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Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 in General | 10 comments

Some thoughts from a ride to dinner…

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Lisa an I took advantage of the beautiful evening and rode to dinner tonight. We’re fortunate to live near the Cross-Seminole Trail (a shared-use path). The path took us almost all the way from home to the restaurant. Aside from a few annoying, unwarranted stop signs (which will be the topic of another post) the path is really wonderful. It’s especially nice to be removed from traffic when riding into the sunset, as we were this evening.

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You can’t get there from here.

The only problem is that since it was built primarily for recreational use, it doesn’t have good connectivity to destinations — like the restaurant we were headed to.

When you’re on the trail adjacent to the Villagio shopping center (home of 2 good restaurants: Salamander’s and Señor Tequila), there is no place to cross. No crosswalk. No curb cuts. So you have a choice to enter the road at Parkstone/Winding Hollow and ride west on 434 for 1/4 mile and then turn left, or ride past the shopping center to the Consolidated Services entrance, turn left from that traffic light and backtrack 600ft.

Since the sun was low and blinding, we decided we didn’t want to ride west on 434. We rode to the Consolidated Services driveway and positioned our bikes on the loop detector, and waited. And waited. I noticed there is no crosswalk there. There is a push button to get a walk signal to cross the driveway, but none to cross 434. Fortunately, it wasn’t too long before a woman in a car came out of the bus depot. She was being very polite, staying way back from us. We had to wave her forward and point to the loop detector to let her know we needed her to trip the light. When she pulled forward, the light on 434 went to yellow almost immediately. She was so sweet, giving us a little beep and enthusiastic wave to return our friendly wave after the light changed and we all turned left.

I reported the insensitive loop detector using the Metroplan Orlando Spot Improvement Form. I’ve always gotten good results with this. Often the next time I go through the intersection the detector picks me up.

The signal timing actually gave us time (with traffic on 434 stopped at the red light) to get into the shopping center before the platoon was released.

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I have yet to find a bike rack in this shopping center. Perhaps the owners would have incentive if the county deliberately connected it to the path. But the Big Dummy makes a fine rack to lock another bike.

After dinner, we decided to take a quiet street route home. Thanks to a great little connector trail, we can ride from Winding Hollow and 434 all the way home on 20/25mph residential streets.

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We only had to get to Winding Hollow—1/4 mile up the 5ft-wide faux bike lane on 434. I’ve always found that motorists are more careful and move over farther to pass in the dark than in daylight. Well, apparently, that doesn’t so much apply to bike lanes. I was surprised at the number of motorists that did not move over at all. Nor did they reduce their speed. A quarter mile never felt so long. Even more exciting, just as we got to Winding Hollow we were passed by an SUV driver, who turned right onto Winding Hollow. I coasted around the turn on its bumper. Gah. Figures. Circumstances never cease to remind me why I hate being shoved in the gutter.

But anyway. The rest of the ride home was great. And every motorist that passed (I think there were only three) moved all the way to the other side of the street.

Seminole County residents are certainly blessed to have the shared-use path system that we do. We need more residential connectors like the one that connects Winding Hollow to Trotwood. I could do without the gutter lanes. If I have to ride on a road like 434, I’d prefer to be able to drive defensively and control a regular travel lane.

Here’s the route:

View larger map

 

10 Comments

  1. Bike lanes in the dark = potential for conflict exists?

    • bike lanes anytime = potential for conflict.

      • Like…….Oh, this isn’t FB!

      • Keri,

        I agree with you 110%. Sadly, the same can also be said for FRAP laws. As they almost always get interpreted against cyclists best interests.

        Two such instances for me personally. The first one, I was on my way home from the First Friday concert in Downtown St. Pete when an off duty traffic homicide cop pulled me over. He said that I was “riding” in the “middle” of the road, I wasn’t, I was in the right side rite track. Given that he was a traffic homicide cop, he should have had a better understanding of the law. The second encounter was after I’d left my apparent to visit my girlfriend. I’m driving on a road (actually the same road just a different section as the first stop) with multiple lanes for each direction of travel. When a cop who had basically followed me out of the parking lot gets on his P.A. System and “orders” me to either ride further to the right, i.e. in the gutter pan, or to get on the sidewalk.

        The irony, is that this was around 2200hrs or so, and that he and I were the ONLY traffic on the road at that time.

        I do have a problem with using most rails-to-trails/recreation trails to get around. That is that at least down here in St. Pete they’re only open from sunrise to sunset. Also given that I see signs along the Pinellas Trail that say “no alcohol.” I’d guess that that includes those who go shopping and buy some alcohol to take home.

        Yes, they’re a great resource, especially for those riding for recreation. But not so much for people riding for transportation/utility/cargo. Also again at least on the Pinellas Trail I’ve seen largish packs of cyclists blasting down the trail training, and obviously going faster then the posted 20MPH speed limit.

        I also agree with you that we need more secured, lighted, and preferably covered bicycle parking at various destinations.

        • I don’t like to use paths at night because I don’t feel safe on them, but the fact that they are officially closed after dark demonstrates that they are not being treated as transportation facilities.

          There are certainly plenty of LEOs out there who confuse our culture’s prevailing prejudice against bicycle driving with the law. But then again, the law itself is an expression of that prejudice, despite the bandaid exceptions.

          • Keri,

            Again I’ve gotta agree with you, and is why I’d like to see the trails not only open 24/7, but well lit, as well as having security cameras installed.

            And again I’ve got to agree with you’ve although I have run iron more then a few LEOs who understood the dangers that we cyclists face. But as with everything it’s the few who give the majority a “black eye.”

          • It’s not just bike laws that get misinterpreted. The FLHSMV claims in its handbook that it’s illegal to cross a solid white line except “to avoid a hazard”, and questions to the FHP about its legality get referred to that handbook. This despite the only relevant law being Florida’s adoption of the federal MUTCD, which gives a solid white line no regulatory meaning.

  2. On kind of a related note, yesterday I was going over to my Girlfriends father & stepmothers for her dads birthday patty. I had a fair number of cars stacked up behind me. I pulled into a driveway that I usually use to allow cars to safely pads me. Some yahoo in a pickup, and a dog in the bed leans across passenger to yell out the window and to call me an effen a-hole.

    • No good deed goes unpunished :-)

      I usually get only friendly waves when I pull over to release traffic, but every now and then I get one d-bag who yells at me.

      • Yep, tell me about. That makes about as much sense as people who are traveling in the opposite direction either honking or yelling at us to “get off of the road.”

        I have to admit that that one doesn’t make much sense to me. It makes even less sense then those who “have to” swoop around us, and “race us” to the stop sign or red light, especially when a second or two later we’re pulling up behind them.

        Although the ones that I’ve really got to scratch my head over are the folks on scooters who are hugging the curb/gutter pan, and I am/we are well into the lane.