This morning I reported that a bicyclist was killed on Bear Cut bridge. This is the 2nd bicyclist that has been killed while riding on the Rickenbacker Causeway in the past three years. The Rickenbacker Causeway is unquestionably the most popular biking route in Miami, and on any given weekend morning thousands of bicyclists of varying abilities descend upon it to ride their bicycles.
Much will be written about who’s at fault for this accident. I would not be surprised if the driver was drunk or under the influence. Most people will blame the driver for the accident. I for one believe the driver should share the blame with the County Public Works Department. The County PWD should be held accountable for designing such poor bicycles lanes. Unfortunately, it was just a matter of time before this happened and to be quite honest I am surprised accidents like this don’t occur with more frequency.
About two years ago, the County Public Works Department began resurfacing the Rickenbacker Causeway. The PWD modus operandi with regard to bicyclists seems to be “Do as little as possible for bicyclists”. This is exactly what they have done on the Rickenbacker Causeway-as little as possible.
Anything less than a protected bicycle path should not be accepted by the bicycling community. By protected bicycle path I mean there should be a concrete barrier that physically separates the cars from the bicycles. If the County Public Works Department is going to encourage bicyclists to ride the Rickenbacker Causeway, they have the responsibility to make sure that the bicycle infrastructure they design is safe first. Putting a bike lane next to a roadway in which cars are traveling at speeds in excess of 45-65 mph creates an extremely unsafe and all to often deadly situation for bicyclists. The Rickenbacker Causeway (and frankly all our Causeways) are long overdue for an overhaul which insures the safe travel of all, including bicycles and pedestrians.
Below is a graph which shows the likelihood of surviving a collision with a car. Bridges typically happen to be areas where cars like to speed. If the County Public Works Department continues to encourage bicyclists to ride here without the correct bicycling infrastructure, accidents like this will sadly continue being a fact of life. I for one have been discouraged from biking here, but my passion for riding on two wheels will have me back on the Rickenbacker tomorrow morning. I just hope I don’t become another Rickenbacker Causeway statistic. Be safe.
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