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Oh, say, can you see past shrubs?

By LORRIE LYKINS
Published August 13, 2006


The rainy season, though a welcome relief, creates a reoccurring dilemma each summer: overgrowth of plants that obstruct motorists' views.

A reader in St. Petersburg wrote about the growing obstruction at the roundabout on First Street and 30th Avenue N:

"The roundabout attempt is ridiculous enough, but now the city has created a visibility problem. The intersection is beginning to have sight limitations that make it difficult for lower vehicles to safely navigate the roundabout. The height of the vegetation almost causes a complete stop based upon intuition. If the city wanted a stop there, they should have reverted to the old stop light or blinking lights."

Overgrown plant life is also a thorny issue in safely navigating alleyways - the only access to driveways and garages for folks in many St. Petersburg neighborhoods. And the problem is not just with roadway visibility obstruction; sidewalks are obstructed as well.

Trying to creep out of an alley is doubly hazardous when shrubbery blocks sidewalk visibility where pedestrians are strolling.

The Doc encountered this last week in trying to exit the east/west alley between 37th Avenue and 38th Avenue NE and Poplar and Maple streets. The north/south sidewalk is blocked from view by too-tall hedges, and neither the children on their way to a nearby park nor motorists exiting the alley can see, thus creating a potentially lethal problem that makes my hair stand on end.

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What's happening with St. Petersburg's CityTrails program?

As construction progresses on bike lanes around town, some motorists are wondering and others are grumbling. John Jewell recently wrote:

"Dear Doc, perhaps you can make some sense of the newly appointed bicycle lanes on 28th Street N. They only run from 38th Avenue to 9th Avenue. In the two to three months they have been there I have only seen one solitary bicyclist using the lane. I travel on 28th Street several times a day. They have caused the lanes of traffic at 28th Street and 22nd Avenue to be offset so that if you are in a left turn lane on 28th Street, you are directly facing the oncoming traffic. By the same token, the bicyclist, if any, is between the straight ahead traffic and the right turn lane. The whole thing is not bicycle or traffic friendly from my perspective and is a total waste of money and time."

I shared Jewell's observations with Michael Frederick, the city's manager of neighborhood transportation and parking.

Frederick said that the city's plan is to install nearly 100 miles of bike lanes on St. Petersburg roadways, and it is a work in progress.

"We are well on the way with 53 miles installed to date and eventually all collector and arterial roadways will have accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians. These lanes will form part of the regional network connecting our neighborhoods with various trails and neighboring communities, places of recreation and employment," Frederick said.

The bike lanes on 28th Street are the first phase of the CityTrails program, which the city expects will improve traffic safety for cyclists and perhaps entice more folks to cycle, decreasing automobile traffic citywide, Frederick added.

"The issue at 22nd Avenue N is being addressed with plans in design now to adjust the lane alignment through the intersection," Frederick assured me.

The total cost for the bike trail, scheduled to be completed in 2008, is $11.5-million, according to the city's Web site, financed primarily with state and federal grants and from the city's Penny for Pinellas dollars.

Patience may be key to the successful completion of the CityTrails plan for motorists and cyclists alike.

In the meantime, we'll keep you updated and once the trail is completed, the doc will take a spin and report back, promise.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring! And slow down, school is in session.

Please share your traffic concerns, comments and questions with Dr. Delay via e-mail at docdelay@yahoo.com