Currently viewing the tag: "Dangerous By Design"

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.

As we reported last week, a man on a bicycle was nearly killed while crossing Brickell Avenue at 14th and eyewitnesses suggested he had the right-of-way. However, three eyewitnesses with whom we did not discuss the crash told police that the motorist had a green light. While the nature of driving a car lends itself much more to not paying attention than does bicycling, the evidence in this case does suggest the cyclist was the one who failed to yield.

The cyclist had just entered the crosswalk – so any motorist focused on the road ahead and traveling at 40mph would not be expected to anticipate the cyclist or be able to stop in time. Of course, this supports our campaign to reduce the posted and design speeds on Brickell Avenue but at any speed, it seems clear that the motorist had the right-of-way. The motorist was ticketed for an expired license and failure to have his registration but not fault in the collision. He very well may be a terrible driver but he had a green light and the cyclist was not behaving predictably, safely or legally, if reports are accurate.

I regret not posting this on Friday as soon as the Police gave us the full report- it’s a sad day for our community and this brings up the issues that are even more complicated than common sense design. All we know about the victim was that he was riding a 20 year old cruiser, was wearing no helmet, lived in a non-affluent section of Little Havana and was hispanic. Question: where or how did this person learn to ride a bicycle in traffic?

The bicycling and pedestrian advocacy movement feels almost segregated. There are many strong, bilingual advocates but the ‘critical mass’ is disproportionately white and/or young. The super rich or truly poor who cycle don’t step up the way Emerge Miami, Green Mobility Network, the MIAFixed crowd do. As more people bicycle, that will change – but for everyone? The South Florida Bike Coalition was successful at getting a large pro-bicycling billboard up in Miami, facing Little Havana. We had no say where it would go and the wonderful image was clear in itself, but it begged the question of whether a spanish-language message would have been better.

If more people rode bicycles (safely, predictably), Miami would be a cleaner, more human place to live, work and visit. More and more people are riding, which I hope reminds those of us who have been riding longer to ride responsibly and take the time to talk safety with the ‘new’ people we see on rides.

The only place where I ride that I am surrounded by more bikes than in Overtown is Critical Mass. I’ve spoken to some leaders within Overtown and promoting safe, legal bicycling just isn’t a priority. Interestingly, this is also the neighborhood where I feel most safe riding in traffic. The number of bicyclists and pedestrians being more than cars, motorists rarely speed through here, in my experience. Second only to that is Little Haiti – where I find that motorists speed but they always seem to see me.

Forgive me for what is really just some random thoughts but you all deserve the update. I hope to read your responses and will work on something more coherent. Ride Safely.

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Remember Dangerous By Design? Rome has similar problem with motorist-caused fatal collisions. One group, Di Traffic Si Muore (literally “By traffic one dies”), created this shock campaign directed towards tourists.

"Walking the streets of Rome? Better another city. Rome's traffic kills. Go elsewhere."

What do you think about shock and awe campaigns? Would something like this get our policy makers to take our pedestrian safety more seriously?

DTSM is a blog, not unlike TransitMiami, focused on communicating the hazards of Italy’s most dangerous urban streets and keeping residents informed as to what they can do to effect change. No word yet on how DTSM is spreading this campaign.

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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.

Bus stop replaced again for the 4th time in the past year and a half

As reported a couple of weeks ago, the bus stop on Brickell and 15th Street was taken out for the 3rd or 4th time in the past year and a half by a speeding vehicle. Apparently the last accident involved a motorcycle which burned the bus stop to a crisp.  Last week the bus stop was replaced yet again.

Photo: http://twitpic.com/16yem5

Damaged bus stop on Brickell Avenue and 15th Street

Although we keep replacing the bus stop, the fundamental issue of speeding on Brickell Avenue isn’t being dealt with.  How many more times does this bus stop need to be flattened before the City of Miami addresses the underlying cause of these accidents? A short term solution would be to move the bus stop to a less dangerous location; the current location is on a very treacherous curve.

Given the history of the bus stop, it’s only a matter of time before this happens again. Hopefully no one will be injured when it does occur.

The Miami Dade Police Department has provided Transit Miami with their Rickenbacker Causeway enforcement statistics for 2009 and January 2010.  As you can see below the Miami Dade Police Department has been enforcing their jurisdiction on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  They are issuing approximately 7 hazardous moving violations per day to motorists. Enforcement is clearly present. What we need is a roadway that is designed to discourage people from speeding. Even with police enforcement motorists continue to speed on the Rickenbacker Causeway. More enforcement may help, but is not the ultimate solution. Designing a roadway for all users is the answer.

2009
Month Hazardous 1 Moving Violations Non-Hazardous2 Moving Violations Verbal Warnings Total
January 136 97 67 300
February 227 142 108 477
March 252 76 117 445
April 257 102 97 456
May 257 138 151 546
June 218 119 83 420
July 203 75 93 371
August 147 85 86 318
September 174 89 153 416
October 216 168 112 496
November 222 90 97 409
December 115 99 113 327
Total 2009 4,981
Total 2009 Hazardous Moving Violations 2,424
Average 2009 Hazardous Moving Violations Issued Per Day 6.64
2010
January 270 120 120 510
Average January 2010 Hazardous Moving Violations Issued Per Day 8.71
1. Hazardous violations are those which have the immediate potential for bodily injury
and property destruction; for example, running a red light or stop sign, or careless driving
2. Non-hazardous violations are those not likely to expose persons to injury or result in property damage;
for example, expired tag or defective equipment.

The Brickell Avenue bus stop between 14th and 15th Street burned to a crisp.

For what must be the 3rd or 4th time in the past year and a half the same Brickell bus stop on Brickell and 15th Street has been wiped out by a speeding car.  The problem here is that the bus stop is located on a dangerous curve and when cars come barreling down Brickell Avenue at night they head straight for the bus stop.  I’m pretty sure drunk driving has something to do with this problem, but speeding is certainly a major factor in these accidents.  The way Brickell Avenue is designed encourages speeding; we need to design this road to discourage speeding. Moving the bus stop should also be considered. Sooner or later someone waiting for the bus will get struck. If you are familiar with the area please feel free to suggest other improvements in the comments section below.

Today’s article in the Miami Herald suggests that fire-rescue took too long to arrive to the aid of Christopher Lecanne, the bicyclist that was killed on Sunday morning on Bear Cut Bridge. Although I agree that the response time was not good, there was very little fire-rescue could have done to help Christopher Lecanne.

Unless you are Superman, the chance of surviving an impact at 60 mph is close to zero. The chance of surviving an impact at 45 mph (posted speed limit on the Rickenbacker) is about 10% (see below). So let’s stop pointing the finger at fire-rescue, there is absolutely nothing they could have done to save his life.

The County Public Works Department should be held responsible and liable for this accident.  They designed and approved an unprotected bicycle lane next to a highway where cars often travel in excess of 60 mph. Our most popular cycling route in the county is a ticking time bomb. More deadly accidents will occur. By designing an unsuitable roadway for all users the County Public Works Department effectively gives cyclists a false sense of security. Fast moving cars and unprotected bicycle lanes do not work.  It never has and it never will. I cannot be more emphatic about this point!!!

Of course, Carlos Bertonatti also needs to be held responsible.  There will be more accidents like this on the Rickenbacker Causeway if the fundamental design flaw is not addressed.  Distracted drivers are a fact of life. The very least we can do is give our bicyclists a chance of surviving.  This can be done by designing a roadway which encourages cars to slow down and by putting protective barriers between bicyclists and cars on our bridges.

Let’s point the finger at the County Public Works Department.  They have neglected bicyclists and pedestrians for too long.

Please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email demanding a safer Rickenbacker Causeway @ ecalas@miamidade.gov

This morning, an unidentified man was killed while riding his bicycle in a bicycle lane here in South Florida. We don’t know who the victim was, but we do know a little about his alleged killer.

The Miami Herald and MiamiBikeScene report that he is Carlos Bertonatti, a young twenty-something independent musician and Key Biscayne resident.  Whoever it is, let’s take a moment to understand that despite his horrific actions this morning, this man has a family, friends, and a future that will never be the same again. There is no reason to believe he killed our cyclist friend intentionally. With the glaring exception of his behavior immediately following the murder, he could be just about anybody we know.  Anyone who drives a car is driving a deadly weapon and a simple mistake can mean more than an accident – whether one drives ‘recklessly’ or not. The Rickenbacker is designed to handle traffic moving much faster than the posted speed limit, and so it does. This is because most of our roads are not designed to move people, but to move motor traffic as quickly as possible.

I hope that the motorist is punished to the full extent possible under law – which could mean life in prison. However, the end of his future does not bring the victim back. It does not make our roads safer or automatically elevate the discussion between those who feel making healthy, sustainable life choices is important and those who feel it is just stupidly unsafe. That is up to us.

  • Why do our roadway builders and public works departments not utilize simple measures like increased signage, education campaigns, painted and/or separated bicycle/pedestrian facilities?
  • What does it say about our culture that driving recklessly and intoxicated does not shock us? Did someone let him get in that car? Why was he not stopped for speeding?
  • When will the State of Florida implement and enforce its own Complete Streets policy?

You can make a difference in honor of the man we lost today. Write to your commissioners and FDOT representatives and tell them you want to know what they are doing to make our roads safer. Follow up with them regularly. Get involved. Let us know if we can help.

Kathryn Moore is TransitMiami.com’s newest blogger. She will be writing on policy and politics related to mobility in our community.

NOTE: Monday 1/18/10 at 8am. Moment of Silence on Bear Cut Bridge, Rickenbacker Causeway. All are welcome.

This morning I reported that a bicyclist was killed on Bear Cut bridge.  This is the 2nd bicyclist that has been killed while riding on the Rickenbacker Causeway in the past three years.  The Rickenbacker Causeway is unquestionably the most popular biking route in Miami, and on any given weekend morning thousands of bicyclists of varying abilities descend upon it to ride their bicycles.

Much will be written about who’s at fault for this accident. I would not be surprised if the driver was drunk or under the influence. Most people will blame the driver for the accident. I for one believe the driver should share the blame with the County Public Works Department. The County PWD should be held accountable for designing such poor bicycles lanes. Unfortunately, it was just a matter of time before this happened and to be quite honest I am surprised accidents like this don’t occur with more frequency.

About two years ago, the County Public Works Department began resurfacing the Rickenbacker Causeway.  The PWD modus operandi with regard to bicyclists seems to be “Do as little as possible for bicyclists”. This is exactly what they have done on the Rickenbacker Causeway-as little as possible.

Anything less than a protected bicycle path should not be accepted by the bicycling community. By protected bicycle path I mean there should be a concrete barrier that physically separates the cars from the bicycles. If the County Public Works Department is going to encourage bicyclists to ride the Rickenbacker Causeway, they have the responsibility to make sure that the bicycle infrastructure they design is safe first. Putting a bike lane next to a roadway in which cars are traveling at speeds in excess of 45-65 mph creates an extremely unsafe and all to often deadly situation for bicyclists. The Rickenbacker Causeway (and frankly all our Causeways) are long overdue for an overhaul which insures the safe travel of all, including bicycles and pedestrians.

Physically Seperated Bicycle Path: Wilson Bridge Bike Path. Photo courtesy of http://joeholthaus.com/id69.html

Physically Seperated Bicycle Path: Burrard Bike Lane, Vancouver Canada. Photo courtesy of www.news1130.com

Below is a graph which shows the likelihood of surviving a collision with a car. Bridges typically happen to be areas where cars like to speed.  If the County Public Works Department continues to encourage bicyclists to ride here without the correct bicycling infrastructure, accidents like this will sadly continue being a fact of life.  I for one have been discouraged from biking here, but my passion for riding on two wheels will have me back on the Rickenbacker tomorrow morning.  I just hope I don’t become another Rickenbacker Causeway statistic.  Be safe.

Source: http://peds.org/2009/01/

Here’s your chance to speak to an FDOT representative about the recently released Dangerous by Design report that ranked the following four metropolitan areas within Florida as the most dangerous for pedestrians in the United States.

1.         Orlando-Kissimmee, FL

2.         Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

3.         Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

4.         Jacksonville, FL

The MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee will hold their monthly meeting on Wednesday Dec. 16th on the 18th Floor (room 18-3) of the Government Center. This will be the first meeting since the Dangerous by Design report was released. Please come out and express your concerns to the FDOT representative that will be present. We need to work together with FDOT and encourage them to design complete streets that address the needs of all users and not only those of cars.  We deserve better streets.

Shortly after the Dangerous by Design report came out, I filled out a letter at the Rails to Trails website to be sent to the Florida Legislature on the subject. I just got a form-letter reply from Speaker Larry Cretul that I’d like to share.

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.  I welcome the opportunity to learn of your concerns and I appreciate your suggestions for improving transportation safety.

Please know the Florida Legislature is concerned about the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities, and has worked to make our state safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.  State law requires walkers and riders to be fully considered in the development of transportation facilities.  In addition, the Legislature passed legislation in 2005 that requires motorists to completely stop for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal, and 2006 legislation requires motorists to allow three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist.  These efforts have resulted in increased pedestrian safety, as this past year saw pedestrian deaths decrease five percent over the previous year.

The Florida Department of Transportation’s Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator works with many offices within the department to provide input and suggestions throughout the various stages of planning and design.  This position also serves as a member of the Strategic Intermodal System technical advisory committee to ensure a focus on safety with alternate modes of transportation.   In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation has a bicycle and pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues.

I would encourage you to work with your local government and metropolitan planning organization on pedestrian and bicyclist safety needs in your area.  State law requires the plans and programs for each metropolitan area provide for the development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities, including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities that will function as an intermodal transportation system.  I assure you that I will keep your concerns and suggestions in mind throughout the legislative process

Thank you again for writing to me.  If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Larry Cretul
Speaker

It doesn’t say much that I didn’t expect; the Legislature pats itself on the back for the few advancements that have made and then it passes the ball to the local government and to us as citizens. The really bothersome part of that is, if I were to go ask people in the various micro-City Halls of Miami, they would all point me back to Tallahassee as the one I need to talk about improving the traffic situation unveiled by the Dangerous by Design report.

When your arguably four major cities are all listed as Russian roulettes for pedestrians and bicyclists (compounded by the hit-n-run epidemic), this isn’t a matter only for the local government, this is a state-government matter, and a very serious one. Take responsibility and take action.

Yesterday I posted a blog regarding the lack of crosswalks in Downtown.  I took it upon myself during lunchtime today to count the number of pedestrians that crossed the street on SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st St. were a crosswalk currently does not exist. If there was ever any doubt whether a crosswalk is needed, today’s results overwhelmingly favor pedestrian demand for a crosswalk. Within a 5 minute time span, 60 pedestrians crossed the street where there isn’t a crosswalk!  If a pedestrian were to get hit here, some would blame the jaywalker. I wouldn’t, I’d hold those that designed this intersection responsible.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st Avenue. Intersection without a crosswalk.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st St. Intersection without a crosswalk.

FDOT just recently repaved a section of Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown.  I’m not sure why, but several major intersections were left without a pedestrian crosswalk. I really can’t think of a reason as to why FDOT did not take this opportunity to include 4 crosswalks at every intersection.  There is enough density and pedestrian activity to justify 4 crosswalks at every intersection.  Aside from helping pedestrians cross three lanes of fast moving traffic, crosswalks serve as traffic calming devices as well.

To make matters even worse, the intersection on Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th street had an existing crosswalk and crosswalk signal, but not anymore, FDOT decided to remove them. Check out the old crosswalk and signal right here: View Larger Map

Here are just a few examples of intersections without crosswalks:

Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th Street

Biscayne Blvd and NE 4th Street. Crosswalk and pedestrian signal were recently removed.

Biscayne Blvd and NE 1st St.

Biscayne Blvd and NE 1st St.

Biscayne Blvd. and SE 1st Street. This intersection is less than half a block away from a busy Metro Mover station.

Biscayne Blvd. and SE 1st Street. This intersection supports a busy Metro Mover station.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st Avenue. Please notice the electric turn arrows, this only encourages cars to move faster through downtown.  I'm not sure if FDOT or the County PWD is reponsible for this intersection, but need a crosswalk and pedestrian signals.

SE 3rd Avenue and SE 1st St. Please notice the electric turn arrows, this only encourages cars to move faster through downtown. I'm not sure if FDOT or the County PWD is responsible for this intersection, but it needs a crosswalk and a pedestrian signal urgently.

Dear Governor Crist,

As you may know a recent report produced jointly by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America has shown that the following four metropolitan areas within Florida are the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the United States.

1.         Orlando-Kissimmee, FL

2.         Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

3.         Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

4.         Jacksonville, FL

The report titled “Dangerous By Design” concludes that Florida roads are dangerous for pedestrians because they have generally been designed to speed up -not slow down-traffic.

As residents of Miami Dade County, this comes as no surprise to us. However what does surprise us is that Florida has managed to take the top 4 spots nationally; this clearly is not a great achievement. The common denominator for all 4 metropolitan areas is the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) which is responsible for designing most of the roads within these urban environments.  We believe that (FDOT) should be held accountable for poorly designed roads within our state that results in hundreds of preventable pedestrian deaths each year.

The decades of auto-centric culture within FDOT needs to come to an end. A major paradigm shift has to occur within FDOT from designing roads for cars to designing them for people. There is no simple solution and it will take a leader who is capable of changing an organization whose sole focus seems to be moving more cars faster, rather then considering pedestrians and bicyclists. Florida happens to be the most deadly state for bicyclists as well.

With so many retirees and an economy that is heavily dependent on tourism, we hope that FDOT can reinvent itself and begin designing safer roads for future generations in Florida. This pedestrian epidemic needs to come to an end now and it begins with a progressive and proactive FDOT which is capable of designing complete streets for everyone.

Regards,

Transitmiami.com

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