Another Day, Another Death: Cyclists on The Rickenbacker Causeway

PHOTO ABOVE FROM WSVN MIAMI

There was a fatal crash on the Rickenbacker causeway connecting Key Biscayne to mainland Miami today. This just happened, and my post is raw and crude yet wanting to bust out.  Forgive my “steam” of consciousness, links here are links to other posts on this subject.

A 20 year old man driving drunk hit two cyclists. Walter Reyes was pronounced dead on the scene, and Henry Hernandez was taken to a hospital.  If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know the Rickenbacker is my training ground, and it’s not the first time a fatal crash has happened. All of it is terrifying.

The fear this causes me has led me to many things. I rode 400 miles across the state of Florida promoting road safety, I helped form Bike Key Biscayne, I supported the Aaron Cohen Road Safety Act, I completely changed my cycling behavior. I ride in daylight only, and as soon as traffic gets a bit heavier on the weekends I tuck into a place called Virignia Key and ride 3.20-mile loops for hours. I can tell you every crack on the road there … I have done over 70 miles going round and round. That is how afraid of cycling I am.

But I continue cycling. You know why? Because I love it. Not only does it keep me healthy, but it keeps me sane. The sound of my wheel on the pavement is my mediation. Yet something like today’s fatal crash brings back all my old fears … all the questioning of whether a mom like me belongs on the road to begin with. What if something were to happen? I have written about this so often I sound like a broken record.

All three fatalities on the causeway in recent years were drunk driving incidents. Two out of three were hit and runs. Today’s crash started as a hit and run but the driver came back twenty minutes later.

And yet, this is what I hear: cyclists are reckless, they shouldn’t ride in the dark, they are asking for trouble, the road is for cars, you are irresponsible, don’t you think of your kids, bla bla bla.

I do think of my kids.  And of their health too.

I do think of my kids. And of their health too.

Seriously?

Again, I am not one in love with many cyclists and have had my fair share of issues with the pelotons. But are we forgetting this was drunk driving? How could the cyclists be at fault when a DRUNK DRIVER killed them?  The cyclists had lights and were riding on the bike lane.

So let’s see. What we should do is make sure that no one is out on the street at 5:15am, the time of this crash. This way, no one, whether on a bike, walking, or even a car, can be blamed for an impaired driver killing them.  Because according to many I am speaking to, being on the road at that time is more wrong than driving drunk at that time.

Look, I’ve been in my fair share of trouble. In my younger and stupider days, I could’ve been that driver. I don’t sit on a soapbox, I have driven that same causeway with more alcohol in my system then I care to admit. It’s been a long long time since I have even had alcohol at all, but just because nothing happened doesn’t excuse my actions back then. In the same way that no cyclist riding in the dark excuses this this guy barreling down two people.

I don’t know Walter or Henry. But I know they are people who had family and friends who loved them. They were victims of someone driving drunk, not perpetrators of irresponsible behavior by cycling in the early morning.

Every. Life. Matters.

Walter Reyes, RIP. He had raised $6,000 for the Dolphins Cycling Challenge to #tacklecancer Picture from Miami Herald Online

Walter Reyes, RIP. He had raised $6,000 for the Dolphins Cycling Challenge to #tacklecancer Picture from Miami Herald Online

And I am once again spiraling into my fear and doubt about cycling. I wrote just two weeks ago how I had a fearful ride, and now this.

I know I will come back, and work this out in my heart and head. I am not one to quit on my dreams or coil in fear. But I do hide for a bit, until I go through whatever I need to go through to get to a place that I am comfortable with the risk.

So for me right now? It’s trainer time. Thank goodness for the Ultrabikex computrainer studio I can drop in on, and for my trainer at home. And then I’ll tuck away in my Virginia Key loops. Safety trumps boredom.

And while I sort myself out, please don’t blame the victim here. Drunk driving caused this death. A DRUNK DRIVER caused this, not what time two people were able to find to get their bike ride in.  Why aren’t we talking about things we could do to reduce drunk driving and have kids get back to the Key safely?

If you would like to voice your road safety concerns on the Rickenbacker Causeway here are some links:

City of Miami Commissioner of this district is Marc Sarnoff (MSarnoff@miamigov.com ):

http://www.miamigov.com/district2/contactUs.html

County of Miami Commissioner of this district is Xavier Suarez (District7@miamidade.gov):

http://www.miamidade.gov/district07/contact-us.asp

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

11 thoughts on “Another Day, Another Death: Cyclists on The Rickenbacker Causeway

  1. I live on KB and want to add a point. The section of road from Bear Cut to the village has lane striping that is so faded thAt it’s hard to distinguish lane position. That section of road is a bend to the right so a driver tends to hug the inside of the turn and ride over the bike lane space. I know that there is a plan to narrow the car lanes and widen the bike lane. This will result in new striping. I don’t know if that will happen soon.

    As a long time resident and a past KB community leader I know that twenty years ago, it was a few residents (I know the individuals) who pushed the county to widen the road a few feet to add the bike lane. Until that That time there was no bike space at all.

    Perhaps you know that the Rickenbacker is under Miami Dade county control and the KB community has no control over it. The causeway is patrolled by both Miami and Miami Dade police while construction funds come from Rickenbacker tolls. Much of that money is siphoned off for other county projects. One thing you and your group could do is to support the creation of a causeway control commission and the use of tolls only for the causeway. That would allow central control and perhaps better overall planning including bike lanes.

    I agree with the comments you express and only offer these observations in hope of making the roads safer for all.

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