Sarasota News Leader

01/10/2014

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OPINION A 'SLOW' TRAFFIC PROBLEM GROWS EDITORIAL With another "season in the sun" beginning in southwest Florida, a chronic problem is brought to the fore: The dangerous interaction between increased motor vehicle traffic and pedestrians and bicyclists. A disproportionate number of seasonal drivers, while knowing where they want to be, are less certain of where they are or how to get to their destinations. Their uncertainty is demonstrated by often erratic driving behavior, a practice that reaches epidemic proportions in February and March. Of course, common sense dictates that pedestrians and bicyclists, because they invariably lose in conflicts with automobiles and trucks, have the greater burden of being much more careful in traffic. And most are. Unfortunately, there also are bicyclists who seem to be reincarnated kamikaze pilots, as they drive at full speed on sidewalks, going against the traffic, crossing intersections without even slowing down. Almost as bad are those who prefer to stay on the white line that defines the leftmost boundary of the bike lanes, as if this demonstrates a greater degree of biking skill. Since motorists are required by law to give bicyclists a 3-foot berth, this forces traffic to cross the centerline of the roadway to avoid the bicyclist, creating an even greater hazard in heavy traffic. At the same time, pedestrians would fare better if they would stroll the extra few feet to a signaled crosswalk, rather than jaywalking wherever they intersected with a street. This is especially true on the many wide thoroughfares in the county.

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