Chaos on the Rickenbacker! Part Three

Categories: Bike Blog

Well, it’s been about two weeks since the Great Rickenbacker Fiasco made landfall, and it shows no signs of letting up. Last week, the Bike Blog reported on a number – we still don’t know how many -- of accidents on the Rickenbacker as a result of repaving that left a nice little hard-to-see drop-off from the shoulder to the road. The Rickenbacker is the single most popular bike route in the county – and a lot of people have wiped out.

After dodging the press for a week or so, the Department of Public Works finally issued a few statements which were notable for how thoroughly they denied responsibility and, on the contrary, blamed bikers themselves. Here’s my favorite tidbit, taken from a statement issued by Delfin Molins, a DPW spokesperson:

Since neither the construction nor the proper warning advisories have apparently sufficiently motivated bicyclists to use due care when traversing these bumps after each right turn lane, the County is in the process of fabricating signage.

Ouch! Don’t be so hard on yourself, Molins. Those bikers were just unmotivated – so unmotivated that they felt it necessary to fling themselves off their bikes onto your causeway. Proper warning advisories can only be expected to motivate so much, of course. Maybe you should have brought in a motivational speaker; or perhaps cheerleaders – would the county pay for that?

But that wasn’t the only olive branch the DPW offered the county’s bicyclists – behold this gem of an explanation (also from Molins):

It is imperative to note that the area where the incidents have occurred is not a bicycle lane, but a shoulder. A dedicated multiple-use bicycle/pedestrian path exists along the length of this project on the south side of the causeway.

That’s right, folks – that lane that literally fills with bicyclists on the weekends, that virtually every biker traversing the causeway uses to get between Key Biscayne and Miami (Did I mention it’s the most popular route in the county? In this posting? Well.) – that’s not a bike lane. It’s a shoulder. You should feel privileged to have the opportunity to crash on that shoulder.The problem is that the "dedicated multiple-use bicycle/pedestrian path" isn't particularly convenient to use: "For instance the bike lane doesn't begin until after bear cut," says Everglades Bike Club vice president John Sabatier, adding: "It's narrow -- if you've got groups, you know that they aren't going to ride on the bike path."

It’s a great walking path, though!

Meanwhile, the Bike Blog finally got off its tuchus and checked out the Rickenbacker itself. The drop-off, which is worst on the north side of the road, isn’t terrible, but it’s easy to see how someone could wipe out if they didn’t see it. What's really bad out there is the striping. Heading west, the white line marking the "shoulder" jogs, goes inexplicably from solid to striped and back again. In one place it even splits into two lines, separated by three feet, with plenty of shoulder off to the right, which looks like a bike lane to me.

The Ride of Silence:

Since the Miami Herald’s correction won’t be out until tomorrow, the Bike Blog will perform a public service and make a correction itself.
Despite today’s article reporting that tonight’s Ride of Silence, will lack police protection, Everglades Bike Club vice president John Sabatier says that the police will, in fact, be there, escorting the ride. “I don’t get it,” he says. “I called and told the paper that.”

The Ride, which was moved because of Club president John Voss’ safety concerns with the Rickenbacker, will begin at the Crandon Marina at 7:00 p.m.


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