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. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On any given weekend morning cyclists outnumber motorists on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Yet thousands of cyclists are relegated to the bike lane/shoulder/bus stop (or whatever you want to call it) of the roadway while dozens of cars whiz by in excess of 60mph. It’s about time we close a lane of traffic for cyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway. I see no good reason why we can’t close a lane in each direction from 6:00am-11:00 am on Sunday mornings, when vehicular traffic is very light and cyclist traffic is at its peak.
The recent crackdown on bicyclists is just a game of politics and the Miami Dade Police Department is caught in the middle. The last thing the MDPD wants to do is crackdown on cyclists or speeding motorists. They have far more important things to do. But unfortunately we still have a poorly designed Rickenbacker Causeway that encourages speeding. We also lack the political will or leadership to actually make any short term tangible improvements to the Rickenbacker Causeway. Instead we continue to play car vs. bike politics and wait until the next cyclist is killed.
Please send Commissioner Carlos Gimenez an email and let him know that you would like to see a ciclovia on the Rickenbacker Causeway every Sunday morning.
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.
A thank you to the Public Works Department for repairing the asphalt around the railroad tracks on North Miami Avenue. This repair was needed. I can personally attest to the danger of crossing here. A few months ago I totaled my rear rim and nearly fell of my bike while crossing the tracks. On a recent Critical Mass ride about thirty people fell while crossing the tracks. I personally know a young lady that crashed while crossing here too.
It’s only taken FDOT 7 months, but they finally tried to fix the Coral Way bike lanes. As some of you may recall, back in October, I performed a detailed evaluation of the new bike lanes and made suggestion for improvement.
Thanks to pressure from of our readers FDOT agreed to improve the bike lanes. According to Transit Miami sources, FDOT is done with the repair work. Unfortunately I do not have good news to report. FDOT gave it the old college try, and as a result, the bike lanes do not get the Transit Miami seal of approval. Essentially all FDOT did was remove the white lines that incorrectly terminated the bike lanes at every intersection.
Personally, I’m kinda tired of FDOT’s antics. They should have gotten it right the first time and if they needed to fix it, they should have done it correctly. These reindeer games need to come to an end.
Perhaps FDOT could get in touch with the County Public Works Department. The PWD just painted some great bike lanes on SW 2nd Avenue. I’m sure PWD would be glad to educate FDOT on bicycle lane design. The bike lanes on SW 2nd Avenue are clearly defined with two white lines that demarcate it nicely. Peg-a-tracking is placed in potential conflict areas such as intersections and driveways. PWD produced a textbook example of what a REAL bike lane should look like. The bike lane design PWD selected is entirely suitable for this particular street. Well done PWD! Now if we can just get FDOT on board. Please help us; we need your help PWD!
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.
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.
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
Friend of Transit Miami Dana Weinstein recently wrote an editorial for the Miami Herald to commemorate Bike Month. Although Dina commutes with her two children to school on bicycles, she does not suggest that inexperienced cyclists/parents follow her lead. She says, “It really takes someone with almost a death wish to walk or bike”.
Part of me agrees with Dina. Ever since Christophe Le Canne was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway in January, I have come to view bicycling as a dangerous activity.
I love biking; it is part of who I am. I used to be fearless and after my stint in the Peace Corps I biked with 2 friends from Guatemala to Panama. Bicycling brings me great joy, but I no longer feel safe biking in Miami. What I feel is vulnerable. This is particularly true on our causeways, where bicycle lanes are placed next to cars which are moving at 45-75mph without any sort of hard or soft barrier to protect cyclists (i.e. Rickenbacker Causeway and MacArthur Causeway). When I do bike now, I choose roads where the design speed of the roadway does not exceed 25-30 mph. Even when bike lanes are present, such as the Coral Way bike lanes, I do not use them because cars are moving at 45-50mph. I prefer taking a side street were traffic moves slower.
Perhaps I am just getting old. Or perhaps now that I am married I am aware of the tremendous loss I would leave behind if I suffered the same fate as Christophe Le Canne. But the lack of proper bicycle infrastructure in Miami has been forcing me recently to drive my bicycle up to Oleta River State Park so that I may get the exercise I enjoy. I feel defeated that I have been relegated to biking in a park.
In the interest of full disclosure, I still ride my bike (in my suit) to work everyday. Although it is only about 6 blocks away I have way too many close calls on a regular basis.
Is this the way we must live? My hope is that we can develop streets for all users in South Florida.
A special “thank you” to the County Public Works Department for relocating the Christophe Le Canne Ghost Bike. The County Public Works Department has been working with the cycling community to find an appropriate place for the ghost bike. I think most will concur that they have found an agreeable location. Please send Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email to thank her. (email@example.com)
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.
|Month||Hazardous 1 Moving Violations||Non-Hazardous2 Moving Violations||Verbal Warnings||Total|
|Total 2009 Hazardous Moving Violations||2,424|
|Average 2009 Hazardous Moving Violations Issued Per Day||6.64|
|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 City of Sunny Isles Beach is looking to hire a new Director of Public Works this month. The official title is “Public Works Director/City Engineer” and the position will provide strategic leadership and direction in developing, planning and overseeing the City’s Public Works Department. This will include maintenance of all City facilities, streets sidewalks, signage, City Parks, vehicles and stormwater systems. It’s an incredibly important job and TransitMiami.com hopes that the winning applicant will be progressive and informed. More information about the position is available below and at the city’s website: www.sibfl.net
Please check out the editorial in the Miami Herald regarding the accident which occurred on the Rickenbacker Causeway two weeks ago that killed bicyclist Christopher Le Canne. Three residents ring in with their opinions.
Michael Muench from Miami calls for improvements to the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway, which include physically separated bicycle lanes. Physically separated bicycle lanes may not necessarily be the best solution as Mr. Muench suggests. One thing is for sure, as long as we insist that it is OK to have a highway next to a bicycle lane accidents will occur. Road design certainly contributed to the accident and will continue contributing to future accidents. We cannot allow the current roadway design to remain. Major improvements need to be made; the current design is too dangerous for all users of the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Bruce Nachman from Miami, correctly points out that the Fire-Rescue response time needs to be improved. Unfortunately, this will not solve the underlying problem. If a pedestrian or bicyclist is hit by a car going 60 mph the chances of surviving are less than 10%.
Lastly Janis Ball from Miami Lakes is outraged by the fact that the driver was set free on bail. Carlos Bertonatti should never have been driving in the first place, but to set bail so low for such a horrific crime is unacceptable. We need to start taking hit and run crimes a lot more seriously.
If you believe that the design of the Rickenbacker Causeway contributed to the accident please send Mrs. Esther Calas, Director of the County Public Works Department, an email asking for a safer Rickenbacker Causeway @ firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a growing movement to reduce the speed on the Rickenbacker Causeway and a formal petition is set to be submitted to local leaders today. The petition reads as follows:
PETITION TO IMPROVE SAFETY ON THE RICKENBACKER CAUSEWAY
To improve safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, the undersigned petitions Miami-Dade County, the
Board of County Commissioners, to implement a policy that would:
1. Enforce a Safe Speed Limit, not to exceed 35 mph, on the Rickenbacker Causeway (from the Toll Plaza to the Village of Key Biscayne), with visible police presence throughout peak hours to guarantee strict compliance with the speed limit and sobriety laws.
2. Dispatch the nearest emergency/rescue vehicles and personnel to the scene of an injury accident, regardless
of municipal / jurisdictional boundaries.
Signature: ___________________________________________ Date:_______________
Full Name: ___________________________________________ Age: _______________
City, State, Zip: _____________________________________________________________________
Telephone No.: _____________________________________________________________________
E-mail address: _____________________________________________________________________
Mail Signed Original to: Zensah Team Lifeline, 201 South Biscayne Blvd., Suite 1330, Miami, FL 33131
Fax copy to: 305 377 9937 or Email copy to: SafeSpeedLimit@Yahoo.com
The cyclists who put together this petition are asking that anyone interested please fax or email it to them TODAY and then mail the original, as well. You can also email them for a PDF version.
There are lots of methods available to local planners, engineers and politicians to improve safety along our causeways and the easiest one is to reduce speed. Another, simple measure – just narrowing the lane a foot or two, causes motorists to ease up on the gas, and would also leave room to widen the heavily used bicycle lane along each side.
Thousands of cyclists came out last Sunday to remember Christophe Lecanne and pay tribute to all cyclists killed on our roads while riding safely and legally. Momentum is growing to prevent another tragedy like this from happening again.
TransitMiami.com encourages you to get involved in our community and be proactive in sharing your ideas with policymakers.
An estimated 4000 bicyclists and pedestrians showed up this morning for the Key Biscayne Memorial Bike Ride to pay their respects to Christophe Le Canne, the bicyclist that was killed last Sunday by a hit and run driver.
Bicyclists came from as far as the west coast of Florida, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. I hope our elected officials are listening to us. Our unified voices will only become stronger. We will be writing more about what this means for the cycling community in Miami and South Florida.
A special thank you to the County Public Works Department and the Miami Dade, Key Biscayne and Miami Police Departments; without them this event would not have been possible.
We expect a large turnout for the Key Biscayne Memorial Ride on Sunday. The County Public Works Department along with the Miami Dade, Key Biscayne and Miami Police Departments have been working tirelessly over the past few days to ensure our safety. We expect between 1000-2000 bicyclists and possibly more. Cyclists from as far as Broward and Palm Beach County have confirmed that they will be attending this event to pay their respects to Christophe Le Canne, the bicyclist that was killed last Sunday by a hit and run driver.
We need everyone’s cooperation to make sure no one gets hurt. The police will be on hand to help us and are providing an escort for the large group that will be meeting across the street from the Mast Academy at 9:00 a.m. We will leave promptly at 9:15 a.m., stopping at the Christophe Le Canne memorial sign which the County Public Works Department has very thoughtfully placed on Bear Cut Bridge where the accident occurred.
After a twenty minute stop we will proceed to the entrance of Bill Bagss Florida State Park on Key Biscayne. We will turn around before the entrance to the park and head back towards the mainland. At this point the police escort will effectively end. Please use caution after the escorted ride is over; regular vehicular traffic will be present. Remember we must also follow the rules of the road; share the road works both ways.
*The Miami Seaquarium has invited us to use their parking lot as a staging area for the 9am ride. They ask participants to use the main Marquee entrance to enter the parking lot and park as close to the causeway as possible.
Family & friends of Le Canne are asking those who wish to help to donate funds to Haiti Relief instead.
Make checks payable to:
American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013
Notation on check:
AP 2885 – Haiti Relief – IMO Christophe Le Canne
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