I used to race bicycles in South Florida, and Key Biscayne is definitely the "go to" place to train. Its bridge provides one of the few elevations in Miami for bike riders to practice climbing. There are spectacular views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami Skyline and it is centrally located. However, truthfully, there are no other options.
As a South Florida bicycle injury lawyer who has represented people who have been seriously injured riding their bicycles on Key Biscayne, I was saddened, but not surprised, to learn of the recent tragic death of 37-year-old father, husband, and local triathlete Aaron Cohen at the hands of a hit and run driver. Just a few days after Mr. Cohen's death, 32-year-old Thomas Jennings was recovering from having his knee fractured when a Miami car cut him off while he was riding his bicycle home. Hundreds of cyclists pedal circuits from the toll booths to the Village of Key Biscayne every day. So why is it so dangerous?
The beauty of Key Biscayne, that makes it so desirable for cyclists, is also a distraction for motorists. Add to the fact that many people treat Rickenbacker Causeway as a highway with permitted speeds of 50 mph. Collisions between a 4,000-pound car traveling at 40 mph with a man on a 14-pound bicycle going 12 mph is a recipe for catastrophe.
Immediate action needs to be taken before Miami loses another cyclist to a careless driver on Key Biscayne. I know that the Florida Department of Transportation ("FDOT") is very fond of utilizing plastic lane-dividing polls they call "delineators" to separate traffic. On I-95, delineators separate the High Occupancy Lanes from traffic, keeping cars and trucks either in or out of lanes for miles. On Key Biscayne, only a thin strip of white paint separates cars from cyclists. I suggest that the FDOT step in and lend some of their experience and expertise in highway design to make the Rickenbacker safer.
Warnings signs and police speed traps should be established and triple fines assessed for speeding.
Perhaps the most obvious and inexpensive safety measure would be to lower the speed limit from the toll booths to the Village of Key Biscayne to 20 mph making the Key one long slow school zone. It may delay some residents from getting home, or to work a few minutes, but it will save some lives.
Either way, something needs to be done immediately before another family is needlessly devastated from a preventable tragedy.
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