Rickenbacker Causeway Update

One of my good friends and fellow cyclist, Steve, came up from Miami for the 4th of July weekend. He shared with me some great news from South Florida about the Rickenbacker Causeway, and he had some good things to say about riding conditions here in Orlando.

First the Orlando news. He and his girlfriend went out for a few training rides out they commented that the drivers here in Orlando were some of the nicest that they had ridden around. Every car that they encountered yielded to them, waved them through intersections, and even gave them friendly waves or honks. They said that most drivers in Miami are pretty rude and they had even experienced some drivers being aggressive toward them, just for being on bikes. Ir made me pretty proud of our city, for acting pollitely to my guests and toward cyclists.

The news from South Florida came from the community meeting in Coral Gables, about the Rickenbacker Causeway and the improvements that they are planning to improve cycling there. Below is the official update from the meeting.
Excellent turnout at the community meeting in Coral Gables this afternoon. A great deal of information was revealed concerning the potential future of the Rickenbacker Causeway. Basically the county wishes to allocate 25 cents of every toll collected to proposed projects promoting pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Here's a summary of projects:

  • "Bike Only" lane at toll plaza will be 365 days a year, no longer available to motorists during hours of high volume traffic.
  • PWD will conduct and evaluate results of speed study in order to determine whether the speed limits need to be modified and implement necessary signage changes. Volume and speed test will commence after July 4th.
  • Installation of permanent electronic ''Your Speed'' information signs/speed radar light boards along causeway, which will alert vehicles to their traveling speeds.
  • Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path. Both 12' car lanes will be reduced to 11' thus widening the 5' bike path to 7'.
  • Multi-use trail along north side of causeway from Bear Cut Bridge to William Powell Bridge. Cyclists can use Mast Academy signal to cross causeway, then use aforementioned path to reach Sewer Beach Road. (Rusty Pelican / Marine Stadium)
  • Re-design, widen to 12', stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.
  • SunPass only lanes will be added with a barrier at the entrance to Key Biscayne. The county emphasized that SunPass lanes would not encourage speeding and stated "the Rickenbacker is a causeway NOT an expressway".
  • Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road/Rickenbacker Causeway from Brickell Avenue through the toll facility to Hobie Island, to accommodate and improve access to bicycle lanes.
  • Design and install a cyclist/pedestrian traffic light crossing at Hobie Island (Windsurfer Beach). The installation of a traffic light, striping, and signage will allow cyclists to turn from Eastbound to Westbound prior to reaching the toll plaza. (Cyclists will no longer be allowed to make a U-turns near the toll plaza, they will be expected to make U-Turns at new light crossing or under the West Bridge. Expect this enforced Winter/Spring 2011.)
The reception from cyclists/pedestrians was mostly positive with the exception of a few concerned with the potential of the SunPass only lanes encouraging speeding. Also, some "group ride" cyclists were not too fond of U-turns being prohibited at the toll. The proposed traffic light also raised some eyebrows as it can make stopping after the swift westward decent off the William Powell Bridge a bit of a challenge.

More info here.