Currently viewing the tag: "bike lanes"

Miami-Dade’s Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to vote on legislative item 121569 this Thursday.  (The meeting was postponed from September 4 to September 6.)

Four specific bike lanes come under attack in this legislative item. They’re meant to demonstrate examples of “state roads in Miami-Dade County that may not be particularly suitable for bicycle lanes”.

One of those four lanes is that located on the MacArthur Causeway. Its supposed lack of suitability is due to the fact that, on this particular state road, “the speed limit is 50 mph”.

The lane on the MacArthur Causeway can indeed be a dicey one to traverse, especially with all of the on-going Port of Miami Tunnel construction, the South Beach partiers driving back from their nights of inebriation, and the overall speeding automobile traffic.

Nevertheless, even at 50mph, the bike lane on the MacArthur functions.

Even at 50mph, people use the bike lanes on the MacArthur Causeway. Make them better, and even more will ride over this critical connection between the mainland and the islands. Photo: 09/03/2012

Of course, it could function better — by making it wider, buffering it from automobiles, and some other possible retrofits — but it functions, nonetheless.

The people are hungry — not only for more bicycle facilities, but better bicycle facilities too. Please . . . feed us!

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

Enjoy the latest  from Transit Miami Films - the final stretch of my bike ride home from downtown Miami to South Miami Avenue in Brickell.

Turn your speakers up, have a great weekend and get out and ride, Miami!

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Political will and courage is necessary to step Miami’s bicycle network up a notch.

Sharrows. Chevrons. Shared lane markings. Little painted bicycles on the street.

Like fungi after a spring rainfall, Miami has seen a rapid proliferation of these markings on her streets, designed to remind motorists to be aware of cyclists and their right to the lane. While the markings are a welcomed improvement to our otherwise naked, auto-dominated streetscape, the sharrow boom is raising some concerns in Miami’s cycling community and beyond.

Has the the sharrow obsession come at the expense of more substantial bicycling infrastructure?

Sam Ollinger at Bike San Diego argues that her city has fallen into this trap, using sharrows as copout to real change.

“In the last year, San Diegans have seen the increasing number of shared-lane markings, also called “sharrows.” Sharrows are appearing everywhere: Adams Avenue, Park Boulevard, Broadway, El Cajon Boulevard, Grand Avenue, Voltaire Street, Chatsworth Boulevard, Hotel Circle South, Pacific Highway and more. However, these sharrows are being used as a cheap band-aid instead of implementing real change on our roadways that would increase the number of people riding their bicycle for transportation or recreation.

10 year old girl riding to school on Voltaire Street with drivers passing at over 30 mph. Are we prioritizing free vehicle curbside parking over child safety and health? Is this the best we can do? via Bike San Diego

For starters, San Diego’s Bicycle Master Plan recommends sharrows on roadways that are too narrow for bike lanes. Sharrows are recommended on roads that have a minimum width of 14 feet. Bike lanes are recommended on roads that have a minimum of 15-17 feet. El Cajon Boulevard, for example, has three travel lanes in each direction – it has more than enough room for a bike lane.”

The same argument can be made for Miami. When I take a look at our current bicycle lanes, I cannot imagine a single one that required the removal of a vehicle travel lane or parking. It seems that Miami’s current bicycle lane striping, like on S. Miami Avenue in Brickell, NW 1st Avenue in Overtown, on Coral Way through the Roads for example, was the “low-hanging fruit”, meaning that the existing pavement was wide enough to add bicycle lanes without a significant alteration of the existing street configuration, save perhaps narrowing the travel lanes a foot or two. It’s a commendable feat, but what needs to come next are the “hard miles” of lanes to achieve connectivity and encourage ridership.

What are “hard miles”? New York City DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan used the term in a November article for the New York Times. Hard miles, Ms. Sadik-Khan puts it, are bicycle lanes in the densest, most contested parts of town to achieve connectivity with the lanes that were easier to complete. Many of the 280 miles of bicycle lanes NYC has built in the last four years have been of the “hard mile” variety.

NYC's bike lanes did not come easy. A protected bike lane and pedestrian plaza cuts right through the heart of Times Square. It required political will to remove space for cars and reclaim space for people.

Miami’s answer for the “hard miles” seems to be the cheap sharrow. And it ‘aint cutting it anymore.

One of the loudest gripes with Miami’s current bicycle infrastructure is the lack of connectivity, where lanes seemingly begin and end at random, forming an incongruous network. It’s obvious that the sharrow seems to be the answer du jour. But how effective is this treatment and are they coming at the expense of better, safer facilities?

A recent study of the sharrows on Washington Avenue (.pdf) in Miami Beach showed that before sharrow implantation, 55% of bicycle riders were on the sidewalk. After the sharrows, that number reduced to 45%. Clearly, many riders still feel safer on the sidewalk, despite the painted bicycle in the middle of the road. The sharrows are probably doing very little, if anything, to encourage would-be riders to take to the streets.

From the Bike San Diego piece:

A recent report from the Mineta Transportation Institute, an institute that was established by Congress to research “multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues”, concluded that in order to attract a wide segment of the population, a bicycle network’s most fundamental attribute should be low-stress connectivity, that is, providing routes between people’s origins and destinations that do not require cyclists to use links that exceed their tolerance for traffic stress, and that do not involve an undue level of detour.

Conventional sharrows are not accomplishing the “low-stress connectivity” emphasized in the report. The infographic above is from a study in Portland, OR that found 60 percent of people surveyed were interested in cycling, but concerned for their safety. The “1% strong & fearless” and the “7% enthused & confident” are the ones most likely to appreciate the sharrow. But what about about the biggest chunk of prospective riders? To encourage more people on bikes, we need safe, dedicated infrastructure. And that almost always requires some sacrifice at the altar of the automobile.

Miami should consider implementing ‘enhanced sharrows’ like these as the conventional markings expire and need replacement.

In early 2012, I wrote a piece called The Year in Bicycles where I wondered if this would be the year Miami saw it’s first protected bicycle lane. As we approach the annual halfway mark, that question still remains unanswered.

North Miami Avenue through downtown Miami is practically begging for a two-way, protected bicycle lane. Here it is, desolate as usual, during the height of the work day at 3pm yesterday. A three lane tarmac of pavement with parking on both sides. This street could be transformed overnight with a few cans of paint.

The real question is, when will we see the “hard miles” of bicycle lanes in Miami to enhance and connect our network? Because conventional sharrows aren’t cutting it.

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Nice, MacArthur . . . real classic . . .

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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

Emerge Miami hosted another family-friendly bicycle ride on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the recently striped bicycle lanes on South Miami Avenue in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood.

Around 70 cyclists came out for the “Brickell Neighborhood Bike Ride and Celebration”, a leisurely-paced ride that took riders through downtown Miami, Coral Way and the Brickell neighborhood.

A noteworthy aspect along the four mile route was that nearly every pavement segment was marked for cyclists in some fashion - either by striped lanes or “sharrows” - the shared-lane markings that remind motorists to ‘share the road’ with bicycles. Other features spotted along the way included bicycle-specific way-finding markers and “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs.

The ride ended at El Vato Tequila and Taco Bar in Brickell. Special thanks to El Vato manager Juan Angulo, who offered food and drink specials to cyclists as well as reserving the parking spaces outside the restaurant so riders could form an on-street bicycle parking corral!

Here are 26 bicycles fitting in the space of two cars outside El Vato. The makeshift bicycle corral attracted the attention of pedestrians and passing motorists alike, while opening up the view for customers seated outside beyond parked vehicles.

“This was really enjoyable. If you told me ten years ago that an event like this would happen in Miami I wouldn’t believe it,” said rider Andrew Jacque, as he reflected after the ride on the emerging bicycle culture in Miami. The group was not limited to Miami locals either. A visiting couple from Montana found the event details online and figured it would be a fun and interesting way to explore the city.

In addition to enjoying the mild weather and supporting a local business, the ride was a way of saying ‘thank you’ to all the groups responsible for implementing the Miami Bicycle Master Plan across the city and to urge our local officials to adopt and embrace new features to make Miami a truly bicycle-friendly community.

To find out about more local rides, visit The Miami Bike Scene for a comprehensive calendar of events. You can also join the Emerge Miami Meetup Group here.

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Additional Traffic Calming Needed ahead of Park Opening

Over the past few weeks, Miami-Dade County Public Works has begun to upgrade the streetscape on South Miami Avenue through the heart of Brickell, specifically from Broadway to SW 8th St. As reported earlier on TransitMiami, these upgrades include ‘zebra’ crosswalks, additional signage and lane striping.

Recently, a bicycle lane and ‘sharrows’ were added to South Miami Avenue on this segment, as well as ‘sharrows’ on Brickell Plaza and through Mary Brickell Village.  Additionally, the chaotic and confusing intersection at SW 12th St. and S. Miami Avenue has been slightly reconfigured with bollards to prevent ‘soft left’ turns.

Re-configured intersection at SW 12th st. and S. Miami Ave. The bollards prevent the 'soft left' turn that was the scene of numerous crashes.

 

Newly striped bike lane headed south on S. Miami Ave. through Brickell

As the new Triangle Park nears it’s completion, a need for additional traffic calming in the area is painfully obvious to allow residents a safe way to access the park. Presently, with a green light at the intersection of SW 13th Street and S. Miami Avenue, it is possible for a motorist to continue unimpeded from the Broadway roundabout all the way to SW 10th street. Such a long stretch with no stop signs allows motorists to gain unsafe rates of speed through Brickell. There are no traffic calming mechanisms  (raised crosswalks, stop signs, sidewalk bulb-outs, etc.) to alert drivers that they are entering an area with dense pedestrian traffic and speeds of 45mph+ are dangerous and unacceptable.

Just a block down S. Miami Ave from the park, in Mary Brickell Village, no mid-block crosswalk exists to connect the two sides of the street. Understandably, pedestrians frequently weave through parked (and moving) cars to cross the street. The need for a safely marked midblock crossing is so obvious it’s almost comical that it does not exist.

I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Brickell’s new ‘Flatiron Park’ in October. During Commissioner Sarnoff’s speech, cars were flying down S.  Miami Avenue at ridiculous speeds, completely inappropriate for a pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. No motorists were yielding to pedestrians. Mothers with strollers, people walking their pets, individuals in wheelchairs were all having difficulty crossing the street. Watching SUV’s hurl themselves at the intersection outside Baru Urbano and aggressively brake just in time for the crosswalk was unnerving. Unfortunately, this is an everyday occurrence.

This hazardous situation could be mitigated with a stop sign at SW 11th street, pictured below. As reported earlier on TransitMiami, the manager of Rosinella has personally witnessed an average of 5 accidents a year at this intersection.

How will we get to the park? Need to slow the cars down here.

This only scratches the surface of the improvements to make the area truly ‘pedestrian-friendly’. A walk down SE 1st Avenue by the busy MetroRail and bus stations will show you that. (No pavement marking, no crosswalks, no stop signs - only speeding vehicles) Currently, there is a plan for a complete streetscape overhaul of South Miami Ave. that is scheduled for 2014.

How many more accidents and close calls will we see before then?

Florida At Risk of Falling 20 Years Behind Other States

It is summer vacation season. Perhaps you just returned to South Florida from one of the world’s great cities. Chances are, you probably experienced bicycle facilities that are generally better than what we have here in South Florida. While recently there has been significant improvements to the bicycle infrastructure in Miami-Dade County, there is still a key design element that is missing from our streetscape.

Image Courtesy of New York City DoT

A cycle track, is a physically separate and protected bike lane and is considered by bicycle planners and experts as the safest and most enjoyable way to ride a bicycle through an urban environment. Widely seen as a catalyst to encourage riding because of the inherent safety of the protection from traffic - either by a curb, bollards, parked cars or pavement buffer - cycle tracks are revolutionizing the way people view cycling in an urban context.

 

Before you read any further, watch this short video via StreetFilms.org on the new cycle track in Queens, New York City. On a personal note, I was in New York last weekend when this facility opened. Having cycled in the same area prior to the building of this lane, I was awestruck. Seeing so many people enjoying an area of Queens that was previously a miserable traffic-choked hellhole, the experience was almost surreal.

There are numerous studies that show cycle tracks are proven to increase ridership tremendously versus unprotected, striped lanes. A new protected lane on Manhattan’s busy First Avenue saw cyclist counts rise by 152% throughout the year the facility was opened. As most people cite safety issues as their biggest barrier to cycling for transportation, cycletracks offer a solution that not only makes traveling safer for the cyclist, but for the motorist as well. Numerous studies have found that crashes between bicycles and traffic diminish when a protected cycle track is available.

While many cities throughout the USA and world have installed such facilities like the Queens example to great success, Miami-Dade County does not have a single on-road protected bicycle lane/cycle track. The feeling of unparalleled uplift I experienced upon riding the Queens lane quickly faded to frustration when I realized the challenges ahead for Miami.

So what is the problem? Simply put, the Florida Department of Transportation does not recognize cycle tracks as an approved bicycle facility. Therefore, some of the FDOT’s biggest roadway projects in Miami-Dade County like the proposed redesigns of Alton Road in Miami Beach, Flagler Street in Little Havana, Brickell Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard will not include cycle tracks. In fact, the feasibility of such facilities have not even been studied by the FDOT in these projects because the design standards of cycle tracks are not approved. Even worse, some of these projects have start dates in 2016 with completion dates approaching 2018, 2019 and 2020.

If the FDOT does not adopt the cycle track as an approved design standard as these major projects move forward, FODT will be 20 years behind other states and cities in implementing accepted bicycle facilities. The benefits are obvious. We’ve spent a lot of electronic ink here at TransitMiami in lambasting the FDOT’s outdated auto-centric designs and how they imposed them on the Florida landscape. This is not the time for that. Simply put, it’s time for the FDOT to join the ranks of the enlightened world of modern urban design and adopt cycle tracks that will create the conditions for safe and sustainable urban transportation. Give us the facilities that will lead to safer streets, healthier people, clean air and stress free commutes.

Here is an abbreviated list of American cities that have built segregated bicycle facilities. It’s time for Miami to join this list.

Chicago, IL
Madison, WI
Davis, CA
Long Beach, CA
Denver, CO
Boulder, CO
Portland, OR
San Francisco, CA
Minneapolis, MN
Cambridge, MA
Boston, MA
Washington, D.C.

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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.

How do you stimulate the economy, get the biggest employment bang for your buck, and create a healthy, sustainable transportation network at the same time? Easy. Build Bicycle lanes. A December 2010 report by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst finds that  pedestrian  and  bicycle infrastructure projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million of spending while road infrastructure projects create approximately 7 jobs per $1 million of expenditures. That’s twice as many jobs! Using the city of Baltimore as a case study, the authors compared completed pedestrian repair projects, bike lane projects, and road repair projects.

Image via: Luton

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.

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Well folks, yours truly, is moving from Brickell to Belle Mead. I’ve just purchased a home with my wife and we should be moving into the neighborhood in a couple of weeks.  So don’t be surprised to hear a lot more about issues affecting the Upper East Side on this blog.

I’ll start by saying this, “Biscayne Boulevard is a disaster”! There ain’t no two ways about it. The recent FDOT resurfacing project, for the most part, was designed solely to move cars faster. Pedestrians and cyclists were not given much consideration while designing this roadway. I consider myself an experienced cyclist, but even I will tell you to avoid riding your bike on Biscayne Boulevard. And if you are a pedestrian then forget about it, crosswalks are few and far in between and of poor quality. Biscayne Boulevard is extremely wide, making it difficult for anyone that is not in tip-top shape to cross the street.

Travel lanes are extremely wide, which encourages cars to speed. The speed limit is 35mph, but the design speed of the roadway is closer to 45-50mph. Needless to say, not pedestrian or cyclist friendly either.

That being said, we have a chance to ask FDOT to design a roadway at a more human scale.

FDOT is conducting a Pedestrian Mobility and Safety Study along Biscayne Boulevard at the request of area residents. The limits of the project extend from NE 77th Street to NE 87th Street.

Possible upgrade include the restriping of crosswalks for greater visibility, enhancing signals and adding traffic control devices to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road.

A public information meeting is being held on Thursday, July 15, 2010 from 6-8 p.m at Legion Memorial Park, located at NE 7 Ave, Miami, FL for more information contact Gus Pego, District 6 Secretary”.

Hope to see you there!

The proposed roadway design for Euclid Avenue from 5th Street to 16th Street will be discussed at the following two upcoming meetings. It is extremely important that as many members of the bicycling community attend these meetings in support of the proposed bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.

CIP Oversight Committee meeting, July 12, 2010, 5:30pm. City Hall, 3rd Floor - Commission Chambers.

Historic Preservation Board meeting, August 10, 2010.  9:00am. City Hall, 3rd Floor - Commission Chambers. If a time certain are provided, I will let you know.

Not only are the bike lanes in jeopardy on this important North-South corridor in South Beach, but the entire project to improve the drainage and enhance the sidewalk and landscaping on Euclid before the end of the year will be yanked if a strong show of force for the proposed streetscape, that includes two bike lanes, is not approved.

The storm water management upgrades, the underground work needed for this street, is proposed to be funded through stimulus money.  This means the work must be completed in the ground by December 31, 2010 for the work to be eligible for federal reimbursement.  If the neighborhood continues to fight for the removal of the bike lanes, the City has stated that if controversy still exists after these two hearings, or if HPB does not approve the streetscape with the bike lanes, there will not be enough time to complete the project before the deadline. The City has no other way to fund this project now, and will not take this on.  Millions of dollars of improvements are at stake!

Other than the NIMBY cry of “We just do not want the bike lane in our neighborhood” there is no reason to stop this important project.

BUT YOUR VOICE MUST BE HEARD!

As the agendas and staff reports become available for these meetings, I will send them on to you.  In the meantime, please send an email to the Chair of the CIPOC, Commissioner Saul Gross at saul@stream-line.com and urge him to keep his personal promises and implement the Atlantic Greenway Master Plan, which includes bike lanes on Euclid Avenue.  Please also send emails to astohl@miamibeachfl.gov and MichaelBelush@miamibeachfl.go for the meeting of the HPB, with your views in support of the bike lanes for that body.

Thank you for your support.

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Call me a dork, but I decided to take five minutes out of my morning ride to shoot a video of the Rickenbacker Causeway on Saturday.  The video shows about 180 cyclists riding within this 5 minute period. Amazing!

It seems like every weekend there are more and more cyclists riding. Bicycles easily outnumber cars. When are we going to begin closing down a lane on the Rickenbacker Causeway on weekend mornings for cyclists, runners, and rollerbladers? Please ask Commissioner Gimenez by sending him an email.

We here at Transit Miami are really happy about the initiative the County has shown to improve safety on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  The suggestions for improvement are much appreciated and we look forward to seeing them implemented. Our only hesitation is perhaps the actual implementation of the improvements.  We must have a long term vision and a master plan for the Rickenbacker Causeway. We will discuss all of this in an upcoming post. Regardless, we are very encouraged and would like to thank Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez and the County Public Works Department for their excellent work.

Below is a summary of suggested improvements:

  • “Bike Only” lane at toll plaza will be 365 days a year, no longer available to motorists during hours of high volume traffic.
  • 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. Volume and speed test will commence after July 4th.
  • Installation of permanent electronic ”Your Speed” information signs/speed radar light boards along causeway, which will alert vehicles to their traveling speeds.
  • 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. Both 12′ car lanes will be reduced to 11′ thus widening the 5′ bike path to 7′.
  • 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. (Rusty Pelican / Marine Stadium)
  • Re-design, widen to 12′, 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.
  • SunPass only lanes will be added with a barrier at the entrance to Key Biscayne. The county emphasized that SunPass lanes would not encourage speeding and stated “the Rickenbacker is a causeway NOT an expressway”.
  • 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.
  • 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. (Cyclists will no longer be allowed to make a U-turns near the toll plaza, they will be expected to make U-Turns at new light crossing or under the West Bridge. Expect this enforced Winter/Spring 2011.)

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