Fresh off a massive, $12.4 million upgrade, Miami’s Venetian Causeway reopened last month, following nine months of intensive renovation and repair.
Bicyclists and pedestrians alike are celebrating the improvements, which are purported to lower the risk of accidents for people traveling on bike or by foot. As WLRN reports, dozens turned out to christen the newly spruced-up causeway last month.
More recently, Miami’s monthly Critical Mass bike event took advantage of the improvements, including the Venetian Causeway in its 20-mile course last month.
But while the upgrade is certainly a step in the right direction, has Miami really done all it can to protect people peddling their way to the city’s famous fun in the sun? Perhaps not.
Bike Line vs. Bike Lane
One of the most anticipated improvements in the newly unveiled Venetian Causeway was to be its bike lane — a designated space for cyclists to travel free from obstruction or harm.
As it turns out, though, the Venetian Causeway’s bike path is less a lane than a line in the proverbial sand. Bicyclists now rely on a single white line, painted on the asphalt, to separate them from high-speed automotive traffic.
That isn’t much of a partition. A bike line does not a bike lane make — at least not by contemporary standards.
During the last few years, we’ve seen cities of Miami’s same approximate size install buffered bike lanes — separated not only by distance but also by physical barriers. Those cities are seeing less accidents and saved lives as a result.
In the Venetian Causeway, Miami had an opportunity to do the same. The failure to seize it is especially disappointing, given that Miami continues to rank as one of the deadliest cities for cyclists and pedestrians in the entire country.
Miami’s Venetian Causeway Is a Bicycle Magnet
The Venetian Causeway has long been popular with pedestrians, owing in part to its relatively low speed limits. (The neighboring MacArthur and Julia Tuttle Causeways typically see higher-speed traffic and, accordingly, fewer pedestrians.)
Of course, the destination inspires many a biker’s journey. The Venetian Causeway connects Miami with Miami Beach and the Venetian Islands.
The views don’t hurt either. Few major roadways offer such pleasant vistas. It’s a beautiful place to bike.
But the fact that bikers have long flocked to the causeway is all the more reason that city leaders should have ensured more full-fledged safety measures were installed during the renovation. Serious accidents are likely to persist there.
Fighting to Reduce Miami Bicycle Accidents & Deaths
While any improvement in Miami bike safety is a welcome one, it’s a shame that the city had a golden opportunity to protect cyclists along the Venetian Causeway and didn’t take it.
Other cities are making better efforts than ours — and we have a higher cyclist death rate than they do. It’s time for that to change.
At Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, we are continually fighting to reduce the rate of biking and pedestrian accidents and fatalities in South Florida. We urge you to raise your voice to city leaders in the hopes of spurring change.
In the meantime, please exercise caution on the Venetian Causeway and elsewhere in Miami. Should you or your family need legal representation, our Miami bicycle accident attorneys are always here to help.