The West Venetian Bascule Bridge is scheduled to be closed to ALL traffic starting June 1, 2015 due to much needed repairs. Work will last for nine months and the county is advising vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists needing to travel to and from Miami Beach to use the MacArthur or Julia Tuttle Causeways.
This is a huge safety concern for cyclists, runners, skaters, pedestrians, and scooter/moped drivers alike who use the Venetian Causeway as an alternative to the other thoroughfares. The Venetian Causeway is the most popular route among non-motorists due to the slower speed limit (30mph), adequate bike lanes, less motor vehicles, and smaller bridges.
FDOT, Miami-Dade County PWD, and the City of Miami Beach have had a long time to prepare for this closure, but what exactly have they done to ensure safety for ALL road users along their suggested routes?
Keep in mind that just a few weeks ago a cyclist was struck and killed on the Julia Tuttle, the impact threw the victim off the bridge and into Biscayne Bay. The speed limit on the Julia Tuttle (I-195) is 55mph and the shoulder (bike lane) is typically covered in debris.
Non-motorists are the most vulnerable on these causeways and need a safe corridor between South Beach and Miami. Unfortunately, the only notable changes we've observed thus far were on the MacArthur Causeway were two "merge zone" green bike lanes where installed across from Jungle Island. While we welcome any improvements, a "green" bike lane will not suffice.
Below are a few recommendations for the FDOT and county to implement in order to allow safe passage across the causeways:
- Create temporary protected bike lanes by using bollards
- Daily removal of debris
- Slower speed limit (currently 55mph on Julia Tuttle / 40-50 mph on MacArthur)
- Electronic signs alerting motorists of higher volume cyclists/pedestrian traffic
- Traffic enforcement
- Provide a water taxi service across closed westernmost bridge
We encourage ALL cyclists, runners, pedestrians, and scooter/moped users to voice their concerns via telephone or email to the appropriate representatives:
FDOT District 6, Gus Pego, (305) 470-5197
City of Miami Beach, Mayor Phillip Levine, (305) 673-7035
Miami-Dade County, Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, (305) 375-5071
The MacArthur Causeway (though not a great option) is still a better alternative to the Julia Tuttle (I-195). The speed limit is 40-50mph and there are several intersections along the way which slow motorists down slightly. However, we still suggest riding on the sidewalk on both bridges (unless riding in a group), there is no shoulder on the easternmost bridge so you're basically riding on freeway. Not for the faint of heart.