Currently viewing the tag: "Rickenbacker Causeway"

It’s not often that something leaves me without words in Miami. But this does it.

It's hard to believe, but someone at Miami-Dade County has managed to find a way to make the Rickenbacker Causeway even less safe for cyclists. Photo by Ruben van Hooidonk.

It’s hard to believe, but someone at Miami-Dade County has managed to find a way to make the Rickenbacker Causeway even less safe for cyclists. Photo by Ruben van Hooidonk.

Yes, that’s the Rickenbacker Causeway bike lane. Yes, that’s a giant sign blocking it, forcing bicycle riders into fast moving traffic. This is also located on arguably the most dangerous existing segment of the Powell bridge, where cyclists traveling downhill at higher speeds must be aware of merging traffic on the right (and vice versa).

This picture is all the more appalling considering that in the past few weeks alone, safety concerns along the Causeway have become even more urgent. A number of local media outlets again reported on the issue following an ugly incident earlier this month in which a drunk driver struck multiple cyclists. These reports included editorials in the Miami Herald, a WPLG news segment highlighting the dangerous conditions, and a public response from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez only nine days ago.

How in the world can anyone believe that Miami-Dade County is taking this issue with any grain of seriousness? As one commenter on Transit Miami’s Facebook page said, “You can’t complain about the common sense in this town because there isn’t any.”

Sigh.

Our invitation is still on the table for Mayor Gimenez to come out with us for a ride and see the situation first-hand.

Special thanks to Transit Miami reader Ruben van Hooidonk for the picture. See something we should post? E-mail us or let us know on Facebook.

Thanks to Ruben van Hooidonk who sent us this picture of epic bicycle lane blockage during his bike commute on the Rickenbacker Causeway this morning. This picture was taken on Virginia Key in front of Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, just after the Miami Seaquarium.

Busses using the bicycle lane as parking on the dangerous Rickenbacker Causeway.

At the last Miami-Dade County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting, the police revealed that they have used helicopter surveillance to document the behavior of cyclists on the Rickenbacker. Perhaps they should keep their choppers on the ground and pay attention to the bike lane instead if they are seriously concerned about safety for all road users.

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“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle, Quoted at the funeral of Aaron Cohen by his grand-father Ron Esserman

I have only been a county commissioner for about eight months, but already have a deep scar in my heart from a tragedy that seems, in retrospect, so avoidable.

Aaron Cohen has been wrenched from our lives.  And the sense of loss is overwhelming, despite the wisdom imparted by rabbis and family members.  Because the tragedy happened in my district and because my daughter Annie practices medicine with Jim Esserman (Aaron’s first cousin), the loss hits home in a particularly poignant way.

Was the tragedy avoidable?  I don’t rightly know, but I know we didn’t try hard enough to avoid it.  We know the Rickenbacker Causeway is a narrow, dangerous, treacherous, alluring, spectacularly located and majestic roadway, rising as it does from the shallows abutting the mainland to bring us all (joggers, bikers, motorists) closer to heaven and then quickly deposit us in an island that is mostly unspoiled – as befits a critical wildlife refuge of some 400 acres.

In between the moments of sorrow, my Annie and I discussed the physics of the problem that led to this tragedy or, rather, the unavoidable elements of the circumstance that make this awful accident likely to happen again in the future.

I refer to the simple variable that physicists call “momentum.”  Simply put, a 4,000-pound vehicle, travelling at 45-50 mph, possesses about 100 times the momentum of a biker/bicycle whose combined weight is 150 pounds and who is struggling up the bridge at 12-15 mph.  A collision between two objects, one of which has 100 times the momentum of the other, means that the smaller object will suffer, in displacement and consequent damage, 100 times more than the bigger object.

In the short term, there is only one variable we can change in the above equation – and that is the speed limit for cars.  I consider that reform a no-brainer that should be instituted without delay.  Of course, a reduction in the speed limit needs to be accompanied by traffic management devices (including electronic surveillance) to monitor law-breakers.

The other possible solution is separation.  I think, in that context, that we all agree that a simple painted strip (as exists now) is not enough.  We will have to consider either rubber cones or well-lit corrugated surfaces which alert and deter the motorist from trespassing on the bike lanes.

Beyond the physics of the problem, beyond the traffic engineering and enforcement, there is the human dimension.  And that brings me back to Aaron, whose name technically means, “tower of strength,” but was further interpreted by the rabbi as referring to someone who loves life and who runs for life.  Aaron Cohen loved to run more than we can imagine.  He loved scuba diving and every kind of water sport; he loved ceramic arts and cycling, and – most of all – he loved his wife and two children.

As described by family and friends, he was special because he found something special to love in everyone he met, regardless of their station in life.  He took time, on the way to the airport, to buy M&M’s so that he could pass them out to the flight attendants.

He was, his sister Sabrina told us, like Elijah, the unforeseen guest for whom we keep the door permanently open, with a cup of wine ready, just in case the prophet visits us.

Perhaps the most appropriate analogy was offered by another rabbi who explained that the whole world is like a narrow bridge.  We must do our best to co-exist in the narrow space. 

We must, as another relative said in her eulogy, think “WWAD.”  What Would Aaron Do?

For myself, I will strive to reduce the chances that such a tragedy will happen again on the Rickenbacker Causeway - which just happens to be where I myself jog.

I will do it because it’s my obligation as an elected official and also because of Aaron – in his memory.

I never met him, but I already miss him as if he had been my best friend.

Commissioner Xavier Suarez represents District 7 in Miami-Dade County.  He represents numerous municipalities including the City of Miami, the Village of Key Biscayne, the City of Coral Gables, the City of South Miami, the Village of Pinecrest, as well as areas of unincorporated Miami-Dade County.

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

Happy new year blogosphere! Transit Miami is back and better than ever with a tough agenda on the way for 2011. While we are excited about the coming year we didn’t want to move on without looking back at the top 5 events (in our opinion) which rocked our local planning and transportation world in 2010.

5. FL High Speed Rail

With the Obama Transportation policy reform in full swing, Florida’s Tampa-Orlando HSR link emerged as a big winner, securing over $2 Billion in federal funds and virtually guaranteeing the initial 84 mile corridor’s completion in 2015. Despite the near 100% funding commitment from the feds, this project almost faced a similar fate as the Ohio and Wisconsin HSR plans which were scrapped by incoming Republican Governors late this year. Incoming Republican Gov Rick Scott has pledged to fully evaluate the fiscal viability of the line and is awaiting a feasibility study due in February before deciding whether to accept the federal funds.(barf )

4. Construction begins on the Port of Miami Tunnel

At the end of 2009, things were starting to look bleak for the $1 Billion Port of Miami Tunnel intended to divert truck traffic out of Miami’s downtown streets and onto the highway. With funding in place, the port tunnel quietly broke ground in the summer of 2010, finally bringing the 20+ year old concept into reality. The 1 mile tunnel will link Dodge and Watson Islands, providing the estimated 7,000 trucks and countless other vehicles which access the port daily with new, direct access; reducing congestion, and eliminating much truck traffic that would otherwise use normal downtown streets to get to I95. The tunnel is expected to be completed in 2014.

 

3. Tragedy on the Rickenbacker Causeway

The year got off to a rough start for South Florida Cyclists with the tragic death of Christophe Le Canne on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Le Canne, a 44 year old local cyclist and photographer was killed by a drunk driver on the morning of January 17. His death struck a nerve in growing cycling community. South Florida cyclists gathered like never before in a massive display of solidarity. With an estimated 2,500 cyclists in attendance, the Christophe Le Canne memorial ride (see video below), while tragic, echoed the collective sentiment of cyclists fed up with the status quo. Transit Miami issued a set of design and policy recommendations for the Rick in 2010, and we will continue to meet with elected officials and stakeholders to make the causeway the multimodal parkway we know it could be.

Christophe Le Canne Memorial Ride from rydel high on Vimeo.

2. FDOT heeds Brickell Community Concerns; more must be done

One of Transit Miami’s big projects this year was the campaign to improve pedestrian and cyclist conditions on Brickell. We organized residents, community groups, business interests, and elected officials to come together to speak with one voice to tell FDOT to make Brickell more pedestrian friendly as they move forward with street redesign and drainage improvement plans. We took field trips with FDOT to show them how unsafe they were desiging the road, and we let them square off with community residents and stakeholders in a meeting that left them looking careless and silly. FDOT eventually agreed to lower the speed limit, add several new crosswalks, and include shared-use arrow (sharrow) markings on the outside lane for cyclists - but more still needs to be done.  We are not going to stop until FDOT designs the street to take into account all users, and more than that, places automotive Level of Service at the bottom of a long list of other more important factors (like pedestrian and cyclist safety).

1. Miami 21

After a tumultuous 4 years of public comment,  hysterics, and misinformation, Miami 21 was officially implemented in 2010. We here at Transit Miami joined forces with the City of Miami in 2006 in full support of the plan, working closely with commissioners and city officials to help promote the virtues of a solid, form-based zoning code. The revolutionary work in Miami hasn’t gone unnoticed; since its adoption in May, Miami 21 has been the recipient of numerous awards including the American Planning Association (APA) Florida Chapter Award of Excellence, the American Architecture Award, and the Driehaus Form-Based Codes Award. The code has its issues, including excessively high parking requirements (championed by NYMBY groups) and a general lack of T4 around town, but these are issues we will continue to address in the coming years. We remain committed partners with the City of Miami Planning Department, and look forward to seeing how the code works with our existing transit investments to help Miami get through its urban growing pains.

Here is to a healthy and prosperous 2011! Cheers from the Transit Miami team.

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.

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In a show of force unseen before, the MDPD is ticketing cyclists for not coming to a complete stop at the turn around before the toll plaza as one heads back to Key Biscayne.  Tickets are running between $79-$179.

Although I do agree that there are plenty of irresponsible bicyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway, the majority of us are not.  For the most part we obey traffic laws, it behooves us to remain alive. It is the few large packs that give most of us a bad name.

That being said, I believe the MDPD is putting far too many of their valuable resources cracking down on cyclists, while the much larger problem of speeding is not being adequately addressed. Or rather it is not being given the priority that it deserves.

Yesterday, there were 6 police officers handing out tickets to cyclists. I’ve biked the Rickenbacker for the past ten years and have never seen such a concerted effort by the MDPD to ticket speeding motorists. In all fairness to the MDPD I have seen increased enforcement during the past year, but nothing like I witnessed yesterday.  I would like to see the same heavy-handed enforcement that is being applied to cyclists to speeding motorists.

The much larger problem on the Rickenbacker Causeway is and will continue to be speeding. Not one speed trap was set up yesterday to catch speeding cars, all the while I saw dozens of cars traveling in excess of 60 mph, particularly on the bridges where I have never seen a speed trap.

We need to focus our resources on ticketing irresponsible drivers, speed is the enemy and there should be zero-tolerance for speeding cars.  One mph over the current speed limit should result in a ticket. I would like to see 6 MDPD officers handing out tickets on Saturday morning to motorists to show that speeding will not be tolerated.

All I’m asking is for equal treatment. If you believe speeding cars are not being adequately dealt with on the Rickenbacker Causeway, please send Commissioner Carlos Gimenez an email and tell him you want more enforcement of speeding vehicles.

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Sorry for the delay in my response folks. As you may know, we here at Transit Miami were unable to attend the Cycling Town Hall Meeting co-hosted by Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez several months ago. We received a lot of feedback from those who attended and we have reviewed the recommendations for improvement which were presented to the public.

We are pleased that new safety improvements are being considered, as they are long overdue. However, it seems that there is no coherent plan for how these improvements will be implemented. Indeed, details regarding the improvements remain absent.

What we do know is that the Rickenbacker Causeway is the premier recreation destination in the City of Miami, if not all of Miami-Dade County. Thus, we must think of the entire corridor as a big linear park. The area hosts many parks and attractions. They include:

  • Miami Seaquarium
  • Crandon Park/Tennis Center
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
  • Mast Academy
  • Alice Wainright Park
  • Hobie Beach

In addition, the Miami Marine Stadium is slated to be renovated and Virginia Key will be converted into a major urban park, which will also include several miles of mountain bike trails. With a plethora of attractions/parks in such close proximity, it is imperative to provide safe connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists.

With the diversity of users and the number of related destinations, a coherent Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan should be developed in order to bring all the major stakeholders to the table, including the Village of Key Biscayne.  This would be an immensely important undertaking, and the County Public Works Department should not be solely responsible for making these improvements without the input of the public and the Village of Key Biscayne and City of Miami.

Ideally, the Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan would specify the details of the proposed improvements and analyze the proposed phasing already associated with the list of improvements slated for the Causeway.

Below is the summary of projects slated to be implemented over a 5-year period.  The proposed projects listed below are all pedestrian/bicycle safety oriented improvements for the Causeway and would be funded through the use of the 25 cent allocation of every toll collected.  Below each project you will find my commentary in bold.

Summary of Projects:

FY 10-11

Hobie Island Signalized Pedestrian/Cyclist Crossing and Turnaround $630,000

Description: Design and install a cyclist/pedestrian traffic light crossing at Hobie Island (Windsurfer Beach). The installation of a traffic light, striping, and signage will allow cyclists to turn from Eastbound to Westbound prior to reaching the toll plaza.

Does this require bicyclists to dismount? How is the traffic light activated? Where will it be placed? We need more details.

Rickenbacker Speed Limit Study $ 5,000
Description: PWD will conduct and evaluate results of speed study in order to determine whether the speed limits need to be modified and implement necessary signage changes.

Reducing the posted speed limit is very important, but it will have little to no effect on the actual speed of traffic without reconfiguring the roadway for slower speeds (signal timing, narrowing vehicular lanes, etc.)

Permanent “Vehicle Speed” Information Sign $ 80,000
Description: Install permanent ”Your Speed” information signs/speed radar light boards along causeway, to alert vehicles to their traveling speeds.

Not a priority (these are very expensive) if you design a roadway with a design speed not to exceed 40 mph. Money could be better spent elsewhere.

Improvements to Roadways Leading into Toll Plaza Phase 1 $ 160,000
Description: Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road/Rickenbacker Causeway from Brickell Avenue through the toll facility to Hobie Island, to accommodate and improve access to bicycle lanes.

The entire intersection before the toll needs to be redesigned. Crosswalks also need to be dramatically improved. Do we have drawings?

Total expenditures: $875,000

FY 11-12
Improvements to Roadways Leading into Toll Plaza Phase 2 $376,000
Description: Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road from Brickell Avenue to South Miami Avenue, and on South Miami Avenue from US 1 to S 25 Road, to accommodate bicycle lanes.

See comments from above.

Crandon Boulevard Lane Modification Phase 1 $507,750

Description: Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path.

What is the width of the proposed bike lane? More importantly, what is the new width of the travel lanes and will there be a soft or striped barrier between the bike lane and travel lanes?
Total expenditures: $883,750

FY 12-13
Crandon Boulevard Lane Modification Phase 2 $492,250
Description: (Continued) Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path.

See comments above.

Bicycle/Pedestrian Lane Mod West Bridge to Brickell Avenue $400,338
Description: Re-design, widen, stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.

How wide will the path be? What about those users who are never going to use the path, those heading to points south and west of Brickell?

Total expenditure: $892,588

FY 13-14
Bicycle/Pedestrian Lane Mod West Bridge to Brickell Avenue $99,662
Description: (Continued) Re-design, widen, stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.
See above.

Multi-Use Path along North Side of Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key $450,000
Description: Provide multi-use trail along north side of causeway from Bear Cut Bridge to William Powell Bridge. Cyclists can use Mast Academy signal to cross causeway, then use aforementioned path to reach Sewer Beach Road.

We welcome an extension of the multiuse path.  Although we would like to see drawings of the Mast Academy signal to cross the causeway.

Pedestrian/Bicycle Grade Separation across the Causeway $351,851
Description: Perform a study to evaluate the best location for a pedestrian/bicyclist grade separation from motor vehicles across the Causeway; Design and construct.

This is an expensive proposition that may be better spent getting roadway improvements for cyclists and pedestrians at grade, namely in signalization and improved crosswalks.

Total expenditure: $901,513

FY 14-15
Pedestrian/Bicycle Grade Separation across the Causeway $910,529
Description: (Continued) Perform a study to evaluate the best location for a pedestrian/bicyclist grade separation from motor vehicles across the Causeway; Design and construct.

See above.

Total expenditure: $910,529

We write this with great respect for the County Public Works Department, as this is a major project that is symbolic of a larger sea in recognizing the needs and rights of bicyclists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, there remain many missing details, including how we address safety on the bridges. Thus, we need a Rickenbacker Causeway Master Plan that looks comprehensively at the necessary improvements to furthering the success and safety of this recreational corridor. Going at it piecemeal is how we got into this mess in the first place. So, let’s not repeat the same mistake; let’s do it right for once and for all.

You can find more information about the proposed improvements here

Unscientific Transit Miami research says “yes”.  On my morning ride today, I decided to count cyclists and cars during 5 minute periods.  If you may recall, I shot a five minute video a few weeks ago and I counted about 180 cyclists.  Here are the results of today’s handle bar research:

Number of Bikes and Cars Counted in 5 Minutes on the Rickenbacker Causeway
Bike count #1 124
Bike count #2 153
Bike count #3 87
Average # of bikes in 5 minute period
121
Car count #1 87
Car count #2 128
Car Count #3 101
Average # of cars in 5 minute period 105

It seems that bicycles alone outnumber cars.  I did not count pedestrians, but there were a lot of them out there. I think it would be fair to assume that pedestrians and bicyclists outnumber cars on the Rickenbacker Causeway on weekend mornings.

So when is the county going to start closing down a lane of traffic on the weekends for pedestrians and cyclists to exercise safely?  I don’t have the answer to that question, but I can say with all confidence,  this initiative is long overdue.

I came upon two separate bike accidents on the Rickenbacker Causeway this morning. Both cyclists did not appear to be seriously injured, and I don’t believe cars were involved in either accident.  Both accidents occurred in the south bound bike lane/shoulder; the first accident occurred on the William Powel Bridge and the second one near Crandon Park.

Luckily no one was seriously injured, but the margin for error here is very small. With cars whizzing by at 45-55 mph someone could have easily been killed today.

A special thanks to Miami-Fire Rescue, MDPD and MPD.

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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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Unfortunately, we here at Transit Miami were unable to attend the Cycling Town Hall meeting hosted by Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez.  If you were able to attend please use the comments section and let us know how it went. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

A special thanks to Commissioners Ralph Cabrera and Carlos Gimenez, as well as the County Public Works Department, for holding this very important meeting.

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The below email was forwarded to Transit Miami this afternoon:

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

Ralph Cabrera

Commissioner

City of Coral Gables

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

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

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

Thank you MDPD!

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

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

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

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

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

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