My drive to work each day involves a stretch of the Tamiami Trail running between Bradenton and Sarasota. A very busy strip with three lanes in each direction and a turn lane in the middle. There are assorted businesses, hotels, marinas, and people. Lots of people.
I grew up in Ohio where we learned to wait until traffic cleared, look both ways, and proceed cautiously across the road. In Florida, apparently pedestrians are programmed to walk out into the middle of the street. With oncoming traffic in all directions, there they go trotting right out between cars. Every day I see people of all ages running across Tamiami Trail, playing a dangerous game of human Frogger.
For easy and inexpensive transportation, many people in Florida ride bicycles. Great idea, the weather is usually sunny. It’s a common sight to see riders going along with the flow of traffic. So imagine my surprise one day when I see a woman sitting on her three-wheeled bike in the middle lane of Tamiami Trail, digging deep into her purse looking for some elusive item! Really, that’s the most convenient spot to stop and check your gum supply?
Now I realize Sarasota is known for it’s connection to the Ringling Circus, but one day I spotted a small man in the middle of the road. It startled me to see him bravely standing there, at way under four feet tall, with traffic whizzing past him at high speeds. I’m just over five feet tall and not sure I have the courage to do that!
All this takes driving to another level for me. Not only do I have to be aware of other drivers actions, but also the unpredictable stunts of pedestrians. It feels like I’m driving with my head on a swivel so I don’t miss anything. Still, I’d rather these distractions than driving during Ohio winters in the snow and ice!
Be safe out there!