Venetian Causeway

Miami Cyclists: New Safety Features on Venetian Causeway are Hazard

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Some cyclists in South Florida say they have hit a roadblock and that barriers on the Venetian Causeway, that were designed to protect them, are having the opposite effect.

The Venetian Causeway is one of the highest volume corridors for cyclists in Miami-Dade County.

Those who ride, like Lee Marks, consider the sport a moving meditation.

“It's one of the most beautiful things you can do, and down here we can almost ride 24/7, 365 days a year. And look at what you get to see: the ocean, the bay, beautiful, beautiful setting," Marks said.

But Marks says cycling can be hard to enjoy when riders have to worry about their safety.

"Speeding cars and a dangerous obstacle -- not a good mix,” Marks said.

The dangerous obstacle Marks is referring to—new separation devices, called armadillos.

“This is not even 6 feet and 2 bicycles side by side will need more room than that. They raised the sidewalk and that’s a danger as well. Nowhere for 2 cyclists to go," Marks said.

But the county says the newly installed armadillos are intended to keep cars from sliding into the bike lanes.

“This is not a device we just came up with. This is a device tested and implemented in other cities. Our approach is to improve safety on the Venetian Causeway for cyclists pedestrians and cars," said Carlos Cruz-Casas, Assistant Director, Division of Transportation Strategic Planning.

According to the county—from May 2016 to May of this year, there were 29 crashes with pedestrians or cyclists— most with injuries and at least one fatality.

Cruz-Casas says the armadillos actually give bikers two more feet of room—creating less chance of incidents.

“The Venetian Causeway is a very narrow right of way that we have available and this is a good solution we believe that we can implement,“ Cruz-Casas said.

Marks, who is also a cyclist activist and attorney, says the armadillos are already to blame for two accidents.

“There was a young woman who fell and fractured her clavicle and underwent surgery. Just this past Friday, a friend of mine hit one of these things and broke his bike," said Marks.

The county says the armadillos are a 3-year pilot program for possible use in other areas. Public transit will collect data regularly to evaluate the project.

“We want to make sure this project fulfills the intent of it, which is to make sure it’s a safe corridor,” Cruz-Casas said.

The county reminds drivers to also be mindful where there are bike lanes, but the real solution, according to some cyclists, is enforcing the speed limit or lowering it even more.

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