Close Call At Hairy Intersection Shows Need For Bicycle Education

Apr 15, 2013

One particular evening will always stick with me. I was commuting home from work and at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Southwest 27th Avenue, which is a pretty intense during evening rush hour.

Bike riders head north on Biscayne in 1940. Things have gotten tougher since then for bicyclists.

As I crossed the intersection, I was cut off by a driver who was clearly unaware of my presence, despite the bike lane. The car came within inches of my bike. Being familiar with this intersection, I know when and where I need to be watching. Had I not known where to look, I would not have been able to break in time.

Then a second person cut me off. This driver was aware of my presence but chose to speed up and swerve around me. This memory highlights a couple of things: the lack of awareness drivers have for people on bikes and the lack of concern for our safety. The fact that this person's time is so precious as to make them risk my life and safety is quite sad.

The development of bicycle infrastructure in South Florida is moving slowly, but I'm grateful it is happening. What local governments could do better is public education. There are too many people who think they don’t need to share the road with someone on a bicycle. Government outreach on the issue isn’t a panacea for this problem, but it's a good start – and certainly an important piece to the puzzle.

The fact that people are actually talking about transportation alternatives is a good sign. Everyone driving their own car for every trip won't be feasible for much longer, not to mention the inefficiencies and waste it creates. Riding the bus, your bike, or train shouldn't carry a stigma any longer.

A New Orleanian by birth, Ryan Shedd recently moved to Miami from upstate New York. Ryan lives in Coconut Grove and works as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida.

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