August 16, 2013

Letters to the editor: Cyclists should take protective steps

I recently came across a bicyclist lying still in the middle of Brighton Avenue, his bike on top of him. Several motorists rushed to his aid.

click image to enlarge

Wearing a helmet, as these two students at Lyseth School in Portland are doing, is one way bike riders can ensure their safety, a reader says.

2012 File Photo/John Ewing

One person called 911, others attended to him, and I directed traffic. I have no idea what caused the crash but pray that he is recovering quickly.

Around the same time, I heard about the horrible crash in Biddeford where a driver crashed into a family on bicycles, killing the father and injuring his wife and son.

In June, the whole cycling community mourned the death of a young man hit by a truck while riding in the Trek Across Maine.

Cyclists have a natural tendency to want an explanation for crashes, to identify something that could have been done to prevent them. That way, if we act safely, we can avoid a similar fate.

The truth is that some bicycle crashes are out of our control -- for example, encountering a drunken driver like the one who allegedly hit the Biddeford family.

Yet there are things we can do to protect ourselves.

• First: Wear a helmet. Always. I frequently see families biking together with kids wearing helmets but parents not doing so. The parents are missing the opportunity to be good role models as well as to protect their own lives.

• Second: Get your bike tuned regularly.

• Third: Ride defensively, looking out for inattentive drivers. I frequently wave at drivers like a long-lost friend to get their attention so they don't turn in front of me or back into me.

• Fourth: Tell your elected officials that you want more bicycle paths, wide shoulders, regular street cleaning and other infrastructure improvements that make for safer cycling.

• Fifth: Join a bicycle advocacy group.

Shoshana Hoose

Portland

Dog's thoughtless owner spoils Great Diamond trip

As a longtime summer visitor to Long Island, Maine, I have heard stories in the past few years about how uppity some of the folks at the private Great Diamond Island development can be.

After my last trip down the bay, I believe there may be some truth to these stories.

Imagine my surprise one recent Saturday morning, on board a Casco Bay Lines ferry, when a yellow Lab lifted his leg next to my fully packed cart and peed on my camera case. He and his master were waiting to get off at Diamond Cove when the incident occurred.

"Hey, your dog just peed on our cart," my partner said.

The tall, elderly man (I won't call him a gentleman) replied, "Guess he ruined your lunch," a reference to my camera case, which does look like a lunch bag.

The man continued to make his way toward the gangway, smiling the whole time.

"No big deal, huh?" my partner asked.

"No big deal," the man said, still smiling.

If this is what longtime cottage owners on Great Diamond are having to deal with, I can understand why they feel their little piece of heaven is being pooped upon (or, rather, peed upon).

Paula Gibbs

Long Island cottage owner

Woolwich resident

Once-healthy cities now hurting from over-taxation

Coming soon to a community near you: Detroit. Detroit is broke, and what citizens are left in the city are mostly nonproducers.

Detroit followed the same policies that liberal politicians follow everywhere: They tax producers into oblivion. Now, Detroit has too few producers to pay the taxes necessary to keep the city solvent.

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