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New Bike Lanes Sound Good in Theory, Painful in Practice

May 07, 2009 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Local News  | 10 Comments


I got rear-ended by a Mercedes yesterday. And not sitting in traffic on US-1 or driving down the Turnpike when an immediate car backup started, but rather while riding my bicycle on the street. Amazingly, neither my bike nor myself were injured, and the driver of the car moved along with his day seeing that no damage had been done. But it was a near-death experience I’d have preferred not to have had.


It is far from the first time I have had an issue while biking in South Florida. Not long ago I was cut off by a


man on Key Biscayne making a right turn that was not using his turn signal. I crashed into the back of his car and he, even seeing I was laying on the ground, sped off. I cursed at him for a while, but for some reason I don’t think he heard me.

And let’s not even get into that cab driver who hit not one but 11 cyclists on the MacArthur back in August. Drivers in Miami are rarely cognizant of other motorists and pedestrians, adding bikes to the fray is just a recipe for red asphalt.



While the city and county seem to be making some efforts to make Miami more bike-friendly, one has to wonder if it is even realistic to think it will make a whole lot of difference. Even in places like bike-loving Gainesville, motorists regularly use the bike lanes as their own person right turn lanes, and drivers will still shoot out into a crosswalk when their light is red, even if a cyclist is attempting to cross. Not to mention the people who think “bike lane” and “parking spot” are synonymous.

So assuming that the somewhat-law-abiding drivers in other cities still show cyclists about as much respect as a skinny white boy in felony lockup, I really wonder if some new white lines on the ground are going to make Miami any safer for those on 2 wheels.



Imagine a cyclist trying to navigate a westbound Coral Way during the height of afternoon rush hour. Or an old man who can barely see trying to make a right turn in his enormous town car as a guy on a bike tries to go straight through an intersection. And cyclists are not the most law-abiding drivers either, as most that I know consider stoplights as things designed for vehicles with motors, and mere safety suggestions for them. Combine this with a population that considers stoplights nothing more than a nice street decoration, and you see where some problems may occur.




So, as a cyclist and someone that is always looking for ways to lighten traffic, I welcome the idea of better bike-oriented transportation in this city. But as someone who has experienced the insanity that is driving in South Florida, I just have to wonder if it’s the best idea for us. It may work well in the rest of the country but, as we all know, Miami is definitely NOT the rest of the country.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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10 Comments on

"New Bike Lanes Sound Good in Theory, Painful in Practice"

Mike V. says:

As a fellow bicyclist I feel for you and I’m sorry to hear that you were rear ended by that Mercedes.  I definitely agree that we need more bike lanes in Miami. 
    Bicyclists need to be careful while riding on the road. 
    A matter of fact, as we are thought to drive a car defensively, cyclists should follow the same rule of thumb.

Nice article.

Posted on 05/28/2009 at 11:39 AM

Laurie says:

Matt, not sure if you’re familiar with Bike Miami Days (or care) but this just came out:

“On Monday, June 15th, the City of Miami invites you to the first Miami Bike Summit at Jose Marti Community Center to discuss Miami’s Bicycle Master Plan. Meet city leaders, planners, cyclists and neighbors and learn about some of the ways Miami is becoming a more bicycle-friendly city.

From 6pm-9pm, learn about Sharrows, the benefits of bicycle parking, and what a central bicycle facility might mean for the City of Miami. To get a better idea of what the City is already doing, you can read the Bicycle Action Plan or email the Bicycle Coordinator, Collin Worth, here.


Monday, June 15th.
Jose Marti Community Center (351 SW 4th St- Downtown Miami)
There will be maps of the city and markers so you can mark exactly where you think our city needs bike lanes, parking, signage… Note: this is the first of two public meetings that will take place to help guide the development of Miami’s Bicycle Master Plan.”

Posted on 05/28/2009 at 10:34 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

I did not know about that, Laurie. Thank you. I don’t think I’ll be in town that day, but please keep me posted on future meetings of this type so I can plan to attend.

Posted on 05/29/2009 at 11:06 PM

Mike V. says:

Hey guys,
    There’s also the Miami Beach Community Ride which is organized by Miami Beach Bicycle Center and the City of Miami Beach. The Miami Beach Police stops traffic to provide us a safe ride. By the way, the ride FREE. 
    The ride is every second Saturday of the month starting from the Miami beach bicycle center store at 9a.m.  The address is 601 5th St, Miami Beach.  It is recommended that you get there early to have professionals make sure your equipment is in good shape for the ride. 
      The ride is very popular and attracted 100 people the last 2 times.  It is about 15 miles (lasts 2 hrs) and changes regularly which keeps it exciting. 
    Everyone needs a helmet to ride and a bike (obviously).  The MB Bicycle Center provides rental equipment.

Bikes: $8/hr $24/day or $80/Wk
Helmets: $10

Check out this link for more details

Posted on 05/30/2009 at 3:12 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

How is it 15 miles and lasts 2 hours? That’s biking 7.5 miles an hour, barely fast enough to keep the bike upright. You sure that figure is correct? I’m not expecting race speed here, but that seems a little slow.

Posted on 05/31/2009 at 1:52 PM

Mike V. says:

The whole event is 2 hrs but I’m sure a more experienced cyclist can finish this ride in less time.  However the extra time is to ensure everyone makes it back, for safety purposes, as the traffic is stopped by our MB police.

Posted on 06/01/2009 at 1:43 PM

Laurie says:

Thanks for the info Mike V. I’ve added it to the event calendar. This is every month or does it stop for the summer?

Posted on 06/03/2009 at 10:08 PM

Laurie says:

Forgot to include the link to Miami’s Bicycle Action Plan PDF:

Posted on 06/03/2009 at 10:41 PM

Mike V. says:

Hey Laurie,
      the MB community ride is indeed every month.

Posted on 06/04/2009 at 9:12 AM

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Posted on 06/17/2010 at 7:01 AM

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