Limited to 15 ton vehicles since May of this year, the bridge over the St Marks trail at Orange Avenue is in a bad enough state for an accelerated replacement. Not much of a surprise to those of us that ride under it: the combination of wooden pilings and termite mounds doesn’t seem a good sign. As firetrucks now are forced to make a large detour, it also affects the emergency response times for some neighborhoods.
At the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency board meeting Sept 16th, the Florida Department of Transportation proposed a very fast replacement with concrete block piling and prefabricated concrete slabs, during the 2014 school summer break, essentially aiming to get it done in 9 weeks starting June 2nd 2014. Both Orange Avenue and the St Marks trail will be closed during that time, and the trail probably being closed there from mid May to the beginning of September. The resurfacing of Orange Avenue that was planned for this fall will be postponed until next year.
The bridge design includes two 12′ traffic lanes, 4′ bike lanes, and a sidewalk on the south side. It will still stay a bridge. Proposals for eliminating the bridge with an at level crossing, a bicycle/pedestrian tunnel, or a bike-ped overpass had been eliminated already. The passage will be slightly more tunnel-like in comparison with the current configuration, as the passage under Orange Ave will be longer, narrower, and lower. In spite of that, with the addition of bikelanes on Orange, this is probably the best achievable outcome for cyclists. This part of the trail will be more heavily used in the future with the connection to the Capital Cascade Trail and the downtown area, and (hopefully) a connection to the FSU campus and the northern part of the St Marks trail to Ocala Rd. What is still missing is a way to get to the trail from Orange Avenue. – Hans van Tol-
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The new 2012 edition of the Florida Driver’s Handbook is here and we are happy to report that it brings with it added attention to bicyclists and pedestrians thanks to the work of local (Tallahassee) cyclists! Last year (2011) the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) had the handbook text reviewed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Safety Office, and in particular Dennis Scott, the (now retired) State Pedestrian/Bicycle Coordinator. He and his colleague Dwight Kingsbury made many useful edits, and they in turn provided the opportunity for several members of the Capital City Cyclists advocacy committee (Committee for a Bikeable Community) to make suggestions as well. To their great credit, the FDHSMV included all our suggestions in the final 2012 driver’s handbook!
So what changed? In many places throughout the Handbook motorists are asked to pay attention to bicycles and pedestrians. And this new version finally explains what sharrows (shared roadway markings) are – they have been present for years on several of our roadways, but the driver’s handbook had yet to mentioned them. The table below provides a nice statistical baseline on how awareness of bicycle and pedestrian information has increased significantly throughout the handbook:
Wordcount of Bicycle/Pedestrian related terms in 2011 and 2012 editions of the Florida Driver’s Handbook
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So what was specifically updated with regard to bicyclists? You can review our updates in the 2012 Florida Driver’s Handbook:
- Section 5.17 – Bicyclists: Added Share the Road image and multiple text additions
- Section 5.27 – Traffic Lanes: Added last sentence text on bicycle lanes
- Section 6.5 – Pavement Markings: Added text and images for Bicycle Lanes and Sharrows
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Per the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles website over 800,000 new drivers licenses are issued every year. By increasing awareness of bicycles and pedestrians in the drivers handbook, we will increase driver’s knowledge of traffic rules with regard to bicyclists and pedestrians on the road. Increased awareness leads to improved interactions between motorists and cyclists and a safer more enjoyable environment for us all.
With the success of this effort, we look forward to working with the FDHSMV and the FDOT in the future to continue an increase awareness of bicyclists within the Florida Driver’s Handbook. Great job Dennis, Dwight, Zach, and others!