Rickenbacker Causeway speeds increase as safety decreases
Miami-Dade is raising, after lowering, speed limits on the dangerous causeway. Also, rapid bus transit comes to St. Pete while bike riding zombies roll through Key West
Miami Dade increases speed limit to 40 mph on Rickenbacker Causeway
After two bicyclists were killed by a driver on May 15, 2022, Miami-Dade County announced it was lowering the speed limit along Rickenbacker Causeway from 45 mph to 35 mph. Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey, though acknowledging separation between drivers and bicyclists was important, said this about the speed reduction: “I don’t think dropping the speeds is the long-term solution.”
Seems he and his supporters won over county leaders, because beginning October 27, the speed limit on Rickenbacker Causeway will increase to 40 mph by Miami-Dade County, according to NBC Miami. The causeway will now have a uniform speed of 40 mph from the toll plaza to Calusa Circle.
According to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava,
This speed limit adjustment on the Rickenbacker will provide a safer environment for community members, cyclists, and safety advocates. Ongoing safety improvements are the result of working together with community members, and transportation advocates. Together, we can accomplish our goal to make our roads safer for everyone
Studies don’t quite back up those statements. A small reduction from 45 to 40 will have little effect, especially considering a pedestrian or bicyclist is almost 50% likely to be killed by a driver going 40 mph but only 20% likely for a driver going 30 mph. Serious injuries are likely at more than 75% of the time with speeds at 40 mph. This also doesn’t take into account the dangerous design of the causeway which encourages fast driving inches away from unprotected bicyclists.
Davey thought the 35 mph speed was “silly,” noting in a council meeting, as Islander News wrote:
[Key Biscayne Village Manager Steve] Williamson noted there are five speed changes in one direction and four in another, while Davey said it's nearly impossible to go 35 mph on the downward slope of a bridge, saying "35 is silly," especially with all the traffic that backs up into the Village at certain times of the day.
Increasing the speed from 35 to 40 mph won’t do anything for alleviating the traffic backup into the Village (getting rid of cars gets rid of traffic) but it also seems silly that a driver can’t keep their car from going faster than 35 mph on a downward slope using the brakes. A driver who can’t do that perhaps shouldn’t be allowed to drive.
So while some media outlets and the county mayor are touting this as a safety ‘decrease’ in the speed limit, the reality is that it will not only increase speeds on the causeway but the likelihood of severe injuries and death to those hit by drivers.
Rapid Bus Transit has arrived to Tampa Bay
Some 15 years after first being proposed, bus rapid transit has arrived in St. Petersburg, as the Tampa Bay Times reports. The $44-million project, called SunRunner, will connect downtown St. Pete with South Pasadena and the beach along a 10.3 mile route. The buses are equipped with bike racks and WiFi, and on the first ride there were three passengers with bicycles. The hybrid buses are scheduled to run every 15 minutes during the day and 30 minutes in the evening, from 6 a.m. to midnight, and after an initial fare-free 6 months, will cost $2.25 for one-way trips or $5 for all-day riding.
“I ride the bus every morning and I ain’t never seen this many people on it,” Jibreel Mills said as he stepped inside, prompting giggles from knowing passengers crammed together and abuzz with excitement rarely found aboard public transit in Tampa Bay. “I thought I was in New York for a minute.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, a “federal grant funded half of the SunRunner’s capital costs, the state paid for 25%, and the county’s transit agency and the city of St. Petersburg contributed the remaining 25%.”
“This is the first bus rapid transit system — hopefully not the last,” said David Gwynn, Florida’s regional transportation secretary.
Gainesville is expanding micromobility safety and hours
The Gainesville City Commission voted last week to extend shared-micromobility operation hours and increase safety infrastructure for bicyclists, reports the Florida Alligator.
The commission voted unanimously to allow shared-micromobility companies to operate their vehicles from 6 a.m. to midnight, later than the prior 10 p.m. cutoff. The new ordinance also allows the city’s mobility director to extend the hours of operation later than 12 a.m.
The commission also voted to require bike ramps at roundabouts and protected bicycle lanes on roads with speed limits of 30 mph or higher as the city repaves existing roads. This would occur if there was “sufficient right-of-way and/or pavement width exists,” and on all new roadway projects. In-street bicycle facilities (bike lanes) could also be required at the city engineer’s discretion for any roadway. These changes was part of a larger amendment to the Public Works Design Manual.
Zombie Bike Ride returns to Key West’s Fantasy Fest
Fantasy Fest is back in Key West, and this past Sunday the Zombie Bike Ride saw around 6,500 costumed riders take the street, according to CBS News.
The event returned after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid and in a much more limited, unofficial scale last year.
“Fantasy Fest is back to normal, or as we like to say in these parts, back to abnormal,” said Andy Newman, longtime spokesman for the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.
You can check out some more photos from the event at Edge Media Network.
Stolen bike, but a happy ending
Stolen bikes happen. I’ve had it happen. Not always is there a happy ending, but WUFT has one for University of Florida student Stephanie Miller.
Stephanie’s bike, she calls “big boy,” was stolen in August. She admits the cable lock was lacking, though. After a month of looking for the stolen bike and being gifted a replacement, she came across “big boy” out on the road and the rest of the story is certainly worth the read (recovering the bike is only part of the story).
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