21 April 2011

Jaywalking: People in a Hurry

Lately I found this interesting article in the St. Petersburg Times about a crackdown by St. Petersburg Police on jaywalking in front of St. Petersburg High School, located on 5 Av N east of 28 St N. At least St. Petersburg Police is doing something about an all too familiar traffic issue: Pedestrians crossing the street wherever they want rather than using the crosswalks and pedestrian traffic signals that are designed for crossing streets safely.

As I commented on this St. Petersburg Times article, jaywalking is not just restricted to 5 Av N in front of St. Petersburg High School. Instead, it happens everywhere in St. Petersburg, especially downtown St. Petersburg.

The worst offender of jaywalking in downtown St. Petersburg I have seen are students that attend the Aveda Florida Institute, which is a hairstyling academy located on the northwest corner of 3 St S and 3 Av S. Every other time I drive up 3 St S on my way to work, I have seen from one Aveda student to a group of Aveda students cross 3 St S against the traffic signal, apparently in a hurry to get to class on time.

However, what these Aveda students are doing is against the law. It is a pedestrian violation pursuant to Section 316.130 and Section 316.075 of the Florida Statutes, quoting in part:

Section 316.075:

1(c)2.b Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in s. 316.0755, pedestrians facing a steady red signal shall not enter the roadway.

Section 316.130:

(8) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

(11) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

Perhaps St. Petersburg Police and who is in charge of Aveda Florida need to educate their students that crossing the street against the traffic signal is not the right thing to do. Perhaps a period of education followed by enforcement is the key; any one of these Aveda students won't be as happy when they get a ticket costing $62.50 for a pedestrian violation.

I have brought this issue to St. Petersburg Police several times. Something has to be done before there is a serious accident.

And for those Aveda Florida students in St. Petersburg that may be reading this blog entry, here is a word of advice quoting and paraphrasing a fellow St. Petersburg Times user whose name is cet1119:

To those students at Aveda Florida in downtown St. Petersburg who constantly jaywalk or go against the walk signal, you step out in traffic in front of MY car while I am lawfully driving, have a lawful green traffic signal and within the posted 30 mph speed limit on 3 St S, and you're not in a crosswalk or you have a red don't walk signal and dart across in a hurry to get to your class at Aveda on time, I may have to try to stop but if in the event you get hit as a result of your jaywalking, I am not getting a ticket and you, the Aveda Florida student, are not winning a lawsuit nor collecting off of my insurance. After all, it's called leaving a known zone of safety.

(And believe me - if an insurance company finds out that you did something negligent which results in an accident, the insurance company can use that to deny your claim).

Even if the worst happens and a pedestrian is involved in a pedestrian vs. motor vehicle accident and it is found that the pedestrian was at fault, the events can haunt a driver for months, even years, after the accident. This article from the St. Petersburg Times proves the point.

The question is this: Why are people in a hurry to begin with? Why will people go to dangerous extremes such as jaywalking to accomplish a specific goal such as being somewhere on time?

09 April 2011

The Florida FCAT Test and New EdwardRingwald.com Topics

I got a couple of new topics that I recently added to the topics area of EdwardRingwald.com. But first, we got something coming up in Florida's public schools the week of 11 April 2011, and that is the much dreaded FCAT Test.

First of all, the FCAT Test. This is the test that your children study for as well as drill and practice for all school year long. This is why there is no meaningful education for your children in Florida's public schools. In fact, school officials as well as your legislators in Tallahassee will do everything and anything to be sure that your child passes the FCAT, and extending the school year to disrupt summer vacations is being recommended.

Wait! If the State of Florida wants to extend the school year to accommodate this FCAT hodgepodge, it would have to go back and repeal a law which was enacted that prohibits starting school no earlier than two weeks (14 days) prior to Labor Day, the first Monday in September. This is thanks to Sherry Sturner and her grassroots group Save Our Summers that preserved summer vacations for our students.

As you send off your child to school to take the dreaded FCAT Test, this is what I think: The FCAT Test is nothing more than a waste of time and a waste of money. Just recently our not-so-favorable 45th Governor, Rick Scott, signed legislation that would tie teacher salaries to FCAT test scores among other things, which turns the FCAT into a high stakes and high anxiety test.

Did you go to the Tampa Bay Rays' home opener on Friday, 1 April 2011 and booed Rick Scott as he threw the ceremonial first pitch? I did.

I encourage you to read my topic on dumping the FCAT Test in its entirety and replacing the test with meaningful end of course exams. After all, end of course exams demonstrate mastery in a given subject, such as English Composition or High School Algebra. After all, the FCAT has no place in our children's education in Florida to begin with!

Now on to two new features I have added to EdwardRingwald.com for your reading pleasure.

First, we have been constantly bombarded with stories in the news media regarding the housing and mortgage crisis, especially declining property values and underwater mortgages among other things. Unfortunately, the news media such as the St. Petersburg Times capitalizes on the housing crisis and reports stories for the sole purpose of drowning you in fear. I have covered the housing crisis as well as the credit crunch here at the Edward Ringwald Blog and I put everything together in a topic over in my topics area at EdwardRingwald.com for your reading pleasure.

Second, as most of you St. Petersburg residents know (as well as the rest of the Tampa Bay metropolitan area) we sadly lost a third member of St. Petersburg's finest over the span of a few weeks, Officer David Crawford. Officer Crawford was dispatched to a call during the night regarding a suspicious person on the streets when a 15 year old boy shot Officer Crawford. Despite heroic efforts to save his life at Bayfront Medical Center, Officer Crawford did not make it.

What was learned was that the 15 year old boy was attending Gibbs High School here in St. Petersburg. The 15 year old boy as was reported did not have any major issues with one major exception: Missing too many days of school. Currently the 15 year old boy is in the Pinellas County Jail awaiting trial on murder charges as an adult.

Following that major incident, I was inspired to write a topic on an all-too-important issue that faces high school students: Dropping out of high school. After all, dropping out of high school can carry with it major, if not severe, consequences later on in life. One important consequence is the chance of reduced earning potential - in other words, high school graduates make more money than those who have not graduated.

I put everything together on the dangers of dropping out of high school, plus what students can do if they indeed dropped out of school despite the consequences, into a topic over at my topics area at EdwardRingwald.com for your reading pleasure.

On a personal note, I did finish high school - at a private high school - and received my high school diploma. With that and two Associate in Science college degrees later, I am proud of myself.