My life and both my daughters’ lives were forever changed on January 21, 2015 when my husband, Walter Reyes, was killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway riding his bicycle. Our family has always enjoyed the outdoors, and Miami beckons the souls of those of us that love to be active. Cycling had become my husband’s new passion as running was getting too hard on 50-year-old knees. He followed all safety precautions, and he made sure that everyone riding with him did the same. It made no difference. He is now gone and has left a gaping hole in our lives and the lives of everyone who knew him.
It is impossible to conceive that not even two years ago Aaron Cohen was killed on the same stretch of road and little has changed to make the path safer. It amazes me that well-meaning individuals literally tell me that cyclists should stay off the roads if they value their lives. Our city, which boasts signs stating “Island Paradise” right at the entrance to Key Biscayne, seems to be anti-cyclist. Cycling is a magnificent, healthy form of exercise that can be done by oneself or with a group. It can also be a practical form of commuting due to the high level of traffic congestion in our city. However, this will never occur if our city does not take steps to ensure the safety of riders.
There are many communities in this great nation of ours that have implemented protected bike lanes around recreational sections of the city, paths of 20-30 miles following rivers or parks. There are also cases where bike lanes have been implemented following highways for ease of commuting. No one-mile loop in the park is going to be sufficient for those that enjoy biking as a real sport, nor will it help those that could potentially use it to commute to work. There are many ways of building a protected bike lane: some have physical barriers like bollards or planters, others do not, but they all share a communality of safety. This fall, San Francisco will become one of the few cities in the United States to build a raised bike lane, which will help people feel safe on the road and encourage those that do not feel safe riding on busy streets to cycle. This concept is used in Europe because by raising the path, motorists do not to stray into cyclists’ space. It is a minimalist form of a protected bike lane as it requires less space to obtain safety.
There is no reason why ensuring the safety of our citizens should not be a top priority for City and County officials and planners. Urban planners across our country are championing the benefits of building better bike lanes so that not only those “crazy cyclists” that want to risk their lives on the road, but that regular people that want to ride to work, to socialize or to do errands, can safely use those lanes. Again, that will never happen here as long as people are scared of riding on our crazy streets. I and my daughters implore our city officials to take action now before more lives are lost due to inaction by our elected officials. Please let my husband be the last one…