I'm an IT consultant by trade... I travel to my clients, all over Miami-Dade county. Most people don't seem to 'get' that I do so by bicycle and by choice. Generally cycling is my zen, my chance to be one with the world. Unfortunately plenty of drivers are intent on making me one with the road - literally.

Watch these close brushes with death and dismemberment. See what I see, or sometimes (through the rear cam) what I don't see... thats even scarier. I've had more than my fair share of close calls, usually someone being too busy texting, calling or putting on makeup to notice that there is a vulnerable vehicle right near them

Often it's an uneducated driver that have mistaken the local public roads for the Homestead Miami Speedway. How dare a cyclist be on the road?! Why aren't you in the bike lane? Umm, there isn't one or don't you see that car parked in it? Once in a while its a truly homicidal maniac who has no regard for human life. Cyclists will understand - this happens all the time. Drivers don't respect the destructive power of the weapon they wield

Yes, weapon… have you ever had someone step on the gas, with the sole intention of running you over?! I have. All I can hope is that non-cyclists see these videos, and maybe as a result are a little more careful next time they see a bike out of the corner of their eye. All I really want is to live to bike another day

Is that really too much to ask?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

MBPD Blocks Bike Lane (Again)

Miami Beach Police don't exactly have the most stellar record when it comes to enhancing cyclist safety. In many cases they are a detriment to it. While a bicycle lane is created to allow cyclists to ride safely alongside vehicular traffic, MBPD regularly sees the bike lane as a great place to put signs and other objects for the motor vehicles. Here on Alton Rd (at 23rd street) MBPD has placed a trailer to show drivers the speed at which they are traveling

As this video below clearly shows: 1) Drivers regularly speed here (at times in excess of 50mph on a 30mph roadway) and 2) The sign has little to no effect in slowing them down. What this sign does do though is force cyclists to ‘unexpectedly’ (from drivers point of view) jump into the vehicular traffic. This is a major safety hazard - and it is only there because the Police deliberately put it there and refuse to move it

I’ve called MBPD at their non-emergency line many times requesting it be moved to a safer location. I’ve flagged down a handful of patrol officers, and I’ve even spoken to the patrol commander. Most of the dispatchers seemed to shrug the issue off and all of the officers I spoke to, including the Patrol Commander (John Roberts) all had the same excuses:
  • There are physical and budgetary restrictions which don’t give us any other option
  • It needs to be there to deal with speeding vehicles
  • There is no place else near the roadway to put it so cars can see it
  • We can’t block traffic with it
  • Bikes can just move over and ride around it
Of the patrol officers I flagged down, I think only one even bothered to radio in the concern. This is unacceptable

When we build bike lanes drivers expect (and the law requires) bicyclists to use them. Yet on the other hand drivers and other parties see no problem with repurposing these bike facilities to their own ends. The result adds to the chaos on the roads, significantly detracts from cyclist safety and totally defeats the purpose of bike facilities

I’ve been trying for almost two weeks to get MBPD to fix the safety hazard they have created... but clearly they are too dense to understand it, or even worse *DON’T CARE*. This certainly isn’t the first time either. In the past I’ve called them out on parking a decoy car in the middle of the bike lane on Venetian Ave, and for putting a “Stop for pedestrians in crosswalk” sign on the 16th Street bike lane - at an intersection where there isn’t even a crosswalk! They have yet to respond to my concerns about police motorcycles being parked regularly in the bike lane at the corner of 17th and West, at a section where the bike lane is actually physically separated from the rest of the roadway. It’s going to take one of two things to happen to fix this problem. Either someone is seriously injured as a result, or they are overwhelmed with calls and emails from concerned citizens. You can reach MBPD’s non emergency line at 305.673.7901

Call now, before someone is hurt

UPDATE:  They finally moved it

Saturday, August 6, 2011

False Sense of Security

Slowly but surely, the roads in Miami and elsewhere are becoming bike friendly.  Sharrows, bike lanes, multi-use paths are popping up everywhere!  This is a good thing, right?  Well, sort of...

Watch the video... the bike lane itself is great!  Major props to everyone who had a part in making that happen.  This stretch of road is very curvy and I've had quite a few incidents on this road over the years.  Years ago, this stretch was part of a daily commute from Aventura to the Beach, usually after dark.  Trust me - it was never safe, especially with the poor road conditions.  Thankfully after a lonnnnnnng time under construction, it is freshly paved.  I noticed the 'wide shoulder' before they put the markings down, and was hoping this would be a bike lane.  That was confirmed when I saw how the 'shoulder' ended.   Sure enough there were bike lane markings the next time I road here

One very nice touch on this bike lane is the space that was left for busses on the side early on that does not obstruct the bike lane.  There are frequently busses stopped here for extended periods of time, so it's nice to see that was given consideration

There are three issues here which you can clearly see in the video:

1) On some of the curves to the right cars tend to enter the bike lane which could easily result in a cyclist getting clipped.  This isn't the fault of the bike lane, but instead is a result of cars taking the curves well faster than 'design speed' - Honestly, I don't know the design speed on this road, but I'm guessing its well under the 30+ most cars are doing

2) After one of these right curves there is a bus stop.  If a bus happens to be stopped there, a cyclist will have to change lanes into the 'automotive' lane.  Because of the relatively sharp curb and vegetation blocking the view around it, it is possible that a car cornering smacks a slower moving cyclist from behind, not being able to see them until its too late.  Bus, car and bike would all have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, so hopefully this never happens

3) This is the big one!  The bike lane ends abruptly.  There is zero signage notifying driver or cyclist that the lane ends.  It just does.  The bike is suddenly on the regular lane.  This is bad enough.  Unfortunately this happens at a very dangerous curve.  I've seen accidents several times here, and evidence of many, many more.  I'm curious what the crash statistics are for this particular intersection.  Personally, I've nearly been hit on this curve many times, as drivers misjudge their ability to pass a cyclist while cornering.  I think it's worth noting that a driver legally should not be passing me on this curve, as my travel speed here *is* the speed limit (which is officially reduced to 20 in this section)

Anyway, it's great that we have a new bike lane.  Unfortunately until there is a fully developed bicycle infrastructure, bike lanes create a false sense of security.  Cyclists think they are safe because it's 'their' lane.  Some drivers don't respect that, and even the majority of drivers that do, find cyclists that they thought were in a bike lane to be suddenly in their lane due to road hazards or the lane ending

Drivers and cyclists alike, beware: BIKE LANE ENDS

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Operators Manual

Nothing too dramatic or out of the ordinary on this ride.  Just another close call like most of the others.  Riding over poorly maintained roads (excuse the bouncy video) when all the sudden there is a car approaching too quickly and too closely.  I move over a bit closer to the curb to avoid being hit, then surprise, surprise... catch up to the driver at a stop light right ahead (funny how much of a rush people are in to get to the next stop light.  You save ZERO seconds by passing me unsafely most of the time).  As is usually the case, when i carefully roll up to his window and motion to him, he rolls the window down and looks puzzled.  While the light remains red, I gently educate him to the law and point out that had he hit me "I end up dead, and you end up in jail - which isn't good for anyone."  The driver states that he will have to check his owners manual.  I could barely contain my laughter - since when do owners manuals state *any* of the laws?  (Not to mention I find it unfortunate that there is so little regard for others and awareness of surroundings that such laws are required).  Now I could be wrong... maybe the owners manual does state 'Do Not Kill People With This Vehicle' - I've never owned a car, so can't say I've looked at the owners manual

While not apologetic, this driver (as most of them tend to) seemed to at least consider what I was saying.  When the car in front of him turned right on red, he allowed me to move back in front of him and take the lane.  Hopefully he learned to share the road (without bloodshed), and next time he sees a cyclist will be a bit more careful

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Help make Miami Beach a "Bicycle Friendly Community"

You know what I love about Miami?  The weather.  Year round we have the most incredible weather.  Sunny and warm almost all of the time.  It's also flat here.  The biggest hills we have are the various bridges.  And the scenery!  It's such a beautiful area.  Especially with all those beautiful views of the beaches, the bay and some beautiful architecture.  Beautiful weather, and beautiful, flat routes... it sounds like the perfect place to bicycle!  Sadly it's not... yet

While the infrastructure, enforcement and engineering aren't there yet, the Miami area is making great strides in promoting safe and enjoyable cycling.  My hometown of Miami Beach recently launched a bike share program (DecoBike) that has been a huge success, so the demand is definitely there

Whether you live, work or just come to play in Miami, click here to encourage Miami Beach aim for the nationally recognized distinction of "Bicycle Friendly Community"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Who's the real victim?

Many of you who know me personally have already heard this 'rant' - basically we are *all* victims when it comes to cyclists in the roadway.  Let's look at it from the point of view of three separate groups affected by this:

1) The drivers
It's part of the daily grind - you drive to work, to the store, to wherever you need to go.  It's so routine you don't even notice it half the time.  You budget your time so that you can get wherever you need to go with a little bit of time to spare hopefully.  Then all the sudden there is something holding up traffic.  There's a damn bicycle in the middle of the road.  Whether its a racing bike like mine doing close to the 30 mph speed limit (which is still under the *actual* travel speed of most vehicles, or a little beach cruiser moving at 5-10mph, the damn thing is slowing you down!  You've got places to be and things to do.  Why isn't that bike on the sidewalk?  How dare they be in the road?!

Yes my friends, the *drivers* ARE victims.  Although bicycles are legally allowed to be there (we will talk about that another time), the fact is the infrastructure as it stands is very poorly implemented for any form of transportation other than driving yourself.  Cyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, roller bladers, runners are often forced to share the road - and sometimes only a narrow single lane road.  In many cases even the public transit is clogging up the roadways.  This slows down traffic to various degrees and further exacerbates the already prevalent traffic congestion.  Drivers have every right to be upset, this slows them down making them spend more of their day in their car then they need to, and possibly making them late to wherever they are going

As victims, the drivers lose a little bit of time, and are often justifiably frustrated

2) The enforcement - our police and on occasion judicial system
A significant number of our police force originally signed up for the job because they wanted to make a positive impact on society.  This noble calling, although sometimes putting them in jeopardy themselves, was a great way to do that.  When that dream is finally achieved... suddenly they are thrust into a reality that they are traffic cops.  So much for dealing with the real problems and doing something 'important'... there are people speeding, and blowing stop signs, and broken headlights, etc., etc... time to spend all day writing seemingly meaningless tickets.  That sucks!  Thats not what they grew up dreaming of doing as a kid!

The cops are victims too.  As a result of the infrastructure as it now stands, they have to deal with enforcement of seemingly insignificant laws.  Unfortunately that is an important job.  Motor vehicles are deadly weapons, even if that is *not* the intention.  Ten's of thousands of Americans die every year due to motor vehicle accidents, and most of them were protected by the seat-belts and airbags and countless other safety features in their car.  What about the cyclists, some of the roadways most vulnerable users?  They have no seat-belts, no airbags, no steel cage surrounding them.  Enforcement of these laws becomes critical to their survival.  And so our police our stuck spending way too much time enforcing them

As victims, the police spend a lot more time than they should have to enforcing the rules of a truly 'broken' roadway infrastructure

3) The cyclists
There are many who do not travel by motor vehicle.  Some choose not to, some have health reasons, some have financial reasons.  It doesn't matter what the reason is... regardless of the mode of transportation we all have equal right or privilege to be using the roadways.  It happens all the time, ask any cyclist - you are out riding and whoooosh a car zooms past wayyy too close.  The displacement of air can often be enough to move the bicycle on its own.  So how do many cyclists respond?  They ride too far to the right and get hit by opening car doors.  They ride on sidewalks and get hit by cars leaving driveways and parking lots.  Or they stay in the road and aggravate all the drivers stuck behind them

Clearly, the cyclists are victims.  Among the most vulnerable users of the roadway - higher speeds and lower maneuverability than pedestrians, yet lower speeds and less protection than motor vehicles - cyclists are putting their lives on the line every single time they ride!  Should it be this way?  Definitely not.  Unfortunately our roadways were not built to accomodate all of its users

Cyclists are undoubtedly victims - victims who stand to lose A LOT more than the minor time and aggravation that the roadways other victims face.  As a cyclist I can lose my life

So until our infrastructure is completely fixed, keep that in mind.  Yes that cyclist in front of you is slowing you down a bit.  Yes officer, that car that you saw driving in the bicycle lane has already moved on.  It's a few seconds to a few minutes of your time

I will discuss another time the incredible amount of work some are putting into fixing this extremely flawed roadway system, but while that work is ongoing (and it will be for many, many years), take a second and look at what everyone else stands to lose before you get upset about that five seconds you've lost.  Is it really worth the loss of a human life for that?

I hate to do this, but...

Well, I really hate to do this, but recent circumstances have left me a bit short on funds.  Factor in the intermittent failure of my current 'Bike Black Box' and I'm desperately in need of new bike cameras.  Ideally I'd like to pick up 3 cameras.  For the ultimate configuration I'd want to keep with my Oregon Scientific camera for the front view and rear views - upgrading to HD and adding GPS ($670 for the two), then try out tiny Tachyon Ops HD for a POV cam ($140).  Add about $100 for the memory cards, plus tax and shipping.  This way I would have *three* high definition views of all of my rides, which would be pretty sweet

The problem is, I'm broke.  I can't afford $1000 on these cameras right now (even though I see them as an essential safety feature of my bike and a wonderful 'educational' tool).  So, I'm reaching out to you, my readers.  If you believe that this site can serve as a tool to help expose non-cyclists to the dangers cyclists face, or even if you just want to watch more and higher quality footage of the bad driving around Miami, please take a moment and make a donation on the right of this page.  Any amount helps, it all adds up!  Your help is greatly appreciated, and hopefully in some small way will contribute to making the streets of Miami safer for cyclists

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The case was dropped

It's with great sadness that I must report that the State Attorney's Office dropped the case on Monday morning.  I will say that I am extremely disappointed with this result, but I will refrain from further comment about this case for the time being.

I will use this opportunity to link to the various mentions of this case that I have thus far discovered online.  The commentary following the article is often quite interesting:

Transit Miami reports on the original arrest

Beached Miami reports on the trial

Miami New Times Riptide Blog weighs in

The Miami New Times Print Edition available tomorrow

I thank God that I was not physically injured, and can only hope that such close calls do not happen in the future.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me in support, I truly appreciate it.