St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Parking configuration unsafe from any angle

By JEAN HELLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


Jessie and I have a modest proposal. It will not set well with the city of St. Petersburg, which went to considerable time and expense to create angle parking downtown. But, folks, it isn't working.

And in a lot of areas, it isn't necessary.

We're sorry, but we are really tired of nearly getting smooshed into quivering protoplasm every third time we exit a parking lot or drive through an intersection where angle parking cuts visibility by 70 or 80 percent.

We know, because our mail and e-mail fill up on the subject weekly, that a lot of you out there don't feel safe around angle parking, either.

I should say here that we are completely sympathetic with the city's rationale for creating angle parking in the first place: to slow traffic through the city and to provide more parking in business areas. To give the city a "village" sort of feeling.

Maybe we should go back to horses and carriages, too.

And gaslights.

Let me give you a few cases in point.

We were driving east on Third Avenue S between Fifth and Sixth streets, where there is angle parking on both curbs. In front of us was a panel truck. It was angle-parked, we assume, to make a delivery. Several cars were coming at us in the westbound lane. There was insufficient room to get by the truck without swerving into oncoming traffic. We were forced to stop in the middle of the block, then cross the center stripe to get around the truck.

We parked our car and walked back to the panel truck. It's front wheel was against the curb. It couldn't have pulled in any more without being up on the curb. As we stepped it off, there was about a foot and a half between the rear corner of the truck and the centerline of the street. Eighteen inches. I wouldn't have wanted to ride a bicycle through that opening.

And it isn't just commercial vehicles that extend beyond the boundaries of the angle spaces. As we wrote here several months ago, a lot of the longer private pickup trucks and vans don't, either.

Exiting a parking lot onto Third Avenue S, we couldn't see past the angle parked cars until our front bumper was inches from the centerline. A pickup truck approaching from the east had to swerve wildly to avoid hitting us because the driver couldn't see us, either.

I'm all for people slowing down. Except they aren't, and the situation is putting a lot of them in extreme danger in order to meet an objective that doesn't reflect the time in which we live.

Driving south on Beach Drive, waiting to make a right turn onto Second Avenue N, we had to sit through four cycles of the traffic light because angle parking has cut the traffic flow to one lane in each direction, and all the folks ahead of us wanted to make left turns to go to the Pier. They had to wait for northbound traffic to clear, and those of us caught behind them just sat like lumps because there is no room to go around.

To make matters worse, a car attempting to back out of an angle space nearly backed right into my front fender because she couldn't see me for a huge pickup parked to her right.

Unless the city provides each of us with X-ray vision goggles so we can see through other vehicles, we're in a heap of trouble.

Now we're willing to concede that the Beach Drive area might be one where we have to accept the inconveniences and dangers presented by angle parking because there are so many businesses that must be served. Although we are reminded that the area is full of parking garages.

Oh, well ...

The intersection of 22nd Avenue N and 58th Street will see smoother traffic after road construction finishes soon.

Workers have removed some islands on the roadway and have installed a left-turn lane in place of part of 22nd Avenue's center drainage canal, according to St. Petersburg traffic guru Angelo Rao.

"The combination of those two key elements are really going to improve the safety of that intersection," Rao said. He estimated the project to be "about 95 percent done."

So if any of you hear the rumor that there's a traffic circle going in there, feel free to squelch it.

The Florida State Fair runs through Feb. 19 at the State Fairgrounds at the southwest corner of the Interstate 4/U.S. 301 interchange in Tampa, otherwise known as the Other City, or OC. Additional traffic is expected in the area and may be especially heavy on the weekends, the state roadies tell us.

For those of you who want to go, the roadies have two routes. Take Exit 4 (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) off I-4, head east on MLK, cross Orient Road, and use the fairgrounds entrance to the left. Or, take Exit 6 (U.S. 301), and the entrance to the fairgrounds will be on the right just after you get on U.S. 301 southbound.

And leave some extra time.

The Eyeball Jiggler of the Week, EJW to its friends, is on Fourth Avenue N as you prepare to cross Third Street. You know those bone-jarring drainage troughs built around Shore Acres? Well, the depressions in the pavement on Fourth Avenue are close to being that bad. One of them runs across the center lane just prior to the intersection, and another crosses the right lane a few inches farther along.

We caught a green light there the other day and went zipping into the intersection without noticing those little surprises and had to check later to see if we'd lost any teeth.

In honor of Black History Month, we bring you this Dr. Delay Terrible Traffic Factoid of the Week: Garrett Augustus Morgan, an African-American, was the first to patent a traffic signal. It was a T-shaped pole with arms that had three signs, one or more of which popped out at a time. Red for Stop. Green for Go. And another Red for Stop in all directions so pedestrians may cross.

We thought this was cool, and you would like to know.

- Dr. Delay can be reached by e-mail at docdelay@sptimes.com, by fax at (727) 893-8675 or by snail mail at 490 First Ave., S, St. Petersburg 33701.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.