A Crash Course on Building Bike Lanes

After a few months of ragging on Miami for its pathetic/nonexistent bike lanes, mean drivers, sluggish progress, and general muddle-headedness when it comes to making the city bike-friendly, the Bike Blog resolved to spend a week posting nothing but good news.

But not this week. This morning, I received an email from bike activist and disgruntled pedicab advocate Felipe Azenha, decrying what he says is a lousy attempt by the city to install bike lanes on the Rickenbacker causeway.

He wrote:

For the past couple of weeks the Public Works department has been resurfacing sections of the Rickenbacker Causeway in order place long overdue bike lanes on the most popular cycling route in the county. However, they have managed to take procrastination to another level, and it has taken them at least three weeks to resurface sections of the causeway, which would ordinarily take most cities a week to figure out. Because it has taken them weeks to repave the road, there are sections of the roadway which are two inches lower then the rest of the roadway.

The Bike Blog wasn’t out on the Rickenbacker this weekend to see – but bicyclist Terri Echarte was. She says she bit it hard on the uneven pavement, and that she wasn’t the only one. “I was just one of the ones that fell -- there was a rider that was already down, and I was on the [road] to avoid that rider,” she says. “When I crossed over to go back on the shoulder, I completely fell down, my entire right side is scraped raw. My helmet cracked in two places, and I’m lucky I was able to walk way.”

Apparently the county's Department of Public Works paved over the bike path and hasn’t evened-up the road yet, leaving a nice little drop-off to crash into. To make things worse, there’s a white line that perfectly covers up the danger-zone, making the drop impossible to see until you bang into it – “It creates the optical illusion that the road continues,” is how Echart puts it. “I will tell you,” she adds, “that while we were waiting for the paramedic, at least three other people had the same thing happen to them in a 30 minute span.”

We called James Martincak, who oversees work on the Rickenbacker for Public Works, and who would say only that he and his department were unaware of any accidents that occurred “this week” – stressing that "this week" began on Sunday (Echart says she crashed Saturday) – before referring the Bike Blog to DPW Public Information officer Delfin Molins. Way to take responsibility!

PIO Molins in turn asked for questions to be emailed, stressing that he was busy meeting our competition’s deadlines. His preliminary answer (boiled down for readability) was yes, the road was uneven; but there were signs posted saying so.

Listen, Department of Public Works: any of you ever flip face first off a bike? Ain't no sign gonna catch you. Miami’s single most popular bike route should probably have been handled with greater care. Fix those lanes, and fix ‘em fast -- if a few cars had flipped over a misplaced curb on Biscayne, it’s hard to imagine that anybody would be talking about signs.---Isaiah Thompson

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