Letters to the Editors
Roundabout fix can be found in Europe
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 6, 2001
Ah, the Clearwater Beach roundabout. As one crosses the little bridge approaching the beach, one notices:
The traffic lanes narrow.
There is an early right turn for trucks to bypass the roundabout for North Beach, but most cannot make the turn without using two lanes (or the entrance on the side road -- and when it gets busy, there will always be a car coming out).
Where there used to be four lanes of traffic (one right turn, one straight, two left turns), there are only two lanes.
In Europe, England and Ireland, where I have driven many times (as I have family there and go every year), the travel lanes get wider at busy roundabouts because cars and trucks use more space in a turn than when going straight.
More important, every car must have a turn signal on each side of the vehicle so that even if you have passed the rear bumper, you can still see that that driver in the inside lane intends to exit the roundabout. (Of course, they use their turn signals.)
A dedicated right-turn-only lane that trucks can use to bypass the roundabout.
A dedicated lane of traffic from North Beach to South Beach (right across that lovely grass strip that pedestrians really don't need -- that should cut at least 25 percent of the traffic from the roundabout and is used frequently in England where it's obviously needed).
Ugly fences to discourage pedestrians from crossing the traffic lanes.
I still see the same number of traffic cops out there, so we didn't save any money there. Clearly, a traffic engineer did not design this. The idea came along and was then beautified by someone who had never negotiated a roundabout on a busy day.
Timing might improve traffic
Re: The roundabout. I've been to Clearwater Beach twice in recent weeks, for the first time since the roundabout was built. It is beautiful to look at but extremely dangerous to drive.
If you will allow me to put my 2 cents in, I would like to make a few suggestions that could improve the situation:
Make Poinsettia Avenue a one-way street northbound. This, of course, would eliminate the access to the roundabout from that street.
All traffic from that side of the roundabout would come from Mandalay Avenue.
Install synchronized traffic lights as follows: at the entrance to the roundabout from the causeway (one-minute cycle); at the Mandalay access (40-second cycle); at the Coronado access (25-second cycle).
When the light is green at the causeway access, it is red at both Mandalay and Coronado accesses.
When the light turns to red at the causeway, there should be a five-second delay for the Mandalay access light to turn green for a 40-second cycle and then the light at the Coronado access would turn to green for a 25-second cycle.
This would have the effect, first, of slowing down traffic for a few seconds only and producing an orderly flow of traffic around the circle. It would also reduce the risk for accidents in the circle.
Adopt a road, rid it of litter
Ever since the world looked at the Tampa Bay area during the Super Bowl, we have seen a renewed interest in the look of our city and communities. We noticed the major effort to clean up the medians and major roadways of trash and litter. The addition of plants and trees has added polish to our lovely area. Businesses are spending extra dollars on landscaping to complement the communities in which they co-exist.
In Clearwater, for example, Lowe's and Countryside Mall demolished old structures and built wonderful businesses to meet the needs of our area. Countryside Mall is in the process of spending more than $700,000 on landscaping.
Clearwater is encouraging citizens to adopt a street and make a difference. By spending two hours of your time every other month, you can claim a street. Call the city at 462-6585, ext. 234, for more information on how you can be a part of the solution.
Causeway needs a cleanup crew
Clearwater city commissioners, take a walk. Take a walk on the Memorial Causeway pedestrian/bicycle path.
Unless you are in the habit of storing rubbish under your kitchen sink (which I'm sure you are not), the amount of rubbish in the causeway mangroves will shock you. The area from water's edge to the lawns is suggestive of a landfill.
How do you address this? You can reprioritize a small amount of city expenses or do what some other communities have done: Make the cleanup one of the accepted ways to work off public service.
Whatever you do, please take charge. We are not the Third World community that the causeway path suggests we are.
Scientologists have taken over
A few years ago, the Scientologists marched around the Clearwater Police Department chanting angry slogans at Chief Sid Klein.
Now a judge accuses the department of being "dangerously close to becoming a private security force for the Church of Scientology."
Now, we come to understand that Scientology has more than 100 spy cameras in downtown Clearwater.
Judge Thomas Penick, the great invasion is over; this is occupation time. Maybe we should hire a city psychiatrist instead of a city manager. Seems to me the city is a little bipolar.
Haven serves a large community
Look around you -- they are everywhere: the cashier who smiles at you and wishes you a good day; the waitress who gives you such good service at that fancy restaurant where you take your in-laws; the teenager who is still in high school and on the cheerleading team; the grandma who watches her grandchildren while her daughter attends that meeting in Tampa. These are the women the Haven of RCS serves daily.
The Haven is a shelter for abused women and their children located in Clearwater. I have worked there for the past seven years as counselor and house manager.
Driving to work, I see places where I have been with the police to pick up a woman's belongings. When I eat at the beach, my waitress is often someone I have counseled. The lady waiting on me at the bakery at Albertson's is a former client. The retired woman who lives in an over-55 mobile home park was abused by her son. I know her, too.
Often the public has this image of an abused woman. Perhaps she is single with three children by two different men. Perhaps she is a woman of color who has a drug problem. Or she is that woman who lives on the street. After doing this kind of work for many years, I realize that there is not a woman who does not stand the chance of being abused.
Why am I writing this now? The Haven of RCS is building a new, larger and much-needed shelter. We need financial aid from the community we serve. We need people to realize that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse and, if it occurs in North Pinellas County, the Haven will be the source of help.
We offer a 24-hour hotline, support groups in the community, a cell-phone program and outreach office where both female and male victims can receive counseling and a transitional living program for long-term support and education. Our number is (727) 442-4129 and our address is P.O. Box 10594, Clearwater, FL 33757.
School nurses play vital role
Legislation that called for each elementary school to have a registered nurse was sponsored by Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite and Rep. Les Miller when Lawton Chiles was governor. At that time, Gov. Chiles' budget made kids a top priority, with money to expand health care for children. What happened?
I moved here in 1967 and had been a school nurse-teacher on Long Island, N.Y. At that time, school nurses performed eye-reading exams and a machine hearing test on each student once a year. We were able to catch many potential problems that could interfere with the child's learning.
The news article on Feb. 8 (A nurse for every school? City prods legislators to cure a shortage) gave a brief but good overview of the busy day of the school nurse. An important factor is that they relieve the teacher of doing first aid and taking care of a sick child, all of which take them away from their important job of teaching.
I continued my nursing career as an instructor in the registered nurse program at St. Petersburg Junior College. But I believe the good health of our nation begins with the child. I certainly hope we can put a nurse in every public school.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
North Pinellas desks