Video: Circle Invites Bad Driver Decisions…Creates Accidents

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The Circle redesign has been nothing short of a complete failure.  It’s so bad, we won’t address all the problems, but it had a stated goal and received funding to make the Circle more pedestrian friendly and to reduce cut through traffic.  FAIL and FAIL.  Plus, it’s creating more accidents.  Bonus FAIL.

As I’ve stated before, I stop more often to let people J-Walk to the Circle from Burritoville / Starbucks than the one time I’ve actually had to stop at the new cross walk. In other words, pedestrian access was added to the wrong location.  I’ve also brought up that the Circle redesign failed to add pedestrian access from the Chevron gas station to Ray’s Taekwondo.  Another pedestrian access failure.   If the goal was improved pedestrian access to the Circle, this project is a complete failure.

The Circle redesign also promised to reduce cut through traffic.  COVID actually succeeded at reducing traffic everywhere.  But ever since the kids went back to “in school learning” last fall, we’ve seen the traffic return and the new Circle has failed to reduce cut through traffic in Miami Springs.  That hasn’t happened. FAIL.  But it has successfully sent more traffic to the side streets.  FAIL.  I’m sure the residents who have seen an increase in traffic really appreciate it.

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But this article is really focused on a section of the new Circle design that is so bad, it’s creating accidents.  We’re talking about the south side of the Circle where it meets Curtiss Parkway.  (Yeah, I know the whole Circle is legally considered Curtiss Parkway, but you know what I mean.)

What’s the problem on the south side of the Circle?

The problem is that drivers are making a right turn onto Southbound Curtiss Parkway from the left lane of the Circle.

Is it illegal to make a right turn from the left lane?

Yes.  It’s illegal to make a right turn from the left lane.

If the Circle was designed so that the right lane was right turn only from the right lane, then it would be possible to allow a right turn option from the left lane.  But that’s not the case, is it?

The right lane of the Circle allows the driver the option to make a right turn or continue on the Circle. Since the driver on the right lane can continue on the Circle, it’s a danger for drivers on the left lane to jump to Curtiss Parkway.  While this happens – all – the – time – it’s still dangerous and has caused several accidents.

We believe that it’s a waste of valuable real estate to include two lanes on southbound Curtiss Parkway.  Legally, you are supposed to turn from the right lane of the Circle to the right lane of Curtiss Parkway.  In other words, “que pinta” the left lane. Its only purpose on the Circle is to tempt drivers to make a right turn from the Circle from the left lane.

How to make a right hand turn in Florida:

I know this must seem like obvious stuff.  You make a right turn from the right lane, right?  But as you can see by the daily driving on the Circle and the recorded accidents, people seem not to understand some of these basic rules. I blame it on the faulty design of the Circle, but let’s read what the “Official Florida Driver License Handbook” has to say about making a right turn:

  1. Slow down to a safe turning speed.
  2. Move into the correct lane as you near the intersection. The correct lane for a right turn is the right-most lane.
  3. You must activate your turn signal at least 100 feet before making your turn. Allow time for drivers around you to see your signal before you move.
  4. Obey NO TURN ON RED or STOP HERE signs.
  5. Yield to bicyclists when crossing a bike lane and to pedestrians who may be crossing your path.
  6. Stay in the proper lane during your turn. Yield the right-of-way to vehicles and bicycles coming from the opposite direction.
  7. Finish your turn in the proper lane. Turn right into the right lane of the roadway entered.

Can we all agree that you can only make a right hand turn from the Circle to southbound Curtiss Parkway from the right lane?

Can we all agree that the if we follow the the “Official Florida Driver License Handbook” and Florida Law (further below), we can only make a right hand turn from the Circle onto the right hand lane of Southbound Curtiss Parkway?

If we agree to both facts listed above, then there’s only a singular lane required for the first block of Southbound Curtiss Parkway.  The other lane is simply wasted real estate that invites accidents.

Here’s the statute from the State of Florida

316.151 Required position and method of turning at intersections.

(1)(a) Right turn.The driver of a vehicle intending to turn right at an intersection onto a highway, public or private roadway, or driveway must:

1. Make both the approach for a right turn and a right turn as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
2. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, give an appropriate signal as provided for in s. 316.156 and make the right turn only if the bicycle is at least 20 feet from the intersection, and is of such a distance that the driver of a vehicle may safely turn.

Why do you say the Circle has a design flaw?

Great question.  Fact is, I believe the Circle has several design flaws.  But for the purpose of this discussion we are only focused on the south side of the Circle where it meets Southbound Curtiss Parkway.

If you look at the Roundabout design below, you’ll notice in the upper right hand corner (highlighted in color) that the blue vehicle and the green vehicle BOTH make a right hand turn from the Circle.  However, in this case, the blue vehicle in the right hand land can ONLY make a right hand turn.  This makes it safe for the vehicle in the left lane to also make a right hand turn.  In the example below, the green vehicle doesn’t have a risk of the blue vehicle continuing on the Circle from the right lane since the blue vehicle can only make a right turn.

Roundabouts Florida
Florida Roundabouts (Photo Credit: Official Florida Driver License Handbook)

However, that is NOT how our Circle is designed.  As you can see further below, the right hand lane of the Circle is designed to make a right turn onto Southbound Curtiss Parkway or continue left on the Circle towards Hook Square.  As you can see, the left lane is marked to stay on the Circle.

That’s good, right?

Well, not so fast.  In the picture below, the driver on the left lane sees, the vehicles on the right lane continuing on the right lane of Curtiss Parkway.  (The correct way to enter Curtiss Parkway.)  So, that empty left lane must be for him, right?  Besides, other Roundabouts across the State of Florida are designed to allow the left lane to make a right turn from a two lane roundabout onto a two lane road.

Miami Springs Circle at Curtiss ParkwayIn fact, the Circle is so poorly designed, it even has these tempting dashed lines prompting drivers to make a right turn from the left lane of the Circle onto the left lane of Southbound Curtiss Parkway.  it’s as if whoever designed this mess couldn’t decide on whether or not to allow single lane or double lane access and came up with this vague interpretation.

Miami Springs Circle at Curtiss Parkway

Is this really a problem?

Have you been cutoff by someone trying to make a right hand turn from the left lane while you were trying to continue on the right lane towards Hook Square?  I know I have.  if so, consider yourself lucky that you weren’t in an accident.  However, this little section here has been a source of accidents ever since this was “redesigned.”

Real accidents on the Circle

Real problems create real accidents.  Fortunately, these aren’t the deadly high speed accidents that we’ve seen on NW 36th Street, but I don’t like seeing good people get hurt or get involved in an accident.  Furthermore, a good attorney will not just sue the other driver, but also sue the County and City for not addressing this known, accident prone section and the design defects of this roadway.

Accident at the Circle in Miami Springs

It’s hard to speculate on some of these accidents we’ve shared based on still photography, but it’s hard to believe the car on the left (in the picture above) was attempting to access the Circle from the right lane.

Accident at the Circle in Miami Springs

The picture above was shared on the Miami Springs Community Group on Facebook and it shows another accident on the South side of the Circle at the entrance to Southbound Curtiss Parkway.

Accident at the Circle in Miami Springs

And the grainy photo above shows another accident at the same location.  These are just some of the accidents we’ve been able to share with you.  We know there have been other accidents that have occurred here above and beyond those we’ve shared with you.

What can be done to prevent accidents here?

We believe the solution is simple.  Change the first block of Southbound Curtiss Parkway to only allow a single lane entrance from the Circle.  This has several benefits:

  • It will remove the vagueness of this intersection
  • It will force anyone who wants to continue onto Southbound Curtiss Parkway into a single lane
  • it will slow down speeders
  • It can provide real estate for much needed angle parking downtown
  • Every accident we prevent frees our Police Department to handle other calls.

To be clear, we share the road with some of the worst drivers in the country.  There will always be an idiot that will do something stupid no matter how well a road is designed.  But that’s no excuse not take the initiative to make improvements we know will reduce accidents.

Accountability

Where the heck is Miami-Dade County?  They came in.  They redesigned the Circle.  They spent thousands of dollars.  Where’s the government follow up?

Unlike the private sector that is constantly under the gun to produce projects that actually work, government projects are about using the budget or lose it.  “Look at the great project we did.  Yippee.”  Take a picture and post it on social media.  “Yay.  Look at me.  Look what I did.”

But when accidents are happening, where’s the accountability?  When the stated goal has failed, who’s held responsible?  Especially the bureaucrats with the cushy government jobs.

Who’s responsible for the mess on the Circle?  Who’s going to fix it?

I know that a prior City Council is the one that approved the County designed Circle redesign.  Most of them are gone.  And yes, most of them approved the monstrosity that is currently going up with insufficient parking. And to be fair, the City Council relied on the expertise from the County.  Our City Council is not made up of traffic engineers.

However, it’s time our City Council starts to hold the County accountable for this mess.  The City relied on their expertise.  The County has failed us.  We need our City officials to hold the County accountable and get this mess fixed.

It would be great to get the same group of County experts who designed the project back in front of the City Council to let them hear about the problems we’ve had ever since they redesigned the Circle.  That would be refreshing.  In fact, maybe the County officials will learn from their mistakes by listening to residents and addressing our concerns.

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