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Tallahassee Videos School Drivers On Roundabouts, Bike Boxes, Back-In Parking

Marks with children
Jessica Palombo

If you’re confused about how to navigate some recent additions to Tallahassee’s roads, you’re not alone. City managers say they get perplexed phone calls with each new roundabout. Now the city is launching a campaign called DRVN 850 to help answer road-related questions.

So easy a kid can figure it out? Ask future driver Morgan Watkins.

“Always remember to stop if there’s something in the way, like a bike or a front car or a truck,” says the FAMU New Beginnings preschooler.

Watkins and her classmates guided cardboard cars through an obstacle course Tuesday alongside city officials like Mayor John Marks.  

Marks instructed the kids how to enter a back-in angled parking space. Actual drivers might have seen them recently on and around Gaines Street.

“To use them, you simply turn on your signal, you pull past it, and then you back up,” says city Public Works Director Gabe Menendez.

A big part of the DRVN 850 campaign are four YouTube videos featuring a driving instructor named Kip. Besides back-in parking, he reminds students to stop whenever lights are flashing in a pedestrian crosswalk. And then there’s a cheeky video about stopping your car behind bike boxes, those bright green things at intersections on Call Street.

“Get behind it!” Kips tells his female student-driver.

At this point in the video, suggestive music pipes up as the female driver appears transfixed by the…behind…of the male biker parked in the bike box in front of her.

“Is it hot in here?” she asks.

City officials say people often pull all the way into the bike box at the red light rather than stopping behind it as they’re supposed to.

And finally there’s the road feature that gets the city all kinds of phone calls: the roundabout.

Assistant City Manager Michelle Bono says, “I’ve been in a roundabout where I’ve had somebody stop at every point in the roundabout, and it’s like, “No, no, it’s continuous movement.” And that’s really the traffic benefit is that if no one’s there you can just go right on in and move right on; you don’t have to stop at all.”

She says people should get used to them, too, because FAMU Way will have four new roundabouts when it reopens.

All of the DRVN 850 videos are on the city’s website. Also posted there are quizzes drivers can take that’ll earn them entries in a drawing for gift cards from local businesses.