Transit Miami is pleased to see that FDOT included bicycle lanes on Coral Way, but upon reviewing the design more carefully, we believe the bicycle lanes need to be improved. Although even a poorly designed bicycle lane probably encourages bicycling, it does not ensure the safety of bicyclists. Simply painting a white line and a bicycle symbol on the roadway surface does not go far enough. We do not want to detract from the fact that bicycle lanes now exist on Coral Way; this is certainly a step in the right direction, but we should not be satisfied just because new bicycle lanes exist. The quality of the design of the bicycle lanes is instrumental to its overall success.
As shown by the new lanes on Coral Way, the minimum standard that FDOT uses to “officially designate” a bicycle lane a bicycle lane is:
- Painting white lines
- Placing one bicycle symbol per block
- Bicycle signage
The minimum standards do not guarantee safe bicycle lanes, especially for a street as heavily traveled by motor vehicles as Coral Way. The minimum standards applied on this main thoroughfare are not adequate, although they would probably be acceptable for a secondary side street.
Below are a few handlebar observations I made last week from the saddle of my bicycle:
- Not enough bicycle symbols in the bicycle lanes
- More bicycle signage (I’ve been told they are coming, we need to be patient)
- The bicycle lanes end and begin at every intersection
- Poor road marking transition where the bicycle lanes begin and end
Here are a few suggestions for improvement:
- Paint the bicycle lanes green at all intersections and all conflict areas (i.e. driveways). The only real distinction between the bicycle lanes and the car lanes is a single white line. In fact, the bicycle lanes look more like a shoulder or parking lane. In addition to painting the bicycle lanes green at every intersection, there should be at least three bicycle symbols per block. Also, there should be two white lines to more clearly define the bicycle lanes, a single white line is not sufficient.
- The bicycle lanes should continue through the intersections with dashed lines in addition to being painted green; this keeps the continuity of the lane while also making bicyclists aware that motorists will be turning through the lane.
- Add signage: “Share the Road” and “No Parking in Bicycle Lane”
- The Coral Way bicycle lane needs a seamless transition to the already existing SW 15th Road bicycle lane.
- Road diet. Narrowing travel lanes to ensure motorists travel at slower speeds. Although the speed limit is 35mph, most vehicles exceed the posted speed limit. Narrowing the travel lanes calms the speed of traffic.
FDOT should consider hiring a bicycle consultant for all of their future projects that involve bicycle lanes. Too many important details were overlooked with the Coral Way project that could have a significant impact on the safety of this important bicycle facility. These projects need to be planned correctly from the beginning with the help of an expert. Poor bicycle lane design only ends up costing the taxpayer more in terms of repairs and potential lawsuits. FDOT needs to ensure the safety of bicyclists through properly designed bicycle lanes. Even though FDOT is moving in the right direction, there is certainly room for substantial improvement.
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