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Driving on shoulder is a no-no, anywhere

By JEAN HELLER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2002

The Florida Highway Patrol has been spending a lot of time lately chasing down speeders on Interstate 275 between 22nd Avenue N and Roosevelt Boulevard. Since they're in the neighborhood, we have a tip on where they might find violators of another kind.

The Florida Highway Patrol has been spending a lot of time lately chasing down speeders on Interstate 275 between 22nd Avenue N and Roosevelt Boulevard. Since they're in the neighborhood, we have a tip on where they might find violators of another kind.

During rush hours on Roosevelt, between Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street and Ulmerton Road, drivers in a big, big hurry are using the shoulder of the road as a through lane. They drive outside the solid white line until they get to Ninth or Ulmerton or Lake Carillon Drive, and then either pull back into through traffic or make turns off Roosevelt.

We know the FHiPs care about this sort of thing.

For a while there, they were setting up during the morning rush on eastbound Roosevelt to catch motorists using the shoulder to get into the right-turn lane onto southbound 28th Street N.

We know this is true because we heard from a lot of you who got caught doing that very thing. The complaint we heard most often is that the dedicated right-turn lane is way too short to handle the number of vehicles that need to use it, so people were lining up on the shoulder. And they were getting hammered.

We agree that the lane is too short, but the FHiPs don't care. They must enforce the law, and the law says you can't, in the normal course of events, drive on the shoulder of the road.

Now we think they should take a look at some other places along Roosevelt, too.

And we thank them.

* * *

From the Watch-Where-You-Walk Department:

Have you seen the reports on the Segway Human Transporter, the two-wheeled, battery-powered scooter equipped with gyroscopes to help deal with ruts and eyeball jigglers? The developers predict the Segway will transform the way people live and work.

It doesn't look like the conventional scooters favored by kids. The wheels are mounted on the sides of the platform, not fore and aft. This is definitely an adult toy.

The Segway weighs 69 pounds and will move at speeds up to 12.5 mph, and our Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, has cleared the way for the scooters to operate on sidewalks. So have the legislatures in 23 other states, even though most of them barred motorized vehicles from sidewalks.

Already police and postal workers -- including postal workers in Tampa -- have tested the Segways to pretty good reviews. The high-tech Segway scooter is still months from being available to the public but, according to the Associated Press, there are growing fears among doctors and others that pedestrians will get hurt.

At $3,000 a pop, there aren't likely to be waves of Segways plying our sidewalks any time soon.

Still, it would pay to get into the habit early of looking both ways before stepping off the front porch.

* * *

Good news.

You might recall how we were whining a few months ago about the state of the pavement on 22nd Avenue N east of Tyrone Boulevard. There was nothing wrong with the pavement that was obvious to the eye, but it was painfully obvious to the tires of our car. And it wasn't just eyeballs that were set to jiggling by that washboard.

Well, we had occasion to pass that way again last week and, lo and behold, the asphalt gnomes have been through and resurfaced everything. It is heaven. Everybody should head over there to experience the improvement.

But maybe not all at once.

* * *

Where the roadway hasn't improved is in the curb lane of Dr. M.L. King Street S between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Yowzer. There's a dip there, just south of the bridge, that will break your axle -- and forget about your eyeballs. Go through there with caution for it is most definitely the latest Eyeball Jiggler of the Week.

Just as a personal aside, we were witness to the possibility that sometimes there is a cop around when you need one.

We were in search of the above-mentioned EJW early Thursday afternoon, just as people were piling into the Devil Rays parking lot for the game with Toronto. We were in the curb lane of Ninth Street S going through the intersection at Third Avenue.

The driver of a big silver SUV on our left decided at the last minute to make a right turn directly in front of us. We stood on the brake and managed to stop 3 inches from broadsiding the idiot.

When we looked toward the sidewalk, who should be standing there but one of St. Petersburg's finest, who watched the SUV head toward the parking lot and got on his radio, presumably to a buddy who could set the wrong right.

We were so happy.

* * *

Now it is time for the Carbungle of the Week, the things other people do in their vehicles that make your blood boil.

We have discussed lane switching before. Today's whine concerns how people signal a lane change. If you are going to turn on your turn signal after you are already halfway into my lane, why bother at all?

Or, just as annoying, those people who let their turn signal go on and off just once and think that's enough to give ample warning.

People, please. Signal your intentions early and for long enough -- a couple of seconds, anyway -- to ensure that everyone sees what you're going to do.

We thank you for your support.

* * *

And finally, Dr. Delay's Terrible Traffic Tidbit of the Week, and this week's really is terrible.

Three out of five people killed in motor vehicle crashes last year were not wearing seat belts.

What more is there to say?

-- Dr. Delay can be reached by e-mail at docdelay@sptimes.com, by fax at (727) 893-8675 or by snail mail at 490 First Ave., S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

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