This article was first posted two years ago (Febuary 2, 2010) after Christophe Le Canne was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Since then not a single one of our recommendations has been implemented.  How many more lives must we lose on the Rickebacker Causeway before the County Public Works Department does something to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians? This is not rocket science. An unprotected bike lane adjacent to a highway with cars speeding in excess of 65mph is simply NOT a good idea.

 

The Rickenbacker Causeway is similar to Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive; everyday thousands of people descend upon our beautiful causeway for recreational purposes. This is particularly evident on Saturday and Sunday mornings when runners, walkers, rollerbladers, parents with strollers and bicyclists come in droves to exercise. The Rickenbacker Causeway recently completed a major resurfacing project.  Unfortunately, this resurfacing project only really considered the needs of motorists.

The Rickenbacker Causeway/Key Biscayne already has several parks/attractions. These attractions include:

  • Miami Seaquarium
  • Crandon Park/Tennis Center
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
  • Mast Academy

In addition, the Miami Marine Stadium is slated to be renovated and Virginia Key will be converted into a major urban park, which will also include several miles of mountain bike trails. We have an exhaustive inventory of attractions/parks in close proximity that requires safe connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Pedestrians (runners, walkers, rollerbladers, and parents with strollers) have been relegated to using a multiuse path that has many dangerous intersections.  In addition, this multiuse path is often shared with bicyclists that do not feel comfortable riding in the bicycle lane. The bicyclists’ discomfort is justifiable; the bicycle lane is placed adjacent to the roadway without adequate protection from speeding cars.

Crosswalks on the Rickenbacker Causeway are poorly marked. If and when crosswalks do exist, they are dangerous to cross. Crossing a 6 lane highway is pretty tough to do if you are healthy person. Imagine if you are a parent with children, disabled or an elderly person trying to cross the Rickenbacker Causeway.  You will need Lady Luck on your side.

Most would agree that something needs to be done to improve the safety for all users, including motorists, which often travel at high speeds.

There will be no cheap or easy fix for the Rickenbacker Causeway. Short term safety enhancements need to be made urgently, but at the same time we need to have a long term goal for the Rickenbacker Causeway.  Below you will find the short and long term goals that Transit Miami will be advocating for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway

  • Enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit
  • Reduce speed limit to 35 mph
  • Close the right lane of traffic in both directions on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00am.
  • Better signage
  • Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

Long Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway

A major capital improvements project needs to happen and all users must be considered. Below are a few of the major improvements that need to occur:

  • Paint bicycle lanes green (see below: intersections should include peg-a-traking and Chevron arrows)
  • Create a 3 foot unprotected buffer between the roadway and the bicycle lane
  • Major road diet. Narrowing of traffic lanes to discourage speeding (11 foot lane)
  • Proper crosswalks, with stop lights, that can be activated by pedestrians.(see below: off-setting crosswalks)
  • A separate path for pedestrians (pedestrians and bicyclist should not coexist)
  • Consider physical separation as a feature in dangerous areas such as bridges and marked buffers along trajectory of bike lane
  • Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

Our County Public Works Department has a real opportunity to show their residents that they value safe recreation for all users. It should begin with the most popular destination for pedestrians and bicyclists in South Florida.

If you believe that the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway needs to be improved please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email and ask for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway for all users. (ecalas@miamidade.gov)

Peg-a-traking and Chevron arrows

Crosswalk is off-set in the median so pedestrians will be oriented toward oncoming traffic. Source: Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual

42 Responses to Reposted:Transit Miami Recommendations for the Rickenbacker Causeway

  1. These are all great ideas. I especially like the idea of narrowing road lanes to slow traffic and widening the bicycle lanes.

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  2. tm says:

    please someone else write some articles on here. Transit Miami is becoming less about educating and giving counterpoints and more about gossip and novice professionals writing opinion pieces.

    MAST is not an attraction its a school, Va Key Beach Park and Rusty Pelican are attractions.

    This street you’re showng (above) has no simularity to Rickenbacker Causeway.

    Lastly, you think this street is dangerous??? have you tried riding Bayshore Drive/ Main Highway? same #s of bikers, no lanes, no shoulders, no good sidewalks, poor lighting, overgrown trees and roots, no signage, flooding of roads (ie this morning)… Have your tried to ride on Alton Road?

    Why so much focus only on Rickenbacker? It’s the best of the Miami-Dade Causeways- it has bike lanes, multi-use trail, landscaping, beaches, etc. You’re losing focus of the big picture with you short sightedness.

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  3. Tony Garcia says:

    Sorry TM, as a professional planner, I would not let anyone write something for Transit Miami that was not best practice. You may not like what he says, but it is what a professional would suggest in this situation.

    Ps what’s wrong with a road diet?

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  4. Felipe Azenha says:

    TM,

    This post is all about educating people. Several professionals who write
    for TM collaborated on this post.

    You are right; MAST is not an attraction, it’s a school.  You are splitting
    hairs over semantics. It does not change the fact that the students that
    attend this school do not have a safe route to get to their school.
    Students either need to be bused in or driven to school by car. It would be
    nice if they had the option to bike to school safely.

    You are right; the streets we are showing have no similarity to the
    Rickenbacker Causeway.  You should use your imagination a little bit and
    take the good examples we have presented and transfer them to the
    Rickenbacker Causeway.

    You are right; Bayshore Drive/Main Highway and Alton Road are dangerous,
    but that is a separate discussion. It is indisputable that the Rickenbacker
    Causeway has the highest concentration of bicyclists and pedestrians; we
    need to make it safer for all users.

    You are right; the Rickenbacker Causeway is the best Miami Dade Causeway.
    Unfortunately, it’s not good enough and we should not accept mediocrity.
    The Rickenbacker Causeway as it stands today should not be used as a “best
    practice” example.  If we use the Rickenbacker Causeway as a “best
    practice” example to design all the other causeways in Miami Dade County,
    bicyclists and pedestrians will always be on the losing side of the
    equation.

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  5. Virginia Key will become a major urban park and incorporating alternative modes of transportation both to and within the island should be part of the future plans. Thinking of the Rickenbacker as a linear park would be an important first step for Miami -Dade County as it considers redesigning and improving safety conditions on the Rickenbacker for pedestrians and bicyclists.
    http://www.viewfromvirginiakey.com
    On Facebook: Friends of Virginia Key

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  6. Felipe Azenha says:

    TrekRider,

    I’ve been riding the Rickenbacker for the past 10 years as well. Unfortunately, the CPW only fixes problems on the Rickenbacker Causeway when people are killed or injured. I have this well documented. This reactive strategy is not working for any of us.
    Although improvements have been made, they are not sufficient and we should not be complacent about this situation. If it were not for outspoken concerned citizens like me, chances are you would still be riding on a Rickenbacker Causeway full a design flaws. Can you honestly tell me that you feel safe riding next to a highway?

    I do not have a vendetta against the CPW. I take issue with the fact that Miami is one of the most dangerous metropolitan areas in the country to walk or ride a bicycle. I will hold those accountable and responsible for designing our roads with the sole focus of moving cars faster. If this had happened on the MacArthur Causeway, I would hold FDOT accountable, as they seem to think that is OK to place a bicycle lane adjacent to a highway where cars moves in excess of 70mph.

    I suggest you contact CPW and FDOT and ask for safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians too.

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  7. dario says:

    TM, thanks for articulating reasonable needs to help cyclists, pedestrians and motorist who don’t want to injure anyone. Each and every one of these improvements is fairly simple and inexpensive to implement. How much can it really cost to lower the speed limit? Restriping? More serious physical improvements are more expensive but the maintenance on physical barriers is cheap. As area attractions generate more traffic, physical improvements will keep motorists and cyclists driving right. So, TM, with your contributions you are also helping administrators who are always trying to do more with smaller budgets. Guess the real question is, ‘Why weren’t these improvements implemented during the last repaving?’

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  8. Gary says:

    I have to agree with the short and long term goals here. I have always believed a double with line, with adequate width, seperating traffic from the bike lanes and green pavement on the bike lanes is what is needed. It works everywhere else. Reducing lane width and the speed limit will help also. I really hope to see these goals/ideas implemented soon.
    I can see TM’s frustration, but just think if this can be done on the Rickenbacker and it works, this can be used as leverage to get the same things done else where in the city. That is exactly how it has been done in all the other cities. One working example of safer streets for everyone (bikes, pedestrians, cars etc) sets the wheels in motion.
    Start by emailing Esther Calas as stated in the article. Keep the pressure on the Rickenbacker and get it done right the other projects will soon follow.

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  9. TrekRider says:

    Why was my post from last night deleted? I said nothing wrong. I strongly recommend you take a less advesarial role and try to work with the people that can get things done for you.

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  10. malcolm says:

    i think the county should use the tolls from the causeway to create a bike trail along the roads

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  11. Tony Garica says:

    TrekRider, you were attacking one of our writers without provocation, and you do so anonymously. no one here has a vendetta against anyone else. from now on i have zero patience for attacking a writer rather than providing a suggestion or idea. contribute to the conversation. you could have said something like what you just wrote, which would not have been deleted.

    keep the arguments on point here people. don’t make it personal.

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  12. Jose says:

    Can I recommend asking the City of Miami to change the laws to make bars and clubs close at 3:00 am?

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  13. Bart Sherwood says:

    For those that dont know me, I was almost killed 10 years ago by a construction truck no more than 10 ft from where Le Canne was killed. I also watched Le Canne die in the road. I tried to get things changed 10 years ago, all i got was bicycles painted on the roadway. This morning I asked why 3 Key Bisc cops wre parked in the gas station playing on the internet and buying lottery tickets, while the bus sped by well over the speed limit, again. I have learned that all the politicians, commisioners, and new found activist groups have no idea what is going on, dont care, and will say anything neccesary to appease the media. This situation I take personally, it is about me, riding tommorow morn and not having police doing their jobs. No budgets, meetings, etc, just get the cops out of the convenience store buying lotto tix and get them to do their job. After all, on Key Bisc, what else do they have to deal with? Anybody interested in trying to get things done immediately my way without politicians, organizations or cops, please feel free to call me at 7865531311.

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  14. [...] below), while tragic, echoed the collective sentiment of cyclists fed up with the status quo. Transit Miami issued a set of design and policy recommendations for the Rick in 2010, and we will continue to meet with elected officials and stakeholders to make the causeway the [...]

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  15. KB resident says:

    I live on Key Biscayne and cyclists are simply unwelcome pests. Stay on your side of the white line and I will stay on mine. Don’t ride in packs!!! You are not wolves or in Tour de France.

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  16. Karen Gordon says:

    Dear KB resident,

    In light of Aaron Cohen’s death today from being hit by a driver not paying attention to cyclists, YOU are an unwelcome pest. Stay anonymous – it’s safer for you in your selfishness and insensitivity.
    Karma baby – you have earned it.

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  17. John says:

    Such a shame, so sad! These are all really good suggestions. The government needs to wake up and make improvements to the roads for bicyclists and pedestrians!

       0 likes

  18. Craig Chester says:

    I think motorists have lost the right to their two-lane interstate highway from KB to the mainland. I say we take it down to one narrow travel lane in both direction, with a giant buffer for a bike lane. It would slow down a car trip my a minute or two and would make conditions infanitely safer.

       0 likes

  19. Brandt A. says:

    I graduated from MAST Academy, and during my four years in attendance, I lost count of how many accident scenes I’ve passed by on the school bus. It’s sad to see that nothing has changed. Occasionally cops would speed traps, but that’s it. Nothing would ever change. And nothing WILL ever change – I mean just look at how wide that road is! I’m surprised we haven’t heard of any students getting hit while trying to cross the street. I don’t even see why the road has to be this wide in the first place. Narrow those lanes, and enforcement won’t even be needed. Use the extra space to create medians, buffers, and wider sidewalks, and Virginia Key will be a lot more pleasant.

    I guess the only to get things changed now is to just do it yourself.

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  20. Brandt A. says:

    The only way*

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  21. Tony H. says:

    Appreciate your efforts to find a solution. I respect it. I’ve been riding bikes for about 45-years. I’ve been a jury member in a bike helmet liability case. Lucky me, huh. The recommendation to slow vehicles on the causeway is perhaps not optimal. Cars should have primacy. Adding bikes to a major highway like that is the same as your point about adding bikes to a footpath. The bike lane on the causeway was a mistake and should be removed. Also with regard to speed, speed does not cause accidents. Bad drivers do, however, or at least that was my experience after living in Germany for several years and driving on the Autobahn. Perhaps it is too easy to get and maintain a drivers’ license in Florida and our efforts should be directed at Tallahassee to change licensing requirements. In the mean time, bikers should use the existing bike path off the causeway and slow down for foot traffic and skaters. Perhaps braking for others could be viewed as a true test of hand-eye coordination and agility. This new breed of biker that insists on dressing like Lance Armstrong and arrogantly taking over the road from 5,000-pound vehicles needs to take a long hard look at itself. There are sufficient bike paths in this county for amble enjoyment off the highways and roads.

       1 likes

  22. Brandt A. says:

    Tony H. – While I agree that it is way too easy to get a license here in the U.S., I don’t agree with anything else you’ve said. All the problems we have on our roads are due to bad road design. Bad drivers are indeed part of the problem, but the likelihood of bad drivers getting into accidents at slow speeds drops significantly.

    As a driver, is there any reason to get to Key Biscayne at 60 mph? Not at all. All it does is create an expressway environment in a place that shouldn’t have such an environment, and puts pedestrians and cyclists (and drivers) at risk.

    Cyclists belong on the road – they’ve been on the road long before cars were, so to say that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road and should be mixed with pedestrians is absolutely absurd. The Danes understand this very well – most of their roads are designed with cyclists in mind, not as an afterthought like our situation here in the US. Their roads are way safer than ours as a result.

    Where cars ‘have primacy’, people will continue to get hurt (or die). Streets are supposed to be for people, no matter what their method of transportation is.

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  23. Tony H. says:

    Thanks Bradt. I certainly respect your view. My friend, I sincerely doubt a bike lane is the best approach. We need bike trails. Here’s an example of one that works: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Vernon_Trail. Please consider it. Have a great Friday. :)

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  24. Craig Chester says:

    Brandt – I agree with your comments 100%. We have an unhealthy and irrational obsession with maximizing the speed of vehicles to shave mere seconds off a trip. The difference in time between a 50 mph trip over the causeway and a 35 mph trip may be a time savings of a minute total. In exchange,, you get a drastically more dangerous environment for all users of the road, including motorists themselves. A traffic-calmed road will enforce it self – and the Rickenbacker isn’t the only one that desperately needs this treatment.

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  25. Brandt A. says:

    Tony H. – I completely agree that we need trails. Trails are a great way for cyclists to get to where they need to be. But it’s not possible to put trails everywhere, and that’s why we need bike lanes.

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  26. Felipe Azenha says:

    Tony,
    Many people actually use a bicycle for transportation, not just for recreation.

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  27. Tony H. says:

    There is space for a trail on the causeway and there is already parts of it there. It needs to be improved and the bike lane needs to go away; that’s my recommendation to the county.

    Felipe, of course. For centuries.

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  28. Tony H. says:

    Well, over 100 years. :0)

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  29. Moncy Blanco-Herrera says:

    Full Disclosure, I am a Key Biscayne resident. First and formost, I want to send my condolences to Mr. Cohen and Mr. Le Canne’s families, they are in my prayers. Second, I agree the county needs to make changes, for safety purposes, to the Rickenbacker Causway. These changes need to be made to protect both, cyclist and drivers.

    I am not an avid cyclist, so I cannot speak for any cyclist who rides the causeway on a Saturday and/or Sunday Morning, but I can only imagine it is nerve racking. I know that I myself am nervous while driving in and out of the key on a weekend morning. I try to stay on the left lane in an abundace of caution, but sometimes I do find myself driving on the right lane. The only thing I can tell you is that you have to keep your head on a swivel. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have had a cyclist cut in front of me causing me to slam on my brakes to avoid a collision. I think we would all agree there are good drivers, bad drivers, good cyclist, and bad cyclists and the only way to protect each of us from one another is for the county to implement new safety measures. I like the idea of closing one lane for cyclist on Saturday and Sunday mornings and asking law enforcement to hold both parties accountable if they fail to maintain thier lane. I don’t know if this is the best solution, but I do know something needs to be done.

    What happened to Mr. Cohen and Mr. Le Canne are tragedies and are completely the fault of the drivers who hit them. Mr. Le Canne was hit by a driver who was impaired and Mr Cohen was hit by a driver who was driving home at five in the morning on a weekday. You can only speculate if they were falling asleep or impaired at the time. The sad thing is, even if the county made changes to the causeway, I don’t know if they would have prevented these tragedies.

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  30. Grinch says:

    I am a casual rider (no fancy bike, no fancy clothes, etc.) although I ride regularly and I enjoy crossing the Rickenbacker Causeway from time to time.

    Installing a barrier to separate all bikers from the highway traffic (both directions) would seem to be a necessary and prudent improvement. Those of us who prefer riding in the existing pedestrian lane would gladly ride with the big boys if there were a barrier from the speeding cars.

    Bikers who, then, insist on riding on the lanes designated for motor traffic should be subject to ticketing.

    Biking the Causeway should be promoted by making it as safe as practical for all.

       1 likes

  31. Lisafolds5 says:

    We should take a close look at how Amsterdam regulates car, train, bike, and pedestrian traffic all in the same intersection. It works.

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  32. uprightbike says:

    Some of the recommendations are good, some counterproductive. Narrowing lanes could lead to cars swerving into bike lanes. Lower speed limits and their enforcement is wishful thinking – people do live and commute to the Key, it’s not just for beachgoers. Chicago, though very bike friendly, is no model for bike lane design, where they are dangerously squeezed in alongside busy city streets and have had their share of fatalities. In my view physical barricades are the best solution. In addition, the bike community should consider organizing and fundraising in a public-private approach to a solution. Just my 2 cents.

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  33. Ray says:

    Everyone seems to have missed one very important point, both Aaron’s death and that of Christophe two years ago are eerily similar and could have happened anywhere because both drivers were repeat offenders coming home to Key Biscayne after a night of partying. Nothing short of a barrier could have possibly saved them, and even then maybe not. Speeding is definitely a problem and should be enforced. My heart goes out to Aaron’s family.

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  34. Scott says:

    Lines and different colored pavement would not have saved my friend who was struck and killed by a car on Crandon Boulevard in Crandon Park in the early 90′s, or the many others who have been killed on the highway and causeway since then. Barriers or moving the bike lanes further away from the vehicular lanes are the only thing that may protect cyclists from those driving under the influence and speeding. Also, you need to address the issue of slow emergency response to the area due to confusing multijurisdiction between the City of Miami, the county, the Village of Key Biscayne, and the State Park. The mile markers are a start at resolving that.

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  35. trmt says:

    The reason drivers don’t want bikers on the same roadway is exactly the same as the reason that bikers don’t want to be on the walkway. The difference is that pedestrians aren’t likely to be killed when run over by bikers.

    The solution is neither expensive nor complicated. Move that Jersey-barrier over, get the cyclists off the roadway and put them on the walkway. There are no cyclists allowed on the Mount Vernon Parkway in Virginia, referenced above, and for the same good reason. Given the repeated fatal consequences, it is grossly irresponsible for the County to continue to allow cyclists on this roadway.

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  36. David says:

    I did not forget. Although I am very sorry about what happened to the family, the fact is that before sunrise the multi path was empty. Been there. Done that. They could have rode there but arrogance keep them on the highway. They should have known better. We all know that Miami drivers are some of the worse in the world. Texting and phone call as in the extremes when people are not just straight out drunk in the middle of the day! I ride every day and every day I see multiple bike riding a-holes blocking traffic and going slower than normal traffic and they are usually dressed up as Lance, almost as a cartoon. Fact is that if they were on the other side of the EXISTING CONCRETE BARRIER they would both be fine. Y’all can say what you want but I will be riding on the sidewalk whenever possible, including multipaths. Some said bike lanes on the highway were stupid and the county f-ed up. I AGREE. Anyone riding in the bike lane on the highway also has a death wish.

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  37. Brandt A. says:

    Someone let the Miami driver trolls out…

    Maybe one day I’ll leave this country and go to a place where people actually have their heads screwed in right and watch from there as drivers crash themselves to death on their ‘highways’.

       0 likes

  38. Daniel says:

    I can’t remember, but after the first section of the MacArthur Causeway is widened for the tunnel isn’t it supposed to have a really wide (8′) sidewalk and/or bike lanes added. I don’t see why not because if you look at all the traffic crossing Biscayne at Port Boulevard it’s not that much, the stop light never backs up, meaning all the traffic to the port is hardly enough to justify an additional lane on the MacArthur, meaning some of the added width should be allocated for bikes/sidewalk.

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  39. Bruno says:

    I ride my bike everyday and I am a KB resident. I knew Aaron and I am very sad for his family. The last 2 accidents had the same history. “A drunk driver going back home after party hits a cyclist in the bike lane.”
    I think we could improve the bike lines, specially from the small bridge to KB where the there is a corner and the bike line gets narrow. We need to make the distance from the bike line to the road wider and with yellow paint. easy to do!!!
    The biggest problems is drunk drivers. How many times I go cycling in the morning and I see a car crashed in the bush? 2 weeks ago a car hit the post by the CVS. The police needs to be more active between 12am to 6am, when people return DRUNK from the parties.
    I hope we can redeuce accidents in the causeway.

       1 likes

  40. ME says:

    Worthless emotion will solve nothing. Thanks for updating us on your life plans because we know how important you are on the planet now that you told us. Wow. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

       0 likes

  41. ME says:

    Comment was with regard to trolls of course.

       0 likes

  42. [...] for cyclists and pedestrians?” asked writer Felipe Azenha on the blog Transit Miami, while reposting an article from two years ago with safety recommendations he says have been ignored since LeCanne was killed. “This is not rocket science. An [...]

       0 likes

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