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Brevard fighting for bicycle access

Florida Today: Brevard fighting for bicycle access

Pineda Causeway proposed

8:43 PM, Jul. 24, 2011 | 30 Comments
Written by
RICK NEALE
FLORIDA TODAY

Though the proposal died this spring in Tallahassee, Brevard County leaders keep pushing the pedals to try to allow bicycles on the Pineda Causeway.

The Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization has targeted the limited-access highway as a site for a proposed two-year bicycle pilot program. Bikes are barred today from the 4-mile bridge.

If approved, Florida Department of Transportation engineers will create designated bicycle lanes and post signage, then compile crash statistics and other data.

"It's something the cycling community has wanted for a long time," said Jim Twigg, owner of Revolutions Cyclery in Suntree. "Cyclists already use it, and it'd make them feel better if they could ride on it without feeling they are breaking the law.

"That's certainly a step in the right direction. We'd like to see other roads become more bike-friendly in the community," Twigg said.

Two weeks ago, the TPO unanimously voted to lobby for the pilot program. In the group's letter to DOT administrators in DeLand, Melbourne Vice Mayor Kathy Meehan noted that no other routes provide beachside access across the Indian River within a 2-mile radius.

The two-year bicycle pilot program was initially included in the Senate and House omnibus bills -- but both died in May.

"It was going along swimmingly. But it was in a much larger transportation bill that, at the last minute, had lots of ugly amendments globbed onto it that had nothing to do with the biking," Leigh Holt, TPO program manager, told board members.

County Commissioner Trudie Infantini, who had previously voiced safety concerns, labeled the program "a recipe for disaster."

Why? Infantini feared side-by-side vehicles on the causeway could crowd out bicyclists -- who cannot "ditch" onto a grassy shoulder, such as along State Road A1A.

Holt replied that DOT officials would first analyze safety concerns on the bridge before the program begins.

"They're not just going to put up signs and say, 'Have at it,'" Holt said.

With that, Infantini agreed to support the pilot program.

In April, a 58-year-old Satellite Beach man was critically injured on the Pineda Causeway when a sport-utility vehicle struck his scooter in the right westbound lane. The scooter, which could only hit 37 mph, was not permitted on the bridge, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said.

"Safety is paramount. And no decisions or actions are going to be taken that will knowingly threaten the safety of bicyclists or motorists," said Bob Kamm, TPO executive director.