Yesterday afternoon I took off the suit and put on the spandex for an afternoon ride on the Rickenbacker Causeway. This is what I witnessed:
- About a hundred cyclists enjoying the afternoon
- Several dozen pedestrians and runners exercising
- At least 15 cars cruising in excess of 50 mph
- At least 3 cars doing about 65 mph on the bridges (Motorists love to speed on the bridges, it is very difficult to enforce the speed limit on the bridges)
- One parked car in the bike lane
- A Miami Dade Transit bus overtake me, only to cut me off to drop off a passenger. The bus partially stopped in the bike lane, forcing me into the traffic lane as I passed the bus.
- A large white van came within 2 feet of me while doing about 50 mph.
- One decoy police car used to calm traffic
Believe it or not, but this was a particularly calm day on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Conditions continue to remain unsafe for all users; unfortunately cyclists do not have any better or safer options.
Several months ago I had lunch with Chief Press and Deputy Chief Jose Monteagudo from the Key Biscayne police department. Chief Press invited me to meet with him after I posted a blog regarding the ticketing of cyclists on Key Biscayne. We agreed on mostly everything, even the fact that bicyclists needed to be ticketed because most were riding their bicycles through Key Biscayne as if it were the Wild West.
Education and enforcement is certainly working on Key Biscayne. Recently I have noticed an increase in the number of cyclists that are stopped at red lights on Key Biscayne. Chief Press explained to me that along with enforcement his officers have been educating cyclists. Most cyclists who are caught breaking the law are cited. I was shocked to hear that the Key Biscayne Police department had cited several cyclists for repeated infractions. This is unacceptable. Cyclists which regularly break the rules of the road are the very same ones that give all cyclists a bad name. Grow up. This ain’t the tour.
For those of you that will be able to attend, please be sure to ask FDOT if they feel like the new bike lanes on the MacArthur Causeway are safe. Ask them if they would feel comfortable if their children rode in this bike lane. A completely unprotected bicycle lane on a major highway, that starts and ends abruptly, is not safe nor is it a very good idea. The minimum standard that was applied to the MacArthur Causeway bike lanes are better suited for a road that has a design speed of 25 mph, not 70 mph.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District Six, will conduct a public information meeting about a roadway project on State Road (S.R.) A1A / 5th Street / MacArthur Causeway from West Avenue to Collins Avenue on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Miami Beach Police Athletic League, 999 11th Street, Miami Beach, FL.
The proposed scope of work includes: repaving of the road; replacement of damaged sidewalks, curbs and gutters; reconstruction of pedestrian ramps; median closure at Euclid Avenue to improve safety conditions; addition of bicycle lanes; minor signalization improvements; and new signs and pavement markings.
Graphic displays of the project will be showcased at this meeting and FDOT representatives will be available to discuss the project and answer questions. Please contact Marta Rodriguez, Public Information Specialist, if you have any questions about this project at 305-470-5203 or by email at email@example.com.
Today was my first day back on my road bike since the fatal accident on Bear Cut Bridge nearly three months ago. I don’t think I could have picked a worse day to ride my bicycle on the Rickenbacker Causeway; the Sony Erickson women’s semi-finals.
Here’s what I observed this morning:
- Hundreds of people riding bicycles
- Average speed of cars 45-50mph
- About 10 cars doing at least 65 mph
- A motorcycle doing about 75 mph
- A police car (department will remain nameless) overtake another car in the right hand lane while encroaching the bike lane going about 70 mph before the Rickenbacker Bridge. This was a non-emergency, illegal pass; the police cruiser did not have lights on.
- At least 5-6 cars cut me off as they accelerate in order to overtake me so they could make a right hand turn.
- A cyclist riding against traffic
- Safety cones encroaching the bicycle lane rather than encroaching or being placed in the travel lanes to calm down traffic
It’s been nearly 6 months since FDOT completed its auto-centric resurfacing project on Coral Way. Our readers may recall that I did a thorough analysis on the poor quality of the bike lanes which were striped on Coral Way. We were told that FDOT would go back and re-stripe the bike lanes correctly as they should have done in the first place. Well, it’s been 6 months and we’re still waiting…
Yesterday I was driving down this section of roadway and noticed all the cars overtaking me as they cruised in excess of 50 mph. This roadway has 14ft lanes which only encourages cars to speed. As I’m driving down the street I noticed a woman pushing her husband in a wheel chair while trying to cross Coral Way in front of the St. Sophia Church on Coral Way and SW 24th Road. Unfortunately, this vulnerable couple doesn’t have safe options to cross Coral Way. The closest crosswalk to them is one block away on SW 25th Street. The next closest crosswalk is 10 blocks away on SW 15th Street. To make matter worse, the crosswalk on SW 15th Street is on a treacherous curve, making it very dangerous for even a healthy individual like myself to cross.
This signature FDOT project is just another fine example of their auto-centric mantra. The time is now to begin designing complete streets for all users.
Enough is enough. Cyclists in South Florida are sick and tired of FDOT’s antics. FDOT chooses not to include or even consider bicycle lanes in most of their resurfacing projects in District 6. Last night about 35 cyclists attended an open house in which FDOT told the attendees that bicycle lanes would not be included in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project; so much for public participation.
Yesterday the newly energized South Florida Bicycle Coalition announced they would seek legal action if FDOT does not include bike lanes in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project without the required design exception, traffic and impact studies.
Well done South Florida Bicycle Coalition! Keep up the great work!
Our expectation is that FDOT should design a complete street that includes sidewalks, bike lanes, narrower traffic lanes, lower speed limits and additional traffic calming devices. We will no longer tolerate shoddy FDOT workmanship such as the bike lanes on Coral Way and the MacArthur Causeway. FDOT has a responsibility to provide safe bicycle infrastructure that exceeds their abysmally low minimum design standards.
It should be noted that this is a MAJOR route for cyclists traveling east/west. Trinity County Pineland Park and three elementary schools sit on Sunset Drive. These attributes make this stretch of roadway the perfect candidate for a complete streets initiative by FDOT.
Today I received this email from Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera that stated in part:
As far as the Citywide Bicycle Lane Master Plan completed in December of 2004 by Marlin Engineering, I plan on formally requesting that we start the first phase of it. If you recall, the first phase was re-stripping a number of existing roads. Stay tuned…”
This is the kind of leadership that we need. This is a good first step Commissioner Cabrera. Keep up the good work!
Until recently Miami had never really given bicycling much consideration. During the past year or so the bicycling movement has gained momentum here. The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was approved by the Miami commissioners, bicycle lanes are slowly popping up and we see more and more cyclists on the road everyday. This is certainly a good thing; however I’m a little concerned about the quality of some of our bicycle lanes on roads were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph.
For example, here in Miami we have had several bicycle lanes placed on roadways were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph and we can even find unprotected bicycles lanes placed adjacent to roadways were the design speed is closer to 50-65 mph. The probability of death or serious injury to a vulnerable cyclist increases substantially as motor vehicle speeds increase. Therefore before painting unprotected bicycle lanes, we need to make sure that the speed of traffic does not exceed 35-40 mph.
So this got me thinking, perhaps the best way to bring cycling into the mainstream in cities that are not accustomed to cycling would be to create a bicycle network which designates specific roads as high priority routes for cyclists. Cities would focus spending and market these high priority routes; they could be called Urban Bicycle Networks. Marketing is key and fundamental to the Urban Bicycles Network’s success; it would be seen as sexy and cool and would be a matter of pride for a city.
The high priority routes would serve as the backbone to a city’s Urban Bicycle Network. Once a city designates the high priority routes, speeding fines within it would double much like in a road construction work zone. Of course, there would need to be clear markers so that motorists and bicyclists are aware of the special conditions that prevail within the road they are traveling on. The Urban Bicycle Network would not be expensive to implement and 50% of the total fines from moving violations within it would be reallocated back in to the network to make improvements and for maintenance.
I’m not sure if what I am suggesting is legal, but I’m trying to think out of the box here. The doubling of speeding fines within the Urban Bicycle Network would quickly educate motorists about the cyclist’s right to be on the road, reduce the speed of traffic and cyclists would be encouraged to use those roads which are safest for them.
Transit Miami’s very own Kathryn Moore has been appointed Executive Director of the South Florida Bicycle Coalition. Kathryn is an excellent choice for the Executive Director position. She was instrumental in coordinating Bike Miami Days and she was awarded the Young Professional of the Year by the Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals. Her experience and enthusiasm for cycling will undeniably be an asset for the SFBC. The SFBC is in good hands with Kathryn. Congratulations Kathryn!
In other news, the SFBC coalition just returned from Washington D.C. where they attended the annual National Bike Summit. Kathryn along with SFBC President Jeffrey Lynne were in D.C. rubbing elbows with the who’s who in the cycling world. You can rest assured that the SFBC is energized and ready to make South Florida safer for all cyclists.
Soon you will be able to join the SFBC as a member. Please check back with us for more details or check out the SFBC blog. The word on the livable streets is that the SFBC will be a holding a fundraiser with plenty of alcohol! What can be better than talking about bikes over some booze?
The following arrived via email in my Inbox this morning, from Gabrielle Redfern.
At today’s CIPOC meeting, (5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chambers, 1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach), the BAYSHORE neighborhood will argue for a change in their neighborhood BODR that will narrow streets and remove bike lanes in plan, (Meridian Avenue among others), and already on the ground (Prairie Avenue).
This could be a turning point in the administration’s attempt to build a bicycle-friendly City, and coming in the middle of Bicycle Month, the newest NIMBY assault to implementing a Master Plan makes my heart very heavy, as these fine folks in Bayshore are my neighbors and friends.
According to traffic experts and planners, a well-used bike lane is the best, natural traffic-calming device. My esteemed neighbors would rather force bikers and cars to share a 10-foot travel lane in hopes of slowing the cut through traffic in their ‘hood, rather than re-stripe wide streets and add dedicated bicycle facilities. Although we know their thinking this move will make the streets safer is wrong, their desires will be considered seriously by appointed and elected officials alike, placing the misguided views of a few residents ahead of the infrastructure needs of an entire community.
Until our City builds the required network of marked bicycle lanes that folks and families feel comfortable riding in, gridlock will continue to be our way of life here and less people will take advantage of the natural tropical mobility we are blessed with. Until we free the sidewalks of bikes, pedestrians will continue to walk in the streets, even in the dark of night. Until we say no to the continuing shifting of bike lanes to the next block and build them when we can, we will never live up to our potential of an urban and green tropical paradise.
I hate to argue with people I love, but it looks like a good fight is necessary to serve the greater good of advocating strongly to continue on the path to build an interconnected bicycle lane network in our City. I hope you will join me.
It came with the following PDF attached: a copy of the Capital Improvement Project Oversight Committee Agenda.
Miami Beach is behind the curve as it is in regards to bicycle facilities; letting small groups dictate general city improvement decisions based on their short-range comfort should not only be avoided, but actively discouraged. We should be working for the betterment of the entire community.
If you are able to attend, please try to do so. If you can’t and are a resident of Miami Beach (especially if you are a resident of Bayshore and oppose this move), consider sending an email to the Mayor and all City Commissioners letting them know of your opposition to the proposed plan.
We have some good Rickenbacker Causeway news to report this week.
A Transit Miami Shout-Out goes to Commissioner Carlos Gimenez. Commissioner Gimenez has proposed a resolution to conduct an analysis of the current expenditure of toll revenue generated by the Rickenbacker Causeway and to develop a work plan to allocate 25 cents of every toll collected to projects promoting pedestrian and bicyclist safety along the Rickenbacker Causeway. This proposed resolution will go to the full County Commission next month.
This is a great fist step Commissioner Gimenez! Keep up the good work. Commissioners Jose Diaz, Sally Heyman, and Rebeca Sosa co-sponsored the resolution. Please contact Commissioner Gimenez and thank him for his initiative.
The Miami Police Department also deserves a Transit Miami Shout-Out. Ever since the deadly accident on Bear Cut Bridge last month, the Miami Police Department has been noticeably present on the Rickenbacker Causeway. They have stepped-up enforcement in a major way; increased enforcement plays an important role to ensure the safety of all users on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Thank you MPD! Keep up the great work. Check out the pictures of the MPD in action on the Rickenbacker Causeway this morning
Please check out the editorial in the Miami Herald regarding the accident which occurred on the Rickenbacker Causeway two weeks ago that killed bicyclist Christopher Le Canne. Three residents ring in with their opinions.
Michael Muench from Miami calls for improvements to the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway, which include physically separated bicycle lanes. Physically separated bicycle lanes may not necessarily be the best solution as Mr. Muench suggests. One thing is for sure, as long as we insist that it is OK to have a highway next to a bicycle lane accidents will occur. Road design certainly contributed to the accident and will continue contributing to future accidents. We cannot allow the current roadway design to remain. Major improvements need to be made; the current design is too dangerous for all users of the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Bruce Nachman from Miami, correctly points out that the Fire-Rescue response time needs to be improved. Unfortunately, this will not solve the underlying problem. If a pedestrian or bicyclist is hit by a car going 60 mph the chances of surviving are less than 10%.
Lastly Janis Ball from Miami Lakes is outraged by the fact that the driver was set free on bail. Carlos Bertonatti should never have been driving in the first place, but to set bail so low for such a horrific crime is unacceptable. We need to start taking hit and run crimes a lot more seriously.
If you believe that the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway contributed to the accident please send Mrs. Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email asking for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this evening, around 6:15pm, my fiancé and I decided to ride our bicycles to Miami Beach from Brickell. While riding on north on NE 1st Ave we were nearly sided swiped by two cars within a 30 second period. The first car got away. The second driver wasn’t so lucky. I caught up with him and we exchanged a few words. I told him he almost ran me off the road. He literally came within a foot of hitting me. He proceeded to tell me that I had no idea about what I was talking about because he was a lawyer. My fiancé informed him about the three foot law, and his response was to say that we should be riding on the sidewalk. When my fiancé countered that statement with the fact that riding a bicycle on the sidewalk was in fact illegal he decided to roll up his window and speed off. All the while I proceeded to take a photograph of his SUV and write down his tag number down.
He was driving a white BMW X6. I believe the tag number is D59ZE on a Miami Dolphins license plate. My fiancé and I would make two good witnesses.
Boy, it sure would be nice if us bicyclists could do something about this.
The Miami Herald is reporting that 2 boys died in separate bicycle accidents in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Twelve-year-old Mitchell Bowers, died Tuesday evening. He was riding in the bicycle lane when he reportedly turned left in front of a car and was hit. He later died at the hospital.
The second boy, 11-year-old Bryan Lebron Jr., was hit while trying to cross a busy street Wednesday to catch up with his father and another sibling. Lebron also died at a hospital
Neither driver has been cited. Our condolences go out to the family.
An estimated 4000 bicyclists and pedestrians showed up this morning for the Key Biscayne Memorial Bike Ride to pay their respects to Christophe Le Canne, the bicyclist that was killed last Sunday by a hit and run driver.
Bicyclists came from as far as the west coast of Florida, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. I hope our elected officials are listening to us. Our unified voices will only become stronger. We will be writing more about what this means for the cycling community in Miami and South Florida.
A special thank you to the County Public Works Department and the Miami Dade, Key Biscayne and Miami Police Departments; without them this event would not have been possible.
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