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.
All downtown developers should be required to put up protective pedestrian scaffolding around their work site. Most large downtown development projects usually take over the sidewalks and pedestrians are left to fend for themselves. This picture was taken on Brickell between 6th and 7th Street. Kudos to the developer for taking this precautionary step and ensuring the safety of pedestrians. We should enact an ordinance that requires developers to make temporary provisions for pedestrians if the work site infringes upon the pedestrian’s right of way.
Dear Governor Crist,
As you may know a recent report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America has shown that the following four metropolitan areas within Florida are the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the United States.
1. Orlando-Kissimmee, FL
2. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
3. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL
4. Jacksonville, FL
The report titled “Dangerous By Design” concludes that Florida roads are dangerous for pedestrians because they have generally been designed to speed up -not slow down-traffic.
As residents of Miami Dade County, this comes as no surprise to us. However what does surprise us is that Florida has managed to take the top 4 spots nationally; this clearly is not a great achievement. The common denominator for all 4 metropolitan areas is the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) which is responsible for designing most of the roads within these urban environments. We believe that (FDOT) should be held accountable for poorly designed roads within our state that results in hundreds of preventable pedestrian deaths each year.
The decades of auto-centric culture within FDOT needs to come to an end. A major paradigm shift has to occur within FDOT from designing roads for cars to designing them for people. There is no simple solution and it will take a leader who is capable of changing an organization whose sole focus seems to be moving more cars faster, rather then considering pedestrians and bicyclists. Florida happens to be the most deadly state for bicyclists as well.
With so many retirees and an economy that is heavily dependent on tourism, we hope that FDOT can reinvent itself and begin designing safer roads for future generations in Florida. This pedestrian epidemic needs to come to an end now and it begins with a progressive and proactive FDOT which is capable of designing complete streets for everyone.
Friend of Transit Miami, Olga Ramos, lives on Brickell Avenue and wanted to share her daily commuting to work experience with our readers.
Every day I make a choice; a small choice, but an important one none the less. I choose to walk to work. Even though my company pays for a much coveted covered parking spot in one of the most prestigious pieces of real estate in Miami, I leave the transponder in my car parked in our apartment building and I choose to use what nature gave me to get to the office. My primary motivation comes from my belief that it is important to do the little things in order to reduce my carbon footprint, and because frankly that quarter of mile of movement allows me to transform myself into the focused business women my colleagues know. I also walk to my gym (which is exactly 1.04 miles from our home thank you map quest) even though at that gym I receive free valet parking. I consider it my cardio warm up.
I think that the biggest change in most Americans lives over the last 40 years is that we have stopped walking. The little trips to the library, post office or corner store has been replaced with jumping into gas guzzling SUV’s to go just half a mile. In most cities the reason is because suburban sprawl and poor urban planning have made these locations far from were people live. But in Miami most people don’t walk because it is dangerous. During my walk every day, I play a sort of human frogger that affords me at minimum 3 near death experiences a week. As an adventuresome girl I could deal with that, however; what really irks me is how rude people are. I have been crossing Coral Way and Brickell, the crosswalk will be clearly signaling my right of way and drivers will still regularly yell obscenities in whatever native language is theirs or just use hand signals to communicate their disgust. I must admit that the road rage I encounter does make me dream of the day that I walk to work with rotten eggs in my hands so that when I encounter these drivers that have turned to the dark side I can leave a memorable impression.
But what I really want are two simple things. I want for all of the crosswalk lights to work (something I haven’t experienced since July) and I would like for some signage to go up on the traffic signals that states “Yield to Pedestrians”. The crosswalks lights that aren’t functioning are located on the NE side of Brickell Ave and 14th Street as well as the crosswalk lights on NE side of Brickell and 13ts Street. These are small things, but they would make a world of difference to this urbanite and her fellow pedestrian walkers.
And I promise that if I get what I want, that I won’t consider the rotten egg retaliation again.”
Although I don’t recommend rotten egg retaliation, I understand her frustration. Drivers need to respect the rights of pedestrians and the city also needs to do a much better job of enforcing their rights. The City of Miami must educate the driving public by putting up more “Yield to Pedestrian” signs throughout Brickell and Downtown. There is enough density and pedestrian activity to consider a “No Turn on Red” ordinance for Brickell and Downtown. Such an ordinance would make walking safer and would slow down traffic in these heavily populated areas.
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