In case you missed the big yellow buses trundling along pretty much every Pinellas County road last week, public schools are back in session. That means motorists should be extra alert, especially during morning rush hour. Be ready for reactivated school crossing zones, buses stopping to pick up or deliver children, and the occasional day-dreaming child on foot or bike who might wander into your path. Put down the cell phone and coffee cup and pay attention, folks. If it's raining, turn on your headlights.
Low-speed police carts can run on sidewalks
While enjoying a prebaseball game dinner at Ferg's a few weeks ago, the Doc overheard fellow patrons commenting on a golf cart wending its way through the overflow crowd on the sidewalk, a St. Petersburg police officer at the wheel.
"Hey, isn't it totally illegal to drive golf carts on city sidewalks?" a patron asked his tablemates. It led to a lively debate.
Someone mentioned the not-so-great driving skills of some people behind the wheels of the fleet of golf carts on the nearby University of South Florida campus, claiming that one recently careened around a corner and nearly ran into him as he walked his dog.
This got me thinking about rules for golf carts on sidewalks, so I called Lt. William Korinek over at the St. Petersburg Police Department and asked him to enlighten us. Korinek consulted his counterpart with USF police and replied by e-mail:
"Golf carts are considered vehicles, and it is illegal to use vehicles on city sidewalks. Golf carts may be operated on private property. The pedestrian paths on the USF campus are considered private property and not city sidewalks unless adjacent to roadways. Golf carts cannot be driven in the street either, unless the road has been designated for use by golf carts. None of the roads in the USF area have been designated as such."
Korinek said certain low-speed vehicles, or minitrucks that are properly equipped, registered and insured, are permitted on roads posting a speed limit of 35 mph or less. Most police carts are considered low-speed vehicles, not golf carts, Korinek said, and police vehicles are permitted on sidewalks in the performance of their duties.
Like St. Petersburg police officers, the USF police are sworn law enforcement officers and have the authority to enforce traffic violations anywhere on university property and adjacent roads.
Water pipe work has closed three main lanes
If Belcher Road is part of your regular commute, it's a good idea to think about alternate routes for the next few months. Work has begun on a water main replacement that has closed three southbound lanes of Belcher between East Bay Drive and 142nd Avenue N. Traffic is being diverted to the northbound, left-hand lane of Belcher Road between these intersections. This is part of a multiphase replacement project that stretches from East Bay Drive to Bryan Dairy Road. Current lane closures are expected to end when this phase is completed sometime in November.
Public meeting will answer your questions
The state Department of Transportation is holding a series of public information meetings in Tampa, Lakeland and Orlando on the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail project. The Tampa meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Tampa Convention Center. Rail Enterprise officials will present an overview of the Tampa-Orlando project, followed by a question-and-answer session; public comment cards will be available. The public meetings are free and require no advance registration. Detailed information and agendas for each session will be posted at floridahighspeedrail.org.
Please e-mail Dr. Delay at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity.