Motorists, bicyclists can get along if they both follow rules of the road
Three years ago, when I was biking home from work, a truck hit me, and I ended up with a helicopter ride to Albany Medical Center, some broken bones, a wicked concussion and lots of road rash. That crash reaffirmed what is important to me, my family and friends, those people who were there to help me recover and were with me when I got back on my bike six months after the accident.
This past Sunday [July 14], my family and I completed the Erie Canal Bike Tour, riding 411 miles from Buffalo to Albany. The ride reminded me what I love about biking, discovering a new road, or bike path, going a bit further to see what’s around the next bend, discovering small towns and mostly meeting the wonderful people along the way.
What I didn’t like seeing on the bike tour were the cars and trucks that go too fast and too close to the riders, and I didn’t like seeing the bikers who would roll through stop lights, ignore stop signs or who wouldn’t signal their turns.
It reminds me how important it is to educate both drivers and bicycle riders on the rules and responsibilities of bicycling. Drivers need to move over when they pass a bicyclist. Riders need to follow all the same rules of the road that automobiles follow: stopping at all stop signs and red lights, signaling all turns and moving safely into the lane when making a left turn.
The Erie Canal Bike Tour took us on paved bike paths, gravel towpaths and secondary roads, through small towns and busy cities and by some of the most beautiful farmland I’ve ever seen. Over 500 riders were on the tour, ranging in age from five to 89 years old.
I hope rides like this will continue to grow. I hope we can start investing in more and better bike paths and designated bike lanes throughout our state. Not only is it good for our health, but by the looks of the towns we passed through, it is pretty good for their economies, too.
We just need to remember to respect the riders, to give them space, and the riders need to be responsible and follow all the rules of the road.
Treat all vets the same re: retirement benefits
Schenectady resident Don Mance wrote a May 26 letter to the editor about the inherent unfairness of the New York state retirement credit offered to our military veterans. I could not agree more with Mr. Mance.
Presently, the law only allows veterans of specific conflicts, during specific periods, for example Panama (Dec. 20, 1989 through Jan. 31, 1990), to be eligible for the credit. Though I believe this retirement benefit to be a sound and deserving one, I find its structure to be inherently unfair.
In a time when our military personnel are committing up to five tours in Afghanistan, their service should be recognized to be as significant as the service rendered in other countries, theaters of war or periods of time. Honorably discharged veterans should be offered the same level benefits in our state retirement system as their colleagues. Period. Dividing our honorably discharged military veterans into more or less deserving categories is undemocratic and un-American.
To that end, in my first legislative session, I immediately co-sponsored A.6974/S.4714. This bill levels the field for our veterans in the New York State Retirement System and has bipartisan support in both the Assembly and the Senate. It is but small thanks for the service they have so faithfully and selflessly rendered to our country.
This bill has long been in both the Assembly and Senate, never reaching the floor. In September, I will be hosting a roundtable at my district office to strategize ways to get this much needed legislation passed during the 2014 session, and I encourage any veterans within the 110th Assembly District to contact my office to participate.
Phillip G. Steck
Church doesn’t pay taxes, produce jobs like mill does
It is a shame that St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Watervliet was demolished, but it did not pay taxes, was not in use and took up valuable property.
Now move north up Route 32 to Mechanicville to see a tragedy. On July 12 on my way to our favorite restaurant, the wrecking ball and assorted equipment was knocking down the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Mill (WestVaco).
What a shame a mill which at one time employed 1,000, paid city and school taxes and supported hundreds of lumberjacks, truckers and suppliers.
This is going on throughout the Northeast, eliminating millions of middle-class jobs.
National Guard’s real job is at home, not overseas
Pete Pidgeon’s July 18 letter suggests we bring the military home and do what is the specific duty of the National Guard to do.
The National Guard has been misused for a number of years now. Instead of asking Congress for permission to increase the active duty military numbers, the past two administrations have raided the Guard to fight overseas wars, thus making them unavailable for home disasters.
Except for extreme instances, the Guard should not be deployed overseas.
Donald A. Vanderwarker
The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.
There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.
All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.
Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.
For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.
For more letters, visit our Web site: www.dailygazette.com.