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Letters to the Editor 

Published July 21, 2010 at 8:31 a.m.

Bicycles Don’t Count?

I appreciate the continuing coverage Seven Days gives to bicycling in Vermont, but I want to correct a couple of misconceptions in this article about the new law [“When It Comes to Bike Safety, Vermont Falls Down — Hard,” June 16]. First, you can’t signal with either hand — only for right turns (right arm straight out). Left turns and stops are still signaled with your left hand.

Second, though there has been an increase in bicycle accidents, we have no way to know if there has been an increase in accidents per hour of bicycle operation. That’s because VTRANS collects no information on bicycle traffic as part of its traffic studies. VTRANS counts bicycles as pedestrians if they are being walked, as passenger vehicles if they are being ridden. In either case, bicycles are not counted as bicycles, and disappear from all traffic counts, essentially resulting in traffic data that indicate there are no bicycles! It’s hard to see how roads can be improved for cycling as long as VTRANS uses this method. Anecdotally, I think most observers believe bicycle use has increased dramatically in the past two years, but right now we’re planning our highways without any solid information on bicycle traffic.

As to lane use, bicycles have always had the right (and responsibility) to use the lanes as they are marked. The current law clarifies the conditions in which you may expect to see a cyclist using the full lane. Drivers might also note that the current Vermont drivers manual recommends four feet of passing clearance. That means you almost always need to use the oncoming lane to pass a bicycle safely, even if it means a few seconds’ wait.

Bruce Lierman

North Bennington

Lierman is president of the nonprofit Cycling Academy.

Hide-A-Way Revealed

We ate at the Harbor Hide-A-Way in July 1987 [“WTF,” July 7]. It may have been the last dinner ever served there. We had roast beef, and our 2-year-old daughter browsed from the salad bar. I was newly pregnant at the time, and the mildew smell of the place made me feel sick. I have always felt a strong (and strongly ambivalent) connection with the place, and got a weird sort of pleasure from seeing it still standing, empty and deteriorating, each time we drove down Shelburne Road. Thank you for providing the backstory.

Ruth Horowitz

Cranston, R.I.

Gym Jam

Thank you for the terrific articles on sports and fitness in Vermont [Health & Fitness issue, June 23]. I enjoy being active, and I am glad so many opportunities exist in Vermont. Besides all the tips you recommended in several articles, there is also the option of joining a gym. That being said, I have a warning to readers: My husband joined a gym … in 2009. He signed up for a one-year membership. In fine print, this gym noted that, if you did not write a letter to cancel your membership after one year, you would continue to receive the membership and the bill. So, for the past six months, we have been paying money to a gym we have not attended. I … encourage readers to read the fine print!

Carrie Shamel


Buff Life

Thank you for your article “The Naked Truth” [Calendar, July 7]. It was very well written, and we expect it will help greatly in acknowledging our existence in the Burlington area for those who appreciate the freedom of clothes without the threat of those “unwanted.” Plus, it doubled our numbers.

Susan Lembcke & Bill Perreault

Coventry Club & Resort

Co-op’ed Idea?

Jeffrey Hollender of Seventh Generation says that business (presumably his company excepted) is “basically a vehicle for transferring money from the poor to the rich” [“Conscious Commerce,” July 7]. Bill Carris of Carris Reels can’t say what socially responsible business is but, you report, “he knows it when he sees it” [“In Good Company?” July 7].

This assessment of virtuous commerce in Vermont is both dismal and wrong. The state is awash in cooperatives — entities that, unlike investor-owned businesses, are democratically controlled by their users, employees or both, and which exist purely to give 100 percent of the wealth they generate back to those people and their communities.

A shining example is in [Burlington’s] front yard: the Onion River Co-op, which opened the thriving City Market after downtown’s last conventional supermarket walked away. The Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society just did the same thing for White River Junction. The Washington Electric Cooperative is Vermont’s only utility that has an energy portfolio that is nearly 100 percent green. Thousands of Vermonters use cooperatively organized credit unions as their banks. Cabot Cheese is a farmer-owned cooperative of national prominence. I could go on.

Corporate good guys like Hollender and Carris are admirable — but also mortal. Nothing prevents their companies, and others like them, from eventually falling into the hands of those who would maximize profit by extracting every ounce of wealth they can from their communities. Cooperatives cannot do that — which is why they deserve credit as Vermont’s real socially responsible businesses.

Donald M. Kreis


Kreis is treasurer of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society and vice president of the Cooperative Fund of New England, a community development financial institution that loans money to cooperatives throughout the region.

Capital Balance

Sean Nunnink’s libertarian rant in your June 30 issue [“Feedback”] wants a bit of perspective. First, Sarah Palin may be a libertarian at heart, but her political ascent is due to John McCain’s poor judgment and, largely, her good looks. Were she gangly, homely and reedy voiced like Abraham Lincoln, her political star would have risen and set in Wasilla.

Mr. Nunnink contends that, through the marketplace, “buyers have total control over corporations.” Return to the late 1800s. A farmer trying to ship wheat on lines controlled by the railway trust could pay rigged rates or watch the crop rot. A tenement family stuffed into a windowless firetrap could move onto the street. Child laborers could work for a pittance contracting cotton lung or starve. Left unfettered to reach its logical conclusion, capitalism leaves a buyer with two options: Like it or lump it.

Mr. Nunnink describes the “progressive structure of crony capitalism.” Progressivism arose as the antithesis of crony capitalism. He decries federal bailouts to “trendy” do-gooders deemed too big to fail. The trendy do-gooders at AIG and Bank of America? Say what?

Somewhere between the nanny state and the law of the jungle is a balance to be struck by an informed and reasoning populace — territory Mr. Nunnink might explore.

Charles Siegchrist


Crossed Signals

I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that “Corm and the Coach” won’t be back on WNMR. The truth is, WNMR had a problem far more serious than its finances that I’m surprised Shay Totten hasn’t mentioned [“Fair Game,” June 30].

The real problem was that, at 107.1 on the FM dial, WNMR — which is now off the air — broadcasted on the same frequency as WORK in the Barre-Montpelier area.

Did you ever try to listen to 107.1 in your car while driving between Burlington and Montpelier on Interstate 89? As soon as you were just east of Bolton Flats, your car radio suddenly turned into a screeching jumble of electronic noise as WNMR and WORK battled it out for signal supremacy. Where I live in Huntington, it was impossible for me to tune into either station.

Because of this, “Corm and the Coach” could not reach half the broadcast area the program was able to reach when it was on WCPV (Champ 101.3) and WIZN (The Wizard 106.7) before that.

And because WNMR could not extend its signal beyond the immediate Burlington-Plattsburgh area without blowing WORK off the air, there was no way it could draw anywhere near the listener base nor advertising base that other stations with a far wider signal range, such as WEZF (Star 92.9), WOKO (98.9) and WNCS (The Point 104.7), could reach.

With its handicapped frequency, WNMR was essentially doomed from the start.

Skeeter Sanders


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