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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 04/27/2017

Cyclist deserved none of the blame for fatal crash in Fulton County

Cyclist deserved none of the blame for fatal crash in Fulton County

*Cyclist deserved none of the blame for fatal crash in Fulton County *Why the overreaction to Paula

Cyclist deserved none of the blame for fatal crash in Fulton County

It is not open season on bicyclists if they are within the traffic lane, to the left of the white line, contrary to the Fulton County sheriff’s comments [Gazette, June 27].

New York State traffic law affords cyclists the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. It specifies that the bicycle is to be driven near the right-hand edge or curb except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to do so, including surface conditions. There is no mention of the white line in any part of this section.

This was not an unavoidable accident, despite the sheriff’s comments. The road where the incident happened is a state highway, the DOT [Department of Transportation] minimum traffic lane is 12 feet wide. The driver was in a Chevrolet pickup truck. The very largest Silverado has a maximum width of 96 inches, according to Chevrolet. That leaves a minimum of four feet between the right side of the vehicle and the white line without the driver’s vehicle crossing the center line — more if the lane is larger than the minimum or the truck is smaller than the maximum. The sheriff needs to explain how, if due caution was exercised as required by New York state traffic law Article 25 section 1122-a or Article 26 section 1146, the result of this incident is a dead person.

The sheriff also assigns blame to the cyclist. He cites that the cyclist wore no reflective gear. The accident occurred at 9:28 a.m., approximately four hours after sunrise, on a partly cloudy summer day. There was enough light for the cyclist to be seen by an attentive driver.

Similarly, the sheriff cited lack of a helmet. I ride my bicycle about 7,000 miles a year, and I wear a helmet because in many circumstances it is beneficial, but I have no illusion that it is going to save my life if I am squared up by a vehicle.

The article stated that this occurred on a steep hill, and from my experience that means the cyclist was moving about 10 miles an hour. If you accept that the driver was not speeding, the driver’s truck accelerated the cyclist about 40 miles an hour almost instantly. In this case the helmet would make no difference, in deference to anybody who knew the cyclist, I will not cover the details here, readers may look it up if they are curious about what happens inside a person’s body during a collision such as this.

The article does not mention if the sheriff checked the driver’s cellphone for activity just before the incident.

This is a good time for me to say a long overdue “thank you” to the Niskayuna Police Department for their identification and successful prosecution of the hit-and-run driver who left me unconscious in the ditch next to Route 146 some time ago.

They did not simply accept uncritically the driver’s account of the incident. The work they did was excellent and it gave me insight into how much time and effort is required and how difficult it is to follow through on an incident. It is good to know that there is one skilled and professional law enforcement agency in the area.

Tom Ambros

Schenectady

Why the overreaction to Paula Deen’s admission?

I grew up in South Carolina in the 1940s and ’50s. My father, a Boston native who resettled there during WWII, was a man ahead of his time with regard to discrimination and racism. He did not allow the use of the “N” word by our family. In my experience, virtually everyone else in our town, our state, the entire South for that matter, regularly referred to blacks as n——s, including [the] blacks. Our home was exceptional, if not exclusive, in that regard.

Now, some 50 years have passed and a white woman raised in Georgia [Paula Deen] admits that in the past she has used that term. She, along with tens of millions of other Southerners.

I am not trying to make excuses for society’s poor judgements. I am saying that the reaction to Ms. Deen’s admissions is both excessive and a bit self-congratulatory. We have found the culprit and dealt her a severe blow. That is hogwash.

Blacks are not the only group in history which have suffered. However, it seems that they are now the only ones for whom the vocal majority seems to care. That is hypocritical for both blacks and others to embrace this exclusivity.

White Americans are trying to erase the shame of slavery from memory. But we should not be held hostage to society’s past failures. There is not a person alive today who, tracing their ancestry back far enough, would not find a least one slave in their genealogy. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, etc. Progress has been made. All we owe other people at this point is to see that progress continues to be made and that it is applied in all cases of hate and discrimination.

If Ms. Deen has practiced discrimination other than the use of the “N” word, then she should be taken to task for those shortcomings. But for admitting that she was a product of her upbringing, get over it!

Frank Elfland

Charlton

Downtown Sch’dy doing just fine with events

In regard to Allen Tanner’s June 28 letter in the Gazette, I would like to suggest that it is Mr. Tanner who is “asleep” and not Schenectady.

In stating, “Downtown needs to have an event going on each and every week,” he ignores the three weekly events already taking place in the heart of downtown Schenectady.

I invite Mr. Tanner to leave Glenville and visit the weekly farmers’ market and/or Jazz on Jay each Thursday and the fabulous Greenmarket (with “special local tastings”) each Sunday.

There are also other special events scheduled throughout the summer in downtown Schenectady and publicized in the Gazette and other media.

Wake up, Mr. Tanner, and join the thousands who are already enjoying these events.

Fred Heitkamp

Schenectady

Congress was foolish to reject food aid reform

While scandal and politically polarizing topics dominate news cycles, Congress tends to other issues that garner little attention but clearly indicate government ineptitude.

Take, for example, the recent rejection of food aid reform, just voted in the House of Representatives as an amendment to the farm bill. The proposed bipartisan reform called for more food aid to be purchased from local farmers in hunger zones. That is cheaper and faster than our current outdated system established in 1954, which mandates that the vast majority of food aid be grown in the United States and shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office called this current system “an inherently inefficient use of food aid which adversely affects local markets in countries struggling to develop their own economies.”

Modernizing U.S. aid policy would deliver food aid 14 weeks faster and feed 2 million to 4 million more people while saving money on shipping costs. From a policy standpoint, reform makes sense and most representatives agree with it in principle, especially when considering it would help aid-recipient nations move to self-sufficiency — the primary objective of effective foreign assistance — by helping them establish their agricultural sectors.

Due to the vested interests of agribusiness and the maritime industry, however, Congress mostly sided with the more costly, inefficient program when it came to a vote.

Anthony Swingruber

Malta

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