Worst Sign Ever? Fixed by Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade County is ON this week. County Public Works’ Jeff Cohen told a packed crowd at Green Mobility Network’s first annual Safe Streets Forum that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to making the Rickenbacker safer for people who ride including designating a full right lane to exclusive bicycle use on Saturday mornings. But, earlier in the week, we saw this sign as we were going for an evening ride on the Venetian Causeway and it really, um, irritated us. The issue had been brought up at the previous week’s BPAC meeting, but the signs were still flashing this four days later:

Seen on the Venetian Causeway (no more)

So we called Miami-Dade County’s Causeways Division and now those same signs read “CAUTION UNEVEN PAVEMENT; YIELD TO PED/BIKES”. One may still need to be fixed as we post this, but we have been told that the wording will be switched as well.

Is it frustrating that we had to report this? Sure – but it got fixed quickly once the message reached the right person. We are happy to be a part of that and hope you, too, will take a moment to call 311 and/or your commissioner whenever you see something that makes cycling unsafe (or at least most of the time).

Thanks for all you do.

PS: You can cc: us whenever you email a commissioner if we can help track the progress.

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LeMond on Bicycling for Transportation, Fun

Mike Zingaro, Greg LeMond and Raphael Clemente (SFBC Board Member)

Last week, the enigmatic Greg LeMond came to South Florida to speak at the Wolfsonian’s Speed Limits exhibit. He spoke on the perceived barriers he broke as a professional cyclist and Tour de France champion, the historical context in which Americans’ quest for speed made the bicycle the world’s top sport and attraction. Fans and art lovers asked him questions about his story, specific race experiences and success in marketing everything from sunglasses to helmets to pedals. We asked him something different – What does Greg LeMond think about the bicycle as a way to get around town, a way to meet people and just spend time, that seems to be exploding in popularity here and around the country?

Thanks to Peter Schuetz for recording Greg’s answer:

Also, congratulations to Loren Blandon for winning seats from the Bike Coalition! We know many of you were unable to get tickets for the event. If you have a question for Greg, post it here in the comments. We are talking to him about doing another public appearance in Miami and want to show him your support. Thanks.

Sunrise Police: A Model for South Florida PDs

The South Florida Bike Coalition met with Sunrise Chief of Police Brooks and other ranking officers today to discuss better, safer bicycling in one of Florida’s largest cities.

The meeting was the result of Bike Coalition outreach to Sunrise police and policy makers following the recent fatal collision that killed a man riding his bicycle on Flamingo Road. We were impressed by how quickly the Chief himself responded to our request for a formal response and we appreciated his invitation to meet with him and key staff at their Headquarters. The Chief himself, who was at the scene after the crash, told us that the investigation is ongoing but that they were taking every step to determine what may have caused it, including buying a bike light like the one used by the victim and simulating the conditions of the incident. While we were not given extensive details, it was clear that this Police Department values both our concerns and transparency in general. They will be sure to show us their final incident report once it does come out. The point here is that we’re having this conversation and that Sunrise PD is demonstrably open to engaging people who bicycle to make the city safer.

Further, the officers listened to our concerns about what we feel is a lack of ongoing bicycle/traffic education among police across South Florida. Since Sunrise PD is already proactive on children’s bike education, Bike Patrols and traffic safety in general, why not take that even further? Results: upcoming face time with patrols, a nighttime bike rodeo in August (and maybe also in March) and a partnership that we hope to replicate across the 100+ PDs in South Florida.

The Bike Coalition believes that more police should ride bicycles -whether on the job or not – for the special viewpoint people on bikes have for traffic and their community.

The Bike Coalition will be working with Sunrise PD to expand ongoing bicycle education opportunities for their officers and the community they serve. We’ll be working specifically with both the Office of Community Policing and the Captain of the patrol units.

Our thanks to Sunrise PD for their leadership and partnership. What would you ask for if you were seated in a room with your city’s Chief of Police? We want to know – we can help.

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The Bike Coalition continues to do the dirty work so you can just ride. If you are able to support our work through a donation, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to us via Paypal. Thank you.

New Bike Racks on Miami Metrorail

New racks for Metrorail train cars

Thank you, Miami-Dade Transit!

Thanks to Jason for sending these in: pictures of new vertical racks inside Metrorail cars. It’s great to have a safe, secure place to put your bike on the train. Vertical racks are not the ideal for everyone, but they mark a real improvement to the status quo. This rack was installed on the second car – does this mark a change regulating where people can bring their bikes on the train?

How did this happen? Well, we don’t take credit – this is the result of more people riding and decision makers responding to you and us. It’s true that opportunities for improvements like these can come and go. We’re grateful to SFBC member and friend, Miami-Dade’s Bike/Ped Coordinator for seizing this opportunity and for his leadership on bike improvements throughout County facilities.

We’re going to send MDT and David letters of thanks: Please put your name in the comments if you would like your name added to the letter or e-mail David directly here and Transit Director Harpal Karpoor here.

Keep riding, keep talking up why you ride and thank those who are doing it ‘right’!

Thank you, MDT!

 

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

Parking in the Bike Lane, Do Police Care?

Parking in the Bike Lane in South Florida is a relatively new problem – we haven’t had many bike lanes for a long time. It’s not the biggest problem people riding bicycles face, but it can be very dangerous and is against the law.

So, what do you do if someone parks in your bike lane? Call the police and let them know! Sometimes, you don’t have to call them because they are right there, right next to his car!

Hello there, Officer - That's a mighty fine parking space next to that bike lane you're parked in!

“I’m about to move it.”

“Oh, okay, thanks.”

But then, he’s CAUGHT! by a fellow officer…

But, but... parking space... right. there...

You can tell by the cars that these are high-level police officers. The kind that oversee other officers and tell them what is acceptable behavior. I came by in about 15 minutes to see if they had moved their cars and I found this:

It's a Po-Po-Party!

I wonder if these were the same mounted officers whose horses left their mark all over the sidewalk by the ArtMiami Show… Anyway, this was on NW 22 St and 1st Avenue – right by the sweet new SOFLO piece below.

The South Florida Bike Coalition is concerned by what seems to be a growing trend, across rank and department, city and county, of police officers to isolate, intimidate and criminalize people who bicycle. Just days prior to this, another local advocate was ticketed by the City of Miami Police for… wait for it… riding in the street. I am confident that we will get that ticket dismissed – but how many other people are ticketed for bicycling safely who we don’t know and thus can’t help?

We got the plates of the officers above and are trying to figure out how these officers explain their behavior to their own superiors. We’ll let you know. Until then, we leave you with the reason we were hanging out on NW 22nd to begin with, checking out the message on our friends’ art wall:

From the fine folk of SOFLO

UPDATE: Collin Worth, Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Miami, was the first to respond to our complaint. He noted tactfully that “the bicycle lane is a travel lane and it is a violation of the State Uniform Traffic Control 316.1945 – Stopping, standing, or parking prohibited in specified places. Bike lanes and cycling are a relatively new and rapidly expanding phenomena in Miami, there will be a learning curve for both the public and our police.   I have spoken to Commander David Sanchez about bicycle issues and he offered to have myself or someone else speak to officers during a roll call in the near future.

This is a positive response in a short period of time. We are eager to work with Mr. Worth and the Police on any necessary curricula related to these issues – though there are many, many officers within the department well versed on the subject already. We are meeting with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Gimenez‘s staff directly to discuss a similar protocol for Miami-Dade Police officers.

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.

Riding the Rickenbacker / Breaking the Law

This past weekend, eighteen bicyclists received tickets (at $176 a pop) for rolling through stop signs along the Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami’s top training destination for recreational cycling. The South Florida Bike Coalition supports law enforcement of all traffic offenses but here we had to cry foul – What would motivate the Miami-Dade Police Department to assign six of their officers to suddenly target people bicycling?

It turns out that County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez demanded the crackdown after learning that some Key Biscayne residents (his constituents) were frustrated by cyclists sharing the public roadway in a peloton that reportedly rode in a single mass of 200 riders the previous weekend. Since the early morning riders who train along the Rickenbacker Causeway often do not come to a complete stop at certain intersections (instead they only slow down and roll through after getting a signal from the leader of the group), this was an easy way to give out 18 traffic tickets and many more warnings.

The traffic code does not differentiate between cars going full speed through red lights and cyclists who roll through stop signs on a near empty road at 8am on Sundays, the fine is high: $176. We know many of you already who were caught and we are sad mostly because we want you to ride safely. When pelotons swell from 5-15 to 50-200+ bicycles, they effectively block non-bicycle access to Key Biscayne and dangerously impede emergency vehicles. This behavior is almost always unnecessary and always illegal. We believe that every time you ride, you are a role model and have the opportunity to demonstrate to others that we who ride have respect for the law, the road and others.  Still, this crackdown just doesn’t make sense to us and we are concerned that it is part of a growing local law enforcement trend to isolate, intimidate and criminalize people who bicycle.

This is how the South Florida Bike Coalition is responding, as of this morning:

  1. We are meeting with Miami-Dade Police Captain Singleton to discuss the crackdown and collect data on how many warnings vs. tickets were issued to cyclists and motorists over the weekend and throughout 2010. We hope to illustrate what cyclists are experiencing – that what is needed is increased crackdowns on speeding and careless driving on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
  2. We are meeting with Commissioner Gimenez‘s staff (and hopefully the Commissioner himself, this to be determined) to discuss his decision to drive such a crackdown so we can better understand it.
  3. We are collecting stories from those of you who were warned and ticketed so we have as much information as possible.
  4. We are asking you to call the Commissioner’s office yourself at 305-375-5680 and ask him why he chose to prioritize cyclists rolling through stops over speeding and other traffic offenses regularly seen on the Causeway. We encourage you to ask his staff to take your name and # and follow up with you about what Commissioner Gimenez is doing to ensure safety of all road users in the future. This will make a difference. Please tell us about the response you receive.

The Bike Coalition wants people to ride bikes more often, legally and safely. We will help provide legal counsel to those who are wronged by police or policymakers for/while bicycling. We are not here to defend those of you who break the law; we are hoping to leverage this weekend’s crackdown for increased law enforcement directed toward speeding and reckless driving. You can help.

If you have ideas, suggestions or a story to share with us, please contact us at 305.982.7343 or SFBikeCoalition@yahoo.com.

Ride Safely, South Florida.

Read our post on TransitMiami.com here.

Art Basel by Bicycle

You’ve got to see Art Basel by bicycle.

Forget about all the traffic you’ll zip past, it’s the only way to see the incredible street art that is going up all over the City of Miami as I type. You can’t see this work in a car – no one is offering the tour on foot – THIS IS THE ONLY WAY you can see most of this art going up for Art Basel – If you don’t have a bike, there will be some for rent**

Heard of Shepard Fairey? He’s in the Design District right now putting up a massive piece – as are artists from around the world. Didn’t know it was happening? Where do you find the pieces? Want to watch the artists work up close and talk to them about their place in the global street art movement?

Don’t miss Street.Art.Cycles Graffiti by Bike Tours – today, Friday and Saturday at 11am and 4pm. Get an insider’s view of  ‘Graffiti Gone Global’ as curated by Primary Flight – the team that has made Miami home to the largest original open air museum and street level mural installation in the world.

I rode with the first group tour this morning – If you can get out to do the tour tomorrow (Friday), I strongly recommend it. (Saturday, too, but that group’s gonna be huge) – Here are some of my photos:

Talking with the Artists

Mr Jago - A Work in Progress at Cafeina

Andres Rolls By

Did you know this text translates? It's a Graffiti language.

 

Inside a 'Secret' Center for Street Art in Miami

Artist invited us in to his temporary workspace to see this piece / Spearlife.com

Wynwood Wall by Ron English

131Projects' "Pest" shows us his sketch

Working on the Newest Wynwood Wall

Fellow friends of the bicycle, explore art in a way only you can. I’ll be volunteering there the rest of today and Friday morning – hopefully I’ll see you there!

-Kathryn

NOTE: To those unfamiliar with street art – this work is not just legal, the artists are paid by local curators, collectors, wise developers like Joey Goldman and local businesses to put up their work. Pretty cool. Learn more about it-

  • TOURS LEAVE 11am and 4pm
  • from Cafeina’s Courtyard 297 NW @3rd St. (bet. NW 2nd ave. & NW 5th ave.)
  • $20 gets you the full access to restricted sites, special venues and the full tour, including a map- and all proceeds support Emerge Miami!

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Board Member Recruitment at the Bike Coalition

Be the change you want to see in bicycling in South Florida.

The South Florida Bike Coalition is seeking individuals from Miami-Dade to St. Lucie who are dedicated to our mission of improving and increasing bicycling in South Florida by fostering collaboration among individuals, bicycling groups and partners and who would like to help lead the Bike Coalition’s continued growth and development.

South Florida Bike Coalition Board Members believe that by uniting the voices of those who want more, better bicycling in South Florida via a formal, inclusive coalition, we can effect greater positive change. Board Members oversee our staff (currently just one part-time director) and volunteers; they lead campaigns (Brickell Avenue Speed Limit, Open Streets Broward, Group Cycling Education in St. Lucie); they help raise money and represent the Bike Coalition at events and rides as well as in meetings and before the media.

Our Board Members attend quarterly board meetings in person and participate in regular conference calls. Those who cannot make board meetings or who prefer to support our work in a purely ‘advisory’ capacity are invited to join our (wait for it) Advisory Board. Current Advisory Board Members represent zMotion and Boca High School (and other youth). They are included on our Board e-mails and actively provide feedback in whatever way works for them.

The South Florida Bike Coalition is an inclusive group. We seek effective, proactive individuals who are serious about uniting people and improving our region through bicycling. A lot has happened in 2010 and we have reached a critical opportunity for expansion in our short history.

Since we hired our first staff member last March, our campaigns have been driven almost entirely by requests from individuals. The Bike Coalition’s Board are now preparing to drive a more sustainable model for our growth by laying down a Strategic Plan. If you believe that South Florida deserves a cross-county coalition for bicycling, we want you to make it happen. Contact our Board President, Jeffrey Lynne, here with any questions you have.

There are lots of ways to serve – why not step up in 2011?

Thank you.