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Knuckleheads thwart pedestrian safety law

Florida's enhanced pedestrian safety laws that went into effect last July carry hefty fines, court costs and points on the license of motorists who fail to comply, and that's fine by the Doc.

To review, the law requires that drivers stop and yield when a pedestrian has entered a specially marked crosswalk, where signs clearly warn that pedestrians have the right of way. Drivers must remain stopped until all foot traffic has cleared the road. That's a law I can get behind, no problem.

But anyone who uses Gulf Boulevard can tell you that pedestrians persist in crossing the road wherever and whenever they wish, mostly outside designated crosswalks (and all too often after dusk and while dressed in dark clothing).

It's obviously dangerous for everyone using the road and frustrating for motorists who want to do the right thing but are thwarted by knuckled-headed pedestrians.

Reader Edward J. Bishop wrote to air his frustration with the situation, specifically his observation that some motorists are becoming so paranoid about pedestrians that they are indiscriminately stomping on the brakes and creating more havoc than ever.

Bishop said: "I work on the beach between Treasure Island and Indian Shores. I have seen four rear-end accidents (me being one of them) because some motorists just stop anywhere to let someone cross the street — most of whom are not anywhere near a mandatory 'motorist has to stop' designated crosswalk."

Bishop is correct in pointing out that Florida law requires pedestrians to yield to traffic and wait to cross until it's safe — the current pedestrian laws are not open season on the right of way allowing folks to run pell-mell out into the middle of the road whenever they feel so inclined. But one problem begets another, seeing as how it's not okay to intentionally run over pedestrians because they aren't in the designated crosswalk. Motorists are kind of darned if they do, darned if they don't.

Bishop agrees.

"This is about as screwed up as it gets. The lady I rear-ended claimed she stopped to let a pedestrian cross the street. When my insurance company called her for her account of what happened she left out the most important part: The pedestrian was not in a designated crosswalk!"

Closings planned on U.S. 19 N, 26th Avenue S

Here are a couple of upcoming road closures around town that are worth watching:

Night closings of the intersection of 110th Avenue and U.S. 19 along with portions of the frontage roads will start Thursday. Roadside signs will alert drivers to the closure days and times and detour routes will be clearly marked. The closure is expected to last about three weeks.

St. Petersburg's Water Resources Department is coordinating an emergency wastewater utility repair on 26th Avenue S between 22nd and 31st streets. The project is scheduled to begin Monday and will last a week. Traffic traveling in both directions on 26th Avenue S will be detoured at 22nd Street and at 31st Street to 22nd Avenue S. Local traffic only will be allowed between 22nd and 31st streets. Traffic will be blocked at 26th Avenue S and 29th Street during the project. Signs will be posted in the area advising of the detour.

Public can have say on traffic planning May 11

Interested in what's happening with long-range plans for public transportation around Tampa Bay?

If you're a transportation geek like the Doc, check out the TBARTA — Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority — public hearing set for 6 p.m. May 11 at the Alfano Conference Center, 11606 N McKinley Drive, Tampa.

The public hearing will include a presentation of the regional transportation master plan, which covers rail and extended bus service for Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and neighboring counties. The public is encouraged to preview and comment on the plan online at tbarta.com or by calling the info line: (813) 217-4048.

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at docdelay@yahoo.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.

Knuckleheads thwart pedestrian safety law 05/02/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 2, 2009 4:30am]

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