A Swedish Car Dealership on Bird Road Used the M-Path as their Private Road … No More

Those of you who regularly use the M-Path in the vicinity of the intersection of Bird Road and US 1 may have noticed that the bike path and the adjacent greenspace just south of the intersection has been used by cars to exit the Volvo dealership located close to that intersection. We have witnessed this several times in the past and heard others say the same thing.

We tried to reason with the dealership after almost having gotten hit a couple of times when their cars used the M-Path as their preferred exit route. They weren’t amenable to any arguments, including the general manager of that dealership. Since we met with Miami Dade Transit officials about the Douglas Road Station (see reports here, here and here, we have been told that speed bumps will go in), we thought we would bring this issue up as well. We were told that something would be done.

MDT is delivering on its promises. Last week we saw construction starting …

This week saw more progress. This will hopefully deter the staff at the Volvo dealership (yes, we blame them more or less fully after seeing three cars leave after closing of business because they apparently can’t be bothered to take the road) from using the M-Path as their preferred exit.

More work may have to be done given that the dealership continues to use the area adjacent to the M-Path as their parking lot and sometimes even the M-Path itself.

Thank you MDT for the work that you are doing on this issue.

PS: We would have preferred a different outcome and not spend public money on this. For one, the dealership people could have been more helpful. But when the general manager – apparently the brother of the owner – conveys you that he doesn’t care about you or what the county says then it seems that all hope is lost on that end. Increased enforcement may have helped in this case, but Miami Dade County PD would have to see this in person and ticket those individuals. We received a somewhat murky response to this suggestion.

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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.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Miami Dade Transit

Saying that Miami Dade Transit is in need of improvement won’t come as news to anyone. That being said, MDT’s performance on certain issues is quite remarkable. They can act quickly, as previously posted by our partners, TransitMiami.com. Here is another example.

After meeting with MDT officials after a not so great response to almost being hit by a bus at the south end of Douglas Road station, I pointed out to the head of MDT’s engineering unit that there were several hazards around the station. This is / was one of the problems.

After taking out the trees, there were big holes gaping, some of which were covered. Others were miraculously left open. But – Less than 24 hours after this meeting, crews were working to close the hole.

By the time the work day came to a close, the same location looked like this:

This was done remarkably quickly and more improvements have been made in the meantime, including filling other such holes (with trees in them) with river rock. The last of the work seems to have been done today. Now, it’s on to making sure that a particular car dealership a little further north doesn’t use the M-Path as its back alley. We’ve been promised that several measures would be taken to remedy the situation, including errecting a fence. We will follow up for you.

Time to say

THANK YOU to MDTA for meeting with us quickly.
THANK YOU MDTA for taking prompt action.
THANK YOU MDTA for being efficient.

Again.

(Please, keep it up)

Bike Coalition Love from Paypal, the IRS

You can now support the Bike Coalition with a tax-deductible donation through Paypal.

Your South Florida Bike Coalition has grown leaps and bound in the last 10 months and we need your help to keep that momentum going.

Some Success Stories Made Possible through Your Support:

  1. MEDIA: We have raised the profile of bicycling in South Florida in a small but significant and growing way.  We’ve been on public radio (both WLRN and WXEL) 6 times this year, including one show dedicated entirely to traveling around Broward and Palm Beach by bicycle. We also did an interview with the University of Miami’s radio station and some pro-bicycling sound bites that they continue to play. We got some national coverage in a radio piece by the Center for Public Integrity and our Brickell Campaign (with TransitMiami) was mentioned on Streetsblog. Media coverage not only gets more people thinking about bikes, it is an incredibly useful tool for getting meetings with politicians and policymakers. Improving and increasing bicycling here requires a multi-level approach (understatement).
  2. MOTORIST EDUCATION: 3 massive pro-bicycling billboards have gone up along I-95, a result of our partnership with the City of Miami. Not one penny of your contributions went to pay for the signs, but they covered our costs to pursue this campaign over several months. We’ve since got promises from the City of Miami Beach to do similar ads on their website.
  3. SHARED USE LANE MARKINGS: We convinced Gus Pego, Secretary of FDOT District 6, to consider sharrows for the first time ever! first for the Sunset Drive Project and now for Brickell Avenue. Special shout out to those of you who signed our letter and went to the Sunset Public Meeting.
  4. REPORTING: Miami-Dade’s 311 reporting system finally takes complaints from people who bicycle (they only reported motorist and pedestrian complaints until we formally requested the change). Now we are working with MiamiBikeReport to make it even easier.
  5. PUBLIC SPEAKING: We spoke across the region to groups like the U.S. Green Building Council, commissioners and police from Doral to Boca to Wilton Manors and seemingly countless FDOT officials about the need to consider and include people who bicycle in their development plans and initiatives.
  6. EXPANSION: We expanded to Martin and St. Lucie Counties after much popular demand. It was a big move, but with the leadership of the Treasure Coast Cycling Association now on our Board of Directors, we are eager to launch several new campaigns north of Palm Beach in 2011. Priorities include motorist and cyclist education.
  7. PARTNERSHIPS: We have formally partnered with a number of allied organizations and a variety of ‘non-bicycle’ groups in our ongoing effort to get more people to consider bicycling. Just some of our partners and member organizations include:

We received a small grant from the Dade Community Foundation and are hopeful to get many more in 2011 – and now we are officially a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. That means if you have donated money to us since we incorporated in 2009, your contribution is now officially tax-deductible. It also means that if your company has a Matching Gifts program, you may be able to double your contribution. We are proud to be recognized for what we do and are eager to seek more financial support from foundations and groups that support 501c3 organizations (like ours!).

You can donate right now here. We ask our supporters to consider a dollar a week for a year ($52), joining us as a basic member ($35) or, for those of you who already support one of our official partners, $25. Many of you have given just $5 and some much more than that. We also appreciate in-kind gifts and, of course, everyone who supports what we do:

Small donations mean a lot to us – and so does volunteering. There are lots of ways to share the bicycle love – what’s most important to us is that you are riding! (safely, please) Anything you do to promote better and more bicycling is positive for the Bike Coalition and the whole community. Ride on.

And this weekend – We’re bringing the first League Certified Instructor training course to Miami. We are excited to effectively expand the number of nationally certified and insured cycling teachers in South Florida by a factor of 5 – Expect to see many more educational opportunities for you, your kids, your club and your community throughout 2011 because of our long-labored success (finally!) in bringing this League of American Bicyclists course to Miami. Many of you have asked that we bring another LCI class so we’ll be working on that again, soon.

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

Miami Mayor Regalado Welcomes SFBC, Bicycling Advocates

Mayor Regalado sat down with SFBC leaders and TransitMiami.com writers to talk safer streets and better bicycling yesterday. We discussed our 3 top concerns and got some great feedback.

1) Brickell Avenue Speed Limit: The Mayor supports a speed limit for Brickell Avenue that meets state standards for business/residential areas (maximum of 30mph). He will be reviewing our request that he co-sign our letter to FDOT Secretary Gus Pego that formally seeks a 25mph speed limit and we are optimistic that he will support us there, too.

2) Bike Miami Days! Mayor Regalado says he understands the frustration of community groups, local businesses and bicyclists who hoped to bring back Bike Miami Days in October but new requirements from City of Miami Police Unions that we do exclusively used uniformed officers in staffing the event made it cost-prohibitive. The really good news? Mayor Regalado promised that Bike Miami Days will return to Downtown Miami on Sunday, November 14!!

3) General Mayor/Bicycle People Relations: The Mayor graciously received our Thank You Card – that so many of you signed at our party last month – and promises to continue to support timely implementation of Miami’s Bicycle Master Plan. Furthermore, he promises to support safer streets for people who bicycle and walk in all projects and to work with the South Florida Bike Coalition in a collaborative and supportive way. Thank you, Mayor Regalado!

Artwork Created by CojoSpace (facebook.com/cojospace)

bonus newsletter-worthy cheesy office photo to come soon-