Paper’s coverage blamed the victim

I was deeply disturbed by the Star Tribune’s coverage of the terrible hit-and-run of a bicyclist at Lake Street and Cedar Avenue last weekend. It is very unfortunate that the victim was blamed so severely, both for her legal shortcoming (not having lights) and for failing to use a helmet.

It’s great to talk about prevention, but why limit it to the ways in which the victim could prevent the crime? The article might also have mentioned that motorists should not drive drunk, should not flee the scene of an accident, and should be mindful of pedestrians and cyclists at night, especially in an urban area on a weekend.

Similar statements have been made regarding sexual assault: Perhaps the victim was walking alone at night, drinking underage, or wearing revealing clothing. Statements like this have been rightly chastised.

Sean Hayford Oleary, Minneapolis

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The writer of the April 2 Letter of the Day (“Bikers, be safe …”) hit the nail on the head. The money spent on bike lanes and trails is a gift.

We have a wonderful bike trail through Deephaven, but too many bikers use the main road that parallels it. Gov. Mark Dayton wants more revenues. Perhaps charging license fees to bikers could supplement the gas tax that pays for our roadways and maintenance.

Janet H. Holmgren, Deephaven

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My deepest condolences to those who knew Elyse Stern. In the discussion of who was at fault — the driver (suspected alcohol) or the biker (no helmet, no lights) — how about more blame to the police departments that allow both scenarios to remain prevalent?

The police should be outside a different group of bars every night at closing, arresting those who wobble out and get behind the wheel. And they must start enforcing the lights-at-night law for bicyclists. Lights are not optional. A helmet is optional, though not wearing one is a very bad personal choice.

Bikes have a right to be on the road, and cars have a deep responsibility to share that road safely. But if I should, by no fault of my own, injure or kill a bicyclist who was not obeying common-sense laws, I myself would be injured for life, and that’s not fair. So while the police should be arresting drunks before they turn the key, they should also be handing out tickets and warnings to bicyclists who put themselves and others at risk.

Bob Friedman, Minneapolis

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For those of you who are tempted to write about bike safety at a time when Elyse Stern’s family and friends are mourning her tragic death, may I please offer an alternative message: Support your local artists — musicians, performance artists and visual artists. Live in a way that sustains the Earth — grow your own food when you can or buy from CSAs; ride your bike or walk; shop at thrift stores. Take care of your friends and family lovingly. Tip generously when you are waited on. Travel and enjoy adventures. Be yourself. And when you are driving, please be wary of bicyclists and pedestrians.

Sue Kerr, Edina

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Gov. Dayton

Give him some credit where credit is due

Clearly, Hennepin County Board Member Jeff Johnson is running for governor in 2014. In his diatribe against Gov. Mark Dayton over the Vikings stadium funding troubles (“Call for repairs,” April 2), Johnson tries to sound bipartisan when including his Republican Party’s shared responsibility for passing the stadium legislation, then immediately shifts everything post-stadium-vote onto Dayton’s shoulders.

But then Johnson most disingenuously compares the stadium fiasco to Dayton’s compliance with federally established, U.S. Supreme Court-sanctioned health care improvements for all Minnesotans as “engineering a state-run health insurance exchange that will dramatically change the way Minnesotans purchase health care.”

Well, duh. That’s the whole intent of the law. Dayton is showing leadership in getting ahead of it, and, indeed, is not letting the federal government come in and establish its own version of the health exchange, which by all accounts would cost us even more.

Kevin Driscoll, St. Paul

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U.S. should be direct with its response

If there has ever been a case for a preemptive strike, this must be it (“U.S. should be careful with its responses,” Readers Write, April 2). I need not reiterate the threats. They are more than clear. Are we to wait until something evil happens, and then respond? I think not. There is a 28-year-old dictating the future of the world.

Isn’t a good offense a part of a good defense? Lock and load. I have nothing against 28-year-olds, but I fail to understand how the tail can wag the dog.

Where are China, Japan, and South Korea on this issue? These are all economic powerhouses. Why is the ball in our court only?

H.M.Gabriel, Brooklyn Center

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Thank you so much; I really get it now

At the bottom of L.K. Hanson’s “You Don’t Say” cartoon on the Opinion Exchange page April 1, we are urged to “figure it out and do something about it now” after learning that charming people never vote Republican and tedious people never vote Democratic. We also are told that charming people like to try new experiences; enjoy dogs and cats, and read novels, whereas Republican voters (i.e., the tedious) do none of those things.

This is tribalism of the worst sort! Has the Star Tribune decided that it must pander to the same crowd that reads City Pages? If so, then I guess I can’t really expect that those editors who find Hanson to be witty would care about reporting news stories that might run counter to their progressive political philosophy. No one watches MSNBC or Fox News expecting balanced reporting, and now, sadly, the same appears to be true for the Star Tribune. Now that I’ve “figured it out” and am ready to “do something about it now,” I will cancel my subscription to your paper.

Judd Swanson, Minneapolis