Another Cyclist Hit on Brickell

For months now, we at the South Floride Bike Coalition and TransitMiami.com have been urging FDOT to calm traffic on Brickell Avenue. We have posted pictures and stories of multiple collisions, resulting in pedestrian injuries and fatalities and uncounted near misses. (Here’s one from last month.)

This morning, another person trying the simple task of turning onto Brickell Avenue from 14th street on a bicycle was hit by a car. He is currently at Ryder Trauma Center with a broken pelvis and other life-threatening injuries.

We hope he's okay. Is FDOT paying attention?

We are following this closely and will update this post as we receive more information. The bike flew over 50 feet into Brickell. Eyewitness reports suggest the motorist failed to yield to the man in the crosswalk, but we have not heard of any tickets issued at this time.

Ride safely, South Florida.

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Brickell Avenue Campaign Update: We’re in The Herald!

The Miami Herald today published a joint letter from the Bike Coalition board member, director and member leading our campaign to reduce the speed limit on Brickell Avenue. We’re happy that The Herald continues to cover this important campaign – which has united politicians, neighborhood organizations, business owners, residents, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists – to make our city’s densest, busiest business/residential street safe for everyone.

FDOT controls Brickell Avenue. This historic street was considered a ‘highway’ before I-95 was built and before tens of thousands of people and families moved in, before it became the epicenter of banking in the Americas and before it was the anchor for Downtown Miami’s booming nightlife. We love Brickell Avenue but it’s not a highway or even a thoroughfare anymore- Brickell is a destination. When FDOT steps up and takes responsibility for Brickell residents and visitors’ safety – it will be mean even more people walking and bicycling there, spending money there and being proud to live and work there. It will be positive not just for Downtown residents and those of us who do business there, but for Greater Miami on the whole. And a 5mph speed reduction in one section is simply not enough. Brickell deserves the speed limit, crosswalks and general treatment of its counterparts in San Francisco, Chicago or London.

Our thanks to The Miami Herald for continuing to cover this issue. We also thank City of Miami Mayor Regalado, City Commissioner Sarnoff, County Commissioner Gimenez and State Representative Garcia for continuing their pressure on an FDOT that is responsible to no one.

SFBC Responds to Brickell Ave Speed ‘Reduction’

The South Florida Bike Coalition will continue to seek an appropriate posted speed limit for the full length of Brickell Avenue that meets Florida state standards for residential/business districts (25-30mph) despite the recent concession from FDOT to reduce the 40mph to 35mph.

Sharrows in CA

We are thrilled that FDOT has agreed to add Shared Use Lane Markings (sharrows) to the roadway because we know this will increase motorist awareness of the many Brickell area residents, business people and service industry employees who bicycle for transportation along the Avenue.

And we are still working with FDOT to get ‘Share the Road’ signs up during construction and ‘Ride Right Drive Right’ or ‘May Use Full Lane’ signs up after construction.

That said, we were able to get this reduction because while speed reviews done in September by FDOT justified the two separate posted speed limits of 35mph and 40mph, new studies that we asked for (and completely just after Thanksgiving) apparently yielded new results for the south section. We will be working with volunteers and the TransitMiami.com team to review these studies and will provide you with a breakdown of what we get, how we do it, what conclusions we come to and, hopefully, a better understanding to how FDOT can say that 35mph is safe for residents in the heaviest use pedestrian street in our city.

NOTE: Bike Coalition board member and fellow TransitMiami.com writer will be posting additional response on TransitMiami.com shortly. Be sure to read it.

Rickenbacker/Brickell/Police Update with Commissioner Gimenez

We met with staff from Commissioner Gimenez’s office today. The main purpose of the meeting was to establish face-to-face communication; you don’t get everything you want from blogging and e-mailing (obviously).

The Coalition had a lot of questions; here’s the breakdown:

We presented them with key issues that we have been working on and/or that we’ve been asked to work on from you:

  1. What’s the deal with the police targeting cyclists on the Rickenbacker?
  2. Safety on the Rickenbacker – perhaps extending the bike lane into normal travel lanes on Sunday mornings as a study
  3. Will the Commissioner help us with FDOT on the Brickell Campaign?
  4. Law enforcement: We want more transparency, action targeted at stopping parking in bike lanes and speeding county-wide.

1) We are about to beat a dead horse here so please… wait for it: YOU NEED TO COMPLAIN YOURSELVES. (Wha?) When motorists gets ticked off by cyclists slowing them down, whether it is valid or not, they often call or email Commissioner Gimenez. The Commissioner can’t vouch for them, but he can and does pass on their complaints to the Police, who now have quite a few of these letters and calls. The police protocol is to use targeted action to respond to complaints (in this case, to limit unlawful behavior by cyclists), first by offering warnings and some tickets, then lots of tickets and then (hopefully) getting to the point where people start following the rules. It’s like speed traps – just like speed traps, which is something we have been asking for… but really need to show more public support for.

Two big issues here – and we need your help. If Police target you for breaking the law, please STOP BREAKING THE LAW. If you think you should be allowed to roll through Stop Signs or Red Lights, that is a separate issue. We do not feel that we will get anIdaho Lawpassed by routinely demonstrating a disregard for the law as it stands now. If you stop, police will stop ticketing the behavior and (bonus!) cyclists get a reputation for listening rather than disrespect. We’re not saying it’s entirely that simple, but this is a big part of how it works. Won’t you try? (Or not – but this is my experience here and I really think it’s worth the effort – Kathryn)

Most importantly, Report motorists’ illegal behavior. After your ride, email – I’m Jane Doe. I was riding passed MAST at 10am and saw two red SUVs racing – it scared me, what are you doing about it? Or, I saw a guy parked in the bike lane and his car did not look disabled. His plate is EB307B and it was at 9:30 on the Powell Bridge.

THE POWELL BRIDGE: Technically, there is no bike lane on the Powell Bridge. The bike lane is absorbed by a breakdown lane so if a car is disabled, that is where it is supposed to go. COMPLAIN – get the public record to show that hundreds of cyclists have witnessed cars parked there and clearly they are not all broken down. Something must be done. This WILL get police addressing this real safety concern. Alternatively, if all these cars really are in distress – or enforcement doesn’t work (unlike with cyclists, right?), then we suggested the bike lane should be redirected into a shared use lane marking on the far right lane. It’s dangerous coming down that bridge at full speed, confined in a bike lane, only to find a truck there – the road design should encourage safety if enforcement doesn’t cut it.

2. Commissioner Gimenez is not interested in closing any traffic lanes/ temporarily expanding the bike lane to overlap traffic lanes/separate either side of the Rick into a bike-only section with cones on Sunday mornings as a study. His primary (and entirely legitimate, we think) reason is that cyclists in the past have vocally responded negatively to such an idea. We concede that it would be a logistic challenge, cost lots of money, potentially impact the special events (including races) on the Rick, etc. So, do we really want it? If we do, let’s organize, do some research into how it would work ourselves and come back to him. We are in and so is the Commissioner if you are. Fair enough?

3. The Commissioner will personally present our letter to FDOT Secretary Gus Pego. Just like he does with issues related to the Police – the Commissioner respects his constituents’ concerns and wants to ensure our voices are heard and opinions, at minimum, respected. (Thanks for being %^& at the public meeting. It so helped! I couldn’t help it…)

4. Transparency, equitable and effective law enforcement, road user education, police education: All good. Gimenez’s staff didn’t know parking in the bike lane was such a frequent issue (Email them!) This issue is increasingly important as more people ride for transportation and recreation. We need dialogue and we want more tickets for motorists who speed, pass too closely and impede bike lanes, among others. An hour into our  1 and 1/2 hour meeting, it was abundantly clear that this face-to-face conversation was a good thing – but we need it with the Miami-Dade County Police Department, too. We’re working together (collaboration, people!) to get a meeting first thing in January and will, as always, keep you in the loop. Please help by keeping us and the Commissioner in the loop, too.

On a personal note, dear reader:

I write this blog because I believe that the Bike Coalition is making a difference – but we are not a coalition, nor a sustainable organization, if we aren’t working with you. Help us by telling us what more we can do together – our leadership team is just a handful of people right now + your part-time staffer (me), but it’s growing. We want your involvement, your suggestions, your rants, too. More than all of that – we want to encourage you, empower you to advocate for yourselves, your road and your right to bicycle – more often and more safely. Stand up  and be a role model for better bicyclingThere are so many of us! Just think what we can do if we coordinate our efforts! We at the Bike Coalition think bridging gaps between all the different kinds of pro-bicycling groups in South Florida is the most effective way to do this and we aim toward a time when what we’re doing isn’t necessary.

– Yours, Kathryn

Brickell Campaign Update

The ongoing saga that is our campaign to reduce the speed on Miami’s busiest pedestrian street, Brickell Avenue, brought us to a Public Meeting hosted by FDOT last night. I wrote about its implication for bicyclists and everyone else on TransitMiami.com; read the post here.

In sum, here is what we are doing at the Coalition to respond as of this afternoon.

SHARE THE ROAD: We continue to ask FDOT to add installation of Ride Right/Drive Right signs to their project. In addition, we think they should put temporary ‘Share the Road’ signs up on street barricades, too. We put in a formal request and will keep you updated.


MEDIA: We’ve spoken to The Miami Herald and hope to see coverage soon.

SPEED LIMIT: It will be reduced to 25MPH for the duration of the project. Our coalition of partners asking to reduce it permanently to 25MPH includes such diverse parties as Mayor Regalado, the Brickell Area Association and the University of Miami BikeSafe Program representative (also a Brickell resident).

Shared Use Lane Markings/ SHARROWS: We aim to reduce the speed first but this remains a priority.

CROSSWALKS: We are thrilled that FDOT is letting the DDA put in more but the FDOT needs to educate themselves on possibly raising these crosswalks so that they are even more effective.  We should not have to do this but so we are. Read more here.

The New MiamiDDA designed and funded Brickell Avenue crosswalks

It seems that as long as Brickell Avenue is known as Highway US-1, there will always be a conflict between those who want a safe, clean street for people who walk, bicycle and/or drive and those who feel compelled to the single rote reply: “We can’t, that’s not up to standard.” I can’t understand why they are so adverse to thinking outside their box, of reaching out to their colleagues within the US for the data they need to support better street design. This is an almost daily party of my job with the Bike Coalition. Still, their mission statement reminds us that You are the Boss of FDOT. Write to them, call them and demand that they stay true to their mission to  ”provide a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity and preserves the quality of our environment and communities.Then write to them and call them again. FDOT is a behemoth, but the people within the system are people, too. And sometimes, even they have to cross the street.

 

  • For additional questions or if you have comments you would like on the record (support better signs than Share the Road and an effective speed limit!), please contact Heather Leslie at 305.499.2391 or Heather.Leslie@dot.state.fl.us.

BIG SHOUT OUT to all the Bike Coalition members and friends who came out last night. If you weren’t there, please call Heather at the number above and let her know you are just another bicyclist who cares for safety on Brickell Avenue.

TUESDAY NIGHT: FDOT Gets in a Corner For You

Our campaign to reduce the speed limit on Florida’s densest residential and business corridor will reach an important milestone tomorrow as we go head-to-head with FDOT – and you’re invited!

That’s right, safety advocates. It’s the state mandated public meeting showdown we’ve all been waiting for, when FDOT officials are literally required to hear take into the official record what you have to say. All you have to do is show up and say it!

Will there be sign-in sheets? Men in suits? Big, abstract design drawings of the avenue? Oh, yeah, Miami!

Also FREE just for showing up:

  • Meet Gus Pego! Watch him look you straight in the face and tell you that people need to drive through Downtown, not to Downtown!
  • Meet your neighbors, local business owners and fellow human beings who like crazy things like crosswalks, safe streets and making a positive difference in their community!
  • Learn how the Florida Department of Transportation works in Miami-Dade County.
  • Get called an ‘un-motorized object’ by another living, breathing person!

Okay, friends. This is all in good fun, of course. Not all traffic engineers are like this. If we didn’t think that you could make a difference simply by showing up and saying, I want a safer Brickell Avenue, then we wouldn’t ask you to come. You are the boss of FDOT! The people who design our roads may never bicycle, but they do use the road and they need to hear from you.

Many of you have signed our joint letter with TransitMiami.com and many more have supported our campaign to reduce the speed limit on this street in other ways. Today, we are asking all of you who can to come and demonstrate what a diverse, engaged and pragmatic coalition of people we are. We think Brickell Avenue is a destination, not an expressway. FDOT maintains the design and speed limit of Brickell – they are the only ones who can make a real impact on the safety of this historic avenue.

Right now, FDOT is opposed to reducing the speed limit to reflect the fact that so many people walk and bicycle to work/home/shops along Brickell Avenue. They demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the fact that reducing the speed differential is EXACTLY what we are trying to do – but we include bicyclists and they don’t. For your review, here is their complete e-mail in response to our letter (Parts we color red represent the greatest contradictions or concerns for us):

Dear Ms. Moore,

This email is in response to your recent request to Gus Pego to reduce the posted speed limit on Brickell Avenue to 25 MPH.  We appreciate and value your concern, as safety is the Department of Transportation’s top priority too.

An average of 30,000 vehicles travel on this road daily and the area’s population density stands at about 25,000 people per square mile.  Therefore, balancing the need for safety for all roadway users and adjacent property owners and preserving the roadway’s operational integrity is essential to maintain and even enhance the quality of life along the avenue.

The primary purpose of a speed limit is to provide improved safety by reducing the probability and severity of crashes. Properly set speed limits provide more uniform flow of traffic and appropriately balance risk and travel time, which results in the efficient use of the highway’s capacity and fewer crashes. Data and studies conducted through-out the country suggest that changes to posted speed limits do very little to change driver behavior, but instead increase the roadway speed differential –  the speed difference between the highest and lowest speeds of vehicles using the facility.  It is widely accepted within the traffic engineering and law enforcement communities that increased speed differential, not posted speed is what contributes to increased crash rates.

The Department uses the 85th percentile method to determine appropriate and safe posted speed limits.  Based on extensive nationally accepted studies and observations, this method measures the speed of hundreds of vehicles and identifies the speed 85 percent of drivers travel at as reasonably safe for the various roadway conditions they encounter, regardless of the speed limit. Meaningful law enforcement is essential to ensure that the remaining 15 percent of drivers comply with the posted speed limit.

Speed data we collected on Brickell Avenue from S.E. 25th Road to S.E. 10th Street on September 16th, 2010 revealed the following:

  • North of S.E. 25th Road: The 85th percentile speed was 45 MPH and the current posted speed limit is 40 MPH.
  • A 5 MPH difference between the 85th percentile and posted speeds is considered acceptable.  Therefore, we conclude that the current posted speed limit is appropriate along the entire segment. The Florida Department of Transportation appreciates the time you took to express your comments and concerns.  While you may disagree with the Department’s position, I hope this email helped explain and clarify the reasons we do not favor revising the posting speed limit on Brickell Avenue given present conditions.

For general information related to how speed limits are set and the effects of lowering and raising speed limits on roadway sections, you may want to visit the following websites: http://www.ite.org/standards/speed_zoning.pdfhttp://www.tfhrc.gov/safety/rd97002.htmhttp://www.ctre.iastate.edu/pubs/itcd/speedlimits.pdf

Sincerely,

Ramon Sierra, P.E., Assistant Traffic Operations Engineer, Florida Department of Transportation, (305) 470-5336

We hope to meet many of you tonight at Simpson Park.

Repost: Transit Miami Reports Pedestrian Hit on Brickell Avenue

South Florida Bike Coalition Board Member Felipe Azenha is the driving force behind our campaign to reduce the speed limit on Brickell Avenue. He writes about his ongoing efforts at TransitMiami.com, a blog for which I also write about transportation issues. Below is a repost of his most recent blog. The woman is lucky to be alive – and we can tell you that her story is (finally) inspiring stronger responses from local and state officials.

Last week a pedestrian was hit near Brickell Avenue.  Below is the story according to the victim.  Apparently the driver of the vehicle was not ticketed.  Natalie Brown from the Brickell Homeowners Association forwarded this email to Transit Miami.

“I’m contacting you because you might be interested in what happened to me November 11.  I live at Brickell Place D building and walk most every morning to Publix or Walgreen’s. When I was returning I walked to where I can enter the building….that is the driveway where cars go in and out.  I crossed the driveway where the cars are leaving the building and I stood and waited a moment to see if it was clear for me to continue to the gate which I would enter.  All of a sudden a white car swung into the drive and came towards me and hit me.

I just layed there on my stomach…..the lady driver came over and was crying and I couldn’t move. Another lady came along….put my jacket under my head (which was bleeding) and she called my husband for me. I think it was a policeman who asked me what happened. All I said was “The driver entered the driveway very very fast.” Then the ambulance came and took me to Mercy Hospital.

It’s ironic that the very next day there was a long article in the Herald about the walkers vs. cars on Brickell! I read your name in the article and thought that you would be interested to hear what happened to me.

According to the police report, I believe that the driver did not get a ticket. I had to have 8 stitches over my eye…there was a large hematoma on my temple and I have bruises and lots of pain in my back.

You are right….there are not enough crosswalks on Brickell, and in fact, to enter our building from Brickell Av. there is not one crosswalk.”

The victim went on to say…

“Indeed we need more crosswalks and I believe that the speed limit should be reduced especially in the residential part of Brickell.”

Commissioner Gimenez and Mayor Regalado attended the BHA meeting last night. Both support pedestrian-friendly improvements on Brickell Avenue. They believe Representative Luis Garcia can help Brickell Avenue residents and businesses by lobbying FDOT in Tallahassee.

If you know of any similar incidents on Brickell Avenue, please let us know in the comments section.  Sadly, there is still no word if FDOT will make any ped-friendly improvements on Brickell.

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Read more posts by Felipe here.