My first ticket was a result of being impatient with drivers looking at their phones or rubbernecking an accident and of my running late. My second trip into the forbidden HOV zone resulted from an evasive maneuver made to avoid being hit by a last-minute lane shifter.

So, I figured, if you can’t beat them, join them. On Feb. 27, I signed up for a transponder on the MnPass website to allow me to use the express lanes and pay the fees. However, I was notified on March 2 that MnPass was clean out of transponders. It is now May and I still do not have a transponder; each e-mail I send to get updates comes back with: “We will let you know when they come in.”

What business could possibly survive operating without anything to sell for several months? Is it time to either rid ourselves of the “express” lanes or hire some people who can manage them properly?

Dane Bogaard, Mound

SPEEDING

Cedar Rapids enforces the law — it’s as simple as that, lead-foots

I am a lifelong resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa (“How Iowa town snared 16,000 Minnesota speeders,” May 3). Yes, we have speed and red-light cameras in our city. Interstate 380 travels directly through the center of Cedar Rapids. Much of I-380 is elevated, with an area crossing the river that is an S-shaped turn. Before the speed cameras were installed, there were many accidents on I-380 as people drove way too fast through the city. The main point that Star Tribune readers need to know is that those cameras do not issue speeding tickets until the vehicle is 12 miles per hour or more above the posted 55-mph limit. So — your readers getting those tickets are breaking the law by traveling 67 mph or higher through our 55-mph zone. What is so difficult to understand about that? They are breaking the law! Quit whining and grow up!

Larry Bushaw, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

 

BICYCLING

Maybe you’re just not bright enough to be on two wheels?

Ah, spring! Thousands of weekend warriors pull the bikes from the garage rafters, pump up the tires, and they’re off, a little wobbly but full of confidence and enthusiasm.

It’s the zombie apocalypse. They’re everywhere on the roads and byways, bike paths and walking trails, riding pell-mell and looking crazed and delirious. See the road. See the bicycle path 5 feet away along the road. Where do they bike? In the road, swaying right and left like drunken zombie sailors. Top speed: 7 mph. These are not highly trained cyclists moving in a straight line at the speed of prevailing traffic. These are accidents looking for places to happen.

Or, I go for a hike on a trail with a sign that reads “Hikers Only” and, 10 steps in, I’m diving into the bushes to avoid a careening biker. This is more excitement than I need on a walk in the woods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that more than half a million emergency-room visits each year involve bicycles (with more than 800 deaths). Most of the casualties have to do with bike/car encounters. But a not-insignificant number are bike/pedestrian, bike/tree, bike/pothole and bike/stupidity. I even once saw a guy biking and texting. What are you going to do? It’s a free world. But it does make one hesitate before venturing out into the great outdoors.

Spring might be the worst time of year for bike-related insanity if only because the Darwinian selection process hasn’t yet weeded out the truly incompetent and unskilled. But any time of year, beware. They’re out there — rolling and weaving and hungry for blood.

Garrett Tomczak, Golden Valley

 

EQUITABLE TRANSPORTATION

Don’t those not in cars also deserve to feel safe?

Last summer, I was hit by a Hummer while biking home from donating blood. This was the third time I have been hit by a car in the past several years — not to mention the near-miss situations that happen almost daily. The methods of transportation I choose to use are biking, walking and transit. I, along with the 30 percent of Minnesotans who do not own a car, deserve to feel safe while commuting. Investment in infrastructure is key to ensuring this.

This legislative session, it is critical to pass an equitable transportation funding bill that includes investment in transit, biking and walking infrastructure. These nonautomotive transportation methods are more cost-effective for families, build community by allowing people the opportunity to engage with one another on the street, create an active lifestyle, and provide environmentally sustainable commuting options.

The bill passed by the Minnesota House jeopardizes all of these benefits to our communities. It is my hope that the outcomes of conference committee negotiations reflect the Senate’s inclusive multimodal bill so that all of us may feel safe on the street.

Julia Bulbulian Wells, Minneapolis

 

DISTRACTED DRIVING

How refreshing to see teen take responsibility after accident

Too often we shirk responsibility and make excuses for our poor choices. When someone does the opposite, I think it deserves recognition.

Shyann Ericksen made a terrible decision one morning to look at a text while driving, and it changed her life and the life of an innocent family sharing the road with her (“Teen speaks out about texting behind wheel,” May 1).

What is remarkable about this 17-year-old is how she is bravely speaking out about the devastation she caused and taking full responsibility for doing what she can to make it right.

I hope that she will continue to speak honestly and loudly about the terrible chances we take with each other’s lives when texting and driving. I hope she will work hard to forgive herself and make the most of her life, and that she will do all she can to ease the burden of the Dyals family. I hope she will know that the next time I have made a bad decision, she will be my example of how to take responsibility. And kudos to the wise judge who saw an opportunity to use this terrible situation to make a difference.

Nancy Day Blasberg, St. Paul

 

LAKE HOME

Nature surely isn’t smiling back

I was just flabbergasted to read in the May 3 Homes section about the “modern retreat” that, as its headline at StarTribune.com put it, is “one with nature.” The notion that this sprawling modern mansion on a northern Minnesota lake is at home with nature is preposterous, as is the homeowners’ idea that their Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design is a “minimalist retreat.” Like camping in a beautiful tent — yeah, sure.

I remember the Big Sand Lake from my youth, when my parents could barely afford to take a week’s vacation to a family-owned resort by renting one of the three or four small cabins — inspired by Abe Lincoln, I imagine — for about $100. We could rent a fishing boat for about $20 more. Same lake, different era indeed.

Chris O’Neill, Northfield