Mastering the meter no simple task

As parking meters go, a rose is most definitely not a rose. Some models are more user-friendly while others are ambiguous. And a few just don't seem to make any sense at all.

As spring nears and the number of visitors to our fair beach communities increases, so, too, do letters to the Doc about parking meters, especially the often-confusing electronic units.

Reader Ray Luck dropped us a note to share his frustration:

"Recently I used parking meters at Pass-a-Grille Beach and Sunset Beach. While the former (St. Pete Beach) issues a paper receipt for credit card payment, the latter (Treasure Island) does not. Unfortunately, I left the parking meter at Sunset Beach after pressing "OK" to validate the amount that appeared on the screen, but in effect the transaction was not yet completed (there is no posted indication of what to expect when using these meters!). As a result, I got a $30 parking ticket.

"Could we petition for some consistency that all electronic parking meters at our beaches issue a paper receipt even if it is no longer necessary to display it in the car? The user would then know with certainty that a transaction was complete and have a receipt as visible proof of payment."

While Luck's suggestion that parking meter uniformity along the gulf beaches might make sense, it's not that easy. Each municipality contracts with its own parking meter vendor.

We touched base with Jeff Jensen, Treasure Island's spokesman, and he told us that while it is true that meters within city limits do not issue paper receipts, the city is looking into the possibility of upgrading the operational software of its meters that would enable them to provide receipts.

The roundabout blues

Reader Newell Phipps of Clearwater asked that we cover the basics of roundabout (or traffic circle) navigation, noting that three new roundabouts on Harn Boulevard are creating havoc. It seems some motorists appear uncertain about what to do.

Several factors may contribute to this — for example, the flow of traffic circles in the United States is counterclockwise because we drive on the right. In countries in which traffic flows to the left, traffic circle flow is clockwise.

The other issue may be right-of-way uncertainty in a circular junction. Here are the basics:

Traffic that is already in the circle as you approach has the right-of-way. Slow your speed as you approach the traffic circle and be prepared to stop if necessary because you cannot predict how other motorists will approach the circle. Yield to the traffic in the circle as you enter, but don't stop if the circle is clear.

And of course, be especially alert to the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists. Once you have passed the street prior to your exit, turn on your right turn signal to indicate your intended direction and watch for pedestrians and bicyclists as you exit the roundabout.

The Florida Department of Transportation has published a comprehensive roundabout guide that can be downloaded from its website at www.dot.state.fl.us/TrafficOperations.

Email DocDelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions or follow Dr. Delay on Twitter @AskDrDelay. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.

Mastering the meter no simple task 03/03/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 3, 2012 3:30am]

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