In recent weeks the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has issued new policies that makes one think they are finally treating all modes of transportation as equal and understanding that our road rights of way have tremendous place making potential. These policies include buffered bike lanes and making highway beautification a design objective.
So we have a Department that is finally starting to get it, but the Southern Boulevard Bridge is a $90 million project that had its study completed on May 12, 2009 under the old paradigm that created a roadway network with the dubious distinction of having the most bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in the country.
Shown below is the current bridge proposal:
The design is an unimaginative slightly improved replacement of the current bridge. Bicycles get to use the car shoulder and minimum width sidewalks are provided for pedestrians.
The highway section on the causeway is even worse. Unbuffered bike lanes placed right next to the travel lanes and narrow sidewalks
There have been cyclists fatalities on other intracoastal bridges in Florida with a similar design. The way to build bike facilities to prevent these fatalities is to provide separation of the cyclists from the roadway. This is a relatively new concept in American highway design, but it makes so much sense once you see it. Below is a recent example of where the bike lanes were placed behind the barrier next to the sidewalk.
Would you rather ride your bike behind a barrier or next to a car with a white line providing protection?
In addition to being a safety feature these buffers can also be an aesthetic improvement. Below is a rendering of a citizen group’s plan to add buffered bike lanes to the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami.
In the rendering above it is easy to imagine the causeway becoming a linear park.
We can do better. One only needs to look north to the West Palm Beach side of the Royal Park Bridge for an example of a world class project executed by FDOT and the City of West Palm Beach.
We need to insist on a great Southern Boulevard Bridge. If you don’t insist on a great project then you are going to get the bare minimum in pedestrian and bicycle accommodations. Remember that the new bridge be will around for at least 75 years. Many of us will not be around to see the replacement of that bridge. Right now the current plans are just lines on paper that aren’t set in stone. FDOT has recently decided to spend an additional $12 million on the project to build a temporary bypass bridge. How about spending a little more to have proper bicycle facilities for the next 75 years?
How you can help: Email the FDOT project manager and tell them you want a safer bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians!
FDOT Project Manager:
Vanita Saini, P.E.
FDOT District IV
3400 West Commercial Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309-3421
Phone: (954) 777-4468
Toll Free: (866) 336-8435 x4468
Contact form: http://www.southernblvdbridge.com/contact.html