Cyclists Critically Injured on Rickenbacker Causeway: County Public Works Department Refuses to Make Rickenbacker Safer

Two men on bikes were struck on the eastbound side of the Rickenbacker Causeway around 5:15 a.m this morning by a hit and run driver and critically injured.  Not surprisingly the impact occurred on the William Powel Bridge where drivers tend to accelerate.  According to CBS Local:

The victims, 37-year-old Aaron Cohen and 48-year-old Enda Walsh, were both rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Cohen is in extreme critical condition after undergoing emergency brain surgery. Walsh suffered a leg injury and spoke to CBS4’s Gary Nelson when he was released from the hospital.

“We were cycling up the Key Biscayne bridge side by side, in the bike lane, having a conversation. We didn’t even see anything. then there was a loud bang and the next thing you know I was on the ground and Aaron was 30 feet up the road lying on his back on the road not moving,” said Walsh.

The car that hit Cohen and Walsh left debris behind which enabled police to figure out what kind of car it was. Miami Det. Lorraine Rubio said the car is a 2009 – 2011 Silver Honda Civic. The Civic will have right side front fender damage and missing a right side mirror.

This situation has played out too often.  In the last 6 years two cyclists have been killed and several have been critically injured on Rickenbacker Causeway due to careless planning and poor roadway design by the County Public Works Department. Two years ago Christophe Le Canne was killed by a hit and run drunk driver on Bear Cut Bridge. The cycling community came out in full force demanding justice and safety improvements on the Rickenbacker Causeway. As of today we have received neither.

Since Le Canne’s death the County Public Works Department has made only two “so-called” improvements that clearly have not reduced serious injury:

  • Erected mile markers for “quicker” emergency response when cyclists are hit
  • Squandered $320,000 on useless “Vehicle Speed Information Signs”

Both improvements is just lipstick on a pig. If a car traveling 40 mph hits a cyclist the chance of survival is 10%.  Sadly the design speed of the Rickenbacker Causeway is at least 45 mph so the odds are stacked against cyclists and pedestrians. Mile markers will not save a cyclist’s or pedestrian’s life.

As for the “Vehicle Speed Information Signs” they do nothing to calm traffic  or deter speeding as evidenced by this 5-minute video I shot on the Rickenbacker Causeway about a year and a half ago for Transit Miami.

As long as the County Public Works Department refuse to accept that the Rickenbacker Causeway design is not safe for cyclists, people will continue to die or will be critically injured.

So here are the recommendations that were made with Transit Miami two years ago that have apparently fallen on deaf ears.

Short Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway

  • Enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit*
  • Reduce speed limit to 35 mph
  • Close the right lane of traffic in both directions on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00am.
  • Better signage
  • Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

Long Term Goals for the Rickenbacker Causeway

  • A major capital improvements project needs to happen and all users must be considered. Below are a few of the major improvements that need to occur:
  • Paint bicycle lanes green (see below: intersections should include peg-a-traking and Chevron arrows)
  • Create a 3 foot unprotected buffer between the roadway and the bicycle lane
  • Major road diet. Narrowing of traffic lanes to discourage speeding (11 foot lane)
  • Proper crosswalks, with stop lights, that can be activated by pedestrians.(see below: off-setting crosswalks)
  • A separate path for pedestrians (pedestrians and bicyclist should not coexist)
  • Consider physical separation as a feature in dangerous areas such as bridges and marked buffers along trajectory of bike lane
  • Motorist and bicyclist education campaign

*Read the reasons why enforcement is not a viable long-term solution by clicking here.

It is time for the County Public Works Department to be held accountable for their negligence. On what planet is it safe to put an unprotected bicycle lane adjacent to a highway with a design speed of 50+ mph? They are doing nothing to prevent injuries.

I hope the cyclists have a speedy recovery.

Greening our Community

Greening our Community– February 15 Program Presented by the
Emerging Professionals of the USGBC South Florida Chapter

15 Feb 2012 from 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus — Building 7000, Room 7128 (on the
ground floor)
Non-Members $10

The Miami-Dade Branch of the USGBC South Florida Chapter has an
enviable track record of hosting outstanding educational programs and
tours, and this program is certainly no exception!

Join the USGBC Student Groups and Emerging Professionals from South
Florida and learn how the youth of Miami is taking action to make our
community more sustainable.  Find out how you, too, can make a

Guest speakers include:
Susan Lewis, USGBC Students Regional Chair
Patrick Lane, USGBC Students National Lead
Benji Power, Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida
Brian Lemmerman, UrbanVisionaries
The FIU Solar Decathalon Team