Rep. Ralph Sarty’s April 26 column questioning bicyclists’ rights to public roads ignores the history of road rights in this country.

Bicycles were using America’s roads 25 years before the first motor vehicles. The fact is, there would not have been any paved roads for cars if cyclists hadn’t organized to promote them.

Founded in 1880, the League of American Wheelmen started the Good Roads movement to improve America’s roadways. Cyclists have more right to use Maine roads than automobiles, since they predate the automobile by 25 years (the York County Wheelmen’s Association was established by cyclists in 1883).

Most motorists, but not Rep. Sarty, realize that more bikes on the road means less traffic at the next stoplight, more open parking spaces and less road maintenance, which saves taxpayer dollars.

Cycling is not just a “sport” but a viable means of transportation, which will grow as gas climbs back to $4 a gallon. Road shoulders need to be improved, but this is just good civil engineering practice that extends road life and should not be borne by a tax on cyclists.

On back roads with no shoulders, cyclists need to stay as far to the right as possible and stop to let other vehicles pass if they see an unsafe situation with oncoming traffic.

The only fair way to pay for roads is a use tax, based on the weight of the vehicle and the number of miles driven. When compared to the impact on Maine roads and bridges of a 100,000-pound truck running 100,000 miles per year, cyclists should be taxed exactly what they are today.

David Anderson
Waterboro

Nation reverting to control by big business

 

As the bumper sticker reads: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

As corporate-bought politicians use their usual spin of fallacy to vilify teachers and unions, attempt to balance the budget on the backs of America’s elderly and disadvantaged and otherwise plot to systematically wipe out the middle class, many Americans remain indifferent or ignorant of readily available facts and truths about what is really harming our country.

Many people are simply too absorbed with social networking, gaming, reality TV and general consumption to care. As many spend carelessly on cars, clothes and flat screen TVs and others struggle to pay for food and housing, huge U.S. corporations like GE and Bank of America made billions in profits last year, and not only paid no tax, but even got billions in tax refunds.

And as Exxon is set to reap billions in 1st quarter profits due to the spike in oil prices, some people are foolishly blaming the president for higher gas prices, while auto manufacturers continue to sell us gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks despite existing technology to double the mileage of the U.S. auto fleet as Europe has already done.

Informing ourselves and speaking out to media and political leaders is only a small step to action, yet too few seem motivated to make even this effort.

I’m worried about the course of our country. Worried that if more people don’t unplug, take notice of the corporate and political corruption and speak out, that someday soon we may become a “government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.”

Nate Ladd
Gorham

Solve auto cell phone use: Drop a dime on drivers

 

I think that if we all want the in-car-cell-phone-texting issue to be solved, then what needs to happen is that the police should put out a number where if a motorist or a passerby happens to see it going on, then we could call it in to that special number and say what was happening and where, and give the license number of the driver in question.

We really need to put a stop to texting on cell phones by drivers once and for all.

Cheryl Hall
Buxton

 

Counseling Center wasn’t in bad financial shape

 

I want to correct a number of assertions that were made in “Community fixture shines” (April 27). As former CEO of Community Counseling Center, the agency’s new site represents the culmination of over five years of envisioning and planning by its staff, leadership and volunteers.

The result is truly lovely, welcoming and warm. However, the suggestion that clients were ever given a message that “you’re dangerous” due to a window in the reception area is abhorrent, and contrary to the values that CCC embodies in all its work.

Nearly 99 percent of CCC’s clients surveyed consistently reported that they felt respected at CCC. Further, the writer’s statement that CCC was “near insolvency barely three years ago” is simply untrue. When CCC became part of Maine Mental Health Partners, it had a strong balance sheet, no debt, no creditors and close to $1 million in receivables. It also brought almost $1 million in cash assets from its endowment.

The board’s decision to join Maine Mental Health Partners was deliberate and strategic in light of the continuing funding cuts to community mental health, and the timing was critical to preserve and protect the agency’s assets.

Contrary to Mary Jane Krebs’ assertion that the “organization kept shrinking and shrinking to cut costs,” Community Counseling Center had grown its programs and the number of people served, adding the Trauma Intervention Program, services for returning veterans, case management to refugees and immigrants, and expanded counseling.

The only thing that “kept shrinking” was administrative overhead, as the staff and board struggled to do more with less, and to streamline operations in order to continue the mission and serve the community.

I am proud that Community Counseling Center has moved into its beautiful new space, and that it will continue to be a vital player in Portland’s social service network.

Leslie Clark Brancato
Portland

 

Students who work longer are on a path to failure

 

Longer working hours for high school teens? Not a good idea.

I taught for several years in Tennessee. The majority of the students worked out of necessity, as their parents were unable to provide more than just the basics.

That resulted in less time to do homework and the inability to concentrate or even to stay awake during class, which usually led to failure of the course. Some of my students were on their third try. Out of frustration, many of them quit school altogether when they were of age.

Please don’t let that happen here.

Nancy L. Allen
West Bath