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Sharing road still vexes some

By Lorrie Lykins
Published February 25, 2007


Although we've made some discernible progress, the "share the road" concept is still a struggle for some motorists and cyclists alike. We've recently printed complaints from motorists about packs of cyclists taking up entire lanes of traffic rather than using some of the new bike lanes around town.

Avid cyclist and reader Brian Kirk wrote in to say that most cyclists he rides with are considerate of motorists. They avoid blocking traffic lanes by riding single file if they know a car is behind them. Sure, there are inconsiderate bikers out there, just like there are inconsiderate motorists.

Also, while the idea of cyclists riding single file makes sense to motorists, sometimes groups can be too large for that to make sense. Fifty to 60 riders in a pack is not unusual, so riding two or three abreast in those cases just makes sense.

"If 60 cyclists ride single file, that creates a line of vehicles six or seven hundred feet long. If there is a bike lane, it's no trouble for a car to pass a line that long, but on roads without bike lanes there is no way a car can pass a column that long without grossly exceeding the speed limit. It is actually easier, and safer, for a car to pass a shorter double line of cyclists, recognizing that it requires using the oncoming traffic lane," he wrote.

"In addition, even on a road with a bike lane the overtaking traffic is not the only consideration. A line of single-file cyclists blocks every cross street for twice the time that the same group would block it riding two abreast. So for overall traffic flow, a double line is sometimes better than a single for both the cyclists and the motorists."

Kirk also noted that downtown, the timing of the traffic lights doesn't allow motor vehicles to go much faster than the cyclists anyway.

The message? Patience and consideration go a long way, no matter how many wheels you're riding on.


Nonworking taillights a pervasive problem

How often do you check your taillights? Reader Donna Allen wrote in to say that she has been noticing quite a few nonworking taillights lately.

"On my commute from St. Pete to Tampa every day I've noticed a large number of cars with burned-out taillights. One day I counted nine, and that was just on the way to work. Oddly, most of these are newer cars, and about 90 percent are SUVs. Please urge people to check their taillights occasionally to make sure they are functioning properly," she wrote.

Check your taillights.


Traffic lights should be going like clockwork

Downtown commuter Ken M. Peterson wrote us about the recent increase in the time it takes him to get to work due to the timing of traffic signals.

Peterson wrote: "As of about Feb. 1, the lights on First Avenue N and South don't seem to be timed any more. It used to be if you would drive the speed limit 35 mph you would catch the lights all green, or with minimal stopping. If you went much over the speed limit (say about 43 mph or so) you wouldn't get them timed quite right. Now when going the speed limit, I have to stop at most of the traffic lights, idle through an entire light, and then go on down to the next light. What gives?"

The delay should be resolved. The city's traffic signals system computer had a few hiccups on Feb. 1 that created synchronization problems at some locations. The signals were monitored last week, and the city says everything is back to normal.


Saturday Morning Market occupies street

Seasonal residents motoring downtown may be surprised to find they can't drive Central Avenue from First to Second streets on Saturday mornings. A happy reminder: The Saturday Morning Market, which offers fresh market produce, plant vendors, local artists and gourmet treats, takes up Central Avenue from First to Second streets every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. now through May.

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

[Last modified February 24, 2007, 20:37:12]

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