Currently viewing the tag: "Bicycle Infrastructure"

Early last month, a seemingly pro-bicycle legislative item was introduced to the Board of County Commissioners. It goes up for vote this Thursday. The resolution appears well-intended. However, upon closer examination, one finds it saturated with contradictions that could actually harm the community.

On August 3, Rebeca Sosa, County Commissioner for District #6, introduced Miami-Dade Legislative Item #121569. Its extremely long title sums-up the ostensibly well-intended gist of the proposal:

“Resolution urging the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] to Work Cooperatively with Local Governments When Installing Bicycle Lanes on State Roads; Urging the Florida Legislature to Amend Applicable Statutes to Require Such Cooperation and Provide Greater Flexibility to the Florida Department of Transportation Related to Bicycle Lanes”

Sounds great, right? Indeed. Upon reading the resolution’s title appealing for a more cooperative, more flexible, trans-agency approach to planning for and implementing bike lanes on state roads, how could one not support this county resolution?

The body of the resolution goes on to highlight the myriad benefits of bicycle-based active transportation (including, among others, saving money and reducing ecological footprints). It emphasizes how long-standing, and on-going, planning efforts have been made to harness the power of bicycle ridership to improve the livability of our community. It even reminds the commissioners of the increasing price of gasoline (being driven even higher due to the closure of Gulf Coast refineries precipitated by Hurricane Issac), and how non-fossil-fuel-consuming modes of transportation are the ways toward a sustainable future. Importantly, it also reminds the county commissioners of FDOT’s legal obligations to improve bicycle facilities wherever possible on the roads they manage.


Great initiative, Commissioner Sosa! Now we just need to get the language right to encourage more — and safer, better, more rideable — bike lanes, not give FDOT and the cities more flexibility to back out of their responsibilities to create complete streets for all road users!

All of this language is extremely encouraging and is exactly how such a resolution should be written.  The problem, though, starts with how this resolution reads after all that good stuff. Beyond those points, the proposed resolution is littered with nonsense that would — with no far stretch of the imagination — actually curtail the expansion of bicycle facilities throughout our community.

Four specific bike lanes, intended to exemplify inappropriately located bike lanes, come under attack in the current language of the resolution. This is where it implodes, demonstrating the detachment of many of our elected officials to the non-automobile reality on the streets. Let’s have a look at some of the underlying complaints against these facilities:

“[the bicycle lanes conflict with] many storefront businesses with parking that requires vehicles to back out onto [the road]”

“[the bicycle lanes conflict with] vehicles travel[ing] at a high rate of speed, with a speed limit between 45 and 55 mph”

“[the bicycle lanes conflict with] curbside parking, limited space and considerable traffic”

Unbelievable! There’s so much to say here — too much! I’ll keep it short:

  • A huge part of bike facilities is about raising the profile of cyclists as legal street vehicles.  In addition to the more functional purpose of giving cyclists a physical space on the road, bike lanes also serve the function of raising awareness that cyclists belong (practically, ethically, legally) on the road.
  • Local storefront businesses should be catering to cyclists for all of the business they bring and revenue they create.
  • By allocating just one or two automobile parking spaces for bicycle parking, you could fit far more bikes and bring-in far more business.

Local governments would be doing small businesses a favor by writing codes that supported greater bicycle parking at storefront shops and restaurants.

  • It’s the responsibility of the motorists backing-out of the (oft-excessive) on-street parking to exercise caution to not hit cyclists. All road-users must watch-out for negligence, negligence by any type of road-user.
  • The point of bike lanes is to give cyclists a safe, separate space apart from motorists on the road, especially at roads where motorists drive quickly (i.e., “45-55 mph”).
  • If the roads weren’t so fast (35 mph or less), FDOT and the cities would try to get away with just painting some sharrows, giving themselves a pat on the back, and calling it a day. (As noted in a recent TransitMiami post, sharrows just aren’t cutting it for true bicycle network connectivity.)
  • “Considerable traffic”?! Has the steady expansion of the monthly Miami Critical Mass movement taught you nothing? WE ARE TRAFFIC!

Now, there are some very valid concerns embodied in the language of this proposed resolution. They hit at the irrefutable reality of many of our community’s bike facilities, even the most well-intended ones — many bicycle facilities in South Florida are sub-par. A bike facility is useless if it’s not actually designed to be used.

We all understand why many riders completely avoid the bike lane on the 50mph MacArthur Causeway and opt for the Venetian Causeway instead. We all know why some riders still ride on sidewalks, even when freshly-painted sharrows or bike lane stripes are on the road. These facilities weren’t properly designed for bicycle safety and accessibility. We’ve allowed FDOT and the cities to rest on their laurels by increasing the quantity of facilities while paying little regard to the quality of the facilities. Quantity is not quality.

Many lanes in our community adhere to the bare minimum design standards. They often provide the absolute minimum width, and rarely offer any sort of buffering between the bike lane and non-bike lane.

Rather than simply create more bike lanes, we must create better bike lanes! We need buffered bike lanes, cycle tracks (segregated bike facilities), and shared-use paths. We need to make the process of planning and designing bike facilities more participatory. And, most importantly, we need to stop designing bike facilities as lower tier or secondary to automobile facilities.  We must emancipate ourselves from our auto-centric notions of how our streets should function.

Give cyclists and motorists a buffer to make them both more comfortable on the road. If you build it (CORRECTLY), they WILL come! In fact, we’re already here!

Segregate the bike facility from the motorized lanes and/or on-street parking and you’ll see more usage. Again, if you build it (CORRECTLY), they WILL come! We’re already here!

The proposed County Commission resolution is not the path (pun unavoidable) to improving bikeability in Miami. As it currently stands, the language in the item would reverse the little progress we’ve thus far made.

Commissioners: A change of language is needed in Miami-Dade Legislative Item #121569. Please do not support any resolution that would allow FDOT and the municipalities to get even more slack on bicycle network safety, connectivity, and accessibility.

Citizens: Please contact your district’s commissioner and let her/him know how you feel about this seemingly innocuous, yet potentially detrimental, resolution. They’ll be voting on it September 6. You can find your district and commissioner at this interactive County Commission District map.

mayor@miamidade.gov, officeofthechair@miamidade.gov, bjordan@miamidade.gov, district2@miamidade.gov, district3@miamidade.gov, district4@miamidade.gov, district5@miamidade.gov, district6@miamidade.gov, District7@miamidade.gov, District8@miamidade.gov, DennisMoss@miamidade.gov, district10@miamidade.gov, district11@miamidade.gov, District12@miamidade.gov, district13@miamidade.gov

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.

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

The word on the livable street is that FDOT will begin a major resurfacing project on Brickell Avenue early next year.  Brickell Avenue will be resurfaced from SE 25th Road to SE 5th Street (approximately 1.5 miles).

This is an excellent opportunity for FDOT to shows its commitment to livable streets. Brickell Avenue is one of the most densely populated and pedestrianized areas in all of Florida; it is a destination, not a thoroughfare, therefore it needs to be designed in such a way that speeding is discouraged.

The current design plans for this project call for the same 11 foot travel lanes, no bicycle facilities, and improved crosswalks. This project will come under close scrutiny of Transit Miami (we have high expectations).  If you have any suggestions for FDOT, please use the comments section. We really need everyone’s help on this one. Together we can make Brickell Avenue a safe place for people to walk, bike and drive.

Source: http://sdotblog.seattle.gov

Miami Dade County has about $1,000,000 to invest on bicycle infrastructure improvements. Sharrows are a great option, especially when the roadway isn’t wide enough to accommodate a bicycle lane. Please contact Collin Worth, (305-416-1022) Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Miami, and let him know where you would like to see sharrows. There is a caveat; the speed limit of the road must be less than 35 mph for sharrows to be considered and it must be on a city or county road, however it cannot be a state road.

The County Public Works Department has approved the use of sharrows, FDOT on the other hand has not.  Please send Gus Pego, District 6 secretary, an email and ask FDOT to approve the use of sharrows immediately on state roads.

You can also leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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The below email was forwarded to Transit Miami this afternoon:

Commissioner Carlos Gimenez and I are hosting a cycling community meeting concerning the 25 cents set aside for safety improvements on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The meeting will be held on Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 6:30 PM at the Coral Gables Youth Center auditorium located at 400 Anastasia Avenue. Please pass this message along to members of the cycling community. Hope to see you there.

Ralph Cabrera

Commissioner

City of Coral Gables

Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez have a long track record of being very supportive of the cycling community.  I have personally seen Commissioner Ralph Carbrera on a bicycle wearing spandex. I believe Commissioner Gimenez used to be a roadie, but currently does not ride (we need to convince him to come out of retirement!).

Please tell, bring, and drag fellow cyclists to this meeting. The cycling constituency is getting stronger, but conditions for cyclists will only improve if meetings like these are well attended. Let’s make it happen.

Transit Miami received this email regarding Euclid Avenue from Gabrielle Redfern, on behalf of BASIC (Bicycle Activists for a Safe, Integrated City)

Another day, another bicycle facility on the chopping block in the City of Miami Beach.  Current plans call for dedicated bike lanes on this road when it gets reconstructed in the nearer future. Even with out the new curb and gutter that the avenue is programmed to get, this 70 foot behemoth of a local road could benefit today from a little TLC, in the form of a small coat of paint, say running down each side of the lanes of traffic to narrow the car roadway to slow traffic and make more room for bikes.  But no.  The neighbors will have none of it!

Long story short:  what say you?  If you cannot make it tomorrow, no worries.  This is just the first skirmish in what looks like a long war, and this battle will pay out in other conference rooms, and perhaps the Commission Chambers before all is said and done.  BASIC objects to all this plan revision in the City of Miami Beach that involves removal of bicycle facilities.”

The extra large lanes, with no bike lanes, currently encourage a speedway effect from the foot of the Macarthur to Lincoln Road.  Few lights, very residential, no trees, it is the perfect street to use in your car when traveling north south, avoiding Alton or even the scenic park-side Meridian. (If you never knew, and I blew it for the neighbors, I am sorry.)  Something needs to be done, that is certain. I spent much time riding it yesterday, and this road is ugly, unsafe and hot! And thank God plans are in the works to make it so much better.  But reconstruct a roadway, with 70 feet of ROW and not add dedicated bike lanes?  Bike lanes currently called for in the City’s own Master Plan?  That is what the Flamingo Park Neighborhood Association plans to argue for in their streetscape sections before the committee on Wednesday. No bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.

To be fair, the neighborhood is proposing extra wide sidewalks they think will be good for sharing between pedestrians and bicycles.  However, we disagree on this, the nature and manner of providing for bicycles.  They see bicycles as recreation only.  BASIC demands bicycles be given equal attention to cars in the transportation grid.  We need a complete street that accommodates pedestrians, bicycles and cars.  In that order.  On that, the neighbors and I agree.  How we get there, well, that is another battle brewing….

So how do we meet them halfway?  (I pray daily to avoid war with folks I respect and admire).  In the hope we can come to common ground, BASIC proposes a street section that includes two foot swales in front of all properties; providing for 12-foot sidewalks, clear of signs and other obstructions; a five foot street-side swale for landscaping and signage; two, one way, 15 foot travel lanes, with sharrows, separated by a two foot landscaped median. Currently all properties program right up to the sidewalk.  Providing those landowners with two feet of green space running the length of their property will increase their property value.  It would make for a beautiful street, in our opinion.”

MIAMI BEACH MAYORS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE ON BIKEWAYS IN MIAMI BEACH

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 2010 2:00 p.m. (although this item may be a time certain 3:00 p.m)

MAYOR’S CONFERENCE ROOM

FOURTH FLOOR MIAMI BEACH CITY HALL

666 17TH STREET

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA 33139

Governor Crist signed HB 971 today. Though I had called before, I wrote a last minute letter to him that was clearly of no avail. I wanted to share it with you so you are aware of some of the issues this bill brings up, and the changes it will now mean. If you are one of the ones with questions about what the problem is with the mandatory bicycle lane law, please give this a read.

Continue reading »

A cyclist was struck by a car yesterday morning in Key Biscayne. According to the Miami Herald, the cyclist ran a red light and was then struck by the car. If this accurate, it does not surprise me one bit. Quite frankly, there are too many testosterone-filled cyclists out there giving good cyclists a bad name. All cyclists need to start obeying the rules of the road if they want to earn the respect of motorists. Running red lights and breaking other traffic laws makes all cyclists look bad. It goes without saying that cyclists will usually end up on the losing end in a collision with a 3000 lb vehicle. Please let us know if you have more details of this accident.

Since the hit and run collision that killed cyclist Christoph LeCanne in January, the Transit Miami Eye has noticed that the Miami Dade Police Department has wholeheartedly stepped up enforcement on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  This morning I noticed a small army of Miami Dade police officers pulling over speeding cars. Well done MDPD, your efforts have not been overlooked.

Thank you MDPD!

Busted. Speeders can run, but they can't hide from the MDPD.

Unfortunately, even with the additional enforcement, many hazards still remain.  Additional enforcement certainly helps, but is not a long term solution for the Rickenbacker Causeway.  We still have a roadway that is designed to encourage cars to travel in excess of the posted 45 mph speed limit, which in and of itself is too high. Even with all the additional enforcement, I saw several cars traveling in excess of 60 mph today. Speeding is particularly prevalent on bridges, where it difficult for the police to set up speed traps. Drivers are aware of this and take the opportunity to rev-up their engines. For this reason, bridges are the most dangerous sections of the Rickenbacker Causeway for cyclists.

What we really need to do is design a roadway that polices itself.  If we were to construct a roadway with a design speed of 35-40 mph, we would not require the coveted services of our police department. Instead the valuable resources of the Miami Dade Police Department could be allocated to deal with the more pressing issues of our community. Please do not misconstrue what I am trying to say, I really am grateful for everything the Miami Dade Police Department has done for the cycling community. They have been very supportive of us, but enforcement is only part of the solution to the many issues that plaque the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Today I also saw a Miami Fire Department truck parked in the bike lane. A bike lane that also doubles as a shoulder creates a major conflict for cyclists when motor vehicles are parked in it.  You can also see several other pictures of Miami Dade County employees parked in the bike lane that Transit Miami reader Yaniel Cantelar sent to us last week.

Motor vehicles parked in the bike lane create major conflict areas for cyclists

For the past couple of weeks I have been eating, drinking, and biking my way through France. My wife and I spent a week honeymooning in Provence and another week in Paris.

Provence

We spent the first week of our honeymoon cycling through the heart of wine country in Provence. Our tour was organized by Headwater and was truly epic. When you travel on a bicycle you get to fully experience your surroundings.  You smell the country side, you feel your environment and you interact with the locals. There is something about traveling on a bicycle; for those that have done it you know what I’m talking about. For those of you that haven’t, you should really consider it. You can find our itinerary here.

Arriving in Cotignac

Elevated crosswalk in Carces used to calm traffic

Bollards used to protect pedestrians and calm traffic. Notice how the street and sidewalk are the same grade

No sidewalk? Not a problem, just create a space for pedestrians by striping

Paris

I can’t say enough about how wonderful this city is. Unlike Miami, most motorists actually yield to pedestrians. All intersections are clearly marked with wide zebra crosswalks.  I also noticed that the pedestrian crosswalk signals are much lower than the pedestrian crosswalk signals here in the United States. Placing the pedestrian crosswalk signal closer to eye level makes it easier for both pedestrians and motorists to notice them.  Also, traffic lights are placed before the crosswalk and not in the middle of intersections.  By placing the traffic lights before the crosswalk it forces motorists to stop before the crosswalk, giving pedestrians the right of way they deserve. Another feature I also observed was the pedestrian fences.  In areas where pedestrians should not cross the street, tasteful pedestrians fences have been erected to corral the pedestrians towards the large zebra crosswalk.  Sidewalks, for the most part, are wide and inviting.

Notice how motorists are forced to stop before the crosswalk when traffic signals are not located in the intersection.

Traffic signals are placed before the crosswalk and not in the intersections.

Sidewalks are wide, making the public realm more inviting to walk

Tasteful fences are used to guide pedestrians to the crosswalks where it is safe to cross.

The Velib bicycle share system in Paris is absolutely spectacular. Because Paris is so walkable, I only used it once, but the system is very easy to use and is well connected to mass transit.  I was amazed to see Parisians from all walks of life using the Velib bicycles. I saw stylish women and men using the bicycles, as well as businessmen, businesswomen and the elderly using the Velib.

A fleet of Velibs

Bicycles lane were clearly marked and in many areas were allowed to share the bus-only lanes. Buses are equipped with an electrical horn that sounds like a bicycle bell.  Bus drivers use this electrical bicycle bell to politely warn cyclists and pedestrians that the bus is coming.

Bike boxes give cyclists priority in the transit queue

Chevron arrows through an intersection

Chevron arrows across an intersection into a protected bicycle path

Bicyclists can share the bus lane

The metro and the bus system are easy to use.  At the metro stations and bus stops there are electrical boards advising transit users when the next train or bus will arrive.

The next bus arrives in 2 minutes

Next train arrives in 3 minutes

Most crosswalks have provisions for the blind and I even found a train station that had a textured path that could be felt with a walking cane.

Textured path to help guide the blind in a train station

Most crosswalks have provisions to help guide the blind

Parks are scattered throughout Paris. The parks I entered were active and drew a wide array of people of different ages.

Children playing in one of the many park of Paris

Lounging in the warm afternoon Paris sun

Paris recycles; Miami does not.

The Miami Herald is reporting that the FDOT Port of Miami tunnel project will break ground in June. FDOT currently has three megaprojects in the works in South Florida. Check out the FDOT video plugging the Port of Miami tunnel project.  From the looks of it pedestrians and bicyclists were not considered in the design of the port tunnel/MacArthur Causeway.

FDOT Megaprojects:

  • $1 billion Port of Miami tunnel project
  • $1.7 billion Miami Intermodal Center near Miami International Airport
  • $1.8 billion reconstruction of Interstate 595 in Broward County.

It’s sad to see that FDOT has money to spend on theses megaprojects, yet it can’t come up with money for bike lanes on Sunset Drive. This goes to show where their priorities lie.

In other news, the US Military is warning that by 2015 oil demand will outstrip supply bringing us one step closer to peak oil. Perhaps FDOT should spend their money more wisely on projects which do not depend on cheap oil.

Yesterday I received the following email from Mr. Gus Pego, FDOT District 6 Secretary:

As you know, at the public information meeting on March 30th for the resurfacing project on Sunset Drive from SW 84th Place to 69 Avenue, the department received numerous inquiries and requests regarding the configuration of the roadway to address the needs of bicyclists.

The design presented at that meeting reflected a minor pavement widening into the roadway median and a reduction in lane width of the inside travel lane in order to implement a wide outside lane in each direction (14 feet in width) to provide a bicycle facility along the corridor.  A wide outside lane is one in which the motorist and bicyclist travel in the outside lane together. This meets the requirements of a bicycle facility per the department’s standards.

At the public meeting, the bicycle community requested that the District evaluate an option that would provide a delineated lane for bicyclists.

The department evaluated two different options:

  1. Implementation of 4 foot undesignated bike lane in each direction
  2. Implementation of a 5 foot designated bike lane in each direction.

Each of these options would require the addition of significant amounts of pavement to the corridor.  As such, new drainage facilities would be needed to treat the additional stormwater runoff resulting from the new pavement areas.  Normally french drains would be used for this purpose and environmental permits would be required.  Given the project’s close proximity to the South Wellfield protection area, the department’s research indicates that this type of drainage system is not feasible or permittable in this area, although any existing exfiltration trenches or slab covered trenches are “grandfathered-in. Only dry systems for treatment and attenuation (swales or ponds) which would not fit in the corridor without ROW acquisition could be permitted in this area.  The additional pavement area would also require the implementation of concrete curb and gutter along the roadway edges due to the proximity to fixed objects along the roadway.

The current project budget is $3.5 Million. The two options cited above are estimated to cost $9.9 Million and $10.1 Million, respectively.

Due to the increased cost and probable drainage permitting issues cited above, the department is not able to implement a 4 foot undesignated bike lane or 5 foot designated bike lane as part of this project. Therefore, the current design of a 14 foot wide outside lane will be maintained; however the department will explore the possibility of installing signing to inform motorists that they need to provide a 3 foot clearance to bicycles and will also explore utilization of special pavement markings.”

Yesterday afternoon I took off the suit and put on the spandex for an afternoon ride on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  This is what I witnessed:

  • About a hundred cyclists enjoying the afternoon
  • Several dozen pedestrians and runners exercising
  • At least 15 cars cruising in excess of 50 mph
  • At least 3 cars doing about 65 mph on the bridges (Motorists love to speed on the bridges, it is very difficult to enforce the speed limit on the bridges)
  • One parked car in the bike lane
  • A Miami Dade Transit bus overtake me, only to cut me off to drop off a passenger.  The bus partially stopped in the bike lane, forcing me into the traffic lane as I passed the bus.
  • A large white van came within 2 feet of me while doing about 50 mph.
  • One decoy police car used to calm traffic

Believe it or not, but this was a particularly calm day on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Conditions continue to remain unsafe for all users; unfortunately cyclists do not have any better or safer options.

For those of you that will be able to attend, please be sure to ask FDOT if they feel like the new bike lanes on the MacArthur Causeway are safe.  Ask them if they would feel comfortable if their children rode in this bike lane. A completely unprotected bicycle lane on a major highway, that starts and ends abruptly, is not safe nor is it a very good idea. The minimum standard that was applied to the MacArthur Causeway bike lanes are better suited for a road that has a design speed of 25 mph, not 70 mph.

From FDOT:

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District Six, will conduct a public information meeting about a roadway project on State Road (S.R.) A1A / 5th Street / MacArthur Causeway from West Avenue to Collins Avenue on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Miami Beach Police Athletic League, 999 11th Street, Miami Beach, FL.

The proposed scope of work includes: repaving of the road; replacement of damaged sidewalks, curbs and gutters; reconstruction of pedestrian ramps; median closure at Euclid Avenue to improve safety conditions; addition of bicycle lanes; minor signalization improvements; and new signs and pavement markings.

Graphic displays of the project will be showcased at this meeting and FDOT representatives will be available to discuss the project and answer questions. Please contact Marta Rodriguez, Public Information Specialist, if you have any questions about this project at 305-470-5203 or by email at marta.rodriguez@dot.state.fl.us.

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