Don't get us wrong, we think creating bike lanes on any street is a smart and safety conscious decision. But Washington Avenue on South Beach? Lord help us! If there's one street that attracts the I-just-popped-three-bottles-at-LUX Nightclub-set, then it has to be Washington Avenue. Perhaps city officials believe that a pilot bike lane on Washington will be a good litmus test for the rest of the beach. After all, if bikers can ride (or survive) there, they can ride anywhere.
The program involves re-striping the outside travel lanes (or closest to
parking lanes) with pavement markings letting drivers know they are
sharing the road with bicyclists. The new markings will run along
Washington Avenue from South Pointe Drive to Dade Boulevard.
City officials say that most injuries to bicyclists on South Beach occur
when car doors open in the parking lanes and cyclist crash into them.
With a shared lane, they hope the cyclist will be out of that danger
zone.The program will be studied in February and, if found to be
effective in reducing crashes and injuries, will be expanded to other
Miami Beach streets. Bike racks will also be installed on every block
between 4 an 17th Street on Washington Avenue.
Keeping cyclists safe in Florida is no ride in the park, with the state
ranked as the deadliest in the nation. And within the state, wouldn't you know that Miami-Dade
County is the deadliest of the lot.
Even more discouraging for beach cyclists, South Beach led the county
between 1996 and 2003 in bike related crashes.
But that was more than seven years ago and Miami Beach has been on the
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leading edge of encouraging bike use and now safety for some time.The recently started DecoBike program offers rental bikes which can be used and dropped off at various
locations. It's billed as the country's first green city-wide public transit program.