NW MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) — On Interstate 95 in Miami, a motorcyclist lay dead on the pavement after state troopers say his bike was cut off by a driver who pulled through the flimsy plastic barricades and into the express lanes on the northbound side of the highway.
The motorcyclist was unable to avoid the much slower moving car, rear-ended it and was thrown onto the opposite southbound side of the expressway Wednesday afternoon.
The motorcyclist, Aledys Llorens, was 28 years old.
“He was a hard-working guy,” Llorens’ uncle, Ariel Sanchez said on Thursday.
Llorens was an employee at Port Everglades and a lifelong resident of Hialeah. He leaves behind a four-year-old daughter. The family blames his death largely on a lack of adequate barricades separating regular lanes from express toll lanes. Flimsy plastic polls are the only divider between traffic traveling at a high rate of speed in the toll lanes and motorists in the slower, non-toll lanes.
“He didn’t expect that and his reaction time was less than seconds, and he didn’t have time to do anything,” his uncle said.
Florida State Trooper Joe Sanchez called the plastic dividers and close proximity between the express lanes and regular lanes “the perfect ingredients for a disaster.”
“Anytime those vehicles cut into these express lanes, they’re violating somebody’s right of way and, in many cases, these accidents result in injuries, and at times, even fatalities,” Sanchez said.
State troopers say distracted or often impatient drivers routinely whip into the express lanes. Angela Birdman knows all about it.
“It’s really a mess,” Birdman told CBS4 News on Thursday.
Her son’s SUV was totaled a couple of weeks ago, after he was cut off by a driver who steered illegally into the express lane on I-95. Alec Birdman, 24, was saved thanks to deployed airbags. His late model Dodge was destroyed.
His mother is furious with the highway design.
“People go in and out of the express lanes willy-nilly, and it’s constantly causing accidents,” Angela said.
Why not a more substantial barrier, like concrete ones being built for express lanes on I-75 in Broward County?
A spokesman for the DOT says there’s not enough room on I-95 for concrete barriers and the plastic poles are regularly inspected and replaced when missing.
A CBS4 News crew, however, had no trouble finding lots of missing poles along stretches of Broward and Miami-Dade counties Thursday.
Birdman says if the barriers can’t be improved, there has to be another solution.
“We need to make it a serious penalty for people who cross these barricades and have accidents,” she said. “Make this a crime like drunk-driving.”
Whatever else the future might hold, the plan is to expand the express lane system — plastic divider poles and all — all the way from Miami to Delray Beach; a 50-mile stretch.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help with the burial.