Should Dangerously Busy Miami Roads Have Bike Lanes? Advocates, Commission Clash Over Policy

Categories: Bike Blog
miami_beach_bike_lane.jpg
via The Miami Bike Scene

When Commissioner Rebeca Sosa introduced a resolution last month asking FDOT consult with Miami-Dade before it installs new bike lanes, cyclists reacted with fury. Sosa was deluged with calls and emails from advocates convinced the resolution was a sneak-attack to prevent new bike lanes in a town already sorely lacking in that department.

Sosa pulled the item after the outcry, saying her intent was the opposite -- to make sure the lanes that are built went on roads where cyclists would be safe. She's now working with cyclists on a thorny question: Are some roads -- like the MacArthur Causeway -- simply too dangerous for bike lanes?

Sosa's resolution was slammed two weeks ago as a commission vote approached by blogs like Transit Miami and Streetsblog, which took issue with her language that bike lanes "conflict" with local traffic and some small businesses in places like SW 57th Avenue.

"Local storefront businesses should be catering to cyclists for all of the business they bring and revenue they create," Transit Miami's Matthew Toro wrote

But after Sosa yanked the item, she reached out to advocates like Anthony Garcia, a former Transit Miami writer.

"She said, 'I'm not against bike lanes,' but she wants more safety," Garcia says. "She wants the type of road facility that will accommodate cyclists."

When FDOT resurfaces a state road, Sosa says, they automatically add a bike lane to the refinished asphalt. Sosa's resolution pointed out FDOT-installed or planned bike lanes on SW 57th Ave., the Tamiami Trail, and the MacArthur Causeway, are potentially dangerous for cyclists given the volume and intensity of traffic. She wanted FDOT to be more selective about where it put new bike facilities.

"My resolution was to bring attention to the fact that, sometimes, government is arrogant and they don't take the time to sit down and analyze everything," Sosa says. "We need to create safe ways for bikers in Miami. Rather than quantity, we want quality."

Cyclists, after all, have been at the forefront of pushing for safer lanes on the Rickenbacker Causeway, where a number of cyclists have been killed in the past three years.

Garcia says advocates have asked Sosa to amend her resolution to make it clear she doesn't want FDOT to roll back their bike lane policy.

As of 2011, there were 70 miles of bike lanes in the county, according to the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization -- a start, Garcia says, but not nearly enough to protect the number of cyclists who use Miami's roadways. FDOT also needs to think beyond simple painted-on lanes to find ways to protect cyclists on busy roads -- via barriers, separated paths or other ideas.

"We want to evolve beyond bike lanes," he says. "They're not a one-size-fits-all solution."

Sosa now says she's trying to find a new way to keep bike lanes going without compromising rider safety. For Garcia, the hope is that it's a step to making Miami a more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly city.

"It's not just about cyclists," he says. "Here, it's a livability of the streets issue."

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35 comments
Craig Chester
Craig Chester

Sidwalks are for walking. Telling someone to 'ride on the sidewalk' is like telling a motorist to drive through a shopping mall.

Craig Chester
Craig Chester

And let me tell you, Miami has no problems that are 'unique' to Miami. Many cities, including Chicago and NYC were arguably worse for cycling that Miami ever was, only to have transformed into some of the best for cycling in the USA.

Craig Chester
Craig Chester

Sidewalk riding is considerably more dangerous than riding on the road. Anyone who has ridden before can tell you that, and the stats back it up.

kareemzarwi
kareemzarwi

@timelfrinkmia @miaminewtimes the real question is: When are Miami cyclists going to start using bike lanes and not ride across the road??

Keith Lawler
Keith Lawler

Miami needs to reconsider the entire concept of these "causeways". Do they really need to be designed to simply get as many cars as possible as fast as possible from one point to another. The solution is not to build around cars but work to incorporate cars into a comprehensive method of transport, driving, busing, trains, bikes, walking, ferrying etc.....

Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez
Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez

But yea...make a lane for them before i elbow the shit out of one of them on old cutler.

Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez
Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez

I rather have the cyclist causing trouble for pedestrians walking on the sidewalks than to have them slow traffic down for the people who ACTUALLY have shit to do.

Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez
Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez

I rather have the cyclist causing trouble for pedestrians walking on the sidewalks than to have them slow traffic down for the people who ACTUALLY have shit to do.

Rachelle Beresh
Rachelle Beresh

I am all for making Miami a more biker friendly city. However, my concern with the causeway is there are so many tourist on the road looking at everything but the road, the cruise ships, the water, the magnificent homes on the isles ect - so I fear they don't see the bicyclist.

Constanza Camargo Maute
Constanza Camargo Maute

When I first moved to Miami from berlin, I innocently assumed that I could get on my bike and ride from 71st down to south beach along a beach bike route. The route suddenly ended around 65th and I had to rid the barely existing slalom sidewalk course because there is no bike bath down Collins either. So educate he drivers and extend safe paths for bikes ASAP Miami !!!

Joshua Greg Osorio
Joshua Greg Osorio

sidewalks should b made wide enough with a line painted down the middle so that cyclists joggers and pedestrians can safely share them

Mike Montero
Mike Montero

And enforcement is there too. Currently it takes about 2 years to prosecute cyclist murderers. People still drink and drive into dividers on the regular yo.

Mike Montero
Mike Montero

And enforcement is there too. Currently it takes about 2 years to prosecute cyclist murderers. People still drink and drive into dividers on the regular yo.

Mike Montero
Mike Montero

And enforcement is there too. Currently it takes about 2 years to prosecute cyclist murderers. People still drink and drive into dividers on the regular yo.

Mike Montero
Mike Montero

I really don't think it's just education though, what do you propose? A chapter on cycling and road sharing in the driver's manual? That chapter's been there, since I read it back in the 90s that one time.

Gabriela Silva
Gabriela Silva

Education is key: cyclists and drivers need to be made aware of laws of the road and be considerate and conscientious- when that happens, there is no such thing as a street that's 'too dangerous' for cyclists.

James Hicks
James Hicks

The problem is that everyone just seems to accept that these streets are dangerous. Maybe if there was some enforcement to stop people from driving like psychopaths the street wouldnt be too dangerous to put a bike lane on

James Hicks
James Hicks

The problem is that everyone just seems to accept that these streets are dangerous. Maybe if there was some enforcement to stop people from driving like psychopaths the street wouldnt be too dangerous to put a bike lane on

Gabriela Silva
Gabriela Silva

I agree that sidewalks are for pedestrians, people walking their dogs, babies, etc. It's unrealistic to think that cyclists can comfortably share sidewalks with them along with all the obstacles on sidewalks (signs, etc).

Jimbo99
Jimbo99 topcommenter

Rickenbacher Causeway isn't too dangerous for bike lanes. The 2 most recent fatalities, the 1st a drunk driver at sunrise on a Sunday AM. Not much you can do about that, he would've ran that guy over in the parking lot of huis apartment/condo. The 2nd incident, what is a cyclist doing on the road at 5:00 AM in the dark ? Self inflicted stupidity. True the motorist had no business being in the bike lane, but let's be real about this, the cyclist waits until daybreak when someone can see him and maybe he survives the ride that day ?

Mike Montero
Mike Montero

I definitely ride my bike on the sidewalk when it's available, I just don't trust Miami's drivers. But the question is about causeways like the MacArthur being too dangerous for bike lanes. In its current state it most definitely is. And so is the Tuttle. It would require more than paint, cement about 2 feet high comes to mind.

Mike Montero
Mike Montero

I definitely ride my bike on the sidewalk when it's available, I just don't trust Miami's drivers. But the question is about causeways like the MacArthur being too dangerous for bike lanes. In its current state it most definitely is. And so is the Tuttle. It would require more than paint, cement about 2 feet high comes to mind.

Susan Rodman
Susan Rodman

Sidewalks are for pedestrians. Bikers on sidewalks are inconsiderate regarding pedestrians. We all need to learn the rules and share the roads....bikers need to learn to obey traffic laws and ride on the correct side of the road.

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter

Busy Miami Roads Have Bike Lanes=The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate. Some had high hopes the genetic engineering would correct this trend in evolution, but sadly the greatest minds and resources where focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections.

Lee Glick
Lee Glick

They already have that Craig, its called a SIDEWALK!

Lee Glick
Lee Glick

They already have that Craig, its called a SIDEWALK!

Rosita Vee
Rosita Vee

Yes. Share the road. A bike-friendly city doesn't just happen, we have to make it happen. If there are those of us willing to brave the heat and the crazy drivers to promote an eco-friendly, healthier alternative, where's the downside?

Craig Chester
Craig Chester

We just need BETTER bike lanes - those that included painted buffers, physical separation, colored paint, etc. rather than the simple line/glorified shoulder that is default for FDOT.

delaVegaII
delaVegaII

@MiamiNewTimes yes. #WithoutADoubt

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