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Letters to the Editors

Respect the past, even sidewalks

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2003

It was with great interest and pride that I read your article Two sides trip over hex block repair cost in the Neighborhood Times. I reside in the Old Southeast (104 22nd Ave. S) and am a member of the Old Southeast Neighborhood Association.

I say "Bravo" to those who reside in the Old Northeast area for fighting for their historic hex block walkways.

It's high time we value the concrete testimonies (no pun intended!) to our past as much as we value the Internet, cell phones and "instant" whatever.

I have a driveway twice stamped with the logo "Farmer -- 1943 -- Concrete Works." The driveway is uneven, not perfect, but I wouldn't repair its character. You may consider the following as the ramblings of a thrice grief-stricken individual (since 1994, I have lost my father, my husband and, most recently my mother) but, know this, as I sorted out their respective possessions, I realized I was walking through history -- not just their personal histories but the history of our neighborhoods, our city, our state, our country and our world. Memories to be treasured.

While my faith and philosophy tell me not to live in the past, I must respect the past for the way it guides me to the future. Now, you say, what does all of this have to do with hex block walkways? Everything, I believe.

Ask yourself: Where is the monument to those African-Americans who worked to create those hex block walkways -- or, more personally, my driveway? Good luck to the Old Northeast neighbors.
-- Nancy Kirk, St. Petersburg

Old Northeast should ante up

Re: Two sides trip over hex block repair cost.

I live on the "Pink Streets" of Pinellas Point. About 10 years ago the city dug up all of the Pink Streets, and residents had to pay for them to be replaced with pink dyed concrete. The price was based on the linear footage along the street side of one's property.

With this in mind I do not see why the residents of the Historic Old Northeast shouldn't have to pay for replacing their hex block sidewalks.
-- George Martin, St. Petersburg

Biking after dark? Turn on lights

On a recent weekend as I bicycled home in the dark, I met bicyclists on several occasions. None of them had lights on their bikes.

One man received a "Bicycles Are Vehicles" flier a year ago, so he knew the laws but still didn't have lights.

The teenagers' parents and schoolteachers had never taught them the laws on night riding. So the teenagers didn't know that they could get a citation, as well as get hit by motorists who can't see them.

Some small children were bicycling on the sidewalk as their parents walked beside them. The parents' reason for not having lights on the bikes was that they don't go out in the dark often.

Please don't make excuses. Florida law requires you to have a white headlight that can be seen from 500 feet in the front. The law also requires you to have a red reflector and red taillight on the back that can be seen from 600 feet behind you. Long-lasting lights save money on batteries. If you want rechargeable batteries, try nickel-metal hydride batteries. They aren't as finicky as other rechargeables.

If you buy the lights and reflectors at a bicycle shop, most shop owners will install them on your bike for free. Often, shop mechanics can jury-rig more taillights on your bicycle if you need increased visibility.

A study showed that motorists notice a bike's taillights 100 to 500 feet sooner when they're blinking.

The first time your child gets a bicycle, put lights on it. Instill at an early age that when the sun starts going down, the lights go on. If you teach children when they are small, they'll know what to do and why to do it when they are teenagers and adults.

Bicycle safety studies throughout the United States show that you have the greatest chance of being in a crash with a car when you bicycle on the sidewalk. That's because every time you come to a driveway, crosswalk or alley, you have an excellent chance of getting hit by a car.

Many motorists do not look for pedestrians or bicyclists when driving over sidewalks and crosswalks. What increases the problem in our area is that everyone is taught from first grade on to "get on the sidewalk so you won't get hit by a car." So bicyclists aren't looking either.

Some motorists forget to turn off their signals; others forget to turn on their signals. In addition, large plants and man-made structures block the view so motorists and bicyclists can't see each other.

So you still need lights even if you bicycle on the sidewalk.

On Jan. 1, I enjoyed St. Petersburg's rescheduled First Night fireworks. I also enjoyed seeing more bicyclists with lights. The example they set will probably encourage more people to put lights on their bicycles. It's a good, healthy way to start out the new year, too.
-- Kimberly Cooper, St. Petersburg

Weightier than the Sunken Gardens sign

Re: Sunken Gardens copying an original, Jan. 8.

In reference to the article regarding the new sign for Sunken Gardens, I would like to add my comments about past operations of this beautiful St. Petersburg landmark.

Some 15 to 20 years ago I used to take pride in introducing all of our out-of-town visitors to this tropical oasis. At that time residents could pay a one-time yearly admission fee and bring their guests, who paid. After a few years the management decided to charge residents for each visit, even when they were bringing groups of new customers.

After bringing many, many new visitors to this unusual tropical tourist facility, and being told that residents have to pay for each visit, I stopped this practice and haven't been back since. Multiply this by hundreds of other residents and it becomes obvious why attendance may have dropped off.

As an aviation writer/author, I am a firm believer in promoting a product, and I think in this case, an effort to promote community support would prove much more important than replacing an aging sign.
-- Jack L. King, Largo

Hospice workers are wise, humane

Re: When grief descends, help is a call away, by Donna Winchester, Dec. 25.

Counselors from Hospice of the Florida Suncoast are the handmaidens of hope for grieving folks who have lost a loved one. Their thoughtful words leave loving footprints on hearts. What they do is as wise as it is humane. Humane convictions from people who never detour from decency can alleviate much human suffering and emotional misery. Brotherhood promotes a positive, changed climate.

Hospice workers improve the state of affairs. Bless them for their special successes in helping people get proper perspectives.
-- Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg

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