Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Opinion

Welcome to the trail of fears, cameras

Ah, there is nothing quite like taking in the many charms of nature while on a refreshing and exhilarating bike ride — the birds, the wildlife, the glorious bloom of Florida flora, the blue skies embracing the beauty of our beloved community.

And let us not forget the occasional mugging, just to make sure the consumers of the Pinellas Trail get the full measure of the urban zeitgeist.

In a pocket of St. Petersburg, what was originally intended as a respite from the mean streets, has devolved into a public safety challenge requiring the installation of surveillance cameras to protect riders and walkers from criminals.

After a rash of thefts and beatings on the trail between 43rd and 49th streets S, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has announced plans to spend roughly $100,000 to install about 24 surveillance cameras along the stretch.

Not to tip off the miscreants, but don't you suspect if the bad guys see the cameras between 43rd and 49th streets, they might well simply shift the mayhem to be conducted before 43rd Street and/or after 49th Street? It's merely a guess.

It is an unfortunate commentary that something conceived as a recreational benefit for residents to exercise or merely take in a bit of nature has to be turned into yet another cautionary tale where people find themselves at risk. But it's for good reason.

In 2013, police reported nine robberies on the stretch of the trail and four more violent encounters in 2014. What does this tell us? Perhaps, A) there is no respite from evildoers bent on evildoing and B) maybe communing with nature and exercise are overrated.

City officials had expressed hope Pinellas County would pitch in and help with the cost of the cameras. Hope is always a very nice thing, but county officials took a pass. So Kriseman was left by himself holding the brass knuckles.

We all want to feel safe. We all want to have recreation areas where we don't have to worry about becoming a crime statistic. And while the installation of surveillance cameras might serve as a deterrent, perhaps the best way to navigate the 43rd to 49th street trail of fears is to either get a really good head start prior to entering the cone of concussions or wait at either end until a large mass of hikers and bikers have gathered in order to provide some safety in numbers.

But don't forget to smile for more cameras than it took to film the subway chase scene in The French Connection, while you admire — but not for very long — a flock of pelicans flying overhead.

Comments
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18