Ways to be safe on bike paths, roads
The bicycle rider cannot compete for space with a moving automobile; he will surely lose. Both must understand the consequences of unwise actions of the other. The recent spate of rider-automobile accidents should be a wake-up call for both and for traffic controllers responsible for prevention of these unfortunate situations. Both the rider and driver are lawfully bound to obey traffic signals, but most of the time the bicycle rider, cognizant of the difficulty of stopping and restarting, seeing no oncoming auto traffic in either direction, will breeze through an intersection, especially in the more remote areas of the bicycle trail system where auto traffic is sparse.
There are very specific steps that can be taken to make our bicycle rides safer: In areas of very heavy auto traffic where there are no four-way stops, as on sections of the Pinellas Trail, stopping should be a given; on the remote outer reaches, cyclists can proceed through the intersection only after the leader gives a clear signal. The less experienced or unsteady rider should always dismount and walk across the intersection. Hazardous intersections would be far safer if bridges were built over them. The Pinellas Trail has a half-dozen bridge crossings; the Suncoast Trail from Hillsborough County to Citrus County has only one, that over State Road 50. The Spring Hill Road crossing is an excellent candidate for a bridge.
Going north the rider may stop and wait for the walk light signal, then he must restart going up a considerable grade, go over six lanes of traffic (stopped hopefully) to the resumption of the trail. Starting on a steep grade is not easy for most riders and is much more difficult for those less experienced.
Some sections of the lower Suncoast Trail are also hazardous even without automobile crossings. Narrow bridge crossings over rivers should have single-line traffic signs in both directions; similar signs would be helpful at the Anclote River crossing (an idyllic section through a swampy area) of the Starkey Trail. It is more than disconcerting for a rider crossing a narrow river bridge to see coming at him a group of three-abreast riders.
Traffic signs on major state roads warn the automobile driver of a bicycle crossing ahead. Unfortunately these signs are situated in places almost obscured by other signs. A particularly poor sign placement is the one on State Road 52 going west near the Suncoast Parkway; the driver has to read seven other signs before he sees a small "bicycle ahead" sign a few yards from the actual trail crossing.
For maximum safety, bicycle riders, especially neophytes, should stay on the 6.5-mile trail section of the Starkey Park Trail. There are no road crossings and some of the views are spectacular.
Chuck Huhtanen, Port Richey
Amendment 4 no way to fix growth
The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce is encouraging its members to vote "no'' on Amendment 4, formerly known as Florida Hometown Democracy. It is a proposed constitutional amendment that would require comprehensive plan amendments to go on the ballot for voter approval or veto.
The Wesley Chapel Chamber Board of Directors considers the measure the wrong solution to fixing Florida's growth management system due to the potentially negative impact upon our local economy and the potential burden to local taxpayers.
For example, if Amendment 4 had been enacted in 2009, then Wesley Chapel projects such as the new medical center and community college campus at the Wiregrass Ranch development would have been placed on a countywide ballot for a yes or no vote.
Wesley Chapel is unincorporated, so Amendment 4 would allow Pasco County voters from New Port Richey, Hudson, Dade City, and countywide to have veto power over important job-producing, quality-of-life projects such as these.
In other words, residents with no vested interested in Wesley Chapel would have overriding powers over our County Commission. The checks and balances afforded to us as Americans would now take a back seat to a "community veto" political model specifically designed to weaken our city and county governments. In addition, the high costs of each referendum would be passed on to taxpayers.
The mission statement of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce is to "engage business and community leaders as a voice to enhance the wonder of Wesley Chapel." Amendment 4 is dangerous for Wesley Chapel, Pasco County and Florida, as we try to climb back out of this recession.
Laura Miller, president, Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce
House Hernando inmates in Pasco
I have an idea for utilizing the old Pasco County jail, which will generate revenue.
Since Hernando County needs an additional $11.9 million of taxpayer money to rehab its jail, why doesn't Pasco reopen the old jail in west Pasco and contract with Hernando to house their inmates?
Seems like a win-win situation for both counties.
Richard Golden, San Antonio