Currently viewing the category: "Rickenbacker Causeway"

(Community Commentary) It’s time for the Lipton Sony Ericsson Open Nasdaq Key Biscayne Grand Prix Miami Masters Tennis Tournament! If you live, work, ride, beach, etc anywhere near the entrance to Rickenbacker Causeway… we recommend bicycling or mass transit. Or, at least, podcasts. With Miami-Dade County Bear Cut Bridge renovations already underway, event organizers are urging drivers to be extra careful. They reached out to TM directly and asked us to share the following with you: In short, organizers suggest you GET THERE EARLY. They don’t want anyone missing their Tennis. Also,

  • Expect new traffic patterns to and from the Crandon Park Tennis Center.
  • Bear Cut Bridge will continue to have two lanes traveling in each direction, just as in past years, however the outermost westbound lane of the bridge will be open to pedestrian and cyclist traffic only. As a result, westbound drivers headed toward Miami may be required to change lanes before crossing the bridge. The eastbound traffic pattern toward Key Biscayne will remain unchanged.
  • Eastbound pedestrians and cyclists will be guided across Crandon Boulevard by a uniformed police officer. Drivers are urged to share the road with additional care.
  • Consider taking the bus! Route B/ 102 will make regular stops at the Tournament’s main entrance, as well as the Brickell Metrorail Station, Brickell Financial District, Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami Seaquarium, the City of Key Biscayne, and Cape Florida State Park.
  • Patrons who park in the Tournament’s General Parking lot, located on Arthur Lamb Road across the street from the Miami Seaquarium, will board free shuttles to the main entrance. Shuttles will run continuously throughout the day and up to an hour after the last evening match has been completed.

Florida traffic information is available by calling 511 or visiting www.fl511.com.

You can read more about these traffic modifications in our earlier blog post here. However, wherever you go, be safe. If you witness something that you think should be here, please try and get a photo plus any related information and contact us here.

 

The article comes to us via the South Florida Bike Coalition and was written by Markus Wagner.

 

Miami-Dade County is facing a tricky situation on Bear Cut Bridge. Predictably and sadly, it is choosing to prioritize motorized traffic at the expense of the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. This much became clear at the January 2013 BPAC meeting. Given current plans, it will almost be inevitable that the bridge be close to pedestrian and cycling traffic during construction (except for those cyclists going with traffic, which they are allowed to do).

As many may have heard, parts of the Bear Cut Bridge have become so dilapidated that they have to be replaced. This is not the time or place to go into details why it is that such a situation suddenly springs upon the County – blame is already being passed around. More news reports herehere and here.

The County Public Works and Waste Management Department has gone through several iterations of planning. The latest approach – and the most detrimental to safety for pedestrians and cyclists wishing to enjoy Crandon Park or other destinations on the Key – is to take away the pedestrian and bike path heading east to create more throughput for cars and trucks. The current plans call for re-routing pedestrians and cyclists to the north side of the bridge via a signalized crosswalk by UM’s Rostenstiel campus,  where cyclists and pedestrians going both ways are supposed to share the space. Then, should you desire to return to the south side, you would use the marked crosswalk where pedestrians and cyclists have been constantly ignored by drivers in the past.

 

bearcutbridge

 

If you are now scratching your head, you are not alone. The reaction of BPAC members appeared to be rather unanimous: it was negative. The entire operation does not appear to be well thought out regarding the treatment of pedestrians and cyclists. And that is an understatement. There are so many things wrong with the current plans that it is difficult to figure out where to start. It is unclear how separation between fast and slow cyclists, runners and walkers going in two directions is supposed to be managed. According to the Miami Herald, the County even considers closing the roadway for cyclists and pedestrians entirely. According to Interim County Engineer Antonio Cotarelo the county “would have to figure out if there’s any impact, and how bad it is with traffic, and take whatever necessary action to adjust it or close it if necessary — meaning closing the bridge to all pedestrians and cyclists.” It is apparently perfectly fine for the County to close down the only access for pedestrians and recreational cyclists to Crandon Park entirely while vehicle traffic to and from Key Biscayne is allowed to flow through four lanes, just as before.

What county personnel did not state clearly and were rather guarded about is the following: if current lane usage is to be maintained (two lanes in each direction) and with the existing ped / bike path removed, it will be impossible to maintain the ped / bike path on the northern side once construction begins. It is hardly conceivable that the county – having decided to close down the footpath at this point – will restrict motorized vehicle access once construction begins for purposes of reinstating the foot path.

There was talk of more law enforcement, but when pressed on whether the Miami-Dade Police Department would actually enforce the rules on the unsignalized cross-walk on the east side of the Bear Cut Bridge, the officer present seemed to be taken aback.

It comes down – as is the case so often – to a question of prioritization. If the County wants to go beyond the usual lip service, it is time to step up to the plate. Over the last years, we have seen people get killed on the Causeway and numerous people getting injured. The County under the leadership of Mayor Gimenez has done little to nothing to improve the situation. Along comes a tennis tournament and it appears that the County snaps to attention rather quickly. The bridge is in dire need of repair from everything we can ascertain. There is no doubt about that.

The question is whether the County should prioritize the needs of car drivers at the almost complete disadvantage for families and individuals that want to be pedestrians, runners or cyclists. This episode shows how little the County – and its mayor – support non-motorized traffic. Not only is the situation made more difficult, but rather it is also made more dangerous. And it does not seem to matter to decision-makers. Those decision-makers sometimes take part in bicycle rides when it suits their needs of being elected. When it comes to having to make decisions over whether find a suitable balance that interest seems to wane entirely.

While the county plans are still in flux, the removal of the foot path seems to be the option that the county has chosen. It is also the only way from what we can tell (and we are happy to stand corrected) to not have to close pedestrian and a lot of bicycle traffic. Yet again, the county and its leadership has chosen motorized traffic over the interest of other users. While touting bicycling in other forums and using such opportunities to create the image of being supportive for bicyclists, county leadership on this and many other projects is sorely lacking.

You should let Mayor Gimenez know that you are against current plans(mayor@miamidade.gov). Our attempts to reach out to his office so far have been futile. More voices may be necessary.

 

At yesterday’s meeting of the Miami-Dade Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), Jeff Cohen of Miami-Dade Public Works presented a series of short-term safety proposals for the Rickenbacker Causeway that could be implemented over the next few months. With a sense of urgency in the air stemming from the tragic death of cyclist Aaron Cohen earlier in February, concerned citizens and BPAC members voiced their opinions in a spirited discussion lasting nearly two hours.

The Miami-Dade Public Works short-term safety proposals for the Rickenbacker Causeway included:

  • A re-striped, buffered bicycle lane, separated from traffic lanes by a two-foot painted buffer zone. Cohen also suggested the application of ceramic “buttons” planted into the bicycle lane striping, which are essentially small raised discs that provide an audible and physical warning to motorists drifting into the bicycle lane. A “rumble strip” could also be applied instead of the buttons, but could take longer to install.
  • A series of lowered speed limits from the mainland toll plazas to the village of Key Biscayne. These limits range from 45mph to 30mph depending on the specefic portion of the roadway
  • Additional electronic speed reduction signs for eastbound traffic.

Example of a buffered bike lane. Portions of the Rickenbacker Causeway could see this soon, with a "rumble strip" near the vehicle lane to alert drifting motorists.

For longer term solutions, Cohen presented a comprehensive 5-year plan for the Causeway during January’s BPAC meeting, which includes a more extensive overhaul of lane and toll plaza configurations.

Miami-Dade County Police began increased coverage on the Rickenbacker Causeway this week, with the allocation of officers for additional radar and DUI enforcement.

But BPAC member Lee Marks thought the proposals did not fundamentally address why exactly the Rickenbaker Causeway continues to be so dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. “The Rickenbacker was originally designed as a highway,” said Marks. “It is no longer a highway - the paradigm has shifted. It is now used as a recreational paradise.” But, as Marks noted, the roadway design is still one of a highway that encourages speeding.

After a lengthy discussion including BPAC members, Miami-Dade Police and the general public (which included Key Biscayne motorists in support of lower speeds), the Committee formally suggested and endorsed a series of improvements that were not necessarily aligned with the suggestions from Miami-Dade County Public Works.

The BPAC resolutions included:

  • A uniform speed limit of 35 MPH from the mainland toll plazas to to the Village of Key Biscayne (essentially the entire lengh of the causeway)
  • Re-striping the shoulder/bicycle lane to include a two-foot buffer zone. Instead of the ceramic “button” style discs - which could pose a hazard to cyclists - the BPAC recommended the audible “rumble strip” in the pavement separating the bicycle lane from traffic.
  • A request to reduce existing vehicle travel lane widths from 11 to 10 feet, which will require applying for a variance to current Federal standards.
  • Additional electronic speed notification signs for eastbound traffic.

Cohen said that national statistics show that these signs are effective in reducing vehicle speeds.

These recommendations only represent changes to the roadway that could begin in the immediate future. For the longer-term, there was virtually unanimous sentiment from BPAC members and the general public that physical separation from traffic is essential to ensure the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Said Cohen,”We’re not saying no to anything for the long term. We’re just trying to see what we can do quickly for now.”

More road safety discussions are on the immediate horizion, including today’s Bicycle Safety Summit organized by Miami-Dade County District 7 Comissioner Xavier Suarez and and a public forum called “Safe Streets Miami“, which is in the planning stages. We at Transit Miami urge the County to act quickly to implement a physical separation of bicycle facilities in those locations where none currently exists. We are studying the current five year plan and will provide a more in depth critique in the coming days.

Tagged with:
 

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle, Quoted at the funeral of Aaron Cohen by his grand-father Ron Esserman

I have only been a county commissioner for about eight months, but already have a deep scar in my heart from a tragedy that seems, in retrospect, so avoidable.

Aaron Cohen has been wrenched from our lives.  And the sense of loss is overwhelming, despite the wisdom imparted by rabbis and family members.  Because the tragedy happened in my district and because my daughter Annie practices medicine with Jim Esserman (Aaron’s first cousin), the loss hits home in a particularly poignant way.

Was the tragedy avoidable?  I don’t rightly know, but I know we didn’t try hard enough to avoid it.  We know the Rickenbacker Causeway is a narrow, dangerous, treacherous, alluring, spectacularly located and majestic roadway, rising as it does from the shallows abutting the mainland to bring us all (joggers, bikers, motorists) closer to heaven and then quickly deposit us in an island that is mostly unspoiled – as befits a critical wildlife refuge of some 400 acres.

In between the moments of sorrow, my Annie and I discussed the physics of the problem that led to this tragedy or, rather, the unavoidable elements of the circumstance that make this awful accident likely to happen again in the future.

I refer to the simple variable that physicists call “momentum.”  Simply put, a 4,000-pound vehicle, travelling at 45-50 mph, possesses about 100 times the momentum of a biker/bicycle whose combined weight is 150 pounds and who is struggling up the bridge at 12-15 mph.  A collision between two objects, one of which has 100 times the momentum of the other, means that the smaller object will suffer, in displacement and consequent damage, 100 times more than the bigger object.

In the short term, there is only one variable we can change in the above equation – and that is the speed limit for cars.  I consider that reform a no-brainer that should be instituted without delay.  Of course, a reduction in the speed limit needs to be accompanied by traffic management devices (including electronic surveillance) to monitor law-breakers.

The other possible solution is separation.  I think, in that context, that we all agree that a simple painted strip (as exists now) is not enough.  We will have to consider either rubber cones or well-lit corrugated surfaces which alert and deter the motorist from trespassing on the bike lanes.

Beyond the physics of the problem, beyond the traffic engineering and enforcement, there is the human dimension.  And that brings me back to Aaron, whose name technically means, “tower of strength,” but was further interpreted by the rabbi as referring to someone who loves life and who runs for life.  Aaron Cohen loved to run more than we can imagine.  He loved scuba diving and every kind of water sport; he loved ceramic arts and cycling, and – most of all – he loved his wife and two children.

As described by family and friends, he was special because he found something special to love in everyone he met, regardless of their station in life.  He took time, on the way to the airport, to buy M&M’s so that he could pass them out to the flight attendants.

He was, his sister Sabrina told us, like Elijah, the unforeseen guest for whom we keep the door permanently open, with a cup of wine ready, just in case the prophet visits us.

Perhaps the most appropriate analogy was offered by another rabbi who explained that the whole world is like a narrow bridge.  We must do our best to co-exist in the narrow space. 

We must, as another relative said in her eulogy, think “WWAD.”  What Would Aaron Do?

For myself, I will strive to reduce the chances that such a tragedy will happen again on the Rickenbacker Causeway - which just happens to be where I myself jog.

I will do it because it’s my obligation as an elected official and also because of Aaron – in his memory.

I never met him, but I already miss him as if he had been my best friend.

Commissioner Xavier Suarez represents District 7 in Miami-Dade County.  He represents numerous municipalities including the City of Miami, the Village of Key Biscayne, the City of Coral Gables, the City of South Miami, the Village of Pinecrest, as well as areas of unincorporated Miami-Dade County.

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.

 

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

I shot this video last Sunday around 1:00 PM. The video speaks for itself.  The County Pubic Works Department recently installed 4 Permanent “Vehicle Speed” Information Signs” at a cost of $ 80,000. What a waste of money. That’s $320,000 that could have gone to restriping and traffic calming on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  Instead we got these “Vehicle Speed Information Signs” that are completely worthless.  Watch as dozens of cars travel in excess of the posted 45mph speed limit during this 5-minute video. I would also like to add that last Sunday I saw about a half dozen Miami Dade County PD cruisers on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Between the enforcement and these ineffective signs it is obvious that speeding continues to plaque the most popular cycling route in South Florida. Note to CPWD: Stop wasting money and design and engineer the roadway to discourage speeding.  THIS IS THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL REDUCE SPEEDING.

Watch and see for yourself…

If a cyclist or pedestrian is hit by a car traveling in excess of 45 mph, they are almost guaranteed to die.  Speed kills CPWD, you still have done nothing to that effectively address the speeding issue we have on Rickenbacker Causeway. Enforcment isn’t working, nor are “Vehicle Speed Information Signs”.

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).  Tell her that the “Vehicle Speed Information Signs” aren’t working.

 

We just received word that a cyclist was involved in a hit and run accident this morning on the Rickenbacker Causeway. We don’t have all the facts, but it appears a truck hit the cyclist. The cyclist is in stable condition with multiple facial fractures and severe swelling, bruises and cuts. The cyclist was wearing a helmet.

We will follow this story very closely and provide more details as we receive them. We hope the cyclist has a quick recovery.

More to come…

 

It seems like every time a cyclist or pedestrian is killed or seriously injured on the mean and incomplete streets of Miami the knee-jerk reaction by our politicians is more enforcement. This happened on the Rickenbacker Causeway after Christoph LeCanne was killed a year ago.  Miami Dade Police enforcement increased significantly after cyclists pressured County Commissioner Gimenez to do more. Enforcement lasted about two months.

This same old sold song and dance also took place on Brickell Avenue a few months ago. After residents and business rallied for a more pedestrian-friendly Brickell Avenue, Commissioner Sarnoff was quick to ask for additional enforcement on Brickell Avenue in order to address speeding on this poorly designed road.  The crackdown by the Miami Police Department lasted about a month. The FDOT paid lip service by reducing the speed limit by a paltry 5 mph; still excessive for a road that cuts through the heart of Florida’s most densely populated neighborhood. The combined actions of the FDOT and Commissioner Sarnoff seemed to calm some of the outrage, but the FDOT did nothing to address to actual design speed of the roadway. Even with a 5 mph reduction of the speed limit drivers will continue to speed until the actual design speed of Brickell Avenue is addressed. Enforcement is basically fruitless.

Sounds like our elected officials have a winning formula to address voter indignation when someone is killed or critically injured on South Florida streets-temporary enforcement. What a joke. This is slap in the face to everyone that accepts this expensive and infective remedy that politicians ram down our throats as the silver bullet that will change driver behavior.  Enforcement is a temporary solution that doesn’t have a lasting effect.  In order to change behavior we must change the design of our streets. In the short term redesigning our streets may be more expensive (they should have been designed properly in the first place), but in the long term we can prevent deaths and injuries with better designed roads. The impact will be felt immediately; less deaths, injuries and need for enforcement.

Enforcement is Unsustainable. Why must we pay police to enforce traffic laws when they have more productive things to do? This burden falls upon the taxpayers; we have to pay police overtime or hire more police to enforce crappy roadway design. This is preposterous.  When we hire more police to enforce our traffic laws it becomes exponentially more expensive for our municipalities. We are forced to pay the long term costs associated with additional police pensions and healthcare, as well as equipment to enforce the traffic laws (uniforms, speed guns, weapons, patrol cars, motorcycles, gas, etc.). The list goes on.  On the other hand, good design doesn’t require enforcement; a well-designed street polices itself.

Enforcement is Ineffective. Enforcement may temporarily change driver behavior, but motorists know where to expect enforcement and will regress to their bad driving behavior as long as poor roadway design encourages terrible driving manners. As long as we have roads that encourage speeding the “war” against bad driver behavior through the use of enforcement is futile. Theoretically enforcement could work if we had police at every intersection, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We all know that ain’t happening and it shouldn’t.

Our elected officials have to realize that we cannot police and enforce ourselves out of a poorly designed street. Our streets will only become safer if they are designed to accommodate all users (pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists). Commissioner Sarnoff, County Commissioner Gimenez, and Mayor Regalado are not doing enough to ensure our safety.  It’s about time they deal with the fundamental problem; incomplete and autocentric streets.  They need to force the County Public Works Department and the FDOT to design complete streets. Enforcement is deceitful at best. It gives the public the impression that our elected officials are acting in our behalf and interest. If they were sincere, our politicians would be lobbying for fundamental changes in the way we design our streets.

Our elected officials must be honest with the voting public. I do think some enforcement is better than no enforcement, particularly on the poorly designed streets in the urban core. But in order for it to be effective there needs to be a consistent (unsustainable) police presence. There must be a serious commitment of police resources until we get the FDOT to design a proper street. It can’t only be a two month crackdown.  Currently we have no enforcement at all around Brickell and the area has become virtually lawless for motorists.  This will certainly change once someone else dies or is critically injured.  It’s just a matter of time.  Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle with no end in sight. I challenge our elected officials to step-up to the plate. Will they accept this challenge? If we can put a man on the moon, we can design complete streets in our own backyard.

You can find our suggestions for improvements below.  We will not be satisfied until these recommendations are implemented. Anything less, will be considered a failure.

Brickell Avenue

Rickenbacker Causeway

Observe what happens when streets are poorly designed and there isn’t enforcement.  Watch as the two ladies almost get hit by the red Cadillac around 20 seconds. This situation could be entirely avoided if we designed our streets with pedestrians in mind.  Due to poor design we put pedestrians into a harms way, and then we create the false expectation that bad driver behavior can be addressed with enforcement. Through bad design we’ve essentially created a need for enforcement.  We should not  design our streets to be enforced.  Good design discourages bad behavior and eliminates the need for enforcement almost entirely.

Happy new year blogosphere! Transit Miami is back and better than ever with a tough agenda on the way for 2011. While we are excited about the coming year we didn’t want to move on without looking back at the top 5 events (in our opinion) which rocked our local planning and transportation world in 2010.

5. FL High Speed Rail

With the Obama Transportation policy reform in full swing, Florida’s Tampa-Orlando HSR link emerged as a big winner, securing over $2 Billion in federal funds and virtually guaranteeing the initial 84 mile corridor’s completion in 2015. Despite the near 100% funding commitment from the feds, this project almost faced a similar fate as the Ohio and Wisconsin HSR plans which were scrapped by incoming Republican Governors late this year. Incoming Republican Gov Rick Scott has pledged to fully evaluate the fiscal viability of the line and is awaiting a feasibility study due in February before deciding whether to accept the federal funds.(barf )

4. Construction begins on the Port of Miami Tunnel

At the end of 2009, things were starting to look bleak for the $1 Billion Port of Miami Tunnel intended to divert truck traffic out of Miami’s downtown streets and onto the highway. With funding in place, the port tunnel quietly broke ground in the summer of 2010, finally bringing the 20+ year old concept into reality. The 1 mile tunnel will link Dodge and Watson Islands, providing the estimated 7,000 trucks and countless other vehicles which access the port daily with new, direct access; reducing congestion, and eliminating much truck traffic that would otherwise use normal downtown streets to get to I95. The tunnel is expected to be completed in 2014.

 

3. Tragedy on the Rickenbacker Causeway

The year got off to a rough start for South Florida Cyclists with the tragic death of Christophe Le Canne on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Le Canne, a 44 year old local cyclist and photographer was killed by a drunk driver on the morning of January 17. His death struck a nerve in growing cycling community. South Florida cyclists gathered like never before in a massive display of solidarity. With an estimated 2,500 cyclists in attendance, the Christophe Le Canne memorial ride (see video 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 multimodal parkway we know it could be.

Christophe Le Canne Memorial Ride from rydel high on Vimeo.

2. FDOT heeds Brickell Community Concerns; more must be done

One of Transit Miami’s big projects this year was the campaign to improve pedestrian and cyclist conditions on Brickell. We organized residents, community groups, business interests, and elected officials to come together to speak with one voice to tell FDOT to make Brickell more pedestrian friendly as they move forward with street redesign and drainage improvement plans. We took field trips with FDOT to show them how unsafe they were desiging the road, and we let them square off with community residents and stakeholders in a meeting that left them looking careless and silly. FDOT eventually agreed to lower the speed limit, add several new crosswalks, and include shared-use arrow (sharrow) markings on the outside lane for cyclists - but more still needs to be done.  We are not going to stop until FDOT designs the street to take into account all users, and more than that, places automotive Level of Service at the bottom of a long list of other more important factors (like pedestrian and cyclist safety).

1. Miami 21

After a tumultuous 4 years of public comment,  hysterics, and misinformation, Miami 21 was officially implemented in 2010. We here at Transit Miami joined forces with the City of Miami in 2006 in full support of the plan, working closely with commissioners and city officials to help promote the virtues of a solid, form-based zoning code. The revolutionary work in Miami hasn’t gone unnoticed; since its adoption in May, Miami 21 has been the recipient of numerous awards including the American Planning Association (APA) Florida Chapter Award of Excellence, the American Architecture Award, and the Driehaus Form-Based Codes Award. The code has its issues, including excessively high parking requirements (championed by NYMBY groups) and a general lack of T4 around town, but these are issues we will continue to address in the coming years. We remain committed partners with the City of Miami Planning Department, and look forward to seeing how the code works with our existing transit investments to help Miami get through its urban growing pains.

Here is to a healthy and prosperous 2011! Cheers from the Transit Miami team.

Commissioner Gimenez and his staff have generally been very responsive to our issues via email but this week it was clear we needed to sit down and address some things face to face.

Principally:

  1. What’s the deal with the police targeting cyclists on the Rickenbacker?
  2. Safety on the Rickenbacker – perhaps extending the bike lane into normal travel lanes on Sunday mornings as a study
  3. Will the Commissioner help us with FDOT on the Brickell Campaign?
  4. Law enforcement: We want more transparency, action targeted at stopping parking in bike lanes and speeding county-wide.

I met with the Commissioner’s top aides, two gentlemen who were clearly well versed on the issue and willing to share concerns and ideas and really listen over a full 90minute meeting; for the full summary of our conversation, please read my post at SouthFloridaBikeCoalition.org here.

On any given weekend morning cyclists outnumber motorists on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Yet thousands of cyclists are relegated to the bike lane/shoulder/bus stop (or whatever you want to call it) of the roadway while dozens of cars whiz by in excess of 60mph. It’s about time we close a lane of traffic for cyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  I see no good reason why we can’t close a lane in each direction from 6:00am-11:00 am on Sunday mornings, when vehicular traffic is very light and cyclist traffic is at its peak.

The recent crackdown on bicyclists is just a game of politics and the Miami Dade Police Department is caught in the middle. The last thing the MDPD wants to do is crackdown on cyclists or speeding motorists. They have far more important things to do. But unfortunately we still have a poorly designed Rickenbacker Causeway that encourages speeding.  We also lack the political will or leadership to actually make any short term tangible improvements to the Rickenbacker Causeway.  Instead we continue to play car vs. bike politics and wait until the next cyclist is killed.

Please send Commissioner Carlos Gimenez an email and let him know that you would like to see a ciclovia on the Rickenbacker Causeway every Sunday morning.

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.

Tagged with:
 

In a show of force unseen before, the MDPD is ticketing cyclists for not coming to a complete stop at the turn around before the toll plaza as one heads back to Key Biscayne.  Tickets are running between $79-$179.

Although I do agree that there are plenty of irresponsible bicyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway, the majority of us are not.  For the most part we obey traffic laws, it behooves us to remain alive. It is the few large packs that give most of us a bad name.

That being said, I believe the MDPD is putting far too many of their valuable resources cracking down on cyclists, while the much larger problem of speeding is not being adequately addressed. Or rather it is not being given the priority that it deserves.

Yesterday, there were 6 police officers handing out tickets to cyclists. I’ve biked the Rickenbacker for the past ten years and have never seen such a concerted effort by the MDPD to ticket speeding motorists. In all fairness to the MDPD I have seen increased enforcement during the past year, but nothing like I witnessed yesterday.  I would like to see the same heavy-handed enforcement that is being applied to cyclists to speeding motorists.

The much larger problem on the Rickenbacker Causeway is and will continue to be speeding. Not one speed trap was set up yesterday to catch speeding cars, all the while I saw dozens of cars traveling in excess of 60 mph, particularly on the bridges where I have never seen a speed trap.

We need to focus our resources on ticketing irresponsible drivers, speed is the enemy and there should be zero-tolerance for speeding cars.  One mph over the current speed limit should result in a ticket. I would like to see 6 MDPD officers handing out tickets on Saturday morning to motorists to show that speeding will not be tolerated.

All I’m asking is for equal treatment. If you believe speeding cars are not being adequately dealt with on the Rickenbacker Causeway, please send Commissioner Carlos Gimenez an email and tell him you want more enforcement of speeding vehicles.

Tagged with:
 

Sorry for the delay in my response folks. As you may know, we here at Transit Miami were unable to attend the Cycling Town Hall Meeting co-hosted by Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez several months ago. We received a lot of feedback from those who attended and we have reviewed the recommendations for improvement which were presented to the public.

We are pleased that new safety improvements are being considered, as they are long overdue. However, it seems that there is no coherent plan for how these improvements will be implemented. Indeed, details regarding the improvements remain absent.

What we do know is that the Rickenbacker Causeway is the premier recreation destination in the City of Miami, if not all of Miami-Dade County. Thus, we must think of the entire corridor as a big linear park. The area hosts many parks and attractions. They include:

  • Miami Seaquarium
  • Crandon Park/Tennis Center
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
  • Mast Academy
  • Alice Wainright Park
  • Hobie Beach

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. With a plethora of attractions/parks in such close proximity, it is imperative to provide safe connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists.

With the diversity of users and the number of related destinations, a coherent Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan should be developed in order to bring all the major stakeholders to the table, including the Village of Key Biscayne.  This would be an immensely important undertaking, and the County Public Works Department should not be solely responsible for making these improvements without the input of the public and the Village of Key Biscayne and City of Miami.

Ideally, the Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan would specify the details of the proposed improvements and analyze the proposed phasing already associated with the list of improvements slated for the Causeway.

Below is the summary of projects slated to be implemented over a 5-year period.  The proposed projects listed below are all pedestrian/bicycle safety oriented improvements for the Causeway and would be funded through the use of the 25 cent allocation of every toll collected.  Below each project you will find my commentary in bold.

Summary of Projects:

FY 10-11

Hobie Island Signalized Pedestrian/Cyclist Crossing and Turnaround $630,000

Description: Design and install a cyclist/pedestrian traffic light crossing at Hobie Island (Windsurfer Beach). The installation of a traffic light, striping, and signage will allow cyclists to turn from Eastbound to Westbound prior to reaching the toll plaza.

Does this require bicyclists to dismount? How is the traffic light activated? Where will it be placed? We need more details.

Rickenbacker Speed Limit Study $ 5,000
Description: PWD will conduct and evaluate results of speed study in order to determine whether the speed limits need to be modified and implement necessary signage changes.

Reducing the posted speed limit is very important, but it will have little to no effect on the actual speed of traffic without reconfiguring the roadway for slower speeds (signal timing, narrowing vehicular lanes, etc.)

Permanent “Vehicle Speed” Information Sign $ 80,000
Description: Install permanent ”Your Speed” information signs/speed radar light boards along causeway, to alert vehicles to their traveling speeds.

Not a priority (these are very expensive) if you design a roadway with a design speed not to exceed 40 mph. Money could be better spent elsewhere.

Improvements to Roadways Leading into Toll Plaza Phase 1 $ 160,000
Description: Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road/Rickenbacker Causeway from Brickell Avenue through the toll facility to Hobie Island, to accommodate and improve access to bicycle lanes.

The entire intersection before the toll needs to be redesigned. Crosswalks also need to be dramatically improved. Do we have drawings?

Total expenditures: $875,000

FY 11-12
Improvements to Roadways Leading into Toll Plaza Phase 2 $376,000
Description: Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road from Brickell Avenue to South Miami Avenue, and on South Miami Avenue from US 1 to S 25 Road, to accommodate bicycle lanes.

See comments from above.

Crandon Boulevard Lane Modification Phase 1 $507,750

Description: Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path.

What is the width of the proposed bike lane? More importantly, what is the new width of the travel lanes and will there be a soft or striped barrier between the bike lane and travel lanes?
Total expenditures: $883,750

FY 12-13
Crandon Boulevard Lane Modification Phase 2 $492,250
Description: (Continued) Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path.

See comments above.

Bicycle/Pedestrian Lane Mod West Bridge to Brickell Avenue $400,338
Description: Re-design, widen, stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.

How wide will the path be? What about those users who are never going to use the path, those heading to points south and west of Brickell?

Total expenditure: $892,588

FY 13-14
Bicycle/Pedestrian Lane Mod West Bridge to Brickell Avenue $99,662
Description: (Continued) Re-design, widen, stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.
See above.

Multi-Use Path along North Side of Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key $450,000
Description: Provide multi-use trail along north side of causeway from Bear Cut Bridge to William Powell Bridge. Cyclists can use Mast Academy signal to cross causeway, then use aforementioned path to reach Sewer Beach Road.

We welcome an extension of the multiuse path.  Although we would like to see drawings of the Mast Academy signal to cross the causeway.

Pedestrian/Bicycle Grade Separation across the Causeway $351,851
Description: Perform a study to evaluate the best location for a pedestrian/bicyclist grade separation from motor vehicles across the Causeway; Design and construct.

This is an expensive proposition that may be better spent getting roadway improvements for cyclists and pedestrians at grade, namely in signalization and improved crosswalks.

Total expenditure: $901,513

FY 14-15
Pedestrian/Bicycle Grade Separation across the Causeway $910,529
Description: (Continued) Perform a study to evaluate the best location for a pedestrian/bicyclist grade separation from motor vehicles across the Causeway; Design and construct.

See above.

Total expenditure: $910,529

We write this with great respect for the County Public Works Department, as this is a major project that is symbolic of a larger sea in recognizing the needs and rights of bicyclists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, there remain many missing details, including how we address safety on the bridges. Thus, we need a Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan that looks comprehensively at the necessary improvements to furthering the success and safety of this recreational corridor. Going at it piecemeal is how we got into this mess in the first place. So, let’s not repeat the same mistake; let’s do it right for once and for all.

You can find more information about the proposed improvements here

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.