About 5 years ago I wrote a blog entitled “Leading Economic Indicators”. Having an undergraduate degree in Economics from IU, I felt qualified to make an economic forecast. Real economists look at statistics such as average weekly hours worked, new orders of consumer goods, building permits, and consumer confidence. My Leading Economic Indicator was simply the number of dump trucks that I observed on the Southwest Florida roadways. Based on the increased traffic, I predicted that an economic revival was imminent.
After the housing bubble burst in 2007, dump trucks had mysteriously disappeared from Southwest Florida. Perhaps they were shipped to Asia, or just buried under the sand for safekeeping. They made a comeback starting in 2010, as I witnessed from the seat of my bike while biking such corridors as Livingston, Imperial, Three Oaks, and Ben Hill Griffith Parkways. Dump trucks tend to hug the bike lane, and are hard not to notice when they are bearing down on a lonely biker.
Dump truck traffic has been steadily building for the last 5 years, leading to renewed home, commercial, and highway construction all over Southwest Florida. The economic recovery in our area is in full bloom, and there has been no let up in the number of trucks plying our roads.
Today, as I bike, I view the looming dump trucks in my rear-view mirror with mixed emotions: I am grateful for their role in the housing and economic recovery; and I pray that the driver approaching from the rear is not focused on texting or a phone call. My bike and I have never tangled with a dump truck, but I suspect it would not be a fair fight.