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Pedestrian safety should be a priority

Published Aug. 24, 2005

I have read with interest about pedestrian fatalities in the Tampa Bay area. Nowhere have I read, however, that there are virtually no sidewalks, that what sidewalks we have are in effect bicycle lanes, that traffic lights are placed a mile or more apart and motorists turning right on red act as if they, not pedestrians, have the right of way.

More than these material hazards are perhaps involved in the number of pedestrians killed in traffic. When no provision is made for their safety, it comes to seem as if pedestrians are not of much account. As pedestrians become culturally invisible, many motorists become blind to our physical presence as well.

Karen Saum, St. Petersburg

Pedestrians, bicyclists must do their part

Pinellas County is virtually lawless when it comes to the enforcement of regulations pertaining to pedestrian and bicyclists' legal responsibilities.

As a daily bicycle commuter, I have to contend with far too many bicycle riders coming at me down the wrong side of the road and rolling through intersections as if they were untouchable. Their lack of understanding of the law and lack of concern for their own safety puts me at risk as well.

When I walk, I see the same attitude in many pedestrians who either cross busy streets wherever they please, or cross at an intersection with no regard whatsoever for the traffic signals _ and traffic _ all around them.

It's easy enough to blame car drivers for not seeing bicyclists and pedestrians, but many people on foot or on a bicycle simply have no regard for where they are or what they are doing.

What I don't see are pedestrians ticketed for jaywalking or bicyclists ticketed for going down the wrong side of the road. It would seem all law-enforcement agencies in Pinellas County have been instructed to turn a blind eye to the "minor" infractions of the willfully (and woefully) ignorant, and it's this laissez-faire attitude that has turned our streets into a full contact blood-sport arena.

It's time for everyone using our public roads to be held accountable to the same laws and regulations that were put in place to keep us safe.

Chip Haynes, Clearwater