tampabay.com

Starbucks trip a tall order

Dr. Delay Navigating South Pinellas

By LORRIE LYKINS
Published April 22, 2007


The Doc is an admitted caffeine addict who occasionally patronizes certain trendy coffee-serving establishments that employ people with job titles such as "barista," which, by the way, is a word Starbucks invented. It's a loose translation of the Italian word for bartender, which is sort of ironic, because my driving is sometimes as affected by the beverages delivered to me by a barista as it might be were I to get behind the wheel of the Buick after consuming bartender-produced beverages.

Digression aside, I don't usually patronize the new Starbucks at 66th Street and Central Avenue because to do so requires NASCAR-driver skills to safely get into the parking lot. I'm not alone in my dismay about the abysmal design of the entryway. Although I noted this problem a few months ago, it bears revisiting because the traffic snarl there is ridiculously dangerous.

Reader Bill Osepczuk wrote me last week suggesting I try a pop-in at the Central Avenue Starbucks.

"If you are traveling east from the beach area, there is no left turn lane to enter. Drivers are using the westbound turn lane to enter Starbucks. There have been several close calls at head-on collisions at the entrance, not to mention road rage," Osepczuk wrote.

The Doc agrees. If Starbucks is truly committed, as its company mission statement says, to providing "an uplifting experience that enriches people's lives one moment, one human being, one extraordinary cup of coffee at a time," one would expect that customer safety might be one of those uplifting moments. The design at the Central Avenue store is a serious accident waiting to happen.

EIGHTH STREET DOWNTOWN

Parking spaces lost

If it has occurred to you that Eighth Street S between Central and Second Avenue S seems to be missing parking spaces, you're correct.

Reader Nancy Karnavicius noticed and she wrote: "Dear Doc, recently the city restriped a portion of Eighth Street S and apparently eliminated the parking spaces, although the parking signs are still in place. Will the signs be coming down or will the spaces be restriped?'

We checked with Mike Frederick, the city's manager of neighborhood transportation. Frederick said that parking spaces have indeed been eliminated on Eighth Street near the intersections of Central and Second Avenues to improve visibility for motorists from side streets and to create continuous alignment of the traffic lanes. Additional parking spaces more than the number of spaces removed have been added on the west side of Eighth Street.

TREASURE ISLAND BRIDGE

Closure notices on TV

Closures announcements for the Treasure Island bridge are now aired on city government access TV on Channel 15 at least two days before closures. The bridge is typically closed Wednesdays or Thursdays for work on the new bridge.

ST. ANTHONY'S TRIATHLON

Be prepared for delays

Sunday drivers and downtown residents should be prepared for traffic delays April 29 as the city makes way for the St. Anthony's Triathlon. The race begins with swimming at Spa Beach. The bike route runs north on North Shore Drive onto Snell Isle, along Brightwaters Boulevard and back. The running route is south on Dr. Martin Luther Jr. King Street, through Lakewood Estates, east on Pinellas Point Drive S and then northward and back toward downtown on Fourth Street S, finishing at Vinoy Park.

The route remains the same as in previous years except that because 11th Avenue S is under construction, cyclists will head west on 18th Avenue S from Fourth, then turn south on King Street. Police will not allow vehicles through any part of the course if there is two-way bike traffic. Traffic will be worked through when police consider it safe. Race participants have priority. Check out the triathlon's Web site: http://www.satriathlon.com/.

The Looper Downtown Trolley will provide free shuttle service for the triathlon. See www.LooperTrolley.com.

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