Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez sent us an email yesterday in response to our post last week where we questioned his commitment to safety on the Rickebacker Causeway because of several recent crashes on the Rickenbacker Causeway that involved cyclists being struck by cars. As the Mayor noted in his response, we would like to acknowledge that one of the crashes (crash #2 below) that we highlighted did not happen on December 31, 2013 as we had stated. The Mayor’s office correctly pointed out that this particular crash happened nearly a month earlier. Transit Miami, and I personally would like to apologize for this oversight; our source was incorrect and we failed to validate the claim provided to us, perhaps due to our disbelief regarding the circumstances of the original crash that occurred that morning.

As for the third crash, however, while there was no police report (as validated by Mayor Gimenez’s Office), it did occur. In fact, Mayor Gimenez received an email about the hit and run from a respected Miami attorney shortly after the crash occurred.  Transit Miami was forwarded this email and we believe that the source was credible and that the crash was valid (but not reported to Police).

Regardless, our position remains the same: there have been too many crashes on the Rickenbacker Causeway and an insufficient response on the part of our elected officials.  From our perspective, not enough is being done in the short-term to prevent crashes. In his email Mayor Gimenez stated that 1,447 citations have been issued in the past year. To put that in perspective, that is an average of 4 citations per day. As evidenced by this video, which shows at least a dozen cars speeding on the Rickenbacker Causeway within a 5-minute period, there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to enforcement. If we want to send a strong message about speeding, we should issue 20 citations per day, not 4.

We would like to acknowledge that there are some improvements in the pipeline, however most improvements are likely 5-10 years away. More can be done now, but the County fails to recognize that the major flaw of the Rickenbacker Causeway is its design. A facility like the Rickenbacker warrants a grade-separated bicycle lane adjacent to the roadway.  In it’s current design, the Rickenbacker is akin to a highway with a design speed of 50+mph. Unfortunately, until the County can come to terms with this very basic and simple concept, we can expect more deaths and serious injuries on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  From our perspective, the County has done a fantastic job of discouraging cyclists from riding the Rickenbacker Causeway. I no longer ride there and I know of many other cyclists that have quit riding the Rickenbacker Causeway because it is unsafe.

I think it is fair to say that the County has not been proactive when it comes to truly making the Rickenbacker safer.  The real crux seems to be that the Mayor and his administration do not understand the real problems with the Causeway. They fail to recognize that an unprotected bike lane adjacent to a highway with a design speed of 50+mph is not safe. Yes, there are improvements with the building of wider sidewalks on Bear Cut Bridge, but what about the Powell Bridge were many cyclists have been injured? The proposed improvements are welcome, but they fall short of actually addressing the real problem.  The County can narrow the lanes all they want, but the wide-open perception creates the illusion of a highway.  The Rickenbacker needs to be rethought.

Although I do not ride the Rickenbacker Causeway, I am willing to put my life at risk and would like to extend an invitation to Mayor Gimenez and his family to ride the Rickenbacker Causeway with me, but I sincerely doubt he’ll take me up on the offer. Any logical human being can see that the Rickenbacker Causeway is not a safe place to ride a bicycle - this shouldn’t be the case.

impact-of-speed2 (1)

 

Below is the email we received from Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez:

Thank you for your email.  The safety of all users of the Rickenbacker Causeway is a priority to Miami-Dade County (County).   I have reviewed all the emails received along with the proposed short and long term goals outlined in Mr. Azenha’s posts of January 5, 2014 onwww.transitmiami.com and, most recently, Ms. Fabiola Santiago’s Miami Herald column on January 10, 2014.  We have been working hard to keep the public informed of the improvements being made along the Causeway, but before outlining the County’s efforts, I would like to clarify information regarding the three (3) recent accidents involving cyclists on the Causeway, which have been misrepresented:

1.            The police report detailing the accident that occurred on the William Powell Bridge in the pre-dawn hours of December 31, 2013 indicated that the driver was operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and was therefore arrested.  There was no roadway or traffic engineering defect which contributed to this tragic accident.

2.            The second referenced accident occurred on Wednesday November 6, 2013,  not two (2) hours later on December 31, 2013 as reported in Mr. Azenha’s post.  That accident involved two (2) cyclists who were struck by a driver making a left turn into MAST Academy.  The police report indicated that the driver failed to yield the right-of-way to the cyclists, and was therefore cited for the accident.  Again, no engineering defect or roadway design created conditions which contributed to the accident.

3.            The third accident was referenced in Mr. Azenha’s second post and Ms. Santiago’s column regarding a BMW striking a cyclist on Monday January 6, 2014 while leaving Key Biscayne.  County staff has not been able to identify any records of an accident report filed by either the Village of Key Biscayne, City of Miami or Miami-Dade police departments for this date and alleged by Mr. Azenha or the other resident who wrote to the Herald.

Unfortunately, there is no amount of roadway design or safety improvements that can be implemented to mitigate a driver’s failure to follow basic road rules or to address reckless, irresponsible behavior on the part of a motorist.

Please be advised that over the last several years, the Public Works and Waste Management Department (PWWM) has taken proactive steps to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety on the Causeway, and other major roadways throughout the County. The County’s commitment to cyclist and pedestrian safety is clearly evidenced by the inclusion of new 14-foot wide bicycle/pedestrian paths at a cost of approximately $8.5 million as part of the ongoing repairs to the Bear Cut Bridge.  To implement these improvements the bridge is being widened by 20 feet.  Additionally, all new roadway improvement projects include dedicated or shared bicycle and pedestrian paths where possible in compliance with the Miami-Dade County Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) and State and Federal guidelines.

Finally, with respect to the short and long-term goals outlined by Mr. Azenha, the County offers the following:

Short Term Goals for the Causeway

•             Enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit and regular DUI checkpoints – Over the last year the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) has conducted periodic traffic enforcement in conjunction with the City of Miami and Village of Key Biscayne Police Departments.  This has been done utilizing speed control signs and uniformed and motorcycle officers to conduct traffic enforcement and education.  During this period, MDPD has issued more than 1,447 citations and more than 500 verbal warnings.   MDPD will continue its efforts to ensure the safety of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike along the Causeway in partnership with the City of Miami and the Village of Key Biscayne.

•             Reduce speed limit to 35 mph – PWWM proactively reduced the speed limit on most of Crandon Boulevard inside Crandon Park from 45 mph to 40 mph many years ago. Also, based on a PWWM speed study conducted approximately 5 years ago, PWWM requested regular enforcement of posted speeds from the Police Departments referenced above and installed 14 speed feedback signs to assist motorists in self-policing their speed.  In addition, staff reviewed all of the speed limits along the causeway in preparation for the construction of the Bearcut and West Bridges and as a result adjusted the speed limits to 35 mph and 25 mph in the construction areas.

•             Close the right lane of traffic in both directions on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00am - This would not be feasible since the daily placement of cones each weekend would create new falling hazards for bicyclists and present significant maintenance challenges.  Furthermore, the causeway is mostly made up of two lanes going each direction and therefore shutting down a lane during the weekend would cause traffic delays and more safety issues.

•             Better signage – In 2007, PWWM milled and resurfaced the Causeway from the Crandon Marina west to the mainland.  The work included the installation of bicyclist height handrails on the north side of the three (3) bridges and the conversion of the roadway shoulders into bicycle lanes with appropriate bicycle related traffic signage and pavement markings, in compliance with State and Federal standards.    As new federal traffic sign and pavement marking standards are developed, PWWM reviews them to determine appropriate locations for implementation of the new standards.  For example, as a result of updated standards, PWWM modified the markings on Hobie Island alongside the eastbound bicycle lane.  In 2012, PWWM installed wide vibratory lines to alert drivers moving into the bicycle lane.   More recently, new signage has been implemented on the Bear Cut and West bridges and updated frequently based on construction conditions and feedback from the Causeway users including bicycle groups.

 

Click here to send Mayor Carlos Gimenez an email and let him know that the Rickenbacker Causeway needs to be made safer for everyone.

 

4 Responses to Mayor Gimenez Responds to Safety on the Rickenbacker; Transit Miami Issues an Apology

  1. Motorists are, as far as I can tell, at least 95% of the traffic on the Causeway. That is, for every one cyclist, there are at least 20 cars, probably more.

    Why on earth should we run the Causeway for cyclists, when almost everyone is driving?

    The Causeway is for cars, and should be run for cars. And drivers vote with their accelerator pedals for high speed limits.

    If it were up to me, it would be illegal to cycle on the Causeway, and we would leave it exclusively for cars. By not cycling on the Causeway, you are quite properly contributing to safety, and that is how things should remain.

    Resources should be run for the people who actually use the resource – in this case, drivers – and not a tiny minority of citizens.

       0 likes

  2. Anonymous says:

    LOL! It’s all laughable at this point. Yes there are morons that drive cars! Yes there are people speeding regularly on KB! Yes cyclist will continue to get killed under the current conditions!

    Ironic that the mayor wants to have bragging rights of lower speeds in the construction zone.

    Question; Why does the FDOT lower speeds in construction zones?

    Answer; Cause there are people present in unprotected vehicles next to high speed lanes of traffic.

    So, according to the Mayor the rest of the area of the causeway where cyclist and joggers(unprotected if the mayor was unaware) are present next to high speed lanes of traffic don’t count! Why don’t they brag about that?

    The reality is mayor Gimenez does not want to lower speeds for the same reason the mayor of KB doesn’t want to. The residents of KB. That’s why! It’s just that simple! We all need to stop bitching and realize the 1% of the county will have it there way. If you don’t like it look into campaign donors, influential/powerful individuals who reside out there in the KB community, and Voila you have your answer to the fix.

    It was clear to me after the 2nd “gonna do something” meeting with officials after Aaron Cohens death. It’s all a joke! Don’t you see it? Nothing is gonna happen!

    Let me give you an analogy;

    Imagine a beautiful island where you’d love to spend most of your free time on a beautiful day. Now imagine if that island was open to the public and loaded with pesky seagulls and wild life. How much better would it be if that beach was all yours, no one else’s, and you could get there as fast as you want anytime you had the impulse to want to go?

    Now go back and substitute “public” for some loathsome savages that use to set up shop on Hobie beach on the weekends, and “pesky seagulls and wildlife” for cyclist and pedestrians.

    If you couldn’t figure it out “you” are the KB residents who make sure that their favorite island is all they want it to be. How do they do it? One word! Deterrent. KB residents didn’t create their fortune or their community they wanted being dumb or obvious!

    If you make it more inconvenient for people to go to the beach(parking, increase fees, set up new rules for use) or to use the causeway safely(keep lanes wide, keep speeds up, get people mad about the dangerous cyclist & pedestrians, and get an elected officials ear or pocket) people will stop coming.

    I say well played KB well played! The icing on the cake is the “bridge falling apart”. What better way to add one more huge deterrent when it seems like you might lose the battle with all these inconvenient deaths of cyclist….

    Uh oh, things got a little hairy there for a second KB!

    Now, let me clarify I’m not a conspiracy theorist and am not insinuating that there is one at play here, but if that bridge has been falling apart for the last 30 years why now? Right in the heat of the bad press of all these deaths! Media more involved than ever! Government looking like it might actually have to do something in favor of cycling safety, is this happening?

    Simple! Wasn’t it right about the same time the government was being criticized nationally for lack of road, bridge, and public highway up keep? A new agenda to give government funded projects the green light? Wasn’t it right around that time all this press came out about the KB bridge?

    Do you not think independent engineers and local media coverage are a coincidence? Reports from the county from several years prior showed all the same findings. Why now? I understand liability blah blah, but why now and why only half the bridge?

    Oh yeah, independent analysis shows the outer most lanes are going to fall into the ocean immediately! Drive over the bridge only if you dare! The County wants KB children to die on their way to their new private charter school taken from the county residents! The county wants to kill people! That is why FDOT and engineers deemed it safe before! Death, Danger, falling apart!!!! ahhh! Look even TV says it’s so!! It must be true!

    It’s a shame! Until someone is ready to take on the real issues nothing will happen! How much do you think it would cost the county, or FDOT to paint the right lanes, put up signs to share the road, lower speeds, add flashers like cross walks, and act like cyclist have the right as any other street legal vehicle?

    I’ll tell you how much! A fraction of the cost and time as any other solution presented. Asking for the local politicians help is like when I ask my 3 year old to take a bath. All the excuses in the world and lengthy incoherent thought on why she can’t. Offer her candy and she runs to the bath!

    KB has the candy! Cyclist don’t!

    Deterrent! Remenber it! It’s not politics, lack of money or infrastructure!

    Deterrent! Think about that next time your on your KB ride!

       1 likes

  3. B says:

    Have not been on here for a while, but I have to respond to the above comment by David. Dave: by applying your logic, we should not have any sidewalks or crosswalks anywhere, except possibly on Lincoln Road. Or to take a more autocentric perspective, most commuters into downtown Miami are coming from the expressway, so we don’t need to have any surface road access. Are you really willing to take this position?

    One example where we all agree that we should inconvenience motorists for the safety of the minority who are not in cars: school zones. If most students are being dropped off by cars or school busses anyways, why bother protecting children who walk or bike to school?

    Finally, note that nobody on here is saying we should “run the causeway for bicyclists.” On the contrary, we should run the causeway for the safety of ALL causeway users–be they truckers, car commuters, runners, recreational cyclists, bike commuters, or bus riders. There is plenty of space on the Causeway to do this.

       1 likes

  4. John Wilkes Booth says:

    I say we put up road blocks using burning tyres till our demands are met! Those affluent KB-lites will be brought to their knees! Knees I say!

       0 likes

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