Scooter riders: Stay alert and stay safe
As an avid scooter rider for years, and owning one of the largest 650cc scooters available, I am a huge fan of this mode of transportation.
However, what can save you enormously in gasoline costs can cost you thousands in lost wages and injuries when you aren't prepared for the issues that occur on local roads every day.
Just the other day, I witnessed four new 50cc scooter riders zoom excitedly past my home on their shiny new machines. It was so much fun to see them enjoying their new rides. However, not one of them had a helmet on or wore the appropriate hand or footwear for protection in the event of a mishap.
Every time I leave my home on a trip, I encounter a less-than-desirable experience with a motor vehicle. Every intersection, every road is a possible nightmare, and the No. 1 killer of scooter riders is the left-hand-turn drivers. Don't ever forget this.
If you take the time to watch drivers, even as you drive in a motor vehicle, you'll soon recognize all of the concerns. Turn off your radio, open your windows and experience the road. It's much different under these elementary circumstances.
These scooters are successful all over the world, but in our community, an underpowered 50cc unit may reach a top speed of only 35 mph. In my opinion, in Pinellas County, we may well see many of these lower-cost, underpowered units flooding the roads.
As an automobile driver on a 45 or 50 mph road, I find these scooters are slow, annoying and dangerous. Prospective scooter buyers need to realize that a slight upgrade to a larger engine, such as a 250cc, can take them just about everywhere easily and efficiently, and they will be able to keep up with traffic.
In closing, I would tell you to enjoy your ride, continuously look ahead down the road, never underestimate left-hand-turn drivers, and avoid abrupt lane changes. Use high beams at all times, as well as turn signals. And stay at the posted speeds around town. It could very well be your survival tactic.
Russell Case, Largo
Bay area's transit system needs work
After several trips to the Tampa Bay area in the past few years, I cannot help but wonder why there is not an efficient transit system in place. When I say transit, I mean just an efficient and extensive bus system. What there does seem to be is a very limited bus system, and that is being polite.
It seems very strange that with all the elderly people, the service industry employees and all the tourists, something is not put in place to get people around. Gas could be heading to $5 a gallon, but with that high cost, I seriously doubt any plans are under way to greatly improve bus service there.
So is it that the bay area is just not interested in giving people an alternative to driving in these difficult times? Or is it that you are just too cheap to fund a proper and much-needed transit system? Whatever the answer, it seems a heavy dose of reality is needed in the Tampa Bay area on transportation issues.
Jim Hayes, Portland, Ore.
Get to Nielsen by confronting clients
Point of information regarding the Nielsen Co. in Oldsmar: The Nielsen Co. cannot be attacked for being an uncaring American corporation. The fact is that they are a Dutch company started by two Dutch companies that merged. Their headquarters is in the Netherlands, although they have a second headquarters in New York. So that explains their total uncaring attitude toward American workers and Oldsmar, and why they couldn't care less what Americans think.
If you want to affect Nielsen, complain to the media companies (radio, television, etc.) that utilize Nielsen for their market research. Make those companies hurt until they stop doing business with that foreign company.
David Zimlin, Dunedin
Buses, bicycles are better alternatives
I think it stinks that everyone is complaining about the price of gas yet won't do anything but complain about it. Not many people will change the way they commute to work or run errands for themselves.
Even the retired people who are on limited income will hop into their cars every day for a ride to the store.
I commute to work every day on a bicycle and have done so for five or so years. I ride a total of 5 miles a day, and if it is raining I hop on the bus. People who laughed at me before are not laughing now.
Yet what does this county do now? They want to cut bus service. I know of one young man who depends on the bus to get to work. He either will lose his job or have to find other transportation to work.
In Sarasota County the bus fare is cheaper and they are adding on buses. I lived in Miami Beach many years and the buses run every 15 minutes. I rode a bus there one morning at 5 a.m. and it was packed.
We have to change the mentality of the people and the officials of this area if we are to be in touch with reality. Carpooling, riding the bus or bicycling to work will make you feel better and help your pocketbook.
Patricia Bailey, Clearwater
Times redesign a step backward
I recently added a second subscription to the St. Petersburg Times merely to get a second TV guide for my wife. If I had known you were eliminating the movie section after each day's broadcasts, I would not have done it.
This move and the overall recent change in the format of the paper was a giant step backward, in my opinion. It needs to be addressed!
Frank Kondrchek, Largo