Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bicycle accidents on Memorial Causeway Bridge stump planners

CLEARWATER — Spurred by the frequency of bicycle accidents on the Memorial Causeway Bridge, Clearwater's planning and public-safety officials are reacting in what most would call responsible form.

County and city representatives have formed a task force, which met last week. They discussed the subtleties of bridge and bicycle mechanics in greater detail than many people ever have or will.

But as the discussion of how to improve the bridge's safety for cyclists moves forward, officials are stumbling over a vexing question: How do you regulate or engineer against bad behavior?

After two bicycle crashes in one day in January on the Memorial Causeway Bridge, the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization formed a task force to brainstorm ways to alter the bridge for a smoother ride.

But task force officials say that close examination of the bridge, which connects downtown Clearwater to the beaches and at its highest point offers postcard-ready vistas of the Intracoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico, reveals few obvious design flaws.

"I've been over that bridge a lot on a bicycle, and I have a lot of friends who go over that bridge — on foot, on bike," said Clearwater resident Chip Haynes, a task force member who has conducted an informal poll among local bicyclists about the bridge. "There's no trend. Most of the cyclists said, 'Not a problem for me.' "

He added, "Above a certain level, it falls to the individual to act in a responsible manner."

The bridge has some minor features that might hang up a cyclist. Extension joints at both ends disrupt the smooth sidewalks that run along either side of the road. On the west edge, the pathways veer off from a straight line.

The bridge also offers a rare instance of elevated topography in Florida's largely flat landscape — and with it, the chance to reach unsafe speeds going downhill.

The Clearwater Police Department has clocked cyclists coming off the bottom of the bridge at 45 mph.

But these are dangers that afflict mostly inexperienced cyclists, say some familiar with the issue.

"We're talking about the idiots who don't know what they're doing," Paul Bertels, Clearwater's traffic operations manager, said at the task force's meeting last week.

Lt. David Dalton of the Clearwater Police Department offered a slightly more generous formulation of the problem.

"It's the amateur ones, and those seem to be the ones who are dying and getting hurt," Dalton said. "What did you do when you were a little kid and you got on the bridge and wanted to go fast? That's what they're feeling."

That human impulse toward exhilarating speed might be too much for well-meaning government to conquer.

In the meantime, the task force continues to study the matter.

Peter Jamison can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.

Bicycle accidents on Memorial Causeway Bridge stump planners 05/28/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 5:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.