There have been several letters detailing bad decisions some cyclists make while riding in traffic. I sympathize with these perspectives. When I am driving, I hate to see a cyclist do something crazy. However, the other side of the story is terrifying.
One example of many: Last weekend I was nearly struck while cycling in East Liberty. The driver yelled "sorry" as she passed by. I wonder if my 9-year-old son would have accepted her apology if she had killed me.
I invite motorists who are able to bike to try riding a few miles in the city. Try to traverse our potholes, avoid city buses or suck in some smog belching from a truck as you climb a few of our city hills. Take a look at the broken glass, hubcaps, sewer grates, sticks and other obstacles that litter the side of the road; you'll see the reason cyclists are not riding next to the curb. Experience what it is like when drivers honk and yell at you or, worse yet, almost graze you as they yammer away on their cell phones, oblivious.
Yes, there are cyclists who risk their lives by making bad choices, but in my experience, there are plenty of drivers who take risks with cyclists' lives. Both parties need to take responsibility for their actions.
If you are going to dedicate news space to secondhand accounts of cyclists rolling through stop signs ("Driver Complaints Mount When Bicyclists Break the Safety Chain," Aug. 18), could you please publish my secondhand accounts of automobiles perpetuating the lunacy that is Pittsburgh driving?
I also want to ask those quoted if they actually go 35 mph up or down Bigelow Boulevard (I dare any readers to try this and see how slow the "speed limit" actually is). Do they go 35 mph on the Liberty Avenue superhighway through the Strip?
In my experience, most drivers are hypersensitive to the actions of the few, while ignoring their own shortcomings. This is whether the few are on bicycles, in cars or on foot.
Can we have an article about the legalized drunken driving during and after Steelers games? Call me crazy, but I think thousands of people being intoxicated and filling our highways on a Sunday afternoon in 4,000-pound cars might be more dangerous than a person rolling through an Ellsworth Avenue stop sign by bicycle. It might also be more newsworthy.
Room for all
There is another side of the current dialogue between Pittsburgh drivers and cyclists. While riding my bike to a doctor's appointment recently on Centre Avenue, I passed a senior citizen riding a mobility scooter along the gutter. With cars going in each direction, it was a tight squeeze as I passed the scooter.
I am proud to say drivers, biker and scooter all adjusted a bit -- slowing down and making room for each other -- and we did fine. This is the spirit of cooperation I have always been proud of in Pittsburghers. We just need to continue it.
I was there
Letter writer Molly Hoover's rhetoric ("Musical Coattails," Aug. 15) is typical of those who discredit Sen. Barack Obama through the use of innuendo and distortion. In her aim to "spare" another writer from "embarrassment regarding her support for Barack Obama," I fear that Ms. Hoover needs to be rescued from her blurred account concerning Mr. Obama's Berlin speech. This silly concert myth is being perpetrated by blogs also suggesting "free bratwurst, pizza and even beer for three hours during the free rock concert." Many lean toward political sour grapes.
Bands played music in Berlin. I saw no free refreshments. Oh, by the way, I actually was there. And I obtained news about this event from BBC and newspapers, not blogs. Pre-event media simply indicated that Mr. Obama would speak -- no hype about free rock concerts.
I arrived three hours prior, hoping to get close. Many others had the same idea. After clearing security (no bags, no bottles), I noticed people selling water. A band played at the fringe, not particularly loud. I headed toward the podium where Mr. Obama would speak, moving as close as possible, within 10 yards. To say the least, competition involved proximity to the podium, not the band. I saw no one eating, except a baby. I saw no one drinking beer.
The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd stood patiently in the heat for hours, hardly representing the scenario painted by Ms. Hoover of a rock concert. To paraphrase her, it seems that it is she who jumps on the coattails of blogs to give false impressions!
LISA LOPEZ LEVERS
Regarding the Aug. 15 letter "Musical Coattails," in which Molly Hoover felt she had to spare an Obama supporter "further embarrassment," she concludes that the reason for the 200,000-large German crowd supporting Barack Obama was the musical performance from a couple of German rock bands.
Ms. Hoover, to avoid your further embarrassment, maybe you should get your news from other than Rush Limbaugh or Fox. The German newspaper Der Spiegel deemed Mr. Obama a "superstar" prior to the speech attendance. Were the thousands of American flags waving for the German rock bands?
"He is a bearer of hope," said Manfred Bruss, a 60-year-old German in attendance, probably there just for the beer and rock concert, right?
The frustration some must feel is in the other candidate's lack of popularity, so they must try to take away from Sen. Obama's campaign.
However, John McCain did seek his own German stage on the same day as Sen. Obama's speech. Sen. McCain rallied literally dozens of supporters from Schmidt's Restaurant und Sausage Haus in the German Village section of Columbus, Ohio, where he was campaigning.
Apropos, Schmidt's slogan is: "The Best of the Wurst!"
Not sweet news
The news about Jenny Lee Bakery has reached Wisconsin ("Turning Off the Ovens," Aug. 15). I have such fond memories of my mom bringing doughnuts back from Downtown Pittsburgh for us in the '70s. We always looked for the Jenny Lee boxes when she got off the trolley in the South Hills.
Every trip to Pittsburgh has included a stop in Market Square to bring my favorite cookies back to Wisconsin. A sad day in Pittsburgh as we lose another hometown hero and landmark to a declining economy.
CINDY GILCHRIST STEGEMAN
I'm a 15-year-old who attends Springdale Junior/Senior High School. As a part of the volunteer hours required by my school, I've chosen to maintain the cleanliness of two islands located on the Allegheny River. Two days a week, my mother and I take our canoe over to pick up leftover trash from the "river crowd."
To say the least, I am disappointed in these people for the amount of trash and litter they leave on the islands. They expect the area and the river to be clean when they come back again next weekend, but they make no effort to clean up their own mess. I am one; they are many. I want to scream, "Take your trash home!"
Clean up your dogs' waste and human toilet tissue! Please do not bring glass! Glass is one of the biggest inconveniences for everybody involved in trying to make Pittsburgh greener.
As residents of this area for longer than anyone can remember, my family, neighbors and friends have enjoyed the benefits of living on the Allegheny River. We have been overwhelmed by the carelessness of these seasonal boaters. I was taught as a little girl that the law of this river is to "Respect the river, because the river has no respect for you." I think the weekend boaters need to learn this too.
China can't hide its abuses behind glitz
The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars to show its "new face" to the world as it hosts the Olympic Games. It took the absence of a 7-year-old girl's face to shatter that newfound image ("China's Singer Was a Ringer Over Looks," Aug. 13). The Chinese government didn't like the looks of the little girl whose singing was heard at the opening celebration, so it substituted a different girl. It used the first little girl's vocal talents while the "pretty one" lip-synched the song.
If the Chinese government can invoke this type of degradation to a little girl in front of millions of witnesses, what does it do behind closed doors? What a shameful performance the Chinese government put out to the world as well as humiliation to its people and one little girl in particular.
So, to the list for China -- which includes stop your horrible human rights derelictions, stop your censorships, stop your funding of the Sudanese government in its genocidal actions against the Darfurians, stop the torture and incarceration of any person who disagrees with your policies -- we can add stop humiliating little girls.
If the Chinese government thinks an extravagant fireworks display can blind the world to its abuses, it is wrong.
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