This article was first posted two years ago (Febuary 2, 2010) after Christophe Le Canne was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Since then not a single one of our recommendations has been implemented. How many more lives must we lose on the Rickebacker Causeway before the County Public Works Department does something to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians? This is not rocket science. An unprotected bike lane adjacent to a highway with cars speeding in excess of 65mph is simply NOT a good idea.
The Rickenbacker Causeway is similar to Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive; everyday thousands of people descend upon our beautiful causeway for recreational purposes. This is particularly evident on Saturday and Sunday mornings when runners, walkers, rollerbladers, parents with strollers and bicyclists come in droves to exercise. The Rickenbacker Causeway recently completed a major resurfacing project. Unfortunately, this resurfacing project only really considered the needs of motorists.
The Rickenbacker Causeway/Key Biscayne already has several parks/attractions. These attractions include:
- Miami Seaquarium
- Crandon Park/Tennis Center
- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
- Mast Academy
In addition, the Miami Marine Stadium is slated to be renovated and Virginia Key will be converted into a major urban park, which will also include several miles of mountain bike trails. We have an exhaustive inventory of attractions/parks in close proximity that requires safe connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Pedestrians (runners, walkers, rollerbladers, and parents with strollers) have been relegated to using a multiuse path that has many dangerous intersections. In addition, this multiuse path is often shared with bicyclists that do not feel comfortable riding in the bicycle lane. The bicyclists’ discomfort is justifiable; the bicycle lane is placed adjacent to the roadway without adequate protection from speeding cars.
Crosswalks on the Rickenbacker Causeway are poorly marked. If and when crosswalks do exist, they are dangerous to cross. Crossing a 6 lane highway is pretty tough to do if you are healthy person. Imagine if you are a parent with children, disabled or an elderly person trying to cross the Rickenbacker Causeway. You will need Lady Luck on your side.
Most would agree that something needs to be done to improve the safety for all users, including motorists, which often travel at high speeds.
There will be no cheap or easy fix for the Rickenbacker Causeway. Short term safety enhancements need to be made urgently, but at the same time we need to have a long term goal for the Rickenbacker Causeway. Below you will find the short and long term goals that Transit Miami will be advocating for.
Short Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway
- Enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit
- Reduce speed limit to 35 mph
- Close the right lane of traffic in both directions on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00am.
- Better signage
- Motorist and bicyclist education campaign
Long Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway
A major capital improvements project needs to happen and all users must be considered. Below are a few of the major improvements that need to occur:
- Paint bicycle lanes green (see below: intersections should include peg-a-traking and Chevron arrows)
- Create a 3 foot unprotected buffer between the roadway and the bicycle lane
- Major road diet. Narrowing of traffic lanes to discourage speeding (11 foot lane)
- Proper crosswalks, with stop lights, that can be activated by pedestrians.(see below: off-setting crosswalks)
- A separate path for pedestrians (pedestrians and bicyclist should not coexist)
- Consider physical separation as a feature in dangerous areas such as bridges and marked buffers along trajectory of bike lane
- Motorist and bicyclist education campaign
Our County Public Works Department has a real opportunity to show their residents that they value safe recreation for all users. It should begin with the most popular destination for pedestrians and bicyclists in South Florida.
If you believe that the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway needs to be improved please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email and ask for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway for all users. (email@example.com)
The article below is a repost. It was originaly posted on November 15, 2009. The FDOT has made some very small striping improvements since the article was originally published. Needless to say, it is not enough. The FDOT must do more.
Inspired by the recent Dangerous by Design report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America Transit Miami will begin documenting existing conditions that are dangerous and potentially deadly to pedestrians and bicyclists. In what will likely be an infinite collection of posts, the MacArthur Causeway will be the first roadway evaluated for Transit Miami’s very own Dangerous By Design exposé.
Although the MacArthur Causeway is actually designated as bicycle route, I don’t like to ride it because I fear for my life. The Venetian Causeway is a much safer alternative. This morning all bicyclists and pedestrians were forced to take the MacArthur Causeway because the eastern drawbridge on the Venetian Causeway was broken. Non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians had no other alternative to traverse the bay other than the MacArthur Causeway. I decided to make the most of my MacArthur Causeway crossing, so I took the opportunity to more closely inspect FDOT’s current resurfacing project on the MacArthur Causeway. Sadly, it seems like FDOT did not seriously consider pedestrians and bicyclists during the design phase of this resurfacing project.
My intention was to allow FDOT to finish the project before critiquing it, but that won’t be necessary, because what little work remains to be completed is mostly cosmetic (i.e. painting bicycle lanes and symbols). As one of only three arterial roads that connects Miami to Miami Beach, it is imperative that this wide, high speed, high capacity thoroughfare have safe pedestrian and bicycle provisions. FDOT’s current design consists of an unprotected bicycle lane that doubles as an emergency shoulder. Sorry, but anything less than a separated and protected multiuse path is unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists. For this reason the MacArthur Causeway is being regrettably recognized as Dangerous By Design. If FDOT were genuinely concerned about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists they would have designed a separated and protected multiuse path. Below are examples that should have been considered.
Below are a few photographs taken this morning of poor design standards on the MacArthur Causeway:
I’m not sure if they are hiring, but…
As many of our readers know, Brickell Avenue is due for some major work. FDOT will begin a drainage and resurfacing project in early 2011. This long overdue project is finally coming to fruition, however, the only improvements FDOT is considering for this project is the resurfacing and drainage upgrade. This would be a perfect opportunity for FDOT to consider reducing the high speed limit, adding crosswalks and including bicycle sharrows. Unfortunately, FDOT does not believe any of these upgrades are necessary.
We here at Transit Miami caught wind of this upcoming project and have been busy building a coalition of residents, businesses, and other organizations to reduce the speed limit on Brickell Avenue. A few weeks ago we met with Commissioner Sarnoff and Mayor Regalado. We are happy to report that both the Mayor and the Commissioner support a reduced speed limit. Unfortunately, they both informed us that there is not much they can do since Brickell Avenue is a state road; therefore the city of Miami has no jurisdiction over it.
Both Commissioner Sarnoff and Mayor Regalado suggested we speak to Representative Luis Garcia. So we went ahead and did so. Representative Garcia told us that he would do everything in his power to generate a response from FDOT. (Mr. Gus Pego, FDOT District 6 secretary, received our letter almost a month and a half ago but has not responded). Representative Garcia also suggested that we meet with Mayor Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff about this issue. We kindly informed Representative Garcia that the reason we were meeting with him was because Mayor Regaldo and Commissioner Sarnoff asked us to do so.
We have reached out to all the stakeholders on Brickell Avenue and all agree with us that speeding is an issue on Brickell. We cannot get FDOT to respond to any of our emails. Last week, FDOT made this illogical PowerPoint presentation to the Brickell Homeowners Association. They essentially put the blame on the pedestrian for jaywalking. It doesn’t matter that crosswalks are few and far in between. During this presentation they explicitly stated they would not reduce the speed limit, add crosswalks or include sharrows within the scope if this project.
The following organizations support a lower speed limit and a more pedestrian-friendly environment on Brickell Avenue:
Miami Bicycle Action Committee
Just the other day I was crossing Brickell Avenue and SE 8th St on my bike with a green crosswalk light when a large SUV pulled up within inches and honked his horn. I was startled of course, not only is the sight of a massive 4,000 pound hunk of metal a bit intimidating and a loud horn deafening, but I was looking at a green crosswalk light which indicated to me that the street was safe to cross.
I quickly turned around, and pointed at the crosswalk light, but the driver yelling at me through the car probably thought I was pointing at a bird. He thought he was in the right, and I was just in his way.
Unfortunately, this situation plays out over and over and over again, every day, of every week, throughout the entire year in Brickell. An explosion of residents has translated into more pedestrians on unsuitable city streets competing with South Florida drivers who are not accustomed to pedestrians.
While the condo boom saw tremendous pedestrian oriented development in the area, the streets have not changed to accommodate the tremendous influx of city dwellers and pedestrians in the last few years. With over 22,000 new condos and a handful of large new office buildings and hotels, Brickell Avenue is arguably Miami’s hottest urban center. Just the other day, the Miami Herald ran a story titled: “Downtown Miami: The hot urban alternative to South Beach.”
If Brickell really hopes to attract the tourist dollars, it is important that Brickell Avenue get a face lift geared at making safer and more comfortable streets. Brickell Avenue is an important piece of this equation. On more than one occasion, I have seen tourists scrambling across Brickell Avenue - last year one was actually struck by a vehicle and killed. Brickell Avenue is uncomfortable and dangerous - an embarrassing combination for an aspiring “world class” neighborhood.
The truth is Brickell Avenue is ill suited to accommodate the rising numbers of pedestrians and tourists crossing the streets - and things are only going to get worse as the remaining condos are occupied, 1,000,000 sq ft of new office space are opened, and hundreds of new hotel rooms open their doors. Furthermore, when the economy does pick up, Brickell is likely to be one of the first places where construction will restart.
That is why I see the upcoming Brickell Avenue reconstruction by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as a golden opportunity to transform Brickell into a friendly, pedestrian friendly, and safe urban street — as well as a tourist destination. An opportunity to continue the progress made by city officials, developers, and urbanites in the last few years. To transform Brickell into what it should be, a destination, not just a street used by cars to cut through the city.
With this in mind, for my first article as a contributing writer on Transit Miami, I leave you with a short video filmed yesterday at the intersection in front of my house on SE 10th St and Brickell Ave, one intersection south of where I was almost hit by the SUV. I went at around 1:20 pm and stayed for about 15 min.
One can quickly see some of the obvious problems facing Brickell Avenue within this short clip. Cars that do not respect pedestrians, a missing crosswalk, long wait times, no enforcement, and an increasing number of pedestrians competing for time and space against fast moving automobiles.
This video is just one example of the kinds of things that happen every day, up and down Brickell Avenue. You will not see any sensational accident or near collision, rather, you will see a consistent pressure on pedestrians by incoming vehicles, as well as ill suited streets. At the very least, you will see why Brickell Avenue needs highly visible and marked crosswalks on both sides of every intersection, something normal in any walkable urban environment.
As a new addition to the Transit Miami team, over the coming days and weeks, I hope to show why Brickell Avenue in its current form is dangerous to pedestrians, and why its current use is counter intuitive to the long terms goals of the neighborhood, its residents, and area businesses. Together we can hopefully convince FDOT to do the right thing and ensure a more friendly, safe, enjoyable, and successful street suitable for the world renown Brickell neighborhood it represents.
With Brickell changing by the day, let us design a Brickell Avenue that looks into the future, not the past.
Please join the Brickell Homeowners Association as they host FDOT District 6 on Wednesday September 15 @ 7:00pm at the Metropolitan Condominium located at 2475 Brickell Avenue. It would be a good idea to encourage as many people as possible to attend this meeting. If you live, work, play or visit the Brickell area this meeting is a must.
FDOT will begin a major resurfacing project in a few months on Brickell Avenue. Unfortunately, FDOT does not believe that lowering the speed limit or changing the design speed of Brickell Avenue to discourage speeding is a good idea. They also don’t believe that adding crosswalks or cultivating a more pedestrian-friendly environment would be better for one of the most densely populated areas in all of Florida. Quite the contrary, they believe that all is fine and dandy on Brickell Avenue and that speeding is not a problem. They do not share our belief that our roads are for people, bicycles and cars and they are meant to be shared safely.
Transit Miami sources have informed us that FDOT would not consider changing the speed limit if they found that 85 percent of all cars are currently traveling at or below the already much too high 35/40mph speed limit. The dynamic of Brickell has changed substantially over the last 5 years and therefore FDOT should consider this as well. You can find a list of some of our recommendations for improvements here. You can also find a list of some very excellent suggestions from new Transit Miami contributor Adam Mizrahi at What Miami. (Please welcome Adam!)
If you can’t make it, please send an email to Gus Pego, District 6 Secretary and let him know we deserve a better Brickell Avenue.
Just an FYI: The following organizations all support a lower speed limit and a more pedestrian-friendly environment on Brickell Avenue:
Miami Bicycle Action Committee
Unfortunately, this is not the first accident here. According to The Miami Hurricane this intersection has had a history of accidents involving UM student pedestrians. About five years ago, UM student Ashley Kelly was killed when she was hit by a SUV that ran a red light on U.S. 1 and Mariposa Court.
It gets worse. Since 1990, seven students have been struck crossing Ponce de Leon Boulevard and U.S. 1. Three of the incidents have resulted in death.
There has been talk of building a pedestrian overpass across U.S. 1 at Mariposa. I for one hope this never gets built. Building a pedestrian overpass is not the solution as most people will not to use it and will continue to cross at grade level. The solution is to calm traffic in this area. It is unrealistic to expect healthy students to safely cross 6 lanes of traffic while cars are moving in excess of 50 mph. Can you imagine how an elderly person or someone with a physical disability must feel trying to cross U.S 1? How many more pedestrians need to die before FDOT decides to calm traffic on U.S. 1?
Please send an email to Mr. Gus Pego District 6 secretary letting him know that you are not satisfied with the existing conditions on U.S. 1.
The word on the livable street is that FDOT will begin a major resurfacing project on Brickell Avenue early next year. Brickell Avenue will be resurfaced from SE 25th Road to SE 5th Street (approximately 1.5 miles).
This is an excellent opportunity for FDOT to shows its commitment to livable streets. Brickell Avenue is one of the most densely populated and pedestrianized areas in all of Florida; it is a destination, not a thoroughfare, therefore it needs to be designed in such a way that speeding is discouraged.
The current design plans for this project call for the same 11 foot travel lanes, no bicycle facilities, and improved crosswalks. This project will come under close scrutiny of Transit Miami (we have high expectations). If you have any suggestions for FDOT, please use the comments section. We really need everyone’s help on this one. Together we can make Brickell Avenue a safe place for people to walk, bike and drive.
I had to stop to talk to Lance yesterday. Lance was born with out legs and it doesn’t seem to bother him. He casually told me “I never had legs, so I don’t know what its like to have them”. He’s completed multiple marathons using his skateboard and trains on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Unfortunately, he could not train on the Rickenbacker Causeway yesterday because a big tree was knocked down a few days ago during a storm, blocking the bicycle path and his access to train.
Its difficult enough being a healthy pedestrian on Brickell, I can only imagine how Lance must feel. Lance should be an inspiration for all of us.
Unscientific Transit Miami research says “yes”. On my morning ride today, I decided to count cyclists and cars during 5 minute periods. If you may recall, I shot a five minute video a few weeks ago and I counted about 180 cyclists. Here are the results of today’s handle bar research:
|Number of Bikes and Cars Counted in 5 Minutes on the Rickenbacker Causeway|
|Bike count #1||124|
|Bike count #2||153|
|Bike count #3||87|
|Average # of bikes in 5 minute period
|Car count #1||87|
|Car count #2||128|
|Car Count #3||101|
|Average # of cars in 5 minute period||105|
It seems that bicycles alone outnumber cars. I did not count pedestrians, but there were a lot of them out there. I think it would be fair to assume that pedestrians and bicyclists outnumber cars on the Rickenbacker Causeway on weekend mornings.
So when is the county going to start closing down a lane of traffic on the weekends for pedestrians and cyclists to exercise safely? I don’t have the answer to that question, but I can say with all confidence, this initiative is long overdue.
We already know that pedestrians have a rough time in Miami, but it doesn’t help when we can’t even maintain our crosswalks properly striped. I guess we should feel lucky that we even have a barely recognizable crosswalk here. Many intersections in downtown and Brickell don’t have crosswalks. This picture was taken in front of the Brickell Metromover Station, perhaps one of the most utilized Metromover stops on Brickell Avenue and SE 14th Street.
Transit Miami received this email regarding Euclid Avenue from Gabrielle Redfern, on behalf of BASIC (Bicycle Activists for a Safe, Integrated City)
Another day, another bicycle facility on the chopping block in the City of Miami Beach. Current plans call for dedicated bike lanes on this road when it gets reconstructed in the nearer future. Even with out the new curb and gutter that the avenue is programmed to get, this 70 foot behemoth of a local road could benefit today from a little TLC, in the form of a small coat of paint, say running down each side of the lanes of traffic to narrow the car roadway to slow traffic and make more room for bikes. But no. The neighbors will have none of it!
Long story short: what say you? If you cannot make it tomorrow, no worries. This is just the first skirmish in what looks like a long war, and this battle will pay out in other conference rooms, and perhaps the Commission Chambers before all is said and done. BASIC objects to all this plan revision in the City of Miami Beach that involves removal of bicycle facilities.”
The extra large lanes, with no bike lanes, currently encourage a speedway effect from the foot of the Macarthur to Lincoln Road. Few lights, very residential, no trees, it is the perfect street to use in your car when traveling north south, avoiding Alton or even the scenic park-side Meridian. (If you never knew, and I blew it for the neighbors, I am sorry.) Something needs to be done, that is certain. I spent much time riding it yesterday, and this road is ugly, unsafe and hot! And thank God plans are in the works to make it so much better. But reconstruct a roadway, with 70 feet of ROW and not add dedicated bike lanes? Bike lanes currently called for in the City’s own Master Plan? That is what the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association plans to argue for in their streetscape sections before the committee on Wednesday. No bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.
To be fair, the neighborhood is proposing extra wide sidewalks they think will be good for sharing between pedestrians and bicycles. However, we disagree on this, the nature and manner of providing for bicycles. They see bicycles as recreation only. BASIC demands bicycles be given equal attention to cars in the transportation grid. We need a complete street that accommodates pedestrians, bicycles and cars. In that order. On that, the neighbors and I agree. How we get there, well, that is another battle brewing….
So how do we meet them halfway? (I pray daily to avoid war with folks I respect and admire). In the hope we can come to common ground, BASIC proposes a street section that includes two foot swales in front of all properties; providing for 12-foot sidewalks, clear of signs and other obstructions; a five foot street-side swale for landscaping and signage; two, one way, 15 foot travel lanes, with sharrows, separated by a two foot landscaped median. Currently all properties program right up to the sidewalk. Providing those landowners with two feet of green space running the length of their property will increase their property value. It would make for a beautiful street, in our opinion.”
MIAMI BEACH MAYORS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE ON BIKEWAYS IN MIAMI BEACH
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2010 2:00 p.m. (although this item may be a time certain 3:00 p.m)
MAYOR’S CONFERENCE ROOM
FOURTH FLOOR MIAMI BEACH CITY HALL
666 17TH STREET
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA 33139
The Miami Herald is reporting yet another hit and run. The collision occurred around 12:20 pm today near the intersection of Southwest Eighth Street and 24th Avenue. A white or light gray colored SUV traveling eastbound, hit an elderly man that was standing on the sidewalk, leaving him in critical condition. The driver did not stop and may have been on the cell phone when the pedestrian was struck.
Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.
For the past couple of weeks I have been eating, drinking, and biking my way through France. My wife and I spent a week honeymooning in Provence and another week in Paris.
We spent the first week of our honeymoon cycling through the heart of wine country in Provence. Our tour was organized by Headwater and was truly epic. When you travel on a bicycle you get to fully experience your surroundings. You smell the country side, you feel your environment and you interact with the locals. There is something about traveling on a bicycle; for those that have done it you know what I’m talking about. For those of you that haven’t, you should really consider it. You can find our itinerary here.
I can’t say enough about how wonderful this city is. Unlike Miami, most motorists actually yield to pedestrians. All intersections are clearly marked with wide zebra crosswalks. I also noticed that the pedestrian crosswalk signals are much lower than the pedestrian crosswalk signals here in the United States. Placing the pedestrian crosswalk signal closer to eye level makes it easier for both pedestrians and motorists to notice them. Also, traffic lights are placed before the crosswalk and not in the middle of intersections. By placing the traffic lights before the crosswalk it forces motorists to stop before the crosswalk, giving pedestrians the right of way they deserve. Another feature I also observed was the pedestrian fences. In areas where pedestrians should not cross the street, tasteful pedestrians fences have been erected to corral the pedestrians towards the large zebra crosswalk. Sidewalks, for the most part, are wide and inviting.
The Velib bicycle share system in Paris is absolutely spectacular. Because Paris is so walkable, I only used it once, but the system is very easy to use and is well connected to mass transit. I was amazed to see Parisians from all walks of life using the Velib bicycles. I saw stylish women and men using the bicycles, as well as businessmen, businesswomen and the elderly using the Velib.
Bicycles lane were clearly marked and in many areas were allowed to share the bus-only lanes. Buses are equipped with an electrical horn that sounds like a bicycle bell. Bus drivers use this electrical bicycle bell to politely warn cyclists and pedestrians that the bus is coming.
The metro and the bus system are easy to use. At the metro stations and bus stops there are electrical boards advising transit users when the next train or bus will arrive.
Most crosswalks have provisions for the blind and I even found a train station that had a textured path that could be felt with a walking cane.
Parks are scattered throughout Paris. The parks I entered were active and drew a wide array of people of different ages.
Many of our readers have suggested that Flagler Street in Downtown Miami should be converted into a pedestrian mall. There are many arguments for and against such a move. During the 70’s and 80’s many cities in the United States tried to convert a portion of their central business district to a pedestrian only mall. Unfortunately, most of these projects failed for different reasons. One of the biggest reasons, I believe, is that Americans were leaving the city in droves to seek the suburban American dream. Although many cities had good intentions and vision, their timing could not have possibly been any worse. A perfect storm for pedestrian mall failure had already been set in motion by the suburbanization of America.
Today we find the suburbanization trend reversing itself. People are now choosing to live a more urban lifestyle, tired of long commutes and expensive gas, urbanization is now creating conditions to potentially develop successful pedestrian malls.
Last year I created a Flagler Street Transit Mall presentation for an Urban Revitalization Strategies class. My proposal was to develop a transit mall similar to the 16th Street Mall in Denver. The proposed Flagler Street Transit Mall would only allow buses to drive up and down Flagler Street with 5 minute intervals between buses. All other motor vehicles would be prohibited from using Flagler Street with the exception of delivery and emergency vehicles. All current on street parking would be removed and the sidewalks would be widened.
A good first step would be to temporary close Flagler Street to motor vehicles during a one week period before Christmas. This short experiment would give the Miami DDA, local businesses, and residents a feel for what could become of historic Downtown Miami.
Do you think Flagler Street could use some sort of pedestrianized mall or do you think it’s just fine as is? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section.
I began biking on the Rickenbacker Causeway about 10 years ago. Back then no one knew who Lance Armstrong was and cycling was not nearly as popular as it is today. I have seen the Rickenbacker Causeway change significantly since 2000. Ten years ago there wasn’t as much traffic or the number of cyclists we have today. Unfortunately the infrastructure to support these changes has not kept pace with the increased demand by cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.
About 3 years ago the County resurfaced the Rickenbacker Causeway. The resurfacing project was an improvement, but did not go far enough to protect all users. Today we find ourselves with a bike lane that is adjacent to a highway where many cars regularly travel in excess of 50 mph. Over the years I have witnessed several accidents during my rides. Below is a brief summary:
- February 2006: Omar Otaola, a 33-year-old cyclist, was killed by a motorist when he swerved to avoid a curb where the bike lane precipitously ended. This accident was caused by a design flaw which forced cyclists into the traffic lane
- April 2007: Cyclist (name unknown) hit by a car during the tennis tournament (Crandon Boulevard)
- May 2007: 30-50 cyclists were injured during the resurfacing project due to uneven pavement.
- January 2008 Cyclist (name unknown) falls and breaks her arm on the William Powell Bridge due to uneven pavement. I reported the design flaw (uneven pavement) to PWD and it was fixed.
- January 2010: Christophe Le Canne, a 44-year-old South Miami resident, is killed by Carlos Bertonatti in a hit and run DUI accident. (Bear Cut Bridge)
If you are aware of any other accidents which involved a motor vehicle or a design flaw, please share it with us in the comments section.
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