Barbara Nylen (“Hey, L.A., you can have our bike lanes,” Dec. 14), after “doing her homework,” asks some questions:

• Why aren’t bikes required to have front and rear reflectors? Answer: They are — headlight and tail reflector at night.

• Why aren’t bikes required to have headlights turned on at dusk? Answer: They are — motor vehicle laws apply.

• Why don’t bikes have license fees like cars do? Answer: It might be because motor vehicles being far heavier than bikes damage roads, causing expensive repairs.

• Why aren’t riders required to wear helmets? Answer: It’s a good idea, but when it was tried with motorcycles, it didn’t last long. My experience is that most serious riders do wear helmets. (Never spend more protecting your head than you think it’s worth!)

• Why aren’t riders ticketed for violating laws? Answer: They should be, and some are. However, consider that a driver violating laws is far more dangerous than a rider. For bike/car collisions at intersections, the motorist is three times more likely to have failed to yield than the rider, so the real question is why aren’t drivers ticketed often enough to achieve compliance?

None of Nylen’s questions has any bearing on the topic: Why are there bike lanes? The reason may be that without bike lanes, too many riders are injured or killed by drivers. The traffic statutes are designed to accommodate diverse vehicles. If drivers knew and obeyed them, the need for bike lanes would be reduced, maybe eliminated.

Regarding the 28th Street photo that’s appeared so many times recently, it doesn’t show the cause of the auto-traffic backup. That’s somewhere behind the photographer, an obstruction that cannot handle even two lanes of traffic, leaving me wondering if it could handle three? If not, instead of two lanes jammed with 40 cars, there’d be three lanes jammed with 60 cars and still no room for ambulances.

Nylen, who was responding to a letter writer from Los Angeles, Mehmet Berker, inadvertently mentions a solution: Berker has no car. If the pictured drivers had no cars, there’d be no traffic jam. Remember, we’re Minnesotans; we’re tough; we solve problems. Ride, don’t drive, and reduce congestion, improve safety, lower road-maintenance costs, have better roads, and be healthier and happier.

John Kaplan, St. Paul


They only make things worse. Don’t we see that?

Isn’t it time we acknowledge the failed experiment known as HOV lanes?

During rush hours, all one observes is regular lanes of backed-up traffic and frustrated drivers for miles, while the HOV lanes are mostly empty.

Traffic flow is greatly hindered because of the loss of a usable lane. Everyone knows (except the offenders) that it only takes one car traveling under the speed limit to create a massive slowdown for miles. The result is more frustration for everyone else as they try to find the faster lane, with lane-changing possibly leading to accidents and even worse blockage. You can’t educate the clueless or change the way they drive. Having the HOV lane merely maintains the bottleneck.

Neither will driving occupancy be changed by the presence of HOV lanes. People will still drive alone. Like it or not, this is the American transportation model. HOV lanes will not force change.

HOV lanes create more gas usage, and as a result, more pollution. And to top it off, they’re classist. Those who can afford to pay the daily toll will gladly do so, but for most it may not be an option.

The benefits offered for very few do not come close to balancing out the negatives. The wait-and-see approach, expecting driving habits to change, has not worked in more than a decade of trying. Opening up another lane of traffic won’t cure the rush-hour blues, but it will create a faster and smoother traffic flow, reduce accidents, and cut back on gasoline consumption and pollution.

Isn’t it time for common sense to take over?

David Berger, Minneapolis


Show yourself, pedestrians!

It happened again at 6 p.m. on a recent evening. Last time, it was two runners on a city street at night wearing all black. This time, as I pulled out of the Southdale parking ramp and stopped at the corner, I looked both ways. As I pulled forward, a woman crossed in front of me. I saw her because she turned her white face toward me. I stopped, and she looked at me and pointed at the stop sign. The problem is that she was wearing a black overcoat, black hat, black pants/dress and black shoes/boots. Against the black of the parking lot pavement and with rather poor lighting, she was all but invisible.

I started to make my turn, but thought that maybe a polite comment would save her serious injury some time. So, I turned the direction she was walking. As I pulled up next to her (about 20 feet away), I said, “Ma’am, do you mind if I make a comment?” She just looked, so I said, “Dressed all in black, you are just about invisible.” She pointed out that she had a pink scarf, which was hidden because it was tucked into her coat. I suggested more visible attire, to which she said I should have my eyes examined.

Even though I get an annual eye exam, maybe she is right. However, is she willing to be “dead” right? If pedestrians are near invisible because of what they wear, how can drivers avoid them?

John Anthonisen, Richfield

• • •

Reminder to drivers: It’s blinker, brake, turn! Not brake, blinker, turn.

Vickie Miller, Cleveland, Minn.


The Great Gray Mile

I’m glad the buses have returned to Nicollet Mall after years of construction, although I’m still waiting for a shelter. Intrigued by the desolate nature of the new design, I walked the length of the mall. It is gray concrete from side to side. It seems inspiration was taken from the Crosstown Highway between Tracy Avenue and Hwy. 100, with some birch trees added. An odd choice for what used to be a pedestrian-friendly environment. Even the lights are highway-scale. If the length of closure didn’t kill the mall. the stark concrete design surely will.

Jerome Ryan, Minneapolis

The writer is an architect.


Volunteers, you know, volunteer

My goodness, what a curmudgeon! (“Exploiting the volunteers,” Readers Write, Dec. 16.) Anyone who ventures to Minnesota in the middle of winter deserves the warmest welcome possible, and I, for one, am delighted to be a volunteer. From my experience, people who volunteer want to help; it’s not just a job. That’s the attitude we want to share with those who come for the Super Bowl.

Sis Hanson, Bloomington