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Front Page » Communities » Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key may get more bike friendly

Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key may get more bike friendly

Written by on May 3, 2016
Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key may get more bike friendly

A plan to turn parts of the Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key into a state-of-the-art bike and pedestrian path and parkway has been upgraded.

From Miami architect Bernard Zyscovich comes Plan Z 2.0, and he’s hitting the road with the redesign for new vows of support from elected leaders in the area.

The Key Biscayne Village Council is expected to be the first to see the upgraded plan this month, according to Aymee Zubizarreta, a consultant to Mr. Zyscovich.

Plan Z for Miami would transform a single purpose infrastructure – Rickenbacker Causeway – into a multimodal recreational asset, Rickenbacker Park.

The plan basically calls for turning the causeway into a “scenic road through a park.”

The Rickenbacker Causeway has long been popular with bicyclists as it has scenic views of Biscayne Bay and the City of Miami skyline. But heavy traffic endangers cyclists and pedestrians.

Mr. Zyscovich, a cycling enthusiast, is advancing the plan to try and make a safe and secure park out of what today is a busy highway. Cyclists have been injured and killed on the causeway, prompting Mr. Zyscovich to call together his team and begin assembling the pieces that will become Plan Z.

The proposal calls for reducing vehicular lanes on the causeway, from the mainland to the entrance of the Key Biscayne, from three to two and using the newly liberated space for a bicycle and pedestrian path.

The plan received the backing of city and county officials last summer. The City of Miami owns the bulk of Virginia Key, while the county has jurisdiction over the roadway and causeway.

The initial plan was met with some concerns on the part of Key Biscayne officials, said Ms. Zubizarreta, “because this is their driveway home.”

Concerns were expressed about the Powell Bridge and Bear Cut Bridge.

“Like everything in life, they are reaching their level of maturity and these bridges will need to be replaced at some point,” she said.

In December, Mr. Zyscovich was challenged by Key Biscayne leaders to “look at everything from a bigger picture” and design Plan Z as if money were no object, Ms. Zubizarreta said.

Over the holidays, Plan Z 2.0 was born.

The new, bigger and bolder plan would connect to The Underline via Vizcaya’s transit station and the City of Miami’s Alice Wainwright Park.

“The new design that Bernard conceived now also includes a new signature entrance that serves as a skybridge for cyclists and runners who choose to enter the Rickenbacker Causeway either from the north – Downtown Miami or Brickell – or the south… and a running/cycling path along the seawall at Alice Wainwright Park,” said Ms. Zubizarreta.

The Underline is a plan backed by the county to transform about 10 miles of land under Metrorail’s elevated tracks into an urban linear park and pathway.

Plan Z 2.0 also includes an iconic observation deck for cyclists and runners on the William Powell Bridge, as well as nearly 20 acres of identified green space for recreational use along a stretch of the Rickenbacker Causeway, Ms. Zubizarreta said.

Mr. Zyscovich has the support of county Mayor Carlos Gimenez for the updated plan, and Bruce Matheson, spokesperson for the Matheson Family, is backing the proposal, she said.

Mr. Zyscovich is also planning to presented the redesign to the City of Miami.

Miami-Dade County recently applied for a grant to help complete Plan Z’s pilot project, which calls for painting the entire existing bike path green and adding reflectors, from the entrance to the causeway to Bear Cut Bridge. At present, the green bike path appears only in select spots such as conflict zones and then after Bear Cut Bridge as riders approach Key Biscayne.

Ms. Zubizarreta said the Florida Department of Transportation says Rickenbacker is the most utilized corridor in the entire state for cycling and running.

That fact may help Mr. Zyscovich as he works to garner funding for the project.

20 Responses to Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key may get more bike friendly

  1. justin

    May 4, 2016 at 10:37 am

    How about we just get some protected bike lanes to actually make it possible to get around the city? Why does Miami only like impractical, expensive, pie-in-the-sky ideas?

    • Miamicityman

      May 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Totally agree.

  2. eg

    May 4, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    ^ will smith’s fault

  3. Charles

    May 4, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Justin is right. We also need better law enforcement on cars that speed and block bike lanes. I feel the PlanZ is an effort to Chanel bike shares and Brickel development onto Key Biscayne. I hope bikes that don’t want to ride on elevated paths with tourists bike shares pedestrians children can still ride on the road uninterrupted.

  4. Oscar

    May 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    This rendering confuses the hell out of me. Isn’t that Bear Cut Bridge? Is the update plan proposing a complete rebuild of that span?

  5. JP

    May 4, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Something needs to be done. It is just too dangerous on that bridge. Every single time I cross the Rickenbacker I cross my fingers that I get to the other side without someone being killed. There needs to be specific separated lanes of traffic.

    I have seen both bicyclist and autos at fault. Better law enforcement for BOTH is needed.

    • Responsible Cyclist

      May 4, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      Bikes are not at fault. That’s victim blaming. Cars need to slow down, not park on the bike path and not cut bikes off merging and pulling in or out of beach parking. The illegal parking next to the bike path is a death trap. Also cars that park across the causeway creates people walking across the causeway not at a light. They should close the Hobbie Beach parking entrance at the base of Powell Bridge too many cars merge or block the bike path trying to get into a lot that is full while bikes are at top speeds coming off the bridge. They should use the next entrance that is at the light.

      • Martim

        May 5, 2016 at 11:18 am

        Your title says it all…for every one of you guys, there are 5,000 UNRESPONSIBLE CYCLISTS…that end up crying wolf, etc…

        • Responsible Cyclist

          May 5, 2016 at 12:07 pm

          I’m not sure what justifies your anger towards cyclists

          • Martim

            May 5, 2016 at 1:43 pm

            No anger whatsoever…I grew up on KB and have seen cyclists who have no respect for the road completely taking up lanes, yelling at people who drive by at normal speed…

            I have no problem with cyclists sharing the road with vehicles. It’s the sense of entitlement that needs to change. Yes, pedal bikes are considered motor vehicles under Florida law. However, they will never weigh as much as a car, will never be able to reach the same speed as a car and will never protect a human the way a car does. Car > bike. For safety purposes, many people need to do a better job of respecting and realizing that while they are entitled to share the road, they need to do so safely.

        • Roderick Llewellyn

          June 3, 2016 at 2:50 pm

          Can you document that 5,000 to 1 figure, Martim, or are you just making stuff up? When anyone quotes numbers, I want to see the math, not meaningless propaganda.

          You mention “entitlement”. You don’t think motorists, probably the most coddled pressure group in America, don’t feel “entitled”? You seem to, with your anger that bicyclists take up the whole lane sometimes. If you believe cyclists are second-class citizens, then you must feel motorists are “entitled”. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander! I don’t know about Florida state law, but most states say cyclists have exactly the same rights (AND responsibilities!) as motorists… if a cyclist feels his or her safety requires taking up a full lane, tough luck on you.

    • Hawk

      May 5, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      We can all do better… why don’t we stop the “blame-game” and work towards a solution to this horrible situation on the Rickenbacker?

  6. Jimbo99

    May 4, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Looks like a Palmetto Epressway construction project for pedestrians & cyclists. By the time it’s completed, won’t Miami be underwater ?

  7. Rudy Leschhorn

    May 5, 2016 at 9:33 am

    The key is enforcement of the law… If we had enforcement, bikes could ride on their newly provided lane, instead of peloton so. If we had enforcement, bikes would stop at stop signs and stop lights. If we had enforcement, bikes wouldn’t cross three lanes to the left lane of the Rickenbacker to make an illegal left turn on Brickell Ave, instead of using the crosswalks.. It’s all about enforcement. And what the article fails to mention, is that by turning the causeway into a “park”, speed limits will have to be reduced to 30MPH or slower all the way into the Village of KB. Enforce the law and stop wasting money.

    • Law abiding citizen

      May 5, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Ruby is right about law enforcement. However bikes are allowed on the road and not required to use pedestrian cross walks. How many cars ignore a pedestrians rights in a crosswalk anyway. Cars endanger everyone with careless driving. Bikes are simply trying to not be terrorized. A simple speed limit enforcement work show the proportion of cars breaking traffic law vs bikes. You can tell she is more concerned about her drive time than safety. If vehicles drove respectably there wouldn’t be a need for more pedestrian and bike safety devices. In rush hour cars are making illegal turns onto Bayshore 3 lanes wide. And that’s where the bike path from metro rail connects to the Key.

    • Adam

      May 5, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      The waste of money was adding so many car lanes that this scenic bridge became a high speed highway that we are all on the line to repair. Dropping the speed limit from 45mph to 30mph on the causeway all the way from the border of the Village of Key Biscayne to the mainland adds a few minutes to travel time. You live on an island. It will be ok.

  8. Laz

    May 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    I am in Key Biscayne every weekend and i notice the aggressive cyclists all the time, i am there running not biking but have had plenty of words with cyclists that have almost ran me over because they think they own the sidewalk that I am running on. I have also witness plenty of times where it has not been the cars fault and the cyclists get in the way on purpose to not let cars pass.

    Sure its not everyone but there are plenty that think they are the kings of road.

  9. biketicked

    May 6, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Nothing worse than the road cyclist at the key…they swear they are the kings of the road, sometimes more at fault than cars. There should be a special police unit enforcing the 200 bike riding groups that fly along there

  10. Rungurl

    May 6, 2016 at 11:40 am

    It’s a good point that the key is important for runners as well as bikes. I don’t think the two mix well. Both will always be a hazard to each other on shared paths. That is why I think bikes should just ride the path next to the road leaving the inside for runners. I’m surprised when I see runners and even walkers using the bike lane when there is a dedicated path for running in the park along side on the entire key. If cars were driving at slower speeds and not jeopardizing the lives of cyclists they could stay off the new trails leaving them for runners walkers and bike shares.

  11. jorge j tamargo

    June 4, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    because of the price tag and the bureaucracy,(and ye some oily palms ) but mostly because of the price tag this bird ain t flying. i agree with Justin. in Germany they simple separate bikes from cars. and to me that can be done a lot more inexpensive then what i am reading here.