Florida bike laws defy good sense
Again, the news is filled with injuries and fatalities to those who ride bicycles on the streets of Florida, one of the highest states on record for bicycle fatalities.
We got it all wrong when the bicycle laws were created. If you use plain common sense, it is obvious that the rules set up for bicycle riders just don't make good sense.
Is it better to have a heavy car, truck or other vehicle coming up on your back, where you cannot see it, or to be facing traffic so both you and the vehicle have a chance to avoid each other? It's better to have both vehicle and rider facing each other, so if one doesn't see the danger the other can still get out of the way.
When you diagram how a rider makes turns, either left or right, it also makes better sense to have the rider facing oncoming traffic. He is able to see everything, except what is behind him, and when he is facing traffic, nothing is behind him.
It is also easier for traffic to see the bicycle if it is coming toward the driver. If a car is turning right and a bicycle rider is riding the same direction as the car, the driver of the car cannot always see the rider before he turns right. The bicycle rider cannot always stop in time. But if a car driver is turning right and a bicycle rider is coming toward him, they both can see each other and avoid hitting each other.
When turning left it is the same common sense that prevails. A car driver turning left can see a bicycle rider, and the rider can see the car.
Who wants to be on a flimsy bicycle and have a car or truck come up behind them and take the chance that the vehicle will see the rider and avoid them? It just doesn't make any sense.
I don't care what the laws are. They are wrong and many lives could be saved it the law was changed. If my loved ones were on the road, you can be sure they would not have their backs to oncoming traffic, no matter what the researchers might say.
Let's use our heads and change the law. Just use models and try every possible combination of stops and turns. You will quickly see that when riding a bicycle, you should be facing traffic in every case.
Liz Perez, St. Petersburg
Aquarium fight takes shape story, Sept. 1
Do well by Winter with right home
Yes, Winter needs a new home! Anyone who has visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium will attest that while the staff does an admirable job of trying to make the premises suitable, it is still a former sewage treatment plant pretending to be a tourist attraction and aquarium. This is obvious.
That being established, however, I am not certain the best solution for the citizens of Clearwater is to give away prime waterfront property to create a new tourist attraction in downtown Clearwater.
Anticipating more than 2 million visitors on an annual basis to an already gridlocked traffic situation cannot be good planning.
This land should be available for the use of all citizens and not given away to a private business venture. Should taxpayers of Clearwater be held responsible for new roads and possible subsidies to maintain a tourist attraction? Should we be asked to give away our City Hall to make room for a private business? Something is fishy.
I am certain a better location for the aquarium can be found! Winter has done her best to entertain our visitors; certainly we can do our best to find a suitable location for her new home.
Marianne Morgan, Clearwater
Editor's note: Ownership of the City Hall property would not be transferred to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium under the current proposal that will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot. The land would continue to be owned by the public, but it would be leased to the aquarium for 60 years. After the aquarium paid the city $7.5 million from a 50-cent per ticket surcharge to cover the cost of a new City Hall, lease payments would be $250,000 a year.
Aquarium fight takes shape story, Sept. 1
CMA, downtown just won't mix
I love Winter, Hope and all the other animals at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and I salute the work done there.
Having said that, moving the aquarium to the City Hall site is a terrible waste of city-owned land which will not help our downtown.
I live downtown, shop downtown and walk here every day. Few visitors to the Dolphin Tale exhibit in the Harborview Center venture to walk up Cleveland Street. They board the trolley in front of the building or return to their cars parked for free around the building, or they walk down to the marina to board the boat back to Island Estates.
After several hours shepherding the kids around the aquarium and then the exhibit, the parents just want to get to their cars or get back to the beach!
Taxpayers will bear the costs for widening and maintaining the surrounding streets, including purchasing necessary right of way. Where will this money come from?
All free parking in front of City Hall will be eliminated. Think about all the times you have parked free for Blast Friday, Jazz Holiday, the Capitol Theatre.
The city will not collect $7.5 million for a minimum of 15 years (or longer, if attendance estimates are wrong).
I am not negative, nor am I a naysayer: I want our downtown and the CMA to succeed. However, if voters are given all the facts, not rhetoric or name-calling, citizens can make an informed decision and realize this proposal is a mistake. I encourage you to read/hear all sides and vote.
Lynn Ridley, Clearwater
Fierce fliers in our skies story, Sept. 4
Black Hawks rattle residents
Thank you for your article on the Black Hawks honing their skills in our immediate area.
I live in one of the houses in the densely populated area that seems to be on a flight path for these helicopters that go out on training missions over the gulf.
If these large noise machines don't fly friendly, it is horrible to be located below them. My block home simply vibrates and God forbid if you are asleep. You can't hear your television 10 feet from your face.
On the worst occasions, they may make trips to and fro two or three times in an hour. It's torture for the folks below these flying behemoths.
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad they are here and I know they are saving lives. But there have been occasions when I surely do wish they would hone their skills elsewhere.
Heidi Sumner, St. Petersburg
'Winter's just like me' story, Sept. 1
A little magic here in Clearwater
The Times story about Cieran, a double amputee identifying with and swimming with Winter the dolphin is touching and inspirational. The way Winter helps both adults and children to better deal with their daily challenges is remarkable.
Winter is a gifted creature who, in turn, gives the gift of acceptance to others. They say Orlando is the source of magic, but I say there is definitely a lot of magic to be found in Clearwater.
Deborah Green, Sun City Center