Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Easy fixes ignored
. . . .

Easy fixes ignored

Robert Downes - July 12th, 2010
Easy Fixes Ignored
There’s a bridge over the Boardman River on the bike path in Traverse
City where teenagers enjoy jumping into the water nearly every day in
the summer. They climb eight feet or so up the framework and make the
leap of perhaps 20-25 feet into the river.
It looks like a lot of fun, but some kids report touching the bottom
of the riverbed in their leaps and I’m always tempted to say, “Kids,
remember, if you get killed doing that, you’ll be dead for a mighty
long time.”
But that would be a buzz-kill, and like I say, it looks like a lot of
fun. Kind of like a 7-Up commercial with a lot of yahoo energy.
Still, you have to wonder: at what point does some teenager break his
neck diving, or slip and fall over backwards and crack her skull on
the bridge?
If we had a society that valued personal freedom above all else, we’d
simply say that the loss of a life is a small price to pay for being
able to do your own thing.
But we don’t really value personal freedom all that much in America --
we just give it lip service. In fact, we have a litigious society,
and one can imagine that any parent whose child dies on that bridge
won’t be blaming their kid for his or her reckless behavior; they’ll
be wondering why the City or TART Trails maintained such an obvious
public hazard, and what lawyer to call in the yellow pages.
Teenagers aren‘t the brightest bunch when it comes to personal safety.
Science tells us that an area of the brain that governs judgement is
not yet fully developed in teenagers, which accounts for why society
has an obligation to protect them.
I recall diving off a cliff overhanging a gravel pit lake in
Northville many years ago, which was a huge hit with all of the kids.
But there were steel rebar spikes embedded in concrete slabs deep
underwater which gave a friend a good gash in the head (lucky he
didn’t poke his brains out); and one time I saw a young guy dive 20
feet through the donut of an inner tube. Amazing he didn’t break his
neck -- a matter of inches.
The funny thing is, so many hazards are easily fixed long before
anyone gets hurt or there’s a lawsuit. At the TART Trail bridge, for
instance, a simple overhanging buttress similar to those used to keep
squirrels out of bird feeders would keep the kids from climbing to the
top. Or, for a $20 bucket of tar and a crate of broken beer bottles,
one could create the kind of cheap fix that keeps people from climbing
walls in Central America.
Speaking of TART, several years of discussion and planning went into
“fixing” the disastrous intersection of the bike path at Division and
Grandview Parkway on West Bay in TC. Yet there are still daily
confrontations between motorists and cyclists at that intersection,
which remains a deadly hazard, despite all of the signs, “walk”
buttons and flags meant to catch the attention of irritated and
confused drivers, some of whom tend to shift into road-rage mode. And
you can bet there are plenty of pissed-off cyclists, runners and
roller bladers there too who are frustrated in their roles as moving
targets.
Again, there’s an easy fix: Dig a pedestrian tunnel under the
highway. Use some of Obama’s stimulus money and get ‘er done. If
every member of TART Trails brought a shovel down to the bay, we could
dig it ourselves in an afternoon, just like immigrant laborers used to
dig basements years ago.
Easy fixes -- why are they so often ignored? Lack of imagination.
Consider the State’s ballyhooed law against texting while you’re
driving. This has all of the efficacy of using a wet Kleenex for a
parachute. Why not require automakers and cell phone manufacturers to
create systems that would automatically shut down texting and
web-surfing whenever anyone enters a vehicle? In fact, this
technology already exists with parental controls to limit texting and
“sexting” on their kids’ phones.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, an estimated
812,000 persons are using a cell phone at any given moment while
driving. Cell phone distractions caused 600,000 accidents last year,
along with 330,000 injuries and 3,000 deaths.
That‘s more deaths than those killed in the collapse of the Twin
Towers in 9/11 -- 3,000 people dead as the result of texting every
year -- year after year.
All of those people would be alive today if we simply had the
imagination to require an easy fix for a serious problem.

 
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