This is a letter to cyclists on Bear Cut Bridge, heading westbound (into Miami from Key Biscayne), on weekday mornings, during rush hour. I am not talking to the peloton (I am terrified and intimidated by you), nor to the cyclists riding their training rides in the early morning before many in Key Biscayne even wake up. I am talking to those cyclists who are on the bridge Monday through Friday at around 8:00am. This is peak traffic for Key Biscayners heading to work, and to drop kids off at school both at MAST Academy and in mainland Miami.
I was late to take my children to school when I came upon you on Bear Cut Bridge. We were both heading out of Key Biscayne at about 8:00am. We were both on the right side lane next to the big concrete barrier that separates the sharrowed lane from the multi-use bike/ped path. I was driving.
Just so you know: I wear spandex, have clip on shoes, and a Garmin. I understand the frustration of a red light when I’m on my bike, or of someone I don’t know jumping on my wheel and going for a free ride. I shave my legs, and would do so even if I were a man. I am one of you. However I am also a driver. One who lives in Key Biscayne and who needs to get my kids to school on time.
Is it my fault I was running late? Absolutely. Can I leave five minutes earlier? Yes. But that morning things just didn’t go as planned.
Like me, there are hundreds of people leaving Key Biscayne that need to get to their jobs, schools, and other affairs outside of the island. And seeing you riding below the speed limit on the bridge during rush hour … well, it doesn’t help the cycling/driving relationship which is already fragile at best.
Do you have the right to be on that lane? Again, absolutely.
You have every right to take it; that’s what the sharrows are for. You weren’t doing anything legally wrong. However, do you have the right to leave your bicycle, outside, on a rack, at night, in a bad neighborhood? Yes, you have that right but it’s not really smart. I was afraid for you.
I’m not saying drivers have no role here. I was the minivan driving at 25 mph (the limit) while cars zoomed past me clearly taking the speed limit as a suggestion. There was no police officer in sight. I am not saying cyclists are bad and cars are good. I am describing the scene.
I reached you at the beginning of the bridge. Normally I would take my time and ride behind you at a turtle pace to “protect” you until you got off the bridge. I know what drivers think of cyclists and I fear for bicycles on that bridge. I do that for countless others. But I don’t usually drive at that time, and I am not usually late so I got upset on this particular morning.
Because there is a perfectly usable shared path right next to you. All you have to do is choose to ride on that instead of the roadway during the morning commute hour.
The path is separated by concrete blocks that would keep you safe, and by you using it cars could travel smoother during this busy time. Unfortunately, I am aware they would probably speed. Yet, we wouldn’t be fueling someone’s road rage that could then be let loose in the form of an accident further down the road.
You might have to slow down on your bike if a runner is sharing the path; just a bit because you were nowhere near 25 mph. But you wouldn’t need to cross the causeway, change directions, or be inconvenienced in any other way.
I know this to be true because I take that path when I ride over Bear Cut. Do I have to go slower? Yes. Does it interrupt my training ride? Very much. But the bridge is less than a mile and my life is worth it.
Again, I am not pointing my finger at you while ignoring that, unlike you, cars are breaking the law by speeding.
We all need to be responsible here, and it seems like no one wants to do their part. Not the drivers who speed, the cyclists who don’t use common sense, nor the police to help monitor anyone.
But if it is morning rush hour, dear cyclist, be the bigger person and do us all a favor by taking the side path. It will make it safer for everyone in the long run.
I wish you well,
There. I said it. Let the backlash begin.
**After originally posting, someone directed me to this video which I thought was very moving and where everyone – cyclists and motorists – pledge to do whatever they can to share the road safely. It’s worth the four minutes.**