Do the usual traffic laws apply in an alley? Judging by the way some folks are rocketing through St. Petersburg alleys, there seems to be room for clarification.
The answer is that rules of common sense apply. City ordinances dictate that motorists travel at no more than 10 mph and navigate alleys in a "reasonable and prudent" way, but that's open to interpretation, and some knuckleheads have no clue as to the meaning of those two words.
Alley speeding is a problem citywide: Traffic data has established that the average speed is at least 20 mph in alleys, which is particularly dangerous in neighborhoods, where pedestrians and children are at risk.
Exceeding 10 mph in alleys could result in a ticket and a fine. With no official speed limit signs posted in alleys, the code is difficult to enforce. Some residents have posted their own signs, but the city doesn't post them because of obstruction concerns. Picture a sanitation truck moving through an alley trying to work around a speed limit sign.
But there's light at the end of the alley. The Euclid/St. Paul Neighborhood Association suggested using city trash receptacles to post speed limit notices in alleys. A pilot program in 10 selected alleys launched last week.
Mike Frederick, the city's manager of neighborhood transportation, enlisted the participation of the sanitation department. He told us last week that the city will monitor speeds in the designated alleys for six months. If average alley speeds are reduced significantly and the reduction is maintained, the city will consider expanding the program.
Headlights in the rain
Time for a reminder on stormy weather driving
If it seems like we harp every summer on the importance of using headlights (not parking lights or flashers) when it rains, it's because we do. We've received many phone calls and letters in recent weeks because so many motorists persist in driving without using their headlights, even in the torrential downpours we often get this time of year.
This bugs reader Robert J. Safransky as much as it bugs the Doc. He wrote:
"Yesterday afternoon I drove from Orlando to Pinellas Park — a good part of the way there was heavy rain and many cars on the road did not have headlights on! Would you contact the highway department and have them put on their electronic signs that if it is raining turn on your lights?"
We shared Safransky's note with the state Department of Transportation as well as Pinellas County Public Works and asked them to consider adding headlights-on-in-the-rain reminders to their dynamic display signs.
Pedestrian safety plan open house is Thursday
The state DOT will hold an open house Thursday evening for the public to view the proposed design of its Gulf Boulevard pedestrian safety improvement project from 35th to 93rd avenues.
Proposed features include building pedestrian refuge islands with crosswalks, raised medians and other improvements. There will be no formal presentation, but the public is invited to stop by and chat with DOT staff members.
The open house is 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the St. Pete Beach Community Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. For information, e-mail design project manager Diana Ramirez at Diana.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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