Florida At Risk of Falling 20 Years Behind Other States

It is summer vacation season. Perhaps you just returned to South Florida from one of the world’s great cities. Chances are, you probably experienced bicycle facilities that are generally better than what we have here in South Florida. While recently there has been significant improvements to the bicycle infrastructure in Miami-Dade County, there is still a key design element that is missing from our streetscape.

Image Courtesy of New York City DoT

A cycle track, is a physically separate and protected bike lane and is considered by bicycle planners and experts as the safest and most enjoyable way to ride a bicycle through an urban environment. Widely seen as a catalyst to encourage riding because of the inherent safety of the protection from traffic – either by a curb, bollards, parked cars or pavement buffer – cycle tracks are revolutionizing the way people view cycling in an urban context.

 

Before you read any further, watch this short video via StreetFilms.org on the new cycle track in Queens, New York City. On a personal note, I was in New York last weekend when this facility opened. Having cycled in the same area prior to the building of this lane, I was awestruck. Seeing so many people enjoying an area of Queens that was previously a miserable traffic-choked hellhole, the experience was almost surreal.

There are numerous studies that show cycle tracks are proven to increase ridership tremendously versus unprotected, striped lanes. A new protected lane on Manhattan’s busy First Avenue saw cyclist counts rise by 152% throughout the year the facility was opened. As most people cite safety issues as their biggest barrier to cycling for transportation, cycletracks offer a solution that not only makes traveling safer for the cyclist, but for the motorist as well. Numerous studies have found that crashes between bicycles and traffic diminish when a protected cycle track is available.

While many cities throughout the USA and world have installed such facilities like the Queens example to great success, Miami-Dade County does not have a single on-road protected bicycle lane/cycle track. The feeling of unparalleled uplift I experienced upon riding the Queens lane quickly faded to frustration when I realized the challenges ahead for Miami.

So what is the problem? Simply put, the Florida Department of Transportation does not recognize cycle tracks as an approved bicycle facility. Therefore, some of the FDOT’s biggest roadway projects in Miami-Dade County like the proposed redesigns of Alton Road in Miami Beach, Flagler Street in Little Havana, Brickell Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard will not include cycle tracks. In fact, the feasibility of such facilities have not even been studied by the FDOT in these projects because the design standards of cycle tracks are not approved. Even worse, some of these projects have start dates in 2016 with completion dates approaching 2018, 2019 and 2020.

If the FDOT does not adopt the cycle track as an approved design standard as these major projects move forward, FODT will be 20 years behind other states and cities in implementing accepted bicycle facilities. The benefits are obvious. We’ve spent a lot of electronic ink here at TransitMiami in lambasting the FDOT’s outdated auto-centric designs and how they imposed them on the Florida landscape. This is not the time for that. Simply put, it’s time for the FDOT to join the ranks of the enlightened world of modern urban design and adopt cycle tracks that will create the conditions for safe and sustainable urban transportation. Give us the facilities that will lead to safer streets, healthier people, clean air and stress free commutes.

Here is an abbreviated list of American cities that have built segregated bicycle facilities. It’s time for Miami to join this list.

Chicago, IL
Madison, WI
Davis, CA
Long Beach, CA
Denver, CO
Boulder, CO
Portland, OR
San Francisco, CA
Minneapolis, MN
Cambridge, MA
Boston, MA
Washington, D.C.

Tagged with:
 

15 Responses to FDOT Must Approve and Adopt Cycle Tracks

  1. Another thing to point out is that converting a bike lane to a protected bike lane doesn’t require anything fancy. Just a simple plastic bollard treatment suffices (in some areas), like SR 826, east of Biscayne. It’s insane to say that your number one priority is safety, but then you turn around and slap a bike lane on a stretch of road that has 4 lanes of traffic in one direction with a design speed of 55+ mph, which is exactly what they’ve done on the aforementioned street, and on other streets as well.

       0 likes

  2. Steve says:

    Denver just completed its first contra-flow bike lane, serving as a critical connection to downtown. I use it everyday and it has made my bike commute to work a lot less stressful.

    http://denvergov.org/BicyclinginDenver/Newsroom/tabid/438236/newsid493569/4602/mid/493569/Default.aspx

       0 likes

  3. Anonymous says:

    All the engineers and bicycling advocates I know want everyone to treat bikes as vehicles and therefore they BELONG on the road in bike lanes next to cars so ‘cycle tracks’ do not fit into the logical order of traffic movement: pedestrians on the sidewalk and bikes on the street. That’s the current mindset of FDOT.

       0 likes

  4. Felipe Azenha says:

    Anon,
    Do us all a favor and don’t lump ALL engineers and bicycling advocates together. Most of the proper bicycling advocates that I know are advocating for cycle tracks were appropriate. We are not recommending cycle tracks for every street.
    A bike lane doesn’t work next to a highway (i.e. MacArthur Causeway and Rickenbacker Causeway). A proper cycling advocate would never advocate for a bike lane on these causeways. A cycle track-not a bike lane-on the aforementioned causeways as well as North Miami Avenue and Alton road, would be most appropriate.
    Please elaborate on the “logical order” of traffic movement. I’m very confused.
    Where is the logic behind putting a bike lane adjacent to a highway with cars whizzing by at 65+ mph? Is that FDOT and CPWD logic? Sure sounds like a losing situation for cyclists. Stop making excuses and start building cycle tracks. Please tell your friends at FDOT and the CPWD to get with it…I can assure you that your cycling friends/advocates are advocating for cycle tracks on roads which are deemed appropriate.

       0 likes

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ahh you misunderstiood my comment… it was meant as a criticism of the idea that bicycles are vehicles equivalent to cars which is as silly as thinking that a baby stroller is a ‘vehicle.’

       0 likes

  6. Brad K. says:

    Great post. But instead of continuing to obsess about FDOT, why not focus on implementing separated lanes on non-state roads. I have the perfect pilot project in my neighborhood with N. Miami Avenue adding an unnecessary additional traffic lane at 19th street down to 4th street. This lane could be easily implemented by Miami Dade as it is a county road and could be the first separated lane in South Florida!!

    Let’s focus our efforts on implementing ONE pilot project immediately rather than continuing to waste our energy demonizing FDOT..

       1 likes

  7. Tony Garcia says:

    Brad: a little lesson in street design – FDOT sets the standards and the municipalities follow. Not as easy as just doing whatever we want on local streets.

       0 likes

  8. Fran Rollason says:

    If there were protected bike lanes on Biscayne Boulevard, without a doubt it would make pedestrians feel safer as well. Watching a bike rider on Biscayne right next to the curb with cars driving by is a scarey sight.

       0 likes

  9. Brad K. says:

    Tony,

    I was under the impression that FDOT implements Federal standards, which is why we have uniform street design standards across the US. If this is the case, and it has been implemented in NYC, there would be no reason it could not be implemented here. This still would be a nice pilot project to uncover all of the barriers to implementing these types of projects.

       0 likes

  10. Vernon6 says:

    Brad – That is a good point. But due to the scale of some of the upccoming FDOT projects -MacArthur, Alton, etc – the FDOT has a huge opportunity to lead on this issue. As the state transportation agency, they should. (and ‘transportation’ should include all users of the road)

       0 likes

  11. M says:

    The problem with having FDOT lead by example and build bicycle infrastructure is that they don’t have to do it. There is no real incentive for FDOT to do any more than the bare minimum. Andy why would they? If it takes any more work, time, or money (even if it is just a trivial amount of work, time, or money) FDOT has no reason to do anything other than what it has done for years. The employees won’t get paid more to be progressive or innovative and leadership can’t be voted out of office. Until the bare minimum dictates improved pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, I doubt it’s going to happen.

       0 likes

  12. [...] other cities one may observe a bike lane just slapped onto an expressway-like street (not entirely the city’s fault), in this city, the planners pay attention to detail. Bicycle facilities were not second thoughts. [...]

       0 likes

  13. [...] Or better yet, I can ask this – if the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) were to have a change of heart and incorporated protected bike lanes into their standards, where would you want them to install the first one? It would be nice if they could go where gaps [...]

       0 likes

  14. Josh says:

    Craig:

    The facility in Queens is actually a shared-use path, which is allowed in Florida. It is a standard facility in both the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities and the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. What makes this and other similar bicycle facilities so special is how the intersections are treated. In Florida and many other states, shared use paths are treated as sidewalks when they intersect roadways. This does not work, as it often creates unnecessary corners, turns, stops and difficult maneuvers for transportation-oriented bicyclists. Often, it also prioritizes motor vehicles at intersections.

       0 likes

  15. Craig Chester says:

    Thanks for clarifying, Josh. Because of the pavement markings on the Queens Path, I was under the impression it was cyclists only. I don’t recall seeing any pedestrians on it at the time either, but it was brand new so that may have changed. I agree with the problems of shared use paths – they actually have a relatively high rate of crashes and often more so than riding on some streets. Dedicated cycling infrastructure that allows transportaition-oriented cyclists direct, prioritized route is a missing piece here in SFL.

    Craig

       0 likes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.