Q: Is it illegal to drive in Collier County or Florida barefooted?
— Sandy, Naples
A: This is a common myth nationwide as well as a popular topic on Internet forums.
"No, it's not illegal to drive barefoot. We don't recommend it, but, no, it's not (illegal)," said Capt. Nancy Rasmussen, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. "We don't recommend it because your feet can slip off the gas pedal."
Despite the traction concern, nothing statutorily makes it illegal to drive barefoot in the state, according to Lt. Gregory Bueno of Florida Highway Patrol Troop F, which covers Collier, Lee, and eight other counties in Southwest Florida.
"I have never been presented with that question, but down here with the beach and the sunny weather, I'm sure it's a question people will have," Bueno said.
No other state prohibits driving a motor vehicle without shoes either. The exception is operating a motorcycle or riding on one in Alabama.
"No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless he is wearing shoes," according to the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
Motorcyclists need to consider whether riding barefoot interferes with the operation or control of their bikes.
"Florida Statute 316.2085, which governs the use of motorcycles and mopeds, does not specifically address riding barefoot. However, doing so can constitute a moving violation under paragraph 5 of the statute because it can impair the operator's ability to use his or her feet to help steady the vehicle in the event of an emergency," said Karie Partington, a spokeswoman for the Collier County Sheriff's Office.
Some people driving while barefooted don't feel as safe as they do when wearing shoes. It's easier to push on the accelerator or brake pedal when wearing sturdier shoes.
However, other motorists find it safer to drive shoeless instead of wearing some types of footwear, such as stiletto heels or flip-flops, which also could impair driving. High-heeled shoes sometimes get caught in or under floor mats or pedals and delay accelerating or braking, and open-heeled footwear can easily slip off and get wedged under pedals.
"Barefoot driving in and of itself does not appear to pose a significant safety issue, but it is important to remember that motorists must always devote their full attention to driving," Partington said.
Naples Towne Centre
Q: We started coming to Naples in 1983, staying at The Glades. We shopped at the Naples Towne Centre on the East Trail near The Glades when it opened in the early 1980s. Kmart was the anchor at the north end, but what was the store in the middle in the same location as the Save-A-Lot grocery is now? They sold general home merchandise/housewares where you filled out an order ticket and they brought you the item, like a Service Merchandise. Just cannot remember their name, but we bought an electric juicer there way back when. Help solve a mystery if you can. What was that store name?
— William Meier, Columbus, Ohio
A: The Luria's store and company have been gone for nearly 15 years, so I hope you aren't trying to return that juicer. In 1997, L. Luria & Son Inc. closed its 21,000-square-foot catalog showroom in East Naples after operating it for 15 years.
Miami Lakes-based L. Luria & Son, a publicly traded company incorporated in 1898, operated as a general merchandise wholesaler and a catalog showroom chain specializing in high-priced gold and diamond jewelry. Although Luria's had 50 stores and more than 1,000 employees at its peak in the early 1990s, the 99-year-old company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Aug. 13, 1997, according to a Sun-Sentinel archived news story.
The company's one-time local success was clear in a statement President Leonard Luria said regarding diamond sales in Luria's showroom in Naples Towne Centre on U.S. 41 East.
"Two Fridays before Christmas, we sold seven diamonds ranging from $2,000 to $11,000 in that store from the time it opened until 3 p.m.," Leonard Luria is quoted in a February 1984 issue of Discount Store News magazine.
All three original anchors — Kmart, Luria's, and a SupeRx food and drug store — have changed since the northern half of Naples Towne Centre opened in 1982.
Luria's closing was followed by Kmart in July 2000. In June 2003, Beall's relocated from its original, 35,000-square-foot store in the southern half of Towne Centre to the 81,000-square-foot space of the former Kmart.
In 2004, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida Inc. opened a "superstore" in the 32,680-square-foot space formerly occupied by SupeRx food and drug store. Woolley's had closed there in 1994 and Hyde Park Market in 1996, leaving the shopping center without a grocery store until supermarket chain Save-A-Lot opened in 2000 in the space Luria's had vacated three years earlier.
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"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.