Posts by: Felipe Azenha

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.

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.

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Yesterday I went for a bike ride on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  This is what I witnessed:

  • Several hundred bicyclists
  • Hundreds of pedestrians
  • Two Miami Dade Police cruisers enforcing the speed limit
  • At least 7 cars driving in excess of 50 mph
  • Five cars driving in excess of 65 mph on the bridges
  • A SUV swerve into the bicycle lane while doing about 45mph
  • Two cars parked in the bicycle lane
  • A driver aggressively accelerating towards me as I overtook another cyclist. The driver then yelled at me and told me I only belong in the bicycle lane.

It’s been nearly three months since the tragic accident that killed bicyclist Christope LeCanne, yet no additional safety measures have been implemented on the Rickenbacker Causeway. All the dangerous existing conditions still remain there. I would like to remind everyone that over the past 5 years we have averaged about a death every 2.5 years on the Rickenbacker Causeway, in addition to many other serious injures.  Please reach out to County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and ask for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway for everyone.  Commissioner Gimenez is one of our greatest allies, but he needs your support. Please also suggest to him that we close a lane of traffic every Sunday for cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the best South Florida has to offer.

I just finished reading the 2010 Emerging Trends in Real Estate.  Now in its 31st year, this report is jointly produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). This is the first time I have read this report, but I am very impressed. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers webpage this report:

is the oldest, most highly regarded annual industry outlook for the real estate and land use industry and includes interviews and survey responses from more than 900 leading real estate experts, including investors, developers, property company representatives, lenders, brokers and consultants.”

The report is downright bearish on real estate development for 2010.The report goes on the say that real estate developers are “largely dead” and that “builders can leave on long sabbaticals”. They don’t foresee construction picking up until 2012, but when it does, most construction will be focused on urban infill development.

This is great news for those of us that believe that our cities are our future. Below are some of my favorite excerpts from this report:

Next generation projects will orient to infill, urbanizing suburbs, and transit-oriented development. Smaller housing units-close to mass transit, work and 24 hour amenities-gain favor over large houses on big lots at the suburban edge.  People will continue to see greater convenience and want to reduce energy expenses, shorter commutes and smaller heating bills make up for high infill real estate costs.” (Page 12)

Infill vs. Suburbs. Road congestion, higher energy costs, and climate change concerns combine to alter people’s thinking about where they decide to live and work.  ‘It’s a fundamental shift.’ The lifestyle cost-of-living equation starts to swing away more dramatically from bigger houses on bigger lots at the suburban edge to great convenience and efficiencies gained from infill housing closer to work. These homes maybe more expensive on a price-per-pound basis, but reduced driving costs and lower heating/cooling bills provide offsets. And time saved avoiding traffic hassles moderates stress and enhances productivity. ‘Two-hour commutes reach a tipping point with higher energy costs’ and ‘near-in suburbs will do well especially if they link to business cores by mass transportation.” (Page 32)

Investors tend to favor the following:

  • Global gateway markets on East and West coasts- featuring international airports, ports and major commercial centers.
  • Cities and urbanizing infill suburbs with 24-hour attributes-upscale, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, convenient office, retail, entertainment, and recreation districts; mass transit alternatives to driving; good schools (public and/private); and relatively safe streets.
  • Brainpower centers-places that offer dynamic combination of colleges and universities, high paying industries-high tech, biotech, finance, and health cars (medical centers drug companies)- and government offices.” (Page 27)

Denver metro area wins points for building out its light-rail network, encouraging transit –oriented mixed-use projects around stations.” (Page 35)

So what does this mean for Miami’s future?

  • We should hold the Urban Development Boundary, this report confirms that 2 hour commutes are out of vogue.
  • Miami 21 should be implemented immediately and not delayed any further.
  • A large scale light rail system, including Baylink, is long overdue
  • If Miami wants to become a competitive city we need to diversify our economy as much as possible in order to become a brainpower center. A service economy based predominantly on tourism will not attract educated people seeking high paying jobs.

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.

From FDOT:

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 marta.rodriguez@dot.state.fl.us.

Dear City of Coral Gables Commissioners, Manager, & Public Works Department:

I am writing to voice my concern that the City Beautiful is not doing enough to serve the growing demand for simple bicycle and pedestrian improvements. I would like to make you aware that Miami-Dade County has monies currently allocated for striping existing county roads adding bike lanes at no cost to the municipality. Coral Gables should be taking advantage of this FREE money and infrastructure improvements. Specifically, Alhambra Drive should be considered to connect UM to Downtown and Miller Road for students.

Additionally, Miami-Dade County is resurfacing Sunset Drive and Coral Way from Red Road eastward. These county projects could easily add bicycle lanes and reduce vehicle speeds on these residential roads by reducing the lane widths to 11′ with a 4′ bike lane. This would not require the removal of any trees or change the character of the roadway while making these routes safer for cyclists and vehicles. Again these improvements would not cost the city. Please coordinate with Commissioner Gimenez (Sunset Dr) and Commissioner Sosa (Coral Way) offices.

Lastly, FDOT is reconstructing Bird Road and Red Road. Florida State Law requires that FDOT add pedestrian ADA improvements and bicycle improvements. The city should be requesting FDOT add bicycle lanes for safety purposes. Again vehicle lanes can be slightly shrunk and a few extra feet of pavement would allow bicycle lanes. Again this would not cost the city. Please contact District 6 FDOT and request bicycle lanes be added.

These 7 projects would add over 10 miles of bicycle lanes and more than quadruple the existing bicycle infrastructure in Coral Gables for free. This would provide safer roads for all commuters, take vehicle traffic and greenhouse gases off the roads, provide recreational routes to see our many city treasures and move Coral Gables Bicycle Master Plan forward into implementation. The Manager should request in writing to the responsible agencies immediately.

I would be happy to meet with anyone individually to discuss these routes, contacts, or organizing a bicycle action committee of residents and cyclists. This could be an offshoot of the city’s “Green” efforts. Thank-you for your immediate attention as many of these projects are beginning construction and the County money is only available now.

Alex Adams
Coral Gables

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I’m a big fan of red light cameras, but I’m not a fan of putting them in the middle of the sidewalk. Not much consideration was given to people with disabilities or parents with strollers when they stuck this pole on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive. We shouldn’t place a large red light camera pole in the middle of a sidewalk. The Transit Miami Eye is looking at the details.

New red light camera pole placed in the middle of the sidewalk on the NE corner of 71st Street and Indian Creek Drive.

You can read more about the red light cameras on Miami Beach here.

Traffic going to and on the Rickenbacker Causeway this weekend was dreadful. Cars were backed up about a mile on the I-95 and there was bumper to bumper traffic all the way past the roundabout on South Miami Avenue and SE 15th Street. A friend of mine told me it took him more than an hour to drive the 6 miles from Crandon Park to Brickell Avenue.

Traffic backed up on SE 15th Street

Bumper to bumper on South Miami Avenue

Miami Police Department trying to do their best.

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The Old Cutler Road bike path is in shambles.  Below is a fire hydrant that has been placed in the middle of bike path. There are dozens of other obstacles that cyclists need to avoid on this path. The Old Cutler Road bike path is long overdue for a makeover. Root rot, dangerous intersections, poor placement of signs, and oncoming cars are just a few other examples of obstacles that cyclists need to avoid when riding here.

Fire hydrant in the middle of the Old Cutler Road bicycle path.

This afternoon I stopped by Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove to check out the new fitness area which was completed in January. Take a look at the pictures below; I think you’ll agree that the $24,500 investment has paid itself off already. The fitness area was packed with people of all ages. Again congratulations to Commissioner Mark Sarnoff, for allocating quality-of-life funds for this initiative. The fitness area is undeniably making our community healthier.

Kennedy Park Fitness Area

Kennedy Park Fitness Area

Children and adults getting fitter

Children and adults getting fitter

No pain, no gain.

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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.

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

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.

Last night my wife and I took the Metromover from the 10th Street Station in Brickell to the Omni Station to check out Mama Mia at the Adrienne Arshet Center. As is usually the case when we ride the Metromover, we had to help several people make sense of the Metromover.

Transit needs to be user-friendly in order for it to work well.  Unfortunately we make it difficult on ourselves when we can’t keep the Metromover maps consistent. The maps at Metromover stations are clearly marked with 3 distinct colors (blue, orange, pink); each color distinguishes the three different routes (Omni, Brickell, and Inner loop).

Metromover station maps are clearly marked with 3 distinct colors (blue, orange, pink) for each route

However, once you enter the Metromover car the colors of the map change completely. The easily distinguishable blue, orange, and pink routes become less discernible shades of grayish/blue. I can’t think of a good reason why we have two different maps; we need to have one easily understood map, not two.

 Maps in the Metromover cars are use different colors; the grayish/blue colors that are less discernable for the transit user.

Maps in the Metromover cars use different colors than station maps; the grayish/blue colors are less discernible for the transit user.

One of our readers, TM Reader, suggested identifying each of the Metromover cars more clearly too.  I’d like to take this good idea a step further. The Metromover cars should be painted blue, orange, or pink to reflect the color of each route.  This would make transit easy to use.

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