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Renewed Call For More Safety Measures After Deadly Rickenbacker Causeway Crash

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — There is a renewed call for more safety measures after a tragic crash takes the lives of two bicyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway on Sunday.

Miami police say the man and woman were headed towards Key Biscayne and the William Powell Bridge just before 5 p.m. when they were struck and killed by a Jeep.

Miami police spokesman Officer Mike Vega told CBS4's Peter D'Oench that the driver remained on the scene and was not arrested but was cited.

Vega said, "The driver remained on the scene and was cooperative and was given citations for several violations. This is a perfect example where a driver could have panicked ad left but the driver stayed on the scene and cooperated, and this is being ruled a tragic accident. We have to be constantly aware when we are driving that there are bicyclists out there and they are sharing the roads with cars."

Vega said he could not say what the driver was cited for. The driver has not been identified.

Late Monday evening, the victims were identified as 48-year-old Yaudys Vera and 46-year-old Ogniana Reyes.

CBS4 spoke with Yaudy's neighbor Monday night.

"I think he had two kids.  They used to ride bike all of the time in this park," said Aveseo Martinez.

 

It's tragedies like this one that have been driving Bernard Zyscovich to create a solution.

"My worst nightmare which was truly imagining the crash that happened yesterday in exactly the spot it happened," said Zyscovich.

The well-known Miami architect and urban planner is also a cyclist.  Ten years ago he decided to take things into his own hands, creating a plan to totally reconstruct the Rickenbacker Causeway, making it more pedestrian friendly.

"We were going to create a 20-acre new park, we were going to create a great separated area for the cyclists, runners, walkers, mom, and boy scouts' troops, we were going to create a safe passage from mast academy to the other side of the road.  We were going to raise the road to make it future proof against sea level rise," Zyscovich explained.

It wasn't going to cost taxpayers anything, but after years of effort the plan was shot down.

"It's up to the community to say they've had enough of it and let's do something to keep people safe," said Zyscovich.

In response to the tragedy, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tweeted, "My Administration has been working hard to make critical updates to our infrastructure to enhance cyclist and pedestrian safety, particularly on our bridges."

Bicyclists CBS4 spoke with said you have to be extremely careful at all times.

One bicyclist, Blake Pendleton, said, "It's definitely very tragic and there are a lot more people in the city as the population is growing and increasing with more and more drivers and bicyclists out there. We have to be cognizant of that. As bicyclists we have to be aware of traffic and be able to stop. And, of course, wear a helmet at all times."

Frankie Ruiz, the chief wellness officer for the city of Miami, has been a safety advocate and has done a lot of work promoting safety for bicyclists. He said a long-term solution may involve a complete redesign of the causeway after the toll plaza.

The two victims were struck in an area that is near traffic and open and is just before a path on the bridge where pedestrians and bicyclists are behind a barricade that protects them.

Ruiz is proposing a percent solution that he said could save lives.

"I am proposing that there be a protective lane or protective path for cyclists and pedestrians," he said. "Right now, there is nothing but a rumple strip and green paint. Right now, I think this should be addressed as a swift solution."

There have been a series on deadly accidents over the years involving bicyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

In February of 2012, Aaron Cohen, a father of two children, was struck and killed by a driver who left the scene and who was later arrested.

Cohen's death led to passage of the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act that requires drivers to stop immediately and remain on the scene if there is serious bodily injury.

Cohen's friend, Enda Walsh, was left with a broken leg.

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