Bike LanesMuch has been written recently about reducing...


November 23, 1993

Bike Lanes

Much has been written recently about reducing the pollution levels, as required by the federal Clean Air Act. A particularly onerous aspect of this program is the attempt to have more than one person ride in an automobile.

Why not approach this problem from a different direction?

An attempt should be made to survey the potential that exists to have special lanes created on expressways and major thoroughfares that are exclusive for the use of motorized bicycles, scooters and low-powered, light-framed motorcycles.

The speed limit should be set at 30 mph, and barriers should be constructed to protect the riders from automobiles. This may be considered a novel approach to this problem, but I believe it merits consideration in all its ramifications.

Charles G. Pefinis


Sobering Truth

Peter Jensen's "Trains, trollies and buses are running away -- with the budget," (Oct. 17) is depressing for reasons other than "trolleys" being mis-spelled.

For at least half a century now, transportation people have been putting mass transit and highways in separate mental boxes. They then argue about how much to spend on each. Mr. Jensen's article is only the latest in a long, dreary parade which seems to be marching nowhere.

Granted, everything he says is true. No question that mass transit is expensive, under-used and seems to have a perennially problematic future. Also no question that people prefer to drive, even though their true costs are usually much higher than using buses, rapid transit or commuter trains. Many have no choice anyway -- transit is too difficult to use or simply unavailable.

But a sobering truth is dawning. Highway building is becoming an end game. It is clearly governed by a malignant variation of Parkinson's Law: Traffic expands to fill the available pavement. It is becoming impossible to provide more pavement and pointless besides. The process will just go on.

Mass transit in its present form may not be the answer. But neither are more or wider highways.

What is? I don't know. But I do know that it's time for the mass transit and highway groups (and their political supporters) to stop sniping at each other and spend their energies creating new ways to move people effectively -- without either paving over the country or busting the budget on systems people cannot use.

Herbert H. Harwood


Natural Lifestyle

Your Nov. 9 article on ear infection piled statistic upon statistic about incidence and cost.

Yet the very article was itself an example of exactly why ear infections are so costly a health problem: alternative medicine (which is usually cheaper, less invasive and tends to offer a holistic, preventive approach) is not given much credence by the traditional medical establishment. In your article, it was barely acknowledged.

Many of these "alternatives" have been around for thousands of years, the results of observing how the human organism interacts with the natural order.

Sure, antibiotics and other high-tech solutions have benefited us in our efforts to stay alive longer, but they often are used excessively, mask symptoms rather than cure underlying conditions, have detrimental side effects and work only at treating acute illness while ignoring prevention.

Such medicines overlook the aspect of how the body and mind function as a whole, in symbiosis with nature around us.

Homeopathy, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, aromatherapy, chiropractic and other "alternatives" work with the body to bring it into balance with nature.

Your article alluded to this in fact. It stated that breast-fed children statistically have less incidence of ear infections.

Families which accept "alternative" means of healing tend to take a holistic approach to life, eating fewer processed foods and doing "natural" things like breast-feeding. They are, in general, quite a healthy lot. Their health-care bills are considerably lower, and they are sick less often.

Isn't that, after all, the ideal?

Stephanie Panos Link


The Violently Ill

In reply to Herbert S. Cromwell's letter of Nov. 15, regarding violent behavior by individuals with serious mental illnesses, he is incorrect in saying that "study after study" has shown that such individuals are not more violent than the general population.

What every study carried out for the past 20 years does show is that the vast majority of seriously mentally ill individuals are not more violent than the general population, but that a minority are indeed more violent. These individuals typically have no insight into their own mental illness or need for medication and therefore they do not take it.

Unmedicated, a few then commit violent acts. As we have progressively deinstitutionalized more mentally ill individuals from state mental hospitals, this untreated group has increased and is continuing to increase.

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