Category Archives: Rickenbacker Causeway

Aaron Cohen Law One Step Closer

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If you have been following ARONOVITZ LAW Blog posts over the past year, you know there has been an ongoing grassroots initiative, backed by legislative support, to impose tougher penalties on hit-and-run drivers.

Now that vital initiative—the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act— is one step away from becoming law in Florida. After passing in the Senate by unanimous vote on March 26, the House voted 118-0 on April 22 to pass its version of the bill.
Continue reading Aaron Cohen Law One Step Closer

Xavier Suarez Meets with Bicyclists, Agrees That Change is Needed on the Rickenbacker

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.

Cyclists cross Bear Cut Bridge during Friday afternoon rush hour. Two started on the bike lane then melded with motor traffic as cars edged toward the concrete barrier.
Cyclists cross Bear Cut Bridge during Friday afternoon rush hour. Two started on the bike lane then melded with motor traffic as cars edged toward the concrete barrier.

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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

Driver Guilty in Cyclist’s Hit-Run Death

–UPDATED–
As expected, Carlos Bertonatti pleaded guilty on Monday. The Miami Herald’s David Ovalle reports from the courthouse here.
— — —
The young singer Carlos Bertonatti told a Miami-Dade trial judge today that he’s ready to plead guilty in the hit-and-run death of bicyclist Christoph Le Canne three years ago on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The actual plea would be entered Feb. 19, and Bertonatti could get a potential sentence as long as 35 years. The sentencing is to take place May 2. Circuit Court Judge Bronwyn Miller reminded Bertonatti that he’d be subject to deportation.
Continue reading Driver Guilty in Cyclist’s Hit-Run Death

Hit-run Driver Gets A Year, Almost

Michele Traverso will serve time in a county jail, not a state prison, for the hit-and-run death of bicyclist Aaron Cohen last Feb. 15. Judge William Thomas sentenced him to 364 days, followed by two years of probation.

The prosecutor, Jane Anderson, asked for six years in prison and five years’ probation. The defendant, a 26-year-old aspiring masseur, had already pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident and to driving with a suspended license. Today he addressed the Cohen family, acknowledged that “what I have done is unspeakable,” and promised to dedicate his life to helping others.  “I beg for the opportunity to do that,” he told the crowded courtroom as he stood in Miami-Dade Jail orange.

Traverso said he was not drunk, as many have assumed, but asleep at the wheel when he plowed into Cohen and riding buddy Enda Walsh on the Rickenbacker Causeway’s Powell Bridge.  Continue reading Hit-run Driver Gets A Year, Almost

Rickenbacker Riders, Heed Safety Tips

Cyclists cross Bear Cut Bridge during Friday afternoon rush hour. Two started on the bike lane then melded with motor traffic as cars edged toward the concrete barrier.
Cyclists cross Bear Cut Bridge during Friday afternoon rush hour. Two started on the bike lane then melded with motor traffic as cars edged toward the concrete barrier.

For at least several months we’re all going to need extra care in biking or driving the Rickenbacker Causeway. The lane restrictions applied today on the Bear Cut Bridge — that’s the one just east of the UM’s Rosenstiel School — have put both outbound and inbound motor traffic on the south side of the bridge. Drivers headed toward Key Biscayne can barely avoid driving in the bike lane. For the time being, the county is asking outbound cyclists to use the barrier-protected multi-use path instead of the bike lane. Strong and skilled cyclists probably will be OK on the road as usual but should understand that impatience may surface at any time. Here’s our advice:

  1. Use extra care at all times on or near the Bear Cut Bridge.
  2. After dark and until an hour after sunrise, do not bike the bridge in the motor lanes.
  3. If you ride the side path, accept that you’re likely to meet or overtake pedestrians. Those walkers and joggers have the right-of-way and it’s a cyclist’s obligation by law and courtesy to yield to them. You’ll also encounter slower or less-skilled cyclists on the path; treat them well.
  4. Take extra effort to be polite to motorists. The lane restrictions are as uncomfortable for them as for runners or cyclists. Continue reading Rickenbacker Riders, Heed Safety Tips

Bertonatti Back in Court

Carlos Bertonatti wore inmate’s orange for his hearing today on DUI/manslaughter charges in the hit-and-run death of bicyclist Christoph LeCanne on the Rickenbacker Causeway.  We’re accustomed to seeing him in street clothes for his many show-ups at Miami-Dade Circuit Court, but this time he shuffled into Courtroom 4-7 handcuffed to a walker.

He occupied the back row of the jury box while Judge Bronwyn Miller worked her way through a morning docket of lesser cases. Then, after a short conference between the young singer and defense lawyer Robert Pertierra, Judge Miller set yet another trial date — this time Jan. 7, 2013, with a pre-trial conference Jan. 3.

For most of the time since his arrest in January 2010, Bertonatti has been under house arrest at his father’s Key Biscayne home, his movements monitored by a GPS ankle bracelet. But his bail bondsman surrendered him in June and Bertonatti is being held at the Metro West Detention Center.