BICYCLE FATALITY NO. 4
Make it easier for bikes and cars to share roads
The recent increase in collisions involving bicycles and motor vehicles challenges all of us to consider how we can avoid future injuries and fatalities.
Elected officials and those responsible for urban planning and transportation policy should make it easier for bicycles and motor vehicles to share the same roads. Existing bike lanes should be safer.
Motor vehicle drivers should always be aware that bicycles may be on the roads with them. Because bicycles are not easy to see, drivers must take extra care at all times, but especially on roads often used by bicyclists.
As a bicycle commuter, I know all too well that there is a challenge for cyclists, too. We must ride defensively, and, unless we've made eye contact with a driver, we should assume that they do not see us. Cyclists need to wear bright clothing, select the safest routes and obey the rules of the road.
Michael Kleber-Diggs, St. Paul
The Oct. 1 article acknowledging the recent death of four Twin Cities bicyclists in collisions with motor vehicles suggests that recent fatalities are "possibly because of higher bike traffic." Research repeatedly indicates the opposite fact -- a proven way to make streets safer for cyclists is to increase the number of cyclists on the road. This makes drivers more aware of the presence (or expected presence) of bike traffic.
Minnesota's elected officials should ensure that our state's roadways are safe for all users. They must hold police accountable to enforce traffic laws rigorously and make sure that city and county public works departments monitor crash data and fix problem streets and intersections. They must also make adequate investments in the education and infrastructure needed to create safe transportation systems.
Recent cyclist deaths should serve as a wake-up call about behavior on our streets. We cannot settle for these tragedies.
JOAN PASIUK, ST. PAUL; PROGRAM DIRECTOR, BIKE WALK TWIN CITIES INITIATIVE,
TRANSIT FOR LIVABLE COMMUNITIES
LET SOUL-SEARCHING BEGIN
America's business schools are complicit
I think blame for the current financial mess should be shared by Harvard, Yale, the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business, of which I am a graduate, and all the other MBA factories. They have been teaching the wrong things for years.
Current theory tells business to manage with the spreadsheet: If the bottom line is not where it is supposed to be, cut personnel and cheapen the product. The goal is making the numbers look good, and the prize is getting the stock price up. Business has forgotten why it came into existence: to fill a need and do it well first and bottom-line profit second.
The foundation of our productivity and prosperity is not taking an existing business and skimming the cream, cutting costs and outsourcing to China. The economy grows because someone out there is creating something new and building what did not exist before.
To get out of this mess, we don't need more financial games with government money played by clever financial managers; we need fewer played with everyone's money.
JOHN MURRAY, NEW BRIGHTON
Do firefighters go home at the end of their shift if it falls in the middle of a five-alarm blaze? Then why is Congress so focused on adjourning so that its members can go out and campaign? In this political season of "Country First," our representatives should remain in session until a solution to the economic panic is hammered out.
PATRICK CIERNIA, MINNEAPOLIS
THE NEXT PRESIDENT
It's more than fair to question Sarah Palin
A political independent wrote of being disgusted with the media's shameful treatment of Sarah Palin (letter, Sept. 30). I beg to differ; Palin had two rather softball interviews where she responded very much like "a true political pro" -- evading questions and making up answers on the fly rather than admitting that she didn't have the answer.
But this discussion distracts the informed electorate. We're talking about the Oval Office here. Do your homework, folks: The 72-year-old John McCain in 2000 had a stage 2b malignant melanoma removed from his neck, which has 10-year survival rate of 59 percent (American Cancer Society statistics). We need to know if Palin, McCain's chosen VP, is qualified to lead in these incredibly difficult times.
It took Palin six years and five colleges to receive her BA from the University of Idaho. Please, we just had eight years of average, a guy who four years ago routinely beat John Kerry in likability polls. America's love affair with average has to stop. Instead, let's hear the terms exceptional, brilliant and thoughtful when referring to the qualities most important in the next president of the United States.
CATHY JOHNSTON, MINNETONKA
EARLY CHILDHOOD ED
The health of our society depends on it
As a parent and a preschool teacher, I am saddened every time I hear about Minnesota cutting economic assistance for early childhood programs ("Child care still shortchanged," Sept. 22).
These programs are a great start, a wonderful stepping stone. Many of these children will not get the chance to receive the school readiness programs that they need if the financial assistance their families depend on is cut. Obviously, cutting early childhood funding puts a limit on the number of children who can benefit from these programs.
If we want to make this about finances, it has been shown by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis that for every $1 spent, there is a return of $12. Early childhood programs are just starting to rebound from past large budget cuts. We can't afford to make more cuts that affect our children, our future.
PAULA KROLL HANCE, BROOKLYN PARK