The trail at 20 | Nov. 28
Police should target crime, not trail users
The Pinellas Trail has been a huge success and benefit to the residents and guests of our county. With Florida regrettably having one of the highest pedestrian and cyclist fatality rates in our country, this trail has been quite literally a lifesaver for many. As noted in your article, the trail has evolved from solely recreational use to that of an alternative commuter transportation facility. I, along with many others, ride the trail frequently, and due to my work schedule and to avoid the summer heat, quite often enjoy riding the trail at night.
On a recent Friday evening, while cycling on the trail with lights and helmet, I was stopped in Palm Harbor by a deputy parked at a quiet side street just off the trail. She informed me it's illegal to ride the trail after dark and that I would have to continue home riding on the road. She stated the trail is closed after dark to prevent crime.
Your article states the very limited crime occurring on the trail is related primarily to the region that the trail crosses, and not to the use of the trail itself. In other words, as a pedestrian or cyclist, there are crime-ridden areas in our county that we should avoid, whether we use the trail, the sidewalks or the road.
Do we really have such a surplus of law-enforcement resources that we can park deputies along the trail solely to chase away cyclists and pedestrians? Why not direct those deputies to focus their attention rightly to our crime-ridden areas, and let the pedestrians and cyclists go about their business at night rather than forcing them to put their lives at risk on our killing roads?
Based on the facts in your article, it makes absolutely no sense to prohibit use of this much-needed alternative commuter transportation facility to cyclists and pedestrians at the very time when they would benefit the most from the safety of the trail.
It is my strong recommendation to the governing body that regulates the trail to change this policy and open the trail for our use at all hours, day or night. With our region having 10 cyclists killed in the last three months by automobiles on our roads, statistics show we're more safe on the trail, even in the dark.
Craig Williams, Clearwater
Ticket drivers who don't use turn signals
Balance the state budget? Easy.
Obtain more money for Florida's educational system? No problem.
Fund future transportation projects? Piece of cake.
Enforce the motor vehicle turn signal law. Levy a $100 fine for each infraction.
We would all be better off.
Peter Forde, Clearwater
Motorcycle toy run
Charity event hogs the road, is inconvenient
I fail to see how my being forced to sit in my car while 1,800 motorcycles roar through the streets of St. Petersburg helps children.
I'm glad they are raising money for needy children, but I resent having to sit in my car for a half an hour and listen to their rude comments, like "Get out of our way" and "It's going to be a while."
Thanks to the Police Department, too, for stopping traffic at the busiest intersections for this "noble cause."
Eric Johnson, St. Petersburg
Kudos to USF College of Marine Science
As the USF College of Marine Science prepares to welcome a new dean, I want to express my appreciation for the support that president Judy Genshaft, provost Ralph Wilcox, and senior vice president for research, innovation and global affairs Karen Holbrook have shown in the three years I've served as interim dean.
During this time, we have been fortunate to add nine new faculty positions and the new dean, Jacqueline Dixon, will have two additional positions to fill upon her arrival in January. Three of the new positions are in a new area of marine resource assessment, which Congress has identified as vital to the future of our fisheries. USF is leading the way in meeting this national need.
USF's foresight in acquiring the R/V Weatherbird II became abundantly clear when we were able to respond quickly to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. With the Florida Institute of Oceanography, scientists from many state and federal entities were able to deploy quickly on critical monitoring voyages. This tragic event also served to highlight the excellent work of USF scientists in modeling the oil spill and dispersant movement, identifying the unseen, deepwater fate of the oil and in providing the public and officials with objective, science-based information and advice.
Because FIO was in position to respond, BP was persuaded to provide $10 million for Florida's marine researchers. I am proud to continue leading FIO as acting director and ensuring that the science needed to understand the impact on the ecosystem will be accomplished.
The students at the College of Marine Science are some of the brightest minds in our nation, and their research and professional development provides real benefits for Florida.
William T. Hogarth, interim dean, USF College of Marine Science, St. Petersburg