When Carlos Bertonatti slammed into cyclist Christophe LeCanne on the Rickenbacker Causeway in January 2010, killing the 44-year-old on the spot, advocates begged the County to make the bike lanes safer. Nothing happened. This past February, almost the exact same tragedy repeated: This time, the driver was Michele Traverso and the dead cyclist was Aaron Cohen, but otherwise the story was all too similar.
This morning, the County finally began modifying the popular bike lanes -- with a new strip of "vibratory ridges." Will that really be enough to protect cyclists, though?
Crews are scheduled to start adding the new strips on Tuesday morning, the Miami Herald reports. They'll be added to both sides of the Bear Cut and William Powell bridges, and to the westbound side of the first bridge after the toll booths on the Miami side of Biscayne Bay. (The eastbound lane already has enough separation from traffic, city engineers say.)
The point is to warn drivers when they're drifting into bike lanes, Jeff Cohen, the county's assistant director of traffic engineering, tells the Herald.
"It reinforces the message that you're not supposed to cross the line," he says.
But bike advocates have been pushing for two much more significant changes to the bridges: A bike lane separated by rails or barriers, and better enforcement of the speed limit on the bridge.
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As Miami Bike Scene blogger Rydel points out this morning, the new lines do "nothing to discourage speeding, which seems to be the primary concern for recreational users of the Rickenbacker."
The County acknowledges the strips are a short-term fix, and says engineers are looking into longer-term changes including a lower speed limit. Let's hope those discussions move as quickly as half the drivers rocketing over the bridges.
As for Bertonatti and Traverso, their trials are still pending. Bertonatti's is scheduled for now to start on June 11; Traverso's is due to start July 9.