Video: How to bike to the Beach without the Venetian

Our own Bruce Pinchbeck likes to bike over to work from the beach. Like many Miami cyclists, he’s concerned about today’s closure of the Venetian Causeway — the slowest and safest bridge for bikes and pedestrians, in his and many others’ estimation. He took a ride with Collin Worth, Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Miami, over the MacArthur and back across the Julia Tuttle, to find out what cyclists should be watching out for. Here’s what we found.

Watch out for debris on the road. Both causeways are supposed to get extra sweeping, but we saw a lot of trash in bike lanes that could trip you up. There are other obstacles to beware of too — disabled vehicles, even a misplaced traffic sign.

If all of this looks a bit too scary, there are a few other options for cyclists, none of which is as affordable as pedaling across the bridge. If you want a lift across, you can pack your wheels on the front racks of the buses, but they’ll only accept two bikes at a time. You can also take a cab or try a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft, or you can use a car share like ZipCar to get you across, but your trusty steed would have to stay behind.

If you’re going to brave a bike across, consider taking the trip with a few buddies to improve visibility when you’re in those unprotected lanes. If you’re brave (or crazy) enough to take a night ride, invest in some extra reflective gear and lights — both Causeways can get pretty dark.

 

  • Jason

    I agree with everyone below about the absurdity of the poor conditions on the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle (the latter of which is a total joke). As an experienced, full-time (car-less) bike commuter who lives on the Beach and works on the Mainland, I’ve always relied on the Venetian and never braved either of the interstates (I mean “causeways”) until I had no choice. Thank you for posting this video, as my only other option to prepare was to zoom in on aerial maps and Google Street View.

    I finally took my first trip last week on the MacArthur, and, dear God, it’s insane. Being forced to take the sidewalks (snaking around and being forced to start from 0mph and climbing up the enormous western bridge is insane in itself), the 90-degree turns on the sidewalks (who designed these things?), and lack of speed enforcement (NO ONE adheres to the posted 45mph limit) were terrifying enough. But the real kicker was seeing an enormous debris truck, on a Saturday afternoon (approx. 3PM), fully blocking the shoulder and bike lane, thus forcing me to *very* nervously and hastily merge into 50MPH traffic. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND IRRESPONSIBLE and I can’t even find the words to express how it boggles my mind that the County thinks this is okay. No lane closures, no safe passing zone, and it’s done at peak weekend traffic hour (the picture I took after passing doesn’t do it justice). I had a friend later report that he had to go around the same truck later in the day when he was heading in the opposite direction back to the Mainland and obviously feared for his safety. I love biking, it’s my only mode of personal transportation and it’s why I sold my car months ago. However, many days during this post-Venetian closing era, I get so angry while biking on this horrible infrastructure that I give up and take an Uber, Car2Go, or plan ahead/add 30 minutes to my schedule and take a bus. This would never be acceptable in any true “world-class” city.

    • AshleyNewTropic

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Jason. We’re glad the video was helpful and we’ll keep reporting on these important issues.

  • hed1117

    I cycle for exercise and pleasure at night (less traffic, a lot cooler) around Miami-Dade and Broward. One of my favorite mid-length rides is from South Beach to Versailles for a cortadito and back to the beach. I have bright lights, a mirror and a bell(!) on my bike and I generally feel reasonably safe. I think it’s maddening that the city hasn’t spent the small amount to at least paint bicycle lane signs on ALL major streets e.g. Calle Ocho.
    As far as the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle, I have occasionally taken both, prefer the MacArthur – lanes more clearly marked/lit, though there are extended curbs to navigate heading west and a convoluted approach to the east end bridge. I took the MacArthur eastward the other night (after Critical Mass) without incident – but I discovered my rear tire, with an extra heavy duty inner tube, was flat the next morning…

    • Liz

      Wow, thanks so much for sharing!

  • M Rose

    Excellent video, guys! Non-cyclists are not aware of how ridiculous some ‘bike lanes’ and shoulders are. It’s sadly hilarious to see traffic signs, fender-bender cars and ‘bike lane ends’ signs on the causeways. Not to mention glass, nails and other debris littering almost every bike lane in the city. I hope the increased awareness by people like yourselves will result in real change!

    • Liz

      Thanks 🙂 We try!

  • Derek Merleaux

    Neither Tuttle nor MacArthur are acceptable alternatives. When not held back by congestion, traffic on MacArthur is easily going 65 on the straight stretch – there is no way for a paint stripe of any color to prevent fatalities so easily caused by someone checking their phone or gawking at a cruise ship at the wrong moment and swiping you off the road at 50 mph. That the cities, county, and state didn’t come up with a single bike and pedestrian alternative is both a travesty and a VERY CLEAR MESSAGE from FDOT and Miami-Dade that non-car transit is something they only pay lip service to and will not back it up with actions. As far as I’m concerned every single casualty on these causeways is blood on their hands. A quick google search shows many cities facing similar long-term bridge closures have solved them w/ out a big fuss. Create a protected path along the shoulder, put in place a bike/ped shuttle bus w/ a big trailer, a ferry boat for bikes and walkers from the current Venetian toll plaza to museum park – anything!

    • Liz

      Great solutions Derek. Thanks for sharing!

  • Carlos Iglesia

    Collin, you should have worn a Helmet, and strongly advise that to everyone. Accidents will increase. Deadly ones, as we’ve seen on the much safer Rickenbacker.

    • Bruce Pinchbeck

      I definitely should have worn a helmet as well. Mom was not very happy with me.

      • Carlos Iglesia

        You’re either joking, or have never had a cycling fall. Either way, stupid and irresponsible comment

        • Bruce Pinchbeck

          Nope. Wasn’t meant to be a joke. I should have worn a helmet. And seriously I got chewed out.

    • Collin Worth

      I usually wear a helmet, but we took Citi Bikes to replicate what it would be like for someone just picking up a bike and going across the Bay. Most Citi Bike users won’t have helmets. There was no part of the ride that was “scary”, just very loud when going over the bridges. The goal of the video should not be to dissuade you from riding over the bridges, but to know what you are getting into. Yes wear a helmet, wear bright/reflective clothing, and use lights.

    • Liz

      Great point!

  • Neither option is viable, and while the Venetian is a County project, really FDOT and the County share responsibility for the failure to provide a viable alternative route for cyclists and pedestrians. The MacArthur and Julia Tuttle are FDOT roadways. The former is dangerous in several sections, and while the green paint looks inviting to cyclists, it is ultimately misleading because this is not a bike-friendly roadway. As for the latter, you simply ride at your own risk. I would never bike the Julia Tuttle, not even in a group, as cars regularly exceed 60 mph. It’s not worth it and cyclists should be dissuaded from using it. Period. It was reckless to even put bike lanes there, and even more inexplicable is the more-than-ample space to put a protected path or barrier. But, you know, FDOT.

    • Carlos Iglesia

      Well, you’ll see how they start fixing the McArthur real soon, after the first couple deadly accidents happen now. That’s how it worked with the much safer Rickenbacker.

      • Sadly, Carlos, we don’t seem to be very proactive when it comes to cycling infrastructure in South Florida. FDOT/Miami-Dade will build miles of freeways and toll lanes heading west to anticipate (and facilitate) sprawl, but don’t seem to do much to anticipate the rise of density in the urban core and the inevitable corresponding uptick in cycling as a viable means of transportation.

        • Carlos Iglesia

          Yeah. But just watch how fast they will get in gear after the first Biker Fatality on the McArthur now that the Venetian is closed. They fail to realize the increasing volume of cars and bikes that Has to go to the beach. Until accidents happen, soon.

    • Liz

      So true, Eli! The green paint is attractive but provides zero protection. Not to mention how fast the cars go down Julia Tuttle, too.

  • Collin Worth

    Hello George,
    The City has been pushing the County and the State to implement safety and wayfinding for bicyclists and pedestrians as part of their traffic plan. There has been little responsiveness from the County to the needs of cyclists and pedestrians, and the FDOT has deferred to the County. We will see if this changes soon.

    • Carlos Iglesia

      Collin, I know you do all you can. Unfortunately, it will take serious accidents and more Deaths for the officials to listen to us. Now that the Venetian is closed, for a year, probably, Inevitably there will be twice the cars, twice the bikes = 3 times the accidents. Easy math.

  • Flirpit

    Did Colin share anything the city plans to do to help while the venetian is closed?

  • Marc Medios

    One more reason to stick to a car

    • Carlos Iglesia

      Yeah, healthiest choice the Obese America.