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?

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

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