Bike advocates convened today at the office of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez (District 7) to discuss improving bicycle safety on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The meeting was called by Commissioner Suarez to reiterate his commitment to better bicycling in Miami-Dade and to reach a consensus on both short term (micro) measures that can be implemented in now, while also focusing on the long term (macro) design of the causeway.
Among the attendees were Green Mobility network board members Eli Stiers, Eric Tullberg and Tony Garcia, Mart Jane Mark & Sue Kawalerski (representing Mack Cycle), Hank Sanchez-Resnick, Xavier Falconi ( Everglades Bike Club), Felipe Azhena (Transit Miami) and Markus Wagner (among others). Also in attendance were the Key Biscayne city manager and chief of police, Miami-Dade Police, and Commander Morales from the City of Miami.
The discussion centered around the topic of increased safety for all users of the road — bicyclists and motorists included, with a focus on the short-term, low-cost actions that could be taken, and other longer-term items that need to be accomplished moving forward.
Among the major short-term measures that were communicated are:
– a consistent 35-mph speed limit along the full length of the causeway (current speeds range from 45-25) (see this diagram showing the differences in speed limits current as of 2-11-2014)
-increased enforcement of speed limits at targeted times, to coincide with the times of greatest bicycle activity. (See this reference sheet showing the enforcement actions for 2012 and 2013 – not a bad start, but much more needs to be done!)
-signage that indicates bicyclist rights and responsibilities along the causeway
One major safety concern is the upcoming removal of the toll booth at the entrance of the causeway, to be replaced with a Sunpass system. All were in agreement that this would only encourage more speeding and that enforcement was a top priority moving forward.
The longer-term vision presented by those in attendance is a redesign of the road that would impact the design speed; a redesign that envisions the causeway as a linear park – not a highway. For the long-term success of this corridor, the road must be designed to reduce speeds, and improve safety for the thousands of daily visitors. Current lane widths are 11′ from the entrance of the Rick to the Bear Cut bridge, and 12′ from there to the Village of Key Biscayne. While this latter section is being narrowed to allow for an increase in the current 3′ bike lane, the former section is not. Narrowing the lanes will reduce speeds, and provide more space to bicyclists and pedestrians. Conversion of the entire causeway into a linear park, consistent with William Lyman Phillips original vision for the corridor, should be implemented. Phillips envisioned the causeway as a part of the Miami-Dade park network; a recreational asset as much as a transportation corridor. This vision is more valid today than ever before.
Green Mobility applauds Commissioner Suarez for taking the initiative to convene the group, and is hopeful that the consensus reached at the meeting will lead to actual changes on the Rickenbacker and continued dialogue with the bicycle/pedestrian community.