BICYCLE LANES AND BIKING SAFETY IN MIAMI-DADE
Bicycle lanes are not always welcomed with open arms in Miami-Dade County communities; and Coral Gables is just one of them. Since 2004, the city commission has rejected every proposal to build bike lanes; mainly from complaints on behalf of the disapproving neighbors and home owners. In 2014, a plan was presented to build 27 miles of new bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks, but that never developed. In 2018, residents voiced their opposition at a commission meeting to add bicycle lanes along Riviera Drive. According to Robert Ruano, the chair of the Bike Walk Coral Gables nonprofit; “There’s very little really safe bike infrastructure in the city right now to actually increase people using the road for biking safely.” For 2020, a new proposal aims to create bike lanes & broaden sidewalks along Alhambra Circle from Coral Way to the University of Miami. This 2.3-mile stretch could result in the loss of trees, according to concerned residents; thus, the plan for more bike lanes may be scrapped once again. However, Silvia Pinera-Vazquez, an attorney residing on Alhambra Circle, is pushing for bike lanes through an open letter to dated December 6th to city officials, Pinera-Vazquez wrote; “It is evident that there is a concerted agenda by certain city staff members and special interest bicycle groups to forge ahead with bicycle lanes throughout the city despite the position of our residents and our elected officials.” On December 10th, the local attorney spoke before the City Commission and some fifty opposing residents and homeowners. Though a final decision is months away, Vice Mayor Vince Lago stated that the commission’s ruling to ditch the Riviera Drive project “set a precedent” that will make it difficult to not side with opposing homeowners once again. In 2015, a $597,000 grant was given to Coral Gables on behalf of the Florida Department of Transportation to carry out the Alhambra Circle project, which led to an important connection that included residential neighborhoods, the downtown area, UM, and the Underline, which included a 10-mile-stretch for pedestrians, joggers, and bikers below the elevated Metrorail tracks. However, when it comes to building Alhambra Circle bike lanes raises concern over of damage to almost 200 trees and potential changes to their quality of life. Motor vehicle traffic and potential accidents are also a concern as the construction of bike lanes lead to narrower driving lanes. Thus, increasing the potential for motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians and bikers alike. In the meantime, Coral Gable residents will have to wait till later in 2020 when the project is expected to come up for a vote.
BIKE LANE ACCIDENTS AND MOTORISTS
Bike lanes seem very practical and indeed they are; to bike riders. For motorists, bike lanes present danger; both for them and those sharing the street. Biking to and from a destination can be easy, inexpensive and fun. However, biking amid the flow of traffic can be quite dangerous. In fact, bicycle related accidents have been on the rise, mainly due to distracted drivers behind the wheel of motor vehicles. However, motorists are not always at fault for bicycle accidents in Miami. Many times, bike owners neglect the fact that bicycles require maintenance. Thus, the Perazzo Law Firm staff of attorneys that handle bicycle accident claims remind bike riders to make sure that their bikes are in good shape, especially when they take to the streets and join the flow of traffic. Proper equipment, attire, and precautions play a major role in avoiding bicycle accidents in Miami. Wearing a helmet for example, is a very important way to lessen the chances of brain or head injuries from a bike accident that involves a moving vehicle. The Perazzo Law Firm recommends to avoid zigzagging in traffic and high speeds.
Avoiding the use of cellphones while riding a bike, regardless of whether along a bike lane or street, is highly recommended by the Perazzo Law Firm staff. Distracted bike riders are just as dangerous as distracted motorists. Children riding in baby seats should wear helmets as well since children are at high risk of being severely injured in bike accidents involving cars in Miami. The responsibility of safely transporting a child on a bicycle should never be neglected through cellphone use while in motion. The use of a helmet and/or reflective gear to enable easier visibility for those sharing the road. Intersection must approached with caution as well given that motorists do not always give bike riders the right of way and many time do not even see them when making a turn. Texting and Driving is one of the main causes of most car accidents in Miami and the chance of an accident on a Miami avenue or street increases when distracted bike riders are negligent.
Bicycles should be fitted with proper features to make them more visible at a distance. Miami bicycle riders must take these factors into account as jurisdictions readily issue tickets to those who fail to follow these rules. Moreover, if you fail to abide by these safety regulations, it can be used to deny you compensation for your injuries. Why? Because insurance companies look for reasons to deny or reduce the compensation owed to you for a personal injury in a bicycle accident. Failure to follow safety rules and regulations can be used as a defense by the insurance company to avoid paying just compensation in any subsequent litigation. Equip your bike with reflectors to help motorists detect you at night or in poorly lit areas. Car accidents in Miami involving bicycles usually occur at night when distracted or negligent motorists are at fault for the accident. Reflectors and proper gear such as lights, increase the chances of a successful personal injury claim for compensation.
- A motorist drives to close to a cyclist while passing, thus causing the bike rider to lose control and/or the vehicle comes into contact with the bicyclist. This may lead to very serious personal injury or even death.
- A parked motorist inadvertently opens his/her door and a bicyclist slams into it. This may lead to serious personal injury. bicyclists should be allocated time to pass before they swing their door open.
- A motorist crashes into a bicyclist when making a sudden turn at an intersection. Motorists are required to use their rear-view mirrors and turn signals when turning or changing lanes.
- Bicycle riders are not given the right of way. Miami motorists continue to hold little respect for bicyclists.
- Motorist rear-ends the bicyclist when trying to pass them.
- Alcohol. Drunk drivers have a hard time seeing the road let alone bicyclists.
Visit the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center for further info.
- Seek immediate medical attention for injuries from a bicycle accident.
- Get written record of any injuries in order to prove you have sustained personal injury in a Miami bike accident.
- If safe to do so, take note of your surroundings, weather conditions, direction in which you were traveling etc.
- If there are witnesses, jot down their names or get their contact information.
- Pay attention to any surveillance cameras around the area where the collision took place. Video recordings can be easily used to prove your case and get you the compensation you deserve.
- Subsequent to your accident, it is important to keep a diary or a log of any personal injuries or physical therapy you may be undergoing. Memory tends to fail over time and insurance companies employ every tactic possible to prolong litigation and ultimately jeopardize your personal injury claims.
If you, a family member, or loved one has suffered personal injury from a bicycle accident in Miami, the Perazzo Law Firm urges you to contact our Miami or North Miami Beach offices ONLINE or CALL (786) LAWS-411 for a FREE initial consultation to discuss your rights for compensation for injuries suffered as a result of an accident involving a bicycle in Miami.
The Perazzo Law Firm – Dedicated to Putting your Interests First…Always!