MIAMI, Fla. – They are called armadillos, rubber barriers, that have recently been placed up and down the Venetian Causeway to separate the bike lane from the roadway. While they are in place to make it safer for the rider, some bicyclists say they have created a new and different danger.
Evelyn Mendal is a performance cyclist. While riding across the Venetian Causeway with a group, she hit one of the armadillos.
“I fractured my clavicle in two and I had to get surgery and a rod inserted to put it back together,” Mendal said.
It happened while she was trying to avoid and pass slower riders in the bike lane. She said she moved to the street and then, she said, an aggressive driver came inches away from her. In a split second, she tried to get back into the bike lane.
That’s when she felt the bicycle wheel touch the barrier and she began spinning out of control.
“I tried to get up and I was in severe pain. I felt like I was going to faint and they had to stop traffic. I was laying in the middle of the road,” Mendal said. An ambulance needed to be called to take her to the hospital.
“When there are objects on the ground it is very dangerous for cyclists,” Mendal said.
Over 1,500 cyclists cross the Venetian Causeway every day. From 2016 to 2021, there have been two fatalities, 29 crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
Mendal said that riders don’t know where to go since the armadillos have been installed.
“People end up going riding on the road rather than in the bike lane because you feel totally trapped by it,” she said.
While out on the causeway, Local 10 News saw joggers in the bike lane and slower riders causing a backup.
Ken Fendick rides the Venetian Causeway on his bike every day.
“I wish I can say it’s gotten safer but I don’t think it really has,” he said.
He said the problem is that there is no way to pass slower riders and that creates a bottleneck.
The Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works Department said it is a three-year pilot program. They will study data and listen to feedback and make any necessary changes.
“I think the intention was good.. But it doesn’t seem to be the solution,” Mendal said.
Fendick says: “Nice idea, bad design.”
There is a petition asking Miami-Dade County to remove the armadillos. The person who started the petition, David Perlman, writes this: “The placement of barriers known as ‘armadillos’ on the Venetian Causeway placed with the intention to protect cyclists have created a clear and present danger to all cyclists. Help us get the city of Miami to remove these so we don’t see anymore fellow cyclist injuries because of them.”