Thursday, April 26, 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: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
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...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

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