For a road that leads to a sparsely developed island sitting just north of a national park, the Rickenbacker Causeway has all the charm of an anonymous highway. A string of accidents, often deadly, have called attention to the fact drivers often zip through the road like it was I-95 even though speed limits on certain stretches are as low as 25 mph.
Well local architect Bernard Zyscovich has come up with a radical idea to redevelop the road so that he has more of a vibe of a park that just happens to have a road running through it rather than a raceway.
Zyscovich, an active cyclist himself, calls for plan that would reduce the number of lanes from three to two from the mainland to the entrance to Key Biscayne Village. The exterior lanes would be turned into bike lanes with a strip of dense vegetation separating bikers from cars.
"If I had to describe it in just one simple thought, it would be to try and make a safe and secure park out of what is currently a highway," Zyscovich told the Miami Herald.
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The plan already has the support of the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, but has a long way to go before it becomes a reality. There's no other support and no funding for the project that would cost about $20 to $30 million.
While thousands live on the island and many others come to visit the restaurants, marina and beaches -- thus making the causeway an often busy road -- it's also among the most popular destinations in Dade for cyclists and joggers. There have been several accidents involving bikers and cars in the past decade, with at least three resulting in death. Ideas of how to make the causeway safer always seem to bubble up after the deaths, and yet Miami-Dade County, which owns the road, has done very little so far.
The number of bikers using the causeway may only increase as some seek an alternative route after portions of the Venetian Causeway close for construction.