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Miami, Miami Beach take steps to keep bicyclists safe

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Bicycling is a great way to get exercise while you're getting around, but it has become very dangerous to ride in South Florida.

In the wake of so many crashes involving bicycles, two South Florida cities are taking steps to keep cyclists safe.

South Florida tops the charts nationwide with cyclist-involved incidents and fatalities, but cities like Miami Beach are working to lessen the chances with pole dividers.

Like many cyclists, Katie Pomerance knows the everyday struggle biking in Miami Beach.

"It happens here all the time, where people will stop with their hazards on and go into the post office," she said.

Dividers on 17th Street and West Avenue are the first in Miami-Dade County, giving cyclists a sense of security on an often busy road.

"You might say, 'What's a pole going to separate if a car really goes into it?' Well, at least the perception that you're safer is going to draw out more bikers," Frankie Ruiz, co-founder of Miami Marathon Cycling Safely, said.

Preliminary numbers show close to 900 cyclist-involved crashes in Miami-Dade County, which is about the same in Broward County. Together the counties have had more than 40 fatal cyclist-involved crashes.

"I really think it's important that they have their place. It's not enough to just do what they call the sharrrows," A city of Miami commissioner said.

The city of Miami is creating a bike lane along South First Street between Biscayne Boulevard and Southwest Second Avenue.

"It becomes a raceway because there's a lot of open lanes," the commissioner said. "What we're looking to do is convert some of those lanes to become dedicated bus, dedicated bike (and) more pedestrian friendly."

Miami Beach is planning to extend the poles along West Avenue to 17th Street and implement a similar idea along Euclid Avenue.