After nine months of closure for construction and repairs, the beloved Venetian Causeway finally reopened yesterday — drawing droves of runners, bikers, and pedestrians alike to celebrate its return. As the sun set over the Intracoastal Waterway, hundreds of cyclists rode down the causeway, their headlights illuminating the road. Runners cheered and danced, excited to have their scenic route back again.
The 90-year old causeway, which links the Venetian Islands to the mainland at N.E. 15th St., was perhaps the safest way for bikers and runners to get across Biscayne Bay. Its closure forced them on to the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle Causeways, which unlike the Venetian do not have dedicated lanes for bikers and joggers. Two weeks ago, a cyclist was hit and injured on the MacArthur Causeway, following an attempted car robbery, according to the Miami Herald.
The Venetian Causeway also has a slower speed limit and significantly less motor vehicle traffic than its alternatives.
The temporary re-route, happening amid a growing citywide conversation about how to promote alternatives to cars, prompted some hard thinking about those roads.
“The closure of the Venetian got people talking about what’s wrong with the MacArthur and the Tuttle, and how we can make them better,” said Collin Worth, bicycle coordinator and special projects assistant for the City of Miami Capital Improvements and Transportation Program.
We spoke to Worth as he prepared to ride across the Venetian Causeway with hundreds of others. A group bike ride started at 6:00 p.m. from The Miami Bike Shop at 1800 Biscayne Blvd., while a group run started from both sides of the bridge at 6:30 p.m. and converged near the bridge’s toll booth.
People have floated ideas like adding road bike paths on the Tuttle to separate bikers and runners from traffic, he said. These changes are more likely than any changes to the MacArthur, which will likely be undergoing transformation as plans for Baylink, a new light rail from Miami Beach to the mainland, come into focus, Worth added.
Last year, we asked Worth for his recommended route amidst the closure of the causeway. As the roadway reopened, we asked bikers and runners gathered there on its inaugural night how they’ve been getting on without their beloved road — and how they feel now that it’s back.
“When the bridge closed I started biking across the McArthur Causeway, which was harrowing and dangerous. I bike about an hour each day and that was probably one of the roughest parts of my commute. Also, if I wanted to go out to Wynwood, it meant I had to drive, because there’s really no other leisurely way to get from Miami Beach to the mainland.”
“I live right down the street from the Venetian. Growing up in Miami, I’ve always been running on the Venetian, especially since I’ve been living closer to the bridge. It’s a really beautiful run and coming out here today is a nice way to connect with other people with similar interests. It’s fun and healthy. I used to run around Margaret Pace Park or the American Airlines Arena, but the Venetian Causeway is by far the best place to run. I’m planning on waking up at 6 a.m. like I used to and running before work. I love the Venetian so much that sometimes I’d drive and go around to the other side on Miami Beach and try to run from here. But it’s a totally different feeling to be able to run across the whole bridge.”
“I live here and I used to run the Venetian frequently. I’m so excited for it to open up because it’s a good option for locals to get into Miami Beach, especially during Miami’s winter season when it’s busier. It’s also a lot safer to than other running routes. There aren’t a lot of other areas were Miamians can run and bike. When the Causeway was closed I’d run between the American Airlines Arena and Brickell, but it wasn’t as safe. It was darker and there were lots of overpasses.”
“I’m running with my mom, her friend, and co-worker. I’ve ran through Museum Park and Bill Baggs Park in Key Biscayne, but I’m excited because this is my first time running across the Venetian. I just moved to Miami a few months ago.”
“It’s the grand opening of the Venetian and I heard there would be a huge crew of bicyclists and I wanted to be a part of that. When the Venetian was closed I wouldn’t bike to Miami Beach, that’s for sure — I’d drive my car either across the MacArthur or the 79th street bridge. I’m glad it’s reopened because it’ll relieve a lot of traffic. The ride was amazing because there was camaraderie between all of the other people who showed up, and the sun was setting so the colors were also amazing.”
This story has been corrected to include a recent bike accident that occurred on the MacArthur Causeway.