Currently viewing the tag: "bicycles"

I saw this first via Twitter and it left me going “Whaaaat?” It’s called YikeBike, and it’s what its creators term a “mini-farthing,” a modern and miniaturized evolution of the venerable penny farthing bicycle.

Launched back in November at Eurobike, the YikeBike stands out, in my opinion, as the most unique of the new crop of e-bikes sweeping the industry. It looks like an ergonomic desk chair, I know, but I guess that’s part of its appeal. Check out the promotional video created to show off the bike.

The YikeBike was created by a British company and thinking of the London Downtown area, it makes perfect sense how this could be a useful personal mobility system. In Miami, however, I could see it being used on the Beach, maybe in Coconut Grove or Coral Gables, but considering the drivers we boast, I can hardly imagine Yike riders exploring the areas in between neighborhoods. In the places where it could work, though, I could really see this working well.

Much like the Segway this product seems to be aiming to compete against, price becomes the major factor in its adoptability: $4450.00 USD.

Mind you, personally I think that a regular, good ole bicycle is the simplest, most perfect answer to urban personal mobility, but I also cannot help but like to be attracted to neat, futuristic technology. I think it’s an interesting idea with an even more interesting design, and it will be cool to see how it does in the general market. Maybe we can convince YikeBike to send one down to Miami for road testing.

Below you will find the minutes for the January and March meetings of the Miami Beach Bikeways Committee. The next meeting is today, April 28, and I will post a report and upload the minutes a few days later.

  • January Meeting (PDF) - Topics covered include: bikes on Lincoln Rd, update of various road projects, bike racks around the Beach, electric bike rentals, the (mythical?) bike-share project by DecoBike, and the accident at the Rickenbacker.
  • March Meeting (PDF) - Topics covered include: update on some road projects, FDOT and the 71st St repaving project in regards to bike lanes, bike lanes on McArthur Causeway.

Remember that even if you cannot attend the meetings, any resident of Miami Beach has the right to email any of the committee representatives and voice their opinion, especially if based on the progress seen in these minutes.

We’ll see what the April meeting holds.

4/24/2010

9:15-11:30

34 Miles

This morning a female cyclist rear-ended a Miami-Dade Transit bus on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The cyclist suffered minor injuries and was not taken to the hospital. I don’t have all the details of the accident, but this much I do know: the cyclist was in the bike lane and she rear-ended the bus that was parked in the bike lane/bus stop/shoulder.

This accident highlights another major and possibly deadly design flaw on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  In many instances when a bus pulls over to pick up or drop off passengers, the bus tends obstruct the bike lane. When this occurs, there is major conflict between the cyclist and the bus.  Cyclists are either forced to stop short, or they are forced to enter the roadway in order to overtake the bus. This scenario is very dangerous for cyclists as they must enter the roadway were most cars are traveling between 40-50mph. Cyclists will eventually come out on the losing end of this situation.

A conflict area is created when buses and cars park in the bike lane. Cyclists are forced into the roadway.

Ideally the bike lane should not be used as a bus stop and shoulder. Below is an example of a bike lane that is physically separated from the bus stop. The roadway on the Rickenbacker Causeway needs a similar treatment. Today’s accident followed an earlier incident in which a bus overtook two cyclists only to cut them off as the bus partially obstructed the bike lane in order to pick up passengers.

Source: safecycling.org

I also witnessed:

  • Several hundred cyclists enjoying the morning
  • Hundred of runners and walkers exercising
  • A small army from the Miami-Dade Police Department handing out speeding tickets
  • Most cars traveling between 40-50 mph
  • At least 5 cars traveling in excess of 65 mph on the William Powell Bridge and Bear Cut Bridge. (Speed limit is virtually unenforceable on the bridges)
  • One decoy police car
  • Half dozen runners running in the bike lane

Sooner or later there will be another cycling fatality involving a motor vehicle on the Rickenbacker Causeway. This is not debatable; it’s just a matter of time.  In order to raise awareness of the inherent dangers of the Rickenbacker Causeway, I will try to briefly document all my Rickenbacker Causeway bike rides. Welcome to The Rickenbacker Report!

4/19/2010

18:00-19:30

25 miles

  • At least 6-7 dozen cyclists
  • 2-3 dozen pedestrians/runners
  • At least 15 cars driving in excess of 50 mph
  • 2 cars parked in the bicycle lane
  • 3 joggers running against the flow of traffic in the bike lane
  • 1 decoy police car

4/21/2010

18:00-19:45

32 miles

  • At least 5-6 dozen cyclists
  • 2 dozen pedestrians
  • 1 black Porsche Cayenne doing about 75 mph up the William Powell Bridge
  • 1 black BMW M3 accelerate to about 65 mph as he passed the decoy police car (the driver was not fooled)
  • 1 silver car doing about 65 mph on Bear Cut Bridge
  • At least 20 cars driving in excess of 50 mph
  • 1 car cut me off as it made a right hand turn
  • 1 jogger running in the bike lane

I’ve seen many accidents on the Rickenbacker Causeway which luckily have not involved cyclists.  Many of these accidents are due to speeding.  Check out this picture of a motorcycle that ended up under the rear end of a truck. Here is an article about a motorcyclist that was killed while drag racing on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Unfortunately cyclists and pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of the causeway. Speed is undeniably a major problem on the Rickenbacker Causeway and it is not being  addressed appropriately. Speed kills. We need to slow down cars on the Rickenbacker Causeway now.

The Miami Herald is reporting that FDOT has begun a resurfacing project on Bird Road. According to the article:

Workers will repave and restripe the road; widen the bridge and road shoulder; build a new sidewalk on the north side of Bird Road as well as upgrade sidewalks and curb ramps.

Crews will also make drainage improvements to alleviate water buildup in the swale area. Landscaping will improved. Lighting will be improved and new traffic and pedestrian signs and signals installed.

A pedestrian bridge will be built. Workers will remove existing guardrail and installing new guardrail at various locations.

There is no mention of new bicycle facilities. I have contacted Transit Miami sources within the City of Miami and the County and they are unaware of any bicycle infrastructure improvements.  The $2.5 million improvement project on Bird Road will occur between Red Road and Southwest 38th Avenue. Coral Gables High School happens to be on this stretch of roadway. Connecting a high school with bicycling infrastructure would be the smart thing to do; it encourages students to bike to school. Also, there is a bridge that crosses a canal on this stretch of roadway.  Bridges are often the most dangerous areas for cyclists; they must converge on bridges to cross any body of water.  I’m glad to see a pedestrian bridge will be incorporated in the design plans, but the transition should also be seamless for cyclists too.

For the record, FDOT has recently completed 2 resurfacing projects which are second-rate (MacArthur Causeway, Coral Way). FDOT seems very hesitant to accommodate cyclists on Sunset Drive and now it appears that cyclists were not considered in the Bird Road project at all.  This is not a pretty track record.  Please contact Transit Miami ally Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera and FDOT District 6 Secretary Gus Pego and ask them why provisions for bicyclists were not made to this very important route.

The Transit Miami eye is watching every FDOT project closely.

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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.

Lest we forget that Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach are considered one metropolitan area, here is some news for Palm Beach County. The Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is developing a Bicycle Master Plan for the county and would like your input. Public Workshops are scheduled for April 14 and April 15 in multiple locations, from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM both days. You don’t need to stay the whole time, just come out for a bit to share what your needs are as a cyclist.

Locations for Wednesday the 14th include the Bryant Auditorium of the Palm Beach County Office Building in Belle Glade and the Jupiter Community Center. Locations for Thursday the 15th include the Vista Center County Building in West Palm Beach and the Boca Raton Community Center. Flyers are available in English and Spanish, and for more info you can contact Bret Baronak, the MPO Bicycle/Greenways/Pedestrian Coordinator at bbaronak at pbcgov.org or (561) 684-4170. I hope to make it to the Boca Raton meeting myself, so I look forward to seeing you there if you ride in Palm Beach County!

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.

Today was my first day back on my road bike since the fatal accident on Bear Cut Bridge nearly three months ago. I don’t think I could have picked a worse day to ride my bicycle on the Rickenbacker Causeway; the Sony Erickson women’s semi-finals.

Here’s what I observed this morning:

  • Hundreds of people riding bicycles
  • Average speed of cars 45-50mph
  • About 10 cars doing at least 65 mph
  • A motorcycle doing about 75 mph
  • A police car (department will remain nameless) overtake another car in the right hand lane while encroaching the bike lane going about 70 mph before the Rickenbacker Bridge. This was a non-emergency, illegal pass; the police cruiser did not have lights on.
  • At least 5-6 cars cut me off as they accelerate in order to overtake me so they could make a right hand turn.
  • A cyclist riding against traffic
  • Safety cones encroaching the bicycle lane rather than encroaching or being placed  in the travel lanes to calm down traffic

It’s been nearly 6 months since FDOT completed its auto-centric resurfacing project on Coral Way. Our readers may recall that I did a thorough analysis on the poor quality of the bike lanes which were striped on Coral Way. We were told that FDOT would go back and re-stripe the bike lanes correctly as they should have done in the first place. Well, it’s been 6 months and we’re still waiting…

Yesterday I was driving down this section of roadway and noticed all the cars overtaking me as they cruised in excess of 50 mph. This roadway has 14ft lanes which only encourages cars to speed. As I’m driving down the street I noticed a woman pushing her husband in a wheel chair while trying to cross Coral Way in front of the St. Sophia Church on Coral Way and SW 24th Road.  Unfortunately, this vulnerable couple doesn’t have safe options to cross Coral Way. The closest crosswalk to them is one block away on SW 25th Street. The next closest crosswalk is 10 blocks away on SW 15th Street. To make matter worse, the crosswalk on SW 15th Street is on a treacherous curve, making it very dangerous for even a healthy individual like myself to cross.

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

A man being pushed in a wheelchair while trying to cross Coral Way on SW 24th Road

This signature FDOT project is just another fine example of their auto-centric mantra. The time is now to begin designing complete streets for all users.

Enough is enough. Cyclists in South Florida are sick and tired of FDOT’s antics. FDOT chooses not to include or even consider bicycle lanes in most of their resurfacing projects in District 6.  Last night about 35 cyclists attended an open house in which FDOT told the attendees that bicycle lanes would not be included in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project; so much for public participation.

Yesterday the newly energized South Florida Bicycle Coalition announced they would seek legal action if FDOT does not include bike lanes in the Sunset Drive resurfacing project without the required design exception, traffic and impact studies.

Well done South Florida Bicycle Coalition!  Keep up the great work!

Our expectation is that FDOT should design a complete street that includes sidewalks, bike lanes, narrower traffic lanes, lower speed limits and additional traffic calming devices. We will no longer tolerate shoddy FDOT workmanship such as the bike lanes on Coral Way and the MacArthur Causeway. FDOT has a responsibility to provide safe bicycle infrastructure that exceeds their abysmally low minimum design standards.

It should be noted that this is a MAJOR route for cyclists traveling east/west.  Trinity County Pineland Park and three elementary schools sit on Sunset Drive.  These attributes make this stretch of roadway the perfect candidate for a complete streets initiative by FDOT.

Today I received this email from Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera that stated in part:

As far as the Citywide Bicycle Lane Master Plan completed in December of 2004 by Marlin Engineering, I plan on formally requesting that we start the first phase of it. If you recall, the first phase was re-stripping a number of existing roads. Stay tuned…”

This is the kind of leadership that we need. This is a good first step Commissioner Cabrera. Keep up the good work!

Streetsblog is reporting that over the past decade London has been reducing speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph throughout the city.  Today London has over four hundred 20 mph zones. As s result, Londoners have benefited from a 46% decline in fatalities and serious injury within the 20 mph zones during the past decade according to British Medical Journal.

A 2008 map of London's 20mph zones. Image: London Assembly.

The high speed limits within our densest population pockets discourage people from walking or riding a bicycle. Brickell Avenue has a 35 mph speed limit and Biscayne Blvd. has a 30 mph speed limit. However, the design speed of both of these roads often encourages drivers to travel at speeds of 40-45 mph.  The first step to making our roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians would be to reduce speed limits throughout Miami Dade County. The second step would be to introduce self-enforcing traffic calming measures such as: raised junctions, raised crosswalks, chicanes, road humps and roundabouts.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

So what’s it gonna take for us to step up to 20 mph speed limits?  Can you imagine how much more livable our streets would be if speed limits were reduced on our city streets?  The results of the London experiment were so glaringly obvious after 4 years that in 2004 the World Health Organization endorsed 20 mph speeds as an essential strategy to save lives.

Until recently Miami had never really given bicycling much consideration. During the past year or so the bicycling movement has gained momentum here. The Miami Bicycle Master Plan was approved by the Miami commissioners, bicycle lanes are slowly popping up and we see more and more cyclists on the road everyday. This is certainly a good thing; however I’m a little concerned about the quality of some of our bicycle lanes on roads were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph.

For example, here in Miami we have had several bicycle lanes placed on roadways were the design speed of the roadway exceeds 40 mph and we can even find unprotected bicycles lanes placed adjacent to roadways were the design speed is closer to 50-65 mph. The probability of death or serious injury to a vulnerable cyclist increases substantially as motor vehicle speeds increase. Therefore before painting unprotected bicycle lanes, we need to make sure that the speed of traffic does not exceed 35-40 mph.

Source: peds.org/2009/01/

So this got me thinking, perhaps the best way to bring cycling into the mainstream in cities that are not accustomed to cycling would be to create a bicycle network which designates specific roads as high priority routes for cyclists. Cities would focus spending and market these high priority routes; they could be called Urban Bicycle Networks. Marketing is key and fundamental to the Urban Bicycles Network’s success; it would be seen as sexy and cool and would be a matter of pride for a city.

The high priority routes would serve as the backbone to a city’s Urban Bicycle Network. Once a city designates the high priority routes, speeding fines within it would double much like in a road construction work zone. Of course, there would need to be clear markers so that motorists and bicyclists are aware of the special conditions that prevail within the road they are traveling on. The Urban Bicycle Network would not be expensive to implement and 50% of the total fines from moving violations within it would be reallocated back in to the network to make improvements and for maintenance.

I’m not sure if what I am suggesting is legal, but I’m trying to think out of the box here. The doubling of speeding fines within the Urban Bicycle Network would quickly educate motorists about the cyclist’s right to be on the road, reduce the speed of traffic and cyclists would be encouraged to use those roads which are safest for them.

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