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Which will it be—a “Lexus lane” toll road or maybe someday a train?

Thanks to crusading Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, the village of Pinecrest will hold a town-hall meeting Wednesday, Nov. 14, with officials from the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to discuss the future of the busway adjacent to U.S. 1 south of Dadeland. The meeting will take place from 7-9 p.m. at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Rd,

One scenario for the busway under consideration is to turn it into a toll road. According to Lerner, that would preclude ever extending Metrorail south from Dadeland. “I want to start a dialogue,” Lerner told the Miami Herald. “The general public is completely unaware of what’s being prepared.” According to the Herald, Lerner and others have been pushing for more transit options for U.S. 1 south of Dadeland Mall, which is where Metrorail ends.

Go Bronze!

In October 2012 the City of Miami was awarded Bronze status as a Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Green Mobility Network helped to make it happen. In 2008 we organized a meeting with former mayor Manny Diaz that led to the City Commission’s adoption of Miami’s first bicycle master plan. At one time Miami was considered one of the worst big cities in the country for bicycling. Now it’s recognized as one of the most promising.

Plans for the Rickenbacker in the Works

In August 2012 the Key Biscayne Village Council passed a resolution calling for consideration of a wall to separate bicyclists from motor vehicles on the Rickenbacker Causeway and a toll on bicyclists using the Causeway to pay for it. Local cyclists both in Key Biscayne and on the mainland were concerned. At the moment there are no plans for either a wall or a toll for bicyclists. Following is a fact sheet that describes current plans under consideration for the entire length of the Causeway.

FACT SHEET—OCT. 17, 2012

This fact sheet was prepared by Bike Key Biscayne, a group of bicycle advocates who live in Key Biscayne, and Green Mobility Network. The statements are based on recent interviews with Miami-Dade County staff and available public documents.

Several bicycle-related improvements for the Rickenbacker Causeway are currently in various stages of planning and development. All are likely to be implemented within the next 12-36 months. Because all are under review by one or more decision-making bodies, no start dates for construction have been identified. Any of these plans could be altered during the process of final review and approval.

The funding source for some of these projects, if not all of them, is likely to be the 25-cent portion of all Rickenbacker Causeway tolls currently set aside for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, which provides approximately $875,000-900,000 per year for a five-year period that began in 2010. Since the plans for all of the following projects are still under review, final costs have not yet been determined.

South end of Bear Cut Bridge to entrance to Village of Key Biscayne: Restrictions on changes to the roadway preclude any widening of this part of the Causeway. Currently the traffic lanes in both directions are 12’ wide and the bicycle lanes are 5’ wide. The plan under review is to resurface the roadway, narrow the traffic lanes to 11’, and widen the bicycle lanes to 7’, including installation of the same type of vibratory edge line already installed on the three bridges, which provides further separation and protection for bicyclists. This project will bring the traffic lane width into conformity with the rest of the Causeway, where the traffic lanes are already 11’ wide. In addition, the project includes improvements to the separate dedicated bicycle-pedestrian path that parallels the roadway. Status: Being reviewed by the Crandon Park oversight committee and the Miami-Dade Department of Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces.

Improvements to Virginia Key dedicated bicycle-pedestrian path. This project will add a new dedicated path on the north (inbound) side of the Causeway on Virginia Key, ultimately creating a dedicated bicycle-pedestrian loop that will run the length of Virginia Key on both sides of the motor vehicle and bicycle lanes on the roadway.

Hobie Island. On the north side of Hobie Island, the service road and amenities will be rebuilt using a design similar to the design of the recently rebuilt service road and amenities on the south side of the island. This will include improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians as well as bicycle-pedestrian facilities connecting the north and south sides of the service road underneath the north end of the William Powell Bridge.

Approaches to the Rickenbacker toll plaza. Eventually the toll plaza will be converted to a Sunpass-only facility. The plan includes construction of bicycle lanes on both the north and south sides of the roadway, beginning at South Miami Ave. and physically separated by a permanent concrete “curbed island” from the motor vehicle lanes. To avoid the current conflict with motor vehicles turning right after the toll plaza to the westbound flyover, a dedicated bicycle-pedestrian ramp will be built (requiring significant widening of the existing path) parallel to the roadway. It will lead underneath the flyover to the bike lane on 26th Rd. leading to South Miami Ave.

You can find Bike Key Biscayne on Facebook.

Key Biscayne Bicyclists Organize Around Rickenbacker Safety, Meet with Mayor Frank Caplan

In response to a recent resolution passed by the Key Biscayne Village Council, two Key Biscayne residents who are bicycle advocates, Cristina Ramirez and Hank Sanchez-Resnik, met with Key Biscayne Mayor Frank Caplan on Sept. 15 to discuss the resolution and ways to make cycling safer on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Ramirez is a triathlete, the mother of two young children, and a preschool teacher on Key Biscayne. Sanchez-Resnik is a co-founder and the current chairman of Green Mobility Network.

The Village Council resolution, adopted on August 28, called for a means to separate bicyclists from motorists and included a suggestion that if the cost of such an improvement proved to be an obstacle, consideration should be given to charging bicyclists a toll to ride on the Causeway. That proposal in particular has led to widespread criticism within the bicycling community.

Mayor Caplan, himself a frequent bicyclist, said he does not favor the idea of a toll. He is concerned, however, about the safety of bicyclists on the Rickenbacker, and he said he wants to focus on safety improvements that will be carried out in the coming months, not in the distant future. As mayor of Key Biscayne, he said, he also must take into account the needs of village residents for whom the Rickenbacker is the sole vehicular access to the island village.

Ramirez and Sanchez-Resnik have made a commitment to work closely with Mayor Caplan, the Village Council, and others in the bicycling community to monitor safety improvements for the Rickenbacker that will take the needs of all users of the roadway into account. A meeting of Key Biscayne residents who are also regular bicyclists has been scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 22, at 3 p.m.

Click here to read the text of the Key Biscayne Village Council resolution.

Click here to read Cristina Ramirez’ blog post on why she became involved in promoting safety for bicyclists on the Rickenbacker.

Build a Bridge and They Will Come

After years of planning, Miami-Dade County is installing a bicycle-pedestrian bridge at Cocoplum Circle. The bridge is at the southern end of the five-mile Commodore Trail, which begins just south of the Rickenbacker Causeway toll plaza. Monitoring of improvements and advocacy on behalf of the Commodore Trail was one of Green Mobility Network’s earliest priorities—and has continued to be a priority for our volunteers and advocates since 2005. Click here to read more about the bridge project.

Green Mobility Network Meets with Commissioner Sosa

On Wednesday, Sept. 5, Tony Garcia and Hank Sanchez-Resnik, board members of Green Mobility Network, met with County Commissioner Rebecca Sosa (District 6) to discuss her resolution related to working with FDOT on bicycle improvements to major streets that FDOT controls.

This was in response to the commissioner’s Sept. 6 resolution on the County Commission agenda, which had the potential to undo many years of progress in getting FDOT to include bicycle and pedestrian improvements on FDOT-controlled urban roadways.

Commissioner Sosa began by saying she had received hundreds of our preformatted emails and she realized there might be unintended consequences from her legislation. She has pulled the item indefinitely.

She is primarily concerned with a proposed southbound bike lane on 57th Ave. between 8th St. and 24rd St. This is not about losing parking, she said, but about the safety of cyclists riding along 57th Ave. between fast-moving traffic and cars parked diagonally on the west side of the street in the commercial area. Her resolution was one of similar resolutions, she said, from the Cities of Coral Gables and West Miami to address FDOT’s bike lane requirement specifically for this stretch of road. All the resolutions requested FDOT to redesign the project in order to minimize the dangers to bicyclists.

The commissioner was open to suggestions about how to proceed. We agreed to develop a counter-proposal with specific recommendations for an improved design that will take bicyclists’ and pedestrians’ needs into account while also addressing the safety concerns this complex project entails. The commissioner made it clear she is not opposed to bike facilities, only that they be designed for optimal safety.

Our next move will be to study the proposal, develop a counter-proposal, and work with Commissioner Sosa to negotiate with FDOT to change the design. Also, in the event FDOT is unwilling to reconsider their design, we will work with Commissioner Sosa to develop alternate language for a County Commission resolution requesting cooperation from FDOT.

We will keep the bicycling community updated through posts on our website as well as Facebook and Twitter.