Florida DOT Gets Much-Deserved Mockery for Failing to Make Bridges Safe for Cycling

Protection for cyclists on major urban bridges in Florida exists only in renderings, not real life. Image: Bernard Zyscovich via Gridics
Protection for cyclists on major urban bridges in Florida exists only in renderings, not real life. Image: Bernard Zyscovich via Gridics

The deadliest state for cycling is Florida. One in five cyclist fatalities in the U.S. happens on Sunshine State roads. While the Florida Department of Transportation is funding research that examines the problem, it’s not doing enough to address known safety hazards.

Even when FDOT does pay attention to dangerous conditions, it doesn’t do enough. On the Flagler Bridge between West Palm Beach and Palm Beach, for example, the agency is adding a buffered bike lane but no physical protection. With construction wrapping up, Jesse Bailey at Walkable West Palm Beach went out for a ride and imagined a world where FDOT actually prioritizes safe streets for cycling:

Great news: FDOT has outdone themselves again, as they’ve provided the Holy Grail of bike infrastructure over bridges: A physically protected bike lane. Video is below.

The barrels work well to provide a protective barrier between bicyclists and fast moving vehicles. Although we’d be happy to see the barrels remain in place, we suspect FDOT and Palm Beach are working double time this weekend to install a more attractive permanent treatment in time for Monday’s ribbon cutting event. Dignitaries on hand Monday have much reason to celebrate, as not only will the bridge provide enhancements to traffic movement, better sidewalks, and aesthetic improvements, it will also mark the first (to our knowledge) such protected bike lane design over a bridge in the state.

It’s great progress to see FDOT putting bicyclists behind physically protected barriers over high-speed bridges such as the Flagler Bridge. No doubt this new design will be the new standard across the state and be implemented on such bridges as the Rickenbacker Causeway and the 17th Street Bridge in Vero Beach in order to prevent the needless tragedies that have claimed the lives of so many Florida cyclists. Bravo, FDOT.

Note: At press time, we could not reach an FDOT official to actually confirm the policy change.

How many more people will be killed before we see a real policy like that from FDOT?

More recommended reading today: Carfree America makes the case for Dallas to invest in common sense changes to streets, not big expensive mega-projects. And the Transportist says that if driverless cars are the future, highway expansion projects make even less sense.

  • FlamingoFresh

    Lived in Fort Lauderdale for a couple years and recall several bicycle accidents (including death) with motor vehicles on the sharrow roadway infrastructure. Sharrows should have no place on high speed roadways with high volume traffic, which is all of South Florida. Providing a facility just to say you are providing one should not count if it isn’t a safe facility for the user. Sharrows are not a safe facility for a bicycle user, bottom line.

  • You guys in S. Florida are going to have a bit of a battle because there’s a decent contingent of “bicycle drivers” there who love those things.

  • Bert Shaw

    Construction underway on the Inland Waterway Atlantic Avenue bridge in Jacksonville, Florida. Sidewalk too.