Monday, April 23, 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: 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
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: 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: 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
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
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18