Monday, January 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida's failure to protect cyclists, pedestrians

Walking or riding a bike in Florida can be risky business. One of Florida's best-known bicycle safety advocates, Alan Snel, recently was run over from behind by a distracted driver near Fort Pierce and ended up in intensive care. The 65-year-old driver who hit him was not ticketed, and this was too much even for Snel, whose advocacy for bicycling extends to the White House (he invited President Donald Trump for a ride, though the president didn't take him up on the offer). Snel is moving to Las Vegas. But that's no answer for the rest of us.

At one time or another, we are all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. For safety's sake, everyone should understand and follow the law. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. It's the law. Give bicyclists 3 feet of clearance. That's also the law. Drivers can be quick to blame the cyclist in dark clothing at night or the one who pedals through red lights. Fair enough. But are those same drivers contrite when they drive 10 or 15 mph over the speed limit or roll through a stop sign?

RELATED: No penalty for driver who hit bicycle advocate Alan Snel, infuriating cyclists

A driver should never forget that your minor annoyance at adding a few seconds of commuting time can become a life or death matter when you pass too close to a cyclist or buzz a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Florida has the highest rate of bicycling deaths in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the state has the nation's seven most dangerous metro areas for walkers, as measured by the ominous "pedestrian danger index" compiled by Smart Growth America. (Tampa Bay is No. 7.) Just Thursday night, former Osceola County Commission chairman and state Rep. Frank Attkisson was hit by a car and killed while riding his bike.

There is a lack of seriousness in dealing with the issue. In Snel's case, the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office reported the driver was inhaling "a breathing treatment" when he drove into Snel's bicycle, that he stated he was "blinded by the light" and told a deputy he "suffered from extreme sleep apnea." The report listed the driver as "inattentive" and his condition at the time of crash as "fatigue/asleep." Would there have been no ticket had that driver rear-ended a car and sent the other driver to intensive care? Safety requires a change of attitude, and until Florida quits accepting the injuries and deaths of pedestrians and cyclists as collateral damage in a culture focused on cars, don't expect much to change.

MORE CYCLING: Amanda Coker of Zephyrhills breaks world record for total miles in a year

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Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18