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A cyclist got hit inside a park last week. That’s absurd.

Your View is a recurring series of opinion pieces from members of The New Tropic community. To share your ideas, goals, and work about Miami with the community in a Your View piece, please submit it to [email protected].

Early Thursday morning, my WhatsApp was filled with photos of yet another bike accident in Miami.

A group of cyclists chose what they regard as a safe place to do an interval workout – along Arthur Lamb Jr. Road inside of Virginia Key Park.

As a pair from the group was headed back toward the Rickenbacker Causeway, they were cut off and hit by a car turning into the wastewater treatment facility. The impact was so great that the car’s fender fell off and the windshield was shattered. The cyclist hit the hardest was sent to Jackson Memorial Hospital. He survived, but he was badly injured.

To be hit inside the confines of a park is only a little less crazy than being hit inside your home while on a treadmill. A park should be a pretty safe place to exercise.

Those that know me understand that I love Miami wholeheartedly, even with all of its challenges. But the accident highlights a growing problem in our community – a lack of proactive attention to small details.

Virginia Key is arguably the most utilized urban park for biking in Miami-Dade. Hundreds of cyclists every day include it in their route when riding the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Its main road is also the access road to a large wastewater treatment facility, with trucks and cars entering in the early mornings, when riders are out there. Yet, the road has no markings or signage that might remind drivers that the road is shared.

We’re constantly looking for the next big idea, when small fixes could make a big difference and what we already have is deteriorating. We wait so long to make minor adjustments and enhancements that eventually we need entire overhauls.

Maintenance and frequent, minor improvements aren’t sexy. But the small things, especially when it comes to bike safety, whether it be signage or arrows on the floor or simple green paint, all add up to something meaningful.

They don’t cost a lot, but when they get neglected for years, the cost of making them workable rises, and then you need major political support to get them done – or maybe even a series of tragedies to move that needle.

I am not pointing the finger at any one entity or person. I am simply calling for a change in the way we think of making Miami better. Pilot projects, “quick-builds” and other grassroot ideas, as small as they may seem, are important to see what works and to build momentum for conversations about large-scale projects.

Don’t get me wrong. I am one of the most vocal advocates for just about every multimillion dollar project we have on the table, from Plan Z, to the Ludlam Trail, to the Underline. But it’s hard for Miamians to have vision or appetite for the big projects if they don’t see maintenance and improvement attempts.

I know we can’t do it all, but as citizens we have to do more to let our voices be heard. Some things are quite obvious, but they still need champion voices.

Now, go through the list of shares and likes on the post about this accident. See if any elected official wrote anything on there. I haven’t seen a single one. They wouldn’t accomplish much by ranting on social media, but I am hoping that if they did read it, it will inspire them to press for ways to incrementally make things better.

I will recognize our local officials for the improvements made to the Rickenbacker, such as the green painted bike lanes, rumple strips to alert the driver when they drift and more frequent police presence to deter speeding by cars. Those are examples of incremental changes that brought us up a few years.

But we are still behind. And we can’t wait for a tragedy to make things better.

In today’s extraordinarily competitive environment to retain and attract the world’s best and brightest, those projects are a necessity, not luxuries. Outdoor recreation is a new essential to Miami and paying consistent attention to the small details is what makes recreation safe, appealing and accessible.

I urge Miamians and its leaders to see recreation as a major reason why someone chooses to live in Miami, or even visit. Everything outside in this town should be seen as a priority.

Recreation is part of why you live and part of why you work. C’mon. What’s a city where you can’t enjoy a safe bike ride, or a run or walk with a friend?

  • hillcrest101

    I am very sorry about the injured cyclist. More generally, we need protected bike lanes. T here are plenty of sidewalks wide enough, if you narrow the scruffy “buffer” green + garbage, to share with cyclists, since pedestrians are few and far between in most neighborhoods. Right now in places like North Miami and North Miami Beach those sidewalks are filled with potholes, dirty as hell (they are public dumpsters, really, go up NE 16th avenue, it must be the dirtiest street in the country), and with parked cars invading the entire sidewalk. Until we do not have proper, protected lanes, no more people will bike and regular motorists and pedestrians will not get used to our presence.

  • hillcrest101

    I am very sorry about the injured cyclist. More generally, we need protected bike lanes. T here are plenty of sidewalks wide enough, if you narrow the scruffy “buffer” green + garbage, to share with cyclists, since pedestrians are few and far between in most neighborhoods. Right now in places like North Miami and North Miami Beach those sidewalks are filled with potholes, dirty as hell (they are public dumpsters, really, go up NE 16th avenue, it must be the dirtiest street in the country), and with parked cars invading the entire sidewalk. Until we do not have proper, protected lanes, no more people will bike and regular motorists and pedestrians will not get used to our presence.

  • Jimbo99

    The picture I saw (Facebook’s Everglades Bicycle Club – EBC) was the typical spring/fall bright sun issue. At certain times of the day, driving into the sunrise and sunset is blinding in Miami or anywhere else for that matter. If a motorist is driving blind, they can’t see you, they can’t see anything and no amount of signage, lane painting, etc. will change that fact. Banning cars from that area is the only solution. That works for the extreme parks that used to be driveable places. Out by the Everglades, those old delapidated rocket plants that have been turned into part of the Everglades preserve are examples of places where cars are banned. Then again, the EBC and others hold cycling rides thru there and they open gates to set up refreshment stations.

  • Jimbo99

    The picture I saw (Facebook’s Everglades Bicycle Club – EBC) was the typical spring/fall bright sun issue. At certain times of the day, driving into the sunrise and sunset is blinding in Miami or anywhere else for that matter. If a motorist is driving blind, they can’t see you, they can’t see anything and no amount of signage, lane painting, etc. will change that fact. Banning cars from that area is the only solution. That works for the extreme parks that used to be driveable places. Out by the Everglades, those old delapidated rocket plants that have been turned into part of the Everglades preserve are examples of places where cars are banned. Then again, the EBC and others hold cycling rides thru there and they open gates to set up refreshment stations.

  • Dana

    If you have an idea for what Frankie describes as a “quick-build” or “pilot” project, apply for the Miami-Dade Transportation Quick-Build Challenge before May 1st. Pilot projects will be selected to build momentum toward permanent change. Visit quickbuild.greenmobilitynetwork.org to learn about how to apply.

    • hillcrest101

      There needs to be quick-build challenge specific to biking and nothing else.

  • Dana

    If you have an idea for what Frankie describes as a “quick-build” or “pilot” project, apply for the Miami-Dade Transportation Quick-Build Challenge before May 1st. Pilot projects will be selected to build momentum toward permanent change. Visit quickbuild.greenmobilitynetwork.org to learn about how to apply.

    • hillcrest101

      There needs to be quick-build challenge specific to biking and nothing else.

  • Stephan Linn

    I am personally struggling to understand how the so-called big projects are going to make cycling any more safe. Specifically, the current M-path and its upgrade to the Underline don’t really address the crossing problems at intersections. Plan-Z seems like an expensive ego-driven solution in search of a problem.

    • Chago Iglesias

      Agree with Stephan on the big showy projects. Back to Virginia Key, with the Tennis Open & the Boat Show it has also become a huge parking facility increased risk for cyclist. Wonder if the liquid waste truck drivers are taking their frustrations on cyclist, just last week one such truck seem very deliberate on cutting me off at the entrance where I had to hit the brakes and saw the driver and passenger talking strangely animatedly a

  • Stephan Linn

    I am personally struggling to understand how the so-called big projects are going to make cycling any more safe. Specifically, the current M-path and its upgrade to the Underline don’t really address the crossing problems at intersections. Plan-Z seems like an expensive ego-driven solution in search of a problem.

    • Chago Iglesias

      Agree with Stephan on the big showy projects. Back to Virginia Key, with the Tennis Open & the Boat Show it has also become a huge parking facility increased risk for cyclist. Wonder if the liquid waste truck drivers are taking their frustrations on cyclist, just last week one such truck seem very deliberate on cutting me off at the entrance where I had to hit the brakes and saw the driver and passenger talking strangely animatedly a