Motorcyclist safety is a two-way street

Dr. Delay Navigating Pinellas

Published May 8, 2007

As May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, it seems a good time to remind motorists to safely share the road with motorcycles.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists account for one of every 10 road fatalities in the United States every year and those statistics have been rising steadily the past eight years. In 2005, 4, 553 motorcyclists died in highway crashes.

For obvious reasons, motorcycle riders don't fare well in a crash.

"Research shows that approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes injure or kill a motorcycle rider, while only 20 percent of passenger car crashes injure or kill a driver or passenger in their vehicle, " said Col. Chris Knight of the Florida Highway Patrol.

The Florida Department of Transportation hopes motorists will be more vigilant in the spring and summer and take the time to look twice for motorcycles when pulling out onto roadways, merging and making turns.

Motorcycles can easily become lost in blind spots and road glare.

"With warmer weather here, even more motorcycles are on the roads, " said Marianne Trussell, DOT chief safety officer. "Drivers of passenger vehicles need to be extra alert. Motorcycles are often difficult to see, so people in other vehicles need to really look out for them."

The DOT recommends that drivers consistently check mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

The DOT's best advice for motorcycle operators: Assume that you're invisible to other motorists and operate your vehicle accordingly.

Do you know the way to the Dali Museum?

Getting to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg may be a surreal experience for motorists, reader Donna Allen recently pointed out.

Allen noticed that when driving on Interstate 275 toward St. Petersburg from the south, then using the Tropicana Field exit, she saw a sign that reads "Dali Museum, next right, " which indicates Fourth Street S.

"Less than a half a block later, but past the intersection mentioned above, there's a sign in the median along with others that says 'Dali Museum, next right.' That's Third Street S. Not only is this greatly confusing, I don't see how you can get to the Dali driving south on Fourth Street, " Allen noted.

City employee Evan Mory responded to our inquiry, acknowledging that there are several routes to the Dali Museum. The most direct route is going south on Fourth, making a left on 11th Avenue S and another left onto Third Street.

But, Mory noted, the route offered on the Dali Museum's Web site (www.salvadordalimuseum.org) suggests getting there via Third Street directly from the south interstate, and that could be confusing.

Navigational challenges for visitors may be further complicated by the recent elimination of some one-way segments of streets, including First and Second streets from Central Avenue to Fifth and Sixth avenues as well as a portion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and Second Avenue N. More changes from one-way to two-way may be made to other streets downtown in the future, Mory said.

"We are currently evaluating the city's way-finding program and will take this situation into consideration as we look to make changes in the routing."

Lorri Lykins' Dr. Delay column regularly appears in South Pinellas editions of the Times. Please share your traffic concerns, comments and questions with Dr. Delay via e-mail at docdelay@yahoo.com.