In Minneapolis, West River Parkway runs along one of the most scenic corridors in America, showcasing the great Mississippi River. The Great River Road, following the river from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, is arguably the longest and most important scenic byway in America. Are we overusing it or underappreciating it?

The parkway has been under reconstruction efforts over the last five years and is showing signs of serious roadway breakdown. It is no longer a recreational drive, but more an auto repair business bonanza. What should be an experience to appreciate nature and showcase Minnesota as the source of the great Mississippi River now has become an area of conflict and embarrassment for our city.

The deteriorated condition has forced cyclists onto the pathways in order to maintain safe travel and accelerated paces for training. This is causing conflicts with pedestrians, recreational cyclists, and families with strollers, Rollerbladers, runners and general users.

St. Paul has been able to accommodate multiuse with a wide roadway, bike lanes and a well-maintained drive surface on its side of the river. It is time for Minneapolis to step up and repair the roadway, accommodate recreational use and mitigate the conflicts.

Michael Bjornberg, Minneapolis

SUGARY DRINKS

Sorry, but all calories are not equal in their influence

The July 9 letter from the president of the Minnesota Beverage Association (“All calories are equal, and beverage firms help you count”) was misleading at best and disingenuous at worst. I grew up thinking all calories were the same, but research shows that is just not true. Calories from sugar do much more harm to our bodies than do other calories. Because sugar causes us to secrete insulin, we end up feeling more hungry, craving more sugar, expanding our waistlines (insulin is the fat-storing hormone), and increasing our chance of obesity and diabetes. One soda a day increases the chance of Type 2 diabetes by 22 percent because of the sugar content. New research suggests that diet sodas are not much better, because our bodies register the sweet taste and “prepare” for the sugar surge by secreting insulin.

If you watch the documentary “Fed Up” (produced by Laurie David and Katie Couric and available on Netflix) or watch Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, discuss this topic (easy to access on the computer), you will be convinced. The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of six to nine teaspoons of sugar per adult per day. There are more than 11 teaspoons in some sodas. An easy way to get healthier is to limit soda and juice in our diets. The beverage industry would prefer that we believe it is a matter of calorie control; but the truth is that it is the kind of calories we ingest that matters — and sugar is a food that foils our attempts at weight control and optimal health.

Meri Santos, Richfield

The writer is a registered nurse.

 

RECREATIONAL DRUGS

Some dangers are more urgent than others, one would think

Heroin use, abuse and deaths are on the rise (July 8), and the focus now (as evidenced by a Minneapolis proposal) is on E-cigs and nicotine?

Brenda Steinberg, Minneapolis

 

LAKE CALHOUN

To cite American Indian stewardship is generous

A lake core sample can show many things, but stewardship of a lake hundreds of years ago isn’t one of them (“Mde Maka Ska: A Minnesota name for a Minnesota lake,” July 8). In the early 1800s, in the entire area that is now the state of Minnesota, there were approximately the same number of American Indians as there are people in the city of Winona today. Think about that: Spread the entire population of Winona over Minnesota, and how much damage could be done with no technology?

Stewardship had nothing to do with it, as the writers of the July 8 commentary declare, citing their study of sediment at Lake Calhoun. The American Indians used what technology they had to feed, clothe and house themselves, and it wasn’t much. Fertilizer for crops came from the remains of fish or other natural sources. There were no commercial fertilizers, no herbicides, no septic systems, no storm drains, no streets or heavy industry; these are the things that destroy water bodies. Not having the means of destruction is not and will never be the same as being good stewards.

The mentality of the noble savage needs to go the way of the Confederate flag. The American Indians acted with far more honor and honesty than the white man, but they scratched out an existence in this state as best they could — never killing more than their collective need, but totally unable to get ahead as a people because of the lack of technology that affects the environment.

Mark Hayes, Buffalo

 

MINNESOTA LOYALTY

Sure wish the most talented athletes would stay for college

As much as I admire the talent and “dogged work ethic” of young golfer Sarah Burnham, (“Another round of success,” July 8), I am disappointed that yet another outstanding Minnesota high school athlete chose to leave the state to pursue both her education and athletic career. I certainly wish Burnham well — but I also wish she were honing those remarkable skills at the University of Minnesota or another fine state school, instead of at Michigan State. I’m tired of reading about all the ones that got away!

Fred L. Klein, Minnetonka

 

NEW FACES ON CURRENCY

Celebrating writers is not a new idea, but it’s a good one

Regarding the July 9 letter proposing that we portray Emily Dickinson on the redesigned $10 bill: It so happens that the idea of celebrating poets on currency is not new. Before my journey to Norway and Sweden recently, I enjoyed seeing the faces of two of my distant ancestors on bills in both currencies. In Sweden, writer Selma Lagerlöf can be seen on the 20 kroner bill. The opposite side features geese represented in one of her stories. She was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature.

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Norwegian writer, poet and lyricist to songs by Grieg, is pictured on the 50 kroner note. He is also a Nobel Prize winner, and he wrote the words to the Norwegian national anthem. He is not known in the U.S. like his friend Henrik Ibsen, but he is equally famous in Norway, and when he died in 1910, his funeral rivaled that of England’s Princess Diana in 1997.

All the kroner notes in Norway feature pictures of both men and women who are writers, artists, scientists and opera singers — in short, what we might call their “national treasures.”

Joann N. Parker, St. Paul

 

THE INFRASTRUCTURE

What are you doing to help?

America’s greatest generation paid a greater portion of their income in taxes. With that investment/sacrifice, they built a national power grid, a national telephone system and a national highway system, as well as many local roads and bridges. That investment released the greatest growth this nation has ever seen.

It was once said in Minnesota: “Our roads and bridges are pristine and our highways are uncongested!” What has your generation done with that investment? Isn’t it time to raise the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon — or about $2 a tank — so that our generation can begin to rebuild the dream, the economic growth and the bright future our children and grandchildren deserve?

Michael Boland, Bloomington