We need better crosswalks for legally blind people like me | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
Ann Brash, 66, walks with assistance from attorney Jelena Kolic in the 600 block of Chicago's West Madison Street in 2019. Brash, who is blind, was part of a group who sued Chicago for the development of audible crosswalk signals.
Ann Brash, 66, walks with assistance from attorney Jelena Kolic in the 600 block of Chicago's West Madison Street in 2019. Brash, who is blind, was part of a group who sued Chicago for the development of audible crosswalk signals. [ JOHN J. KIM | Chicago Tribune ]
Published May 13, 2023

I can’t see the danger

Listen both ways | May 11

As a legally blind resident of downtown St. Petersburg, I read with great interest this story about a lawsuit won against Chicago to install accessible pedestrian signals at dangerous downtown crosswalks. As I walk in downtown St. Pete, I have experienced only one such signal. It’s at the corner of First Avenue and Second Street North. With the high number of seniors in St. Pete, many of whom with low vision, we need more. Those of us with impaired vision listen for clues about when to safely cross. Complicating our ability to “listen both ways,” more vehicles are now electric, and there are no sound cues. There are quiet bikes, scooters and skateboards. Imagine getting to a crosswalk, unable able to see the walk lights, listening for traffic patterns, trying to follow other pedestrians who may or may not be present. It’s a big and dangerous challenge. I urge the city to install accessible pedestrian signals at busy downtown crosswalks. I hope it won’t take someone getting killed.

Jane Thomas, St. Petersburg

We need reform

Migrants rush into the US before expiration of Title 42 | May 12

Congress has failed to reform our immigration laws. Yes, there is a crisis at our southern border, and it’s all our fault for not demanding action. It cannot be fixed by executive order. We have millions of people in our country illegally. If we don’t want that, immigration laws have to be overhauled. We want foreign workers in the country who will do the jobs Americans won’t, even if only as “guest” workers here temporarily. Congress needs to hash out what other immigrants we want. I believe that every person in the nation needs national identification so that those here illegally can be deported. Climate change and local political/social conditions around the world will force many to flee their homelands. Where we stand in welcoming these displaced persons is a question for all of us. But we need action now.

E. Seward, Odessa

What happened to my student

Florida bill protecting ‘conscience’ allows doctors to deny treatment | May 1

I am a professor of speech and theater at the University of Tampa, where I have taught for 46 years. In all these years I have never witnessed an assault on LGBTQ+ students as hateful and harmful as what is happening right now in Florida. This past week, one of my students withdrew from the University of Tampa. The family decided that Florida is not a safe place for their child. They sought a transfer to a state that is safer for LGBTQ+ persons. Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed Senate Bill 1580, “Protections of Medical Conscience,” into law. Florida health care providers and payers can now refuse services based on their moral, ethical or religious beliefs. The Legislature specifically singled out LGBTQ+ persons as targets for this potentially life-threatening discrimination. Good people across the state need to speak out and condemn SB 1580, which as of today is law in Florida.

Gary Luter, Tampa

Let’s get on the bus

More SunRunner | Editorial, April 29

The SunRunner successes have been impressive, considering the car empire and agenda that Florida has. The creation of new SunRunner lines to up to John’s Pass could be key in furthering the interconnectivity of Pinellas County. Furthermore, lines connecting downtown St. Petersburg to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport could prove pivotal in lowering congestion in and around the airport. The SunRunner successes should be celebrated and should be a continued blueprint to public transportation projects across the Tampa Bay region. The SunRunner proves that a good, reliable public transport system can work when the right infrastructure is built for it.

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Christian Moreno, Largo

A close call

Wear your life jacket

A recent incident in the Thonotosassa community highlights why it’s so important to obey the law and always wear a life jacket when on a personal watercraft such as WaveRunner or a Jet Ski. A father and daughter’s personal watercraft sank while they were out on Lake Thonotosassa, leaving them treading water for nearly an hour. Luckily, they were wearing life jackets and were rescued safely, but that, unfortunately, isn’t the case for everyone.

Wearing a life jacket while on a personal watercraft is required by law for people of all ages in Florida. It’s important to obey this law since you never know when you could be in a boating emergency. The life jacket should fit well without being loose and no loose clothing should be worn when on a personal watercraft, either. It’s also important to attach an engine cut-off lanyard to your life jacket or clothing and to schedule your personal watercraft for regular maintenance. Whether you’re on a personal watercraft or another type of boat, make sure to always wear a life jacket. If you need one, check out one of the Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Stations. Always remember to put on your life jacket. You never know just how life saving it could be.

Gail R. Kulp, Southold, New York

The writer is executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation.