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Q: Bulbouts are terrible! They force bike riders close to vehicles, especially to their side mirrors. And they force drivers making a right turn to swing closer to the center of the road they’re turning on to. I’ve had some near misses with vehicles coming from the opposite direction.

Susan O’Sullivan, Richmond

Like Mr.

Roadshow’s Facebook page for more questions and answers about Bay Area roads, freeways and commuting.

A: Bulbouts are curb extensions that extend the sidewalk into the parking lane in order to narrow the roadway and provide additional pedestrian space at key intersections. The goal of adding bulbouts is to slow traffic and make pedestrians more visible.

Q: Recently, a reader named Joanne Clare complained about the dangers of bulbouts from a bicyclist’s point of view. You answered that you have not heard of any problems. I hope you hear plenty now.

Bulbouts appeared about a year ago in Saratoga. One is at the intersection of a cul-de-sac and a larger residential street. The cul-de-sac is popular with cyclists and pedestrians because it connects to another cul-de-sac for them, but not for cars.

The danger is that the bulbouts now force law-abiding cyclists to circle far out into car traffic, despite very poor visibility, in order to make a right turn. Before, they could stay near the curb and out of harm’s way.

Tom Howell, Saratoga

A: Anyone else?

Q: Bulbouts and traffic circles are dumb. Bulbouts make me have to swing my big truck wider, and if someone is at the stop sign, I may not be able to make the turn. Ridiculous.

And traffic circles — no one knows how to use them. You make a left turn from the right lane. Dumb! I’ve seen many collisions because of these stupid things. Go to Kaiser in Santa Clara and you’ll see traffic back up because people get confused. Traffic engineers need to leave their fantasies behind and open their eyes to reality.

Ray-the-Tow-Truck-Guy

A: Bulbouts are a traffic calming measure popular among planners, but not with some drivers. Because pedestrian injuries and deaths are increasing, cities are trying several safety improvements. Bulbouts are one measure that is helping to reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries.

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Many cities are trying a variety of ideas, in addition to bulbouts. For example, San Jose has removed lanes on numerous Willow Glen streets to slow traffic, and Santa Cruz has added roundabouts near the wharf. San Francisco has expanded protected bike lanes and is prohibiting right turns on red lights downtown. Santa Clara County has added bulbouts on several busy expressways.

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at [email protected] or 408-920-5335.

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The Truth About Indoor Vs. Outdoor Cats

19 years pass with no answers since murder of Alabama 11-year-old girl Kroger and Fred Meyer are recalling cheese dips out of fears that salmonella-tainted onions were used to make them The Truth About Indoor Vs. Outdoor Cats

© Shutterstock One of the first decisions a cat owner has to make is whether or they should let their cat be an outdoor — or both an indoor and outdoor — cat.

 

While being outdoors might seem like fun for your cat — especially knowing that cats have natural instincts to hunt and explore — that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for the long-term health — or lifespan — of your cat.

 

According to Dr. Vanessa Spano, a veterinarian at Behavior Vets NYC in New York City, keeping them indoors usually means a happier, healthier cat. 

Keeping cats inside can help extend their life  “Outdoor cats may have shorter lifespans as there are a lot of risky situations out there that indoor cats are not exposed to, such as predators, vehicular injuries and exposure to toxins and infectious diseases, such as of bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal origin,” Dr. Spano said. 

In fact, the average lifespan of an indoor cat ranges from 10 to 15 years, whereas the lifespan of outdoor cats are way shorter — averaging just 2 to 5 years.

 

This is due to the many dangers cats face outdoors — like cars or predators. Even raccoons will frequently try and hunt cats!

 

Of course, it’s also worth considering the harm cats (who are basically an invasive species) due to the outdoors — each year outdoor domestic cats kill literally billions of wild animals in the U.S. alone.   

How to keep an indoor cat stimulated If your cat is an indoor cat, there’s a lot you can do to make sure she isn’t missing out on any enrichment or excitement. 

“From a mental health perspective, enrichment is critically important to our feline companions,” Lauren Novack, director of operations and behavior consultant at Behavior Vets NYC in New York City, told The Dodo.

 

According to Novack, instinctually, cats are wild predators who spend their time stalking and pouncing on prey, so you should try to give them toys that give them the same type of stimulation. 

 

“When stuck indoors [without stimulation], most cats are fed out of a bowl, sleep in the sun, and are generally bored without new experiences or activities. While it's important to eliminate the risks of outdoor living that Dr. Spano already mentioned, it's also important to recognize the importance of environmental enrichment for mental health.”

 

Types of environmental enrichment can include:

 

Climbing

 

It’s a natural instinct for cats to want to climb and check out their environment — and potential prey — from above. You can help fulfill this need by getting your cat some cat trees. A safe climbing route will also stop your cat from finding other ways to get above the ground — like climbing your curtains.

 

Buy a cat tree on Chewy for $74.99

 

Hunting

 

A cat's favorite pastime is stalking and hunting. You can help enrich your cat’s life by providing plenty of toys and tunnels they can “hunt” and explore.

 

Buy a cat toy variety pack on Chewy for $15.98

 

Scratching

 

For cats, scratching doesn’t only sharpen their claws, but it’s a way for them to mark their territory. Getting your cat some scratching posts can help.

 

Buy a scratching post on Amazon for $60.99

 

Hiding

 

Cats like to get away from all the noise and light when they want to sleep, so making sure you have some tucked-away places can help make sure they feel secure.

 

Buy a hiding place on Amazon for $23.99+

 

But aside from making sure your home is ready to help make your cat feel her most cat-like, Novack said you can go a step further if you really want your cat to (safely) have it all.

 

“Why not train your cat to ride in a stroller, walk on a leash, or build a catio so that your kitty can spend some time safely outdoors?” Novack said.

 

And even if your cat is indoors, make sure your pet is up to date on check-ups and vaccines.

 

“A key to your cat's longevity, whether they are indoor, outdoor, or both, is preventative medicine,” Dr. Spano said. “This includes annual blood-work, core vaccines and any recommended vaccines by your veterinarian, and protection from parasites such as fleas and intestinal worms.”

 

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