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We will be meeting at 8:30am at the Bayfront Park Fountain on Biscayne Blvd & Flagler Street in downtown Miami. Pedals up 8:45am. We will be riding as a group in honor of fellow cyclist Aaron Cohen who was struck and killed by a hit & run driver. The group will ride towards Key Biscayne via Brickell Avenue and up the William Powell Bridge were Aaron was struck. Between 9am-10am the police will have the south side of the Rickenbacker Causeway closed to motor vehicles. Please spread the word to the cycling and running community. It’s unfortunate we have to come together due to a tragic event.

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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

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Additional Traffic Calming Needed ahead of Park Opening

Over the past few weeks, Miami-Dade County Public Works has begun to upgrade the streetscape on South Miami Avenue through the heart of Brickell, specifically from Broadway to SW 8th St. As reported earlier on TransitMiami, these upgrades include ‘zebra’ crosswalks, additional signage and lane striping.

Recently, a bicycle lane and ‘sharrows’ were added to South Miami Avenue on this segment, as well as ‘sharrows’ on Brickell Plaza and through Mary Brickell Village.  Additionally, the chaotic and confusing intersection at SW 12th St. and S. Miami Avenue has been slightly reconfigured with bollards to prevent ‘soft left’ turns.

Re-configured intersection at SW 12th st. and S. Miami Ave. The bollards prevent the 'soft left' turn that was the scene of numerous crashes.

 

Newly striped bike lane headed south on S. Miami Ave. through Brickell

As the new Triangle Park nears it’s completion, a need for additional traffic calming in the area is painfully obvious to allow residents a safe way to access the park. Presently, with a green light at the intersection of SW 13th Street and S. Miami Avenue, it is possible for a motorist to continue unimpeded from the Broadway roundabout all the way to SW 10th street. Such a long stretch with no stop signs allows motorists to gain unsafe rates of speed through Brickell. There are no traffic calming mechanisms  (raised crosswalks, stop signs, sidewalk bulb-outs, etc.) to alert drivers that they are entering an area with dense pedestrian traffic and speeds of 45mph+ are dangerous and unacceptable.

Just a block down S. Miami Ave from the park, in Mary Brickell Village, no mid-block crosswalk exists to connect the two sides of the street. Understandably, pedestrians frequently weave through parked (and moving) cars to cross the street. The need for a safely marked midblock crossing is so obvious it’s almost comical that it does not exist.

I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Brickell’s new ‘Flatiron Park’ in October. During Commissioner Sarnoff’s speech, cars were flying down S.  Miami Avenue at ridiculous speeds, completely inappropriate for a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. No motorists were yielding to pedestrians. Mothers with strollers, people walking their pets, individuals in wheelchairs were all having difficulty crossing the street. Watching SUV’s hurl themselves at the intersection outside Baru Urbano and aggressively brake just in time for the crosswalk was unnerving. Unfortunately, this is an everyday occurrence.

This hazardous situation could be mitigated with a stop sign at SW 11th street, pictured below. As reported earlier on TransitMiami, the manager of Rosinella has personally witnessed an average of 5 accidents a year at this intersection.

How will we get to the park? Need to slow the cars down here.

This only scratches the surface of the improvements to make the area truly ‘pedestrian-friendly’. A walk down SE 1st Avenue by the busy MetroRail and bus stations will show you that. (No pavement marking, no crosswalks, no stop signs - only speeding vehicles) Currently, there is a plan for a complete streetscape overhaul of South Miami Ave. that is scheduled for 2014.

How many more accidents and close calls will we see before then?

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A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the lack of initiative the CPWD showed during a recent resurfacing project on South Miami Avenue from SW 14th Street to SE 13th Street. After the CPWD finished resurfacing the intersection on SW14th Street they only replaced the one and only existing crosswalk instead of painting all 4 crosswalks at this intersection.  County Public Works Department Director Esther Calas responded to Transit Miami:

The Miami-Dade Public Works Department (PWD) had an ongoing drainage, milling and resurfacing and striping and signage project on South Miami Avenue, which was interrupted at the request of the neighborhood merchants with the City’s concurrence due to the Florida Department of Transportation reconstructing Brickell Avenue North of SE 15 Road. Although both projects had non-overlapping maintenance of traffic vehicular routing, the merchants were concerned with the combined traffic impacts.

When we halted our drainage project, only one block was completed, between S 13 Street/Coral Way and S 14 Street. The project began on that block because it had the worst roadway drainage conditions. As a part of work stoppage, the contractor only replaced the single crosswalk at 14 Street that was originally present. The City has offered to continue the drainage work on Miami Avenue in coordination with their drainage project for the intersecting neighborhood streets.

We agree that additional crosswalks will improve Miami Avenue. Therefore, in the interim before drainage work is reinitiated on Miami Avenue, we will resume our effort to stripe crosswalks, stopbars, bicycle lanes and shared use “Sharrow” markings along this corridor between S 15 Road and S 6 Street without further delay.

We appreciate your bringing these concerns to our attention.

We are happy to report that the CPWD not only painted three additional crosswalks at the South Miami Avenue and SW14 Street intersection, but also in the process added bike lanes on South Miami Avenue from SW 13th Street up to SW 15th Street.  The CPWD has also taken the extra step to add crosswalks at other intersections on South Miami Avenue. Needless to say we are extremely pleased, but there is still room for improvement. Please see the below photographs for our praise, critiques and suggestions for improvement.

Sweet!

Awesome!

Kick Ass!

Nice bike lane!

 

The SW 12th Street/SE1st Avenue/ South Miami Avenue intersection a complete clusterfuck (Pardon my French). Serious attention needs to be given here.

New zebra crosswak on SW 12th Street South Miami Avenue. I love zebra crosswalks. Every crosswalk in the urban core should be a zebra crosswalk.

The SW 12th Street/SE1st Avenue/ South Miami Avenue intersection gets a new zebra crosswalk. Did I mention how much I love zebra crosswalks?

The boys at the CPWD hard at work. Thank you gentlemen!

SE 11th Street and S. Miami Avenue. Not sure if CPWD is finished here, but this intersection must have four crosswalks. Let's give the CPWD the benefit of the doubt.

SE 11th Street and S. Miami Avenue. The new stop bar must extend the entire width of SE 11th Street. A second stop sign must also go up. The manager at Rosinella told me today that he has been managing this restaurant since 1998 and sees on average 5 accidents per year at this intersection. More must bee done to calm traffic on South Miami Avenue. Too many idiots speed down S. Miami Avenue on this stretch. Enforcement isn't the solution. We must design a complete street that discourages speeding.

 

SE 10th Avenue and S. Miami Ave. Looks like the CPWD is putting zebra crosswalks here too. I think the rain stopped them from finishing the job.

 

Mary Brickell Village. Is a raised mid-block zebra crosswalk to much to ask for? Probably. We can only dream.

SW 9th and S. Miami Ave. Hopefully the CPWD will put zebra crosswalks here as well. Please give them the benefit of the doubt, I don't think they're done yet!

Well done Ms. Calas and CPWD!  Your department singly handedly just made the Brickell area safer for those of us that walk and bike in the area.  Let’s make it even safer!

You can find the Bicycle/Pedestrian Mobility Plan For the Miami Downtown Development Authority Area here: http://bit.ly/rsVYEb. There are plenty of great ideas in this document. The Miami DDA has also developed a streetscape plan for South Miami Avenue. You can find the study here:http://www.miamidda.com/pdf/South%20Miami%20Avenue%20Master%20Plan%20FINAL%209-17-10.pdf

Please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email thanking her and her department for their effort thus far. (ecalas@miamidade.gov). 

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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.

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We report, you decide: Here’s the email thread:

Dear Mr. Hodgkins,

Natalia Zea from CBS spoke with you yesterday regarding the MacArthur Causeway. It is my understanding that the FDOT is currently designing a bicycle facility for the MacArthur Causeway.

On behalf of Transit Miami and the South Florida Bike Coalition I would like to better understand what the FDOT is proposing. The existing conditions on the MacArthur Causeway are extremely dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. The FDOT has designated the MacArthur Causeway a “bike route “, but I fail to see how the safety of cyclists can be assured when the unprotected “bike route” is adjacent to a highway with a design speed of 60+ mph.

I look forward to hearing about the FDOT’s proposed bicycle facility.

Best regards,
Felipe Azenha

Here’s the FDOT’s response:

Dear Mr. Azenha:

Your questions concerning bicycle use on the MacArthur Causeway was routed to me for response.

Bicyclists are permitted to travel on all roadways except those roadways classified as limited access facilities.  State Road A1A/MacArthur Causeway is not classified as a limited access roadway from the Biscayne Bay Bridge (between the City of Miami and Watson Island) to Miami Beach.

Consistent with state law, we assume that bicyclists will operate on-road on all of our non-limited access roadway facilities.  As a result, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) does not maintain designated specific roadways as bicycle routes.  We strive to provide bicycle facilities on all of our non-limited access facilities where feasible.  Please note that the Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization has identified the MacArthur Causeway as part of the bicycle network per the “2001 Bicycle Facilities Plan.”  The existing bicycle lanes between Watson Island and Terminal Isle also meet FDOT design requirements for bicycle facilities and future on-road bicycle lanes are currently being considered as part of the ongoing Port of Miami Tunnel project.

A person riding a bicycle has the same rights as any driver regardless if bicycle facilities (on-road or shared-use path) are present.  Similarly, a pedestrian is permitted to walk within the roadway shoulder when sidewalks do not exist such as the portion of the MacArthur Causeway between Watson Island and Terminal Isle.

The safety of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians remain the Department’s highest priority. In addition to integrating safety features in the design of roads and bridges, the Department actively involves the community through a network of local Community Traffic Safety Teams.  These teams, consisting of volunteers as well as law enforcement agencies, help implement the Department’s safety mandate.

The Department welcomes and appreciates your interest in this issue.   Please do not hesitate to contact me for this or any other concerns.

Thank you.

Kenneth Jeffries

Transportation Planner

Florida Department of Transportation

District Six

Sounds like the FDOT believes that the design standards they used on the MacArthur Causeway are safe enough for cyclists.  What a joke. On what planet is it safe to put an unprotected bike lane adjacent to a highway with a design speed of 60+ mph? What is even sadder is the load of B.S. that was fed to me in an obvious cut-and-paste-job at the end of the email.

“The safety of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians remain the Department’s highest priority.”

If the FDOT were serious about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists they wouldn’t put an unprotected bike lane next to a freeway. The FDOT’s priority is to move cars faster, not the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. This is glaringly obvious as the tunnel project is already underway and it appears that the FDOT is only now beginning to consider bicycle lanes as part of the ongoing Port of Miami Project. Protected bicycle lanes should have been considered at the very beginning of this project; it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Moreover, has the FDOT’s so-called “Community Traffic Safety Team” reached out to Transit Miami, South Florida Bike Coalition, the Green Mobility Network, the City of Miami, or the City of Miami Beach for input on a bicycle facility?  Nope. They also failed to properly reach out to the Brickell community before starting the current resurfacing project through the most densely populated corridor in Florida. This is the FDOT’s standard operating procedure.

I’d like to invite District 6 Secretary Mr. Gus Pego and his family to ride the MacArthur Causeway. I’d like him and his family to tell me that the MacArthur Causeway is a family-friendly place to ride a bike.

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On Tuesday night I had the pleasure to meet several members of the Dutch delegation that came to Miami for a two-day ThinkBike workshop. The purpose of the ThinkBike workshop was to learn from the expertise of Dutch planners.  They came to teach us how we could improve downtown Miami’s bikeability. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the actual workshop, but I was able to make it to the post-seminar cocktail hour. Over a couple of Cold Stellas I spoke with several members from the Dutch delegation, a gentleman from the County Public Works Department, as well as citizens all of whom participated in the seminar.  The feedback I recieved was extremely positive.

Those that participated in the seminar were invited to ride a bicycle through the streets of Miami on Monday afternoon, although not everyone chose to ride.  Those that opted not to get on a bicycle included several FDOT officials; I sincerely wished they had taken the opportunity to ride the streets of Miami. Nonetheless I consider it a huge success that four FDOT District 6 officials attended this seminar.  This is a big step in the right direction and a huge success in and of itself.

On Tuesday attendees were divided into groups. Each of the groups was invited to design a bicycle lane on a designated street within the city with the help of Dutch planners.

The Orange Team came up with a bike lane design that will actually be implemented on North Miami Avenue.  Although the plans haven’t been finalized, North Miami Avenue-from NW 14th Street to NW 36th Street-will likely see bike lanes as wide as 6 feet in some sections, with a 2-3 foot soft buffer and perhaps travel lanes as narrow as 10 feet. The County Public Works Department quickly came up with money and support for this project after the plans were presented.

Source: Streetsblog

The Blue Team was assigned the task to design a bicycle lane for 14th Street, from North Miami Avenue to the Health District. One of the ideas the Dutch presented for a section of this project was to separate the cycle track from the cars using parallel parking. This is a successful technique already used in New York City, San Francisco and Portland.

Montreal's cycle tracks attract 2.5 times as many cyclists as comparable streets with no bike lane, and have lower injury rates, a new study shows. Image: Bicycle Canberra

It should be noted that some attendees were at first skeptical that bike lanes could be implemented as initially proposed by the Dutch.  By the end of the seminar even some of the skeptics had a change of heart. The FDOT has already been in touch with Dutch delegation and they have thanked them for the seminar. Apparently, it was very informative for the FDOT.  Hopefully the Dutch were able to change the FDOT mindset a bit, to “Think Bike” rather than only cars.

Thanks to the initiative of the Dutch Consulate we have been bestowed with a kick-ass bike lane in the heart of the city. This is a major North-South bike connection; this is awesome, but a bit concerning at the same time.  Why does it take a Dutch delegation to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to get a bike lane installed in Miami?  Not to sound bitter, but we here at Transit Miami, as well as the South Florida Bike Coalition, Green Mobility Network, Miami Bike Scene, MiMo Biscayne Association, and MiMo Business Improvement District have all been advocating for more and safer bike lanes for quite some time. Transit Miami’s recommendations are very similar to what the Dutch have proposed. Unfortunately, progress has been very slow.  We are ecstatic to finally get a world-class bike lane.  Unfortunately, we shouldn’t have play international politics to resolve a very local and relatively simple issue. Perhaps the Dutch brought the spark that will light up Miami with properly designed bike lanes? I hope so, because it is desperately needed here in South Florida.

We are very grateful for what the Dutch have done for the cycling world; including everything they accomplished in Miami during their short stay here. It sounds like the City of Miami and the County Public Work Department are willing to consider innovative bicycle infrastructure in future projects.  Let’s just hope their can-do attitude doesn’t fizzle in a couple of weeks. Let’s also hope that the FDOT begins to consider some of the ideas the Dutch have presented. The world is changing in front of our eyes. Gas prices are rising and people are driving less. We can’t continue to design roads to move cars faster; bicycles need to be part of the transportation mix.

The Dutch have set the bar for cycling infrastructure.  We should aspire to make cycling as safe as they have.  We have plenty to learn from their 40+ years of experience in designing bicycle infrastructure. As the Dutch say “Think Bike”. Hopefully the County Public Works Department, the City of Miami, and the FDOT will pursue innovative projects like the Dutch have already proved to be successful.

Dank u! Denk Fiets! Kom spoedig terug! (Thank you! Think Bike! Come back soon!)

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Believe it or not, but the most densely populated and arguably most walkable city in Florida does not have a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. Actually, please let me clarify- the City of Miami Beach had a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, but decided to eliminate this position two years ago when the position became vacant.  Yep, you read that correctly. Miami Beach, a city where people walk and bike everywhere does not consider cyclists and pedestrians seriously enough to merit a full-time position.  This is truly amazing to me. Well, I guess it just goes to show where the city’s priorities are.

Sources close to Transit Miami informed us that about two years ago the Budget Advisory Committee that is comprised of residents appointed by commissioners and the mayor (as well as a CPA and Financial Advisor) voted against keeping this position. I believe the funds for the position where shifted to create a position in the Public Works Department. Shameful.

South Beach in particular, desperately needs a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. Now that Deco Bike, the city’s new bike share program is in full swing, they city should prioritize the expansion of its almost non-existent bicycle infrastructure. So what do you say Miami Beach?  Are you gonna step-up and deliver?

There is a lot of work to be done on Miami Beach to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.  If and when the city does hire a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, the first step would be to commission a proper Miami Beach Bicycle Master Plan. I remember reviewing the city’s current bicycle master plan a couple of years ago and saying “Wow, this is really awful.”  You can find more information about the Miami Beach Bicycle Program here.

Please email City Manager Jorge Gonzalez and let him know that Miami Beach needs a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator.

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The article below is a repost.  It was originaly posted on November 15, 2009. The FDOT has made some very small striping improvements since the article was originally published.  Needless to say, it is not enough. The FDOT must do more.

Inspired by the recent Dangerous by Design report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America Transit Miami will begin documenting existing conditions that are dangerous and potentially deadly to pedestrians and bicyclists. In what will likely be an infinite collection of posts, the MacArthur Causeway will be the first roadway evaluated for Transit Miami’s very own Dangerous By Design exposé.

Although the MacArthur Causeway is actually designated as bicycle route, I don’t like to ride it because I fear for my life.  The Venetian Causeway is a much safer alternative.  This morning all bicyclists and pedestrians were forced to take the MacArthur Causeway because the eastern drawbridge on the Venetian Causeway was broken.  Non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians had no other alternative to traverse the bay other than the MacArthur Causeway. I decided to make the most of my MacArthur Causeway crossing, so I took the opportunity to more closely inspect FDOT’s current resurfacing project on the MacArthur Causeway.  Sadly, it seems like FDOT did not seriously consider pedestrians and bicyclists during the design phase of this resurfacing project.

My intention was to allow FDOT to finish the project before critiquing it, but that won’t be necessary, because what little work remains to be completed is mostly cosmetic (i.e. painting bicycle lanes and symbols). As one of only three arterial roads that connects Miami to Miami Beach, it is imperative that this wide, high speed, high capacity thoroughfare have safe pedestrian and bicycle provisions. FDOT’s current design consists of an unprotected bicycle lane that doubles as an emergency shoulder.  Sorry, but anything less than a separated and protected multiuse path is unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists.  For this reason the MacArthur Causeway is being regrettably recognized as Dangerous By Design. If FDOT were genuinely concerned about the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists they would have designed a separated and protected multiuse path.  Below are examples that should have been considered.

Wilson Bridge Bike Path. Photo courtsey of http://joeholthaus.com/id69.html

Wilson Bridge Bike Path. Photo courtesy of http://joeholthaus.com/id69.html

Burrard Bike Lane, Vancouver Canada. Photo courtesy of www.news1130.com

Burrard Bike Lane, Vancouver Canada. Photo courtesy of www.news1130.com

Below are a few photographs taken this morning of poor design standards on the MacArthur Causeway:

The bus stop needs to be protected; a pedestrian could have easily been killed here.

Bus stops on a three lane highway need to be protected; a pedestrian could have easily been killed here while waiting for the bus.

The bike lane/shoulder becomes bus stop. Please note that the bike lane/shoulder/bus stop ends.

The bike lane/shoulder becomes a bus stop. Please note that the bike lane/shoulder/bus stop ends without warning.

Bicyclists are forced into travel lane as soon as the bike lane/shoulder ends. It is not a coincidence that a taxi cab driver struck 11 bicyclists last year at this location.  This is a major design flaw.

Bicyclists are then forced into the travel lane as soon as the bike lane/shoulder ends. It is not a coincidence that a taxi cab driver struck 11 bicyclists last year at this location. This is a major design flaw, a similar design flaw contributed to the death a bicyclist on the Rickenbacker Causeway a few years ago.

Where are the temporary provisions for pedestrians, the handicap, and parents with strollers?

Where are the temporary provisions for pedestrians, the handicap, and parents with strollers?

A temporary solution needs to be found.

A temporary solution needs to be found. Access is very difficult for pedestrians.

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The Florida Department of Transportation isn’t just anti-bicycling and walking road safety programs in Florida, they are against funding them anywhere.

On March 14, just days after bicycling advocates went to Congress asking them to not cut fundingfor bicycling programs (Bike Coalition Director and members among over 20 others from Florida, 600 countrywide) the State of Florida sent its own representative to tell Congress to do just the opposite.

Ananth Prasad, FDOT

Mr. Ananth Prasad is one of the three candidates up for Governor Rick Scott’s consideration as the new State Secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation. He currently holds the title of Assistant Secretary for Engineering & Operations, making him the only ‘in-house’ option. (The other two are Gordon Goodin, owner of Bayside Development, and Thomas Conrecode, VP at Collier Enterprise).

Mr. Prasad spoke on behalf of FDOT/ Governor Scott’s interests at a special hearing before the United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The Committee, chaired by Florida’s own Rep. John Mica, is drafting a new transportation bill and thus seeking input from stakeholders across the country. What did our own FDOT representative say? Read the full text of his speech here[PDF].

Some of the items Prasad touched on were clearly positive for Florida, such as his request for more transportation money for Florida, a ‘donor’ state that sends out more gas tax money than it gets back from the federal government. He called for increased investment in public-private partnerships , citing the I-595 Express project and the Port of Miami Tunnel as examples. While that may support Rick Scott’s call for more private sector jobs, there was no mention of the innovative public-private partnerships that would have come about from High Speed Rail or bikeshare.

Other requests clearly reflected Governor Scott’s agenda. Prasad supported Scott’s push for fewer regulations by calling for removal of some regulations that he called unnecessary for Florida and by requesting that states be allowed to skip the federal environmental review process and substitute their own. In the midst of calling for a reduction in the number of federal transportation programs, Prasad proclaimed:

We must give serious consideration to whether—when resources and dollars are at a premium—spending money on sidewalks, bike trails, beautification, and other projects like this is the most prudent use of taxpayer money.

Wow. Forget about the “Complete Streets” mandate embedded in Florida Statute that FDOT has to include pedestrian and bicycle facilities into their projects. Nevermind that new bicycling facilities create twice as many jobs as standard road repair work and make streets safer for ALL road users.The way to fuel the economy, according to FDOT, is to move cars faster:

“The faster we can move people and goods to their destination, the faster our economy will grow … We must be viligent to ensure that we invest only where taxpayers’ money will be put to use on critically-needed projects that will ultimately grow our economy.”

Prasad’s message is clear: Times are tough, so let’s forget about multimodal transportation and focus on automobile capacity. Congress needs to be reminded that as gas prices head toward $4 for the second time in three years, more people are choosing to bike or walk. This makes it critical to invest transportation dollars in safer roads for everyone, rather than just faster highways. (You will remember that FDOT considers Miami’s densest residential street and it’s busiest downtown avenue, highways.)

Florida: we cannot build our way out of congestion. We need a versatile transportation system that embraces intercity rail, urban transit, bicycling, and walking as well as the currently privileged modes.

If we can put aside the political agendas and focus on effective investment, we would see that non-highway options, like high speed rail and bikeshare, provide what Prasad says DOTs want: public-private partnerships. The Tampa-Orlando high speed rail was expected to turn a $10.2 million profit, a lucrative opportunity for private investment in infrastructure. DecoBike, a private enterprise which seems to have gotten off to a good start, has not cost the city of Miami Beach a dime and is even sharing revenue with them. B-Cycle‘s proposed system for Broward County won’t cost taxpayers any money once it’s up and running, and their business model depends on turning a profit from the system as well. FDOT is already involved in this public-private partnership, fronting the capital through a grant to the county, then leaving the private vendor to run the system. Florida can support systems such as these by providing both capital investment to get the systems started and by providing proper infrastructure to encourage more system users. Check out the Sun-Sentinel article for more details on both programs.

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The South Florida Bike Coalition joins us in urging you to take action. Members of CongressGovernor ScottFDOT need to hear from you that you want cost-effective solutions to Florida’s #1 ranking as the Country’s most dangerous place to walk or ride a bicycle.

Also: Please take a moment to contact Rep. Mica — his staff on transportation — or his office via phone at (202) 225-4035. Let him know that you want Complete Streets in the next transportation bill and that you support federal mandates that ensure investments in our roads will make them safer and better for EVERYone, whether they travel by bicycle, train, bus, car, truck or on foot.

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This will be a cross-post with our partner, the South Florida Bike Coalition.

 

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How do you stimulate the economy, get the biggest employment bang for your buck, and create a healthy, sustainable transportation network at the same time? Easy. Build Bicycle lanes. A December 2010 report by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst finds that  pedestrian  and  bicycle infrastructure projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million of spending while road infrastructure projects create approximately 7 jobs per $1 million of expenditures. That’s twice as many jobs! Using the city of Baltimore as a case study, the authors compared completed pedestrian repair projects, bike lane projects, and road repair projects.

Image via: Luton

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The cycling community can thank the large pelotons for the most recent crackdown of cyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Their Wild West mentality has forced the Miami Dade Police Department to ticket cyclists.

For some reason the pelotons believe the rules of the road don’t apply to them. Well, I’ve got news for you, they do. A red light means stop; you should not blow through a red light as if you were riding in the Tour de France, you aren’t. Nor should you take over two or three lanes of traffic in your attempt to attack the peloton.  You are not only endangering your life, but the lives of other cyclists too.

Grow-up!  You’re giving all cyclists a bad name.

Please check out the Miami Bike Scene.  The Miami Bike Scene does an excellent job of maintaining a calender of organized events. You can find an organized ride or race that allows for peloton riding.

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The City of Miami just painted the first section of our County’s newest bike lane so the South Florida Bike Coalition and partners are throwing a Street Bike Lane Party -

Join the fun this Saturday at Sra. Martinez (4000 NE 2nd Ave) in the Design District as we toast the new lanes!

Bike lanes and other bicycle infrastructure/road treatments have been proven to do much more than increase bicycling; they make streets safer for everyone.TransitMiami.com encourages you to be involved in your community and to engage your policymakers on transportation issues. This evening’s free, informal gathering provides us the opportunity to meet you in person and you with a good talking point for your own leaders: “Hey Commissioner, when are we getting those promised new lane treatments?

Read more about the new bike lane and party at SouthFloridaBikeCoalition.org

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