials to redesign the streets with narrow lanes to accommodate las bicicletas.

At least on Sunset Drive,  a paving project which has recieved significant attention from cyclists,  the response of the Department of Transportation Florida (DOT) has so far been a NO.

It has been scientifically proven that after public transport, bicycle use is the most effective antidote to traffic congestion. However, the County has few designated routes for bicycles and zoning codes that are based on an outdated philosophy of suburban sprawl - not encouraging for people to walk.

“We want lanes that are predictable, safe and equitable,”said Kathryn Moore, director of the Coalition of Bicyclists in South Florida. “This is particularly important along Sunset Drive because there are no parallel roads that cyclists can use as an alternative.”

Dozens of bikers attended in late March at a public hearing convened by the DOT. But more than a dialogue, the meeting resembled a monologue, according to Moore, because the authorities arrived with an opinion: placing signs to urge motorists to share roads.

Alice Bravo, regional director of development of the DOT, explained that roads like Sunset have certain space constraints and reconfiguration changes affect the drainage system and have environmental impact. Reducing the width of the lanes creates a safety problem for drivers and widening the paved area leads to exorbitant costs because they must buy adjacent land. 

“We always try to do our utmost to benefit all who use the road, and that includes pedestrians, cyclists and drivers,” Bravo said.

He added that for the Sunset project they were reviewing the design to see if anything more could be done.

A study by the renowned Center for Transportation Research at the University of Texas concluded that bike lanes painted on the pavement not only benefit the rider, but also the motorists because they remain more focused on their driving and lead to reduced speed.

Signs are not enough. In many roads, motorists feel comfortable driving fast because of the high design speed of the road.

Bikes also are vehicles with traffic rules and whose useres often do not respect them. With no preordained space on the pavement, many cyclists use the sidewalks, creating conflicts and collisions with pedestrians. Just as motorists are rude to cyclists today, there are cyclists who are rude to pedestrians.

Three months ago, a cyclist was killed brutally killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Authorities have yet  to implement security measures. On Sunday, Felipe Azenha strolled through the causeway and saw two cars parked in the middle of the bike lane. In another section, an off-road truck snaked through the lane about 45 miles per hour.

Azenha left the lane for a few seconds to pass another rider. A driver got close to him and shouted to return to the bicycle path, he described in the blog Transit Miami.

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2 Responses to Daniel Shoer-Roth on the Sunset Lanes

  1. Rider says:

    A few things of note, FDOT claims that right of way is constrained on Sunset but that is not the case the right of way is very wide. They just don’t want to touch the swale area where drainage structures exist. The existing drainage structures are dangerous for pedestrians as is, if you go out there most are not abutting the pavement as is drawn in their plans but up against the sidewalk with plenty of room.
    A second item to note is that FDOT is mandated by law to include bike facilities in projects yet goes out of their way to exclude them. They say cost is prohibitive, but an interchange is almost $1billion and that is somehow not prohibitive.
    FDOT needs to by law begin to take bikes/peds more seriously.

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  2. Rider/Runner says:

    FDOT always fights anything that goes against giving cars first priority. It’s generally made up of engineers who feel they’re in the business of moving cars and nothing else. I wish they could become enlightened, but I’m not holding my breath. However, they do respond better to well-organized community/neighborhood efforts that are backed up by political muscle.

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