RecyclingEditor: We live in one of Baltimore City's...


May 08, 1991


Editor: We live in one of Baltimore City's curbside recycling zones and are very pleased with the service.

Every other Thursday we put out glass and plastic bottles, aluminum and tin cans, newspapers, flattened boxes and even telephone books, and these items are taken away by the city's contracted recycling hauler. This program has cut in half the trash that we put out for our regular collections.

Another way that the city could reduce the amount of trash going into landfills would be to recycle grass clippings in the spring and summer and leaves in the fall. This would make both economic and environmental sense.

$Reed and Kathleen Hutner.


Safe Speeds

Editor: I recently drove from my home near Frederick to Hagerstown, then to Baltimore and back. I traveled with the general flow of the traffic varying between 65 and 70 mph, which the vast majority of drivers sensibly regard as a safe speed for I-70.

Some slow-downs to near 60 mph occurred at about five points along the way, where police cars were parked on the median, and on two occasions rear-end collisions nearly occurred as motorists braked violently to try and fool the police. At one point a police car traveling on the middle lane at 60 to 65 mph collected a long convoy of drivers behind him in only a few miles.

Highways like I-70 are mostly quite safe at 70 mph and any government official who thinks anyone will take any notice of a 55-mph posted limit is suffering the delusions of grandeur.

A recent paper called "Driver Speed Behavior on U.S. Streets and Highways," by the chief of the traffic safety research division of the Federal Highway Administration, Samuel C. Tignor, reports the results of extensive studies. These confirm that most drivers decide their own safe speed. Changing of posted speed limits, up or down, has "little or no effect" on actual speeds drive, they report.

The paper by the Federal Highway Administration safety engineers say there is "no evidence" in their studies that raising the speed limit to 65 on rural interstate freeways leads to increases in speed on the freeways or on other roads.

They say that accident rates are markedly higher for the small minority of motorists who drive very slowly or very fast relative to the bulk of traffic. They say that most posted limits are 15 mph or more below the maximum safe speed, making "technical violators out of motorists driving at reasonable and safe speeds."

The only result of absurd 55-mph postings on the interstates is to popularize the notion that the law is an ass, and that the officials behind them are idiots.

Peter Samuel.


Inaccurate Gloss

Editor: While I agree with columnist William Pfaff's overall assessment of the Yugoslav state, I disapprove of his inaccurate gloss of Yugoslav history and politics. I also resent his air of Western superiority, which on this issue is simply not merited.

First, there are far more than the two ''sides'' that Mr. Pfaff suggests. Taking into account differing ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic, regional and political loyalties, we end up with a wide spectrum indeed.

Second, Marshal Tito did not maintain unity in the post-war state through a federal structure. He did so with the help of a single-party police state that for decades was as violent and repressive as any in East Europe, including Stalin's Soviet Union.

Third, Mr. Pfaff seems to place most of the blame for the current crisis on a revival of Serbian nationalism, when there is in fact plenty of blame to go around. Tudjman and his Croatian nationalist government in Zagreb have done their part to inflame the situation. While they have apparently renounced territorial claims on Serbia (whose Croatian minority is very small), they most assuredly have not renounced any claims to Bosnia, where there is a very large Croat minority.

Fourth, Mr. Pfaff's ''reasonable solution'' of a confederation with centralized financial authority is in essence what the Yugoslavs have, as power has been progressively devolving to the republics over the past 20 years. The only problem is that the national economic market has collapsed, the financial structure is totally bankrupt and no one can even envision how to pry apart the often mixed ethnic-cultural territories and populations and re-cast them into self-supporting, viable states.

Mr. Pfaff closes with rather patronizing sentiment about how the Western powers should show displeasure over the prospect of ethnic conflict in Yugoslavia -- as if the West hadn't had its own share of ruinous ethnic warfare in this century.

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