As somebody living in St. Paul, I would love to have a street as well-plowed as the bicycle path depicted in the Dec. 8 paper.

Rob Kahn, St. Paul

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Since moving to Los Angeles six years ago from St. Paul, I — along with my wife, who grew up in Minneapolis — have often looked on with envy at the progress Minneapolis has made in its commitment to the safety and comfort of people walking and biking. Though she has a typical Minneapolitan’s arrogance concerning St. Paul, my hometown hasn’t been a total slouch either — hello, Capital City Bikeway!

See, here in L.A. things are different. Although there is sunshine all the time, and, outside of some neighborhoods, not much topography to speak of, we have done diddly-squat when it comes to making people who walk and bike safer here. In fact, worse — we have regressed, installing fewer miles of bike lanes since Mayor Eric Garcetti came into office. And that’s a shame, because traffic collisions are the leading killer of children here.

Unfortunately, all too often we hear the same argument in L.A. as to why we shouldn’t stripe any bike lanes that Dr. Geoffrey Emerson offers in a Dec. 8 commentary in the Star Tribune — that ambulances wouldn’t be able to go anywhere (“Bike lanes are just a hindrance around busy medical facilities”). This is an assumption made without evidence as Emerson “wonders” and “supposes” but doesn’t have anything to cite (it’s the same here in L.A. when people assert this). It’s also a wrong assumption at that. According to “Best Practices — Emergency Access in Healthy Streets,” commissioned by Los Angeles County Public Health, bike lanes offer space for emergency vehicles to travel as well as increased turning radiuses, facilitating turns.

The worst thing though, to me, is that this idea — that bike lanes hinder response times and therefore they should be rooted out — belies not being able to see the forest through the trees. If fewer people are hit by cars because there’s a complete, and safe, network for biking, there will be fewer collisions for emergency responders to respond to in the first place, which is what we want, right? Maybe not if you’re a TV hospital drama writer, I guess — where would our shows be without car crashes? But hopefully, for the rest of us, we want a safer world to begin with.

Last, I don’t understand, while after postulating that an ambulance could drive in a bike lane (which it could), Dr. Emerson thinks the 28th Street bike lane should be eliminated. There is a buffer with flexible bollards there. If it truly is difficult to maneuver an ambulance in the bike lane in winter with snow, the bollard tops can be removed, facilitating travel for the emergency vehicle. Mountable curbs could also be built, again, if it were a vital issue. The fact that we can’t have that discussion — “Hey, how do we improve this?” rather than just a rote “Take it out” — disturbs me greatly.

Take it from a couple of Minnesotans living in L.A. without a car, and talking up Minneapolis everyday to everyone here — don’t go backward on your progress, especially just to cater to fantastical postulations that have no backing in reality.

Mehmet Berker, Los Angeles


Approved use for autism deserves more scrutiny

I am deeply concerned about the Minnesota Department of Health’s decision to make Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) one of the conditions eligible to be treated with medical marijuana (“Pot use approved for autism, sleep apnea,” Dec. 1). As a clinical psychology postdoctoral fellow and researcher, I believe this decision was made without the minimum level of scientific evidence demonstrating that marijuana is an effective treatment for ASD. There has not been a single published randomized clinical trial (the gold standard for evaluating therapeutic interventions) of marijuana for individuals with ASD. This means we lack not only the ability to gauge whether or not marijuana is beneficial, but also any appreciation of the potential side effects and harms it may cause to individuals with ASD.

Effective behavioral treatments for ASD (such as applied behavior analysis) are currently available, although not all families have access to these treatments and they don’t work for everyone. For individuals with ASD not currently benefiting from existing treatments and their families, I understand the urgent desire to deploy potentially effective treatments, but we have an obligation to these vulnerable individuals to test treatments, ensuring the benefits outweigh the risks, before we make them widely available.

I am not alone in the belief that the Health Department has not sufficiently examined the evidence before legalizing marijuana for mental health disorders (see Dr. Patricia Dickmann’s Dec. 12, 2016, commentary “Minnesota is mistaken in authorizing marijuana use for PTSD”). I ask the Health Department to reconsider the decision to make ASD an eligible condition for medical marijuana. I urge it to wait for the minimum amount of scientific evidence necessary to ensure marijuana is both effective and safe for individuals with ASD. Without this safeguard, it risks doing more harm than good.

Helen Valenstein-Mah, Minneapolis

The writer is a clinical psychology postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research in the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.


All in all, things seem to tilt inexorably in government’s favor

The government giveth and the government taketh away. Social Security announced an increase (first in four years). In our case, $35. Not a lot, but it helps. But Medicare goes up $18. Supplement goes up $8. And now our local governments raise property taxes $21. So we are $12 in the hole, provided nothing else goes up. Hah!

Please remember this when talking about our greedy geezers.

Richard G. Zerba, Blaine


Yet another way in which our world can be inequitable

So U.S. Bank Stadium will have a Verizon revolutionary antenna system so everyone attending the Super Bowl can be connected. For seven years, my daughter has lived in north Minneapolis, in the Folwell neighborhood, and has never had reliable cellphone service. True with three different carriers. She had to go landline in case there was an emergency. So the fat cats in the stadium are ultra connected and north Minneapolis still goes begging. Go figure.

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park