Letters to the editor for the week of June 19 to June 23
Flashing lights instead of 'sting'
To the editor:
In response to Bill Ward's letter (Thursday, June 15, andquot;Crosswalk stingandquot;):
No, I have not received a crosswalk ticket in the past nor do I mind taking andquot;a few seconds out of my precious time to respect my fellow citizens' life and safety.andquot; The point I was questioning by my protest Tuesday is why does the increased risk of rear-end collisions and the opportunity for exorbitant ticket revenue by the city seem to be among the consequences of our community's attempt to andquot;create a safer environment?andquot;
I'm sure it's safe to say that I'm not the only person in Baker City who has stopped for kids and adults who don't bother to look toward traffic when stepping into the crosswalk. Keep in mind this is after five years' worth of Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Grants and at least a dozen stings and how many citations?
I believe pedestrian-to-driver, eye-to-eye contact is probably the key to safe crosswalks, not bigger sticks or exorbitant fines.
Truly concerned citizens in our community should insist that our next Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Grant be used to purchase two flashing lights and two signs as visual training incentives for both pedestrians and drivers who fail to perform lawfully at crosswalks. Guilty persons could be sentenced a specified time to stand at problem crosswalks by the flashing light with a sign that reads:
Crosswalks are Cool
I'm no longer a Fool!
Who knows, maybe Jay Leno would get wind of such a progressive notion and we wouldn't have the only safe community to cross the street.
Dog ban out of line
To the editor:
Except for an editorial in the Baker City Herald, there has not been much response to the new ordinance passed by the Baker City Council banning dogs in our city park, whether leashed or not. Three of our council members voted to approve this ordinance, without giving reasons for the change. It is amazing to me that three people in the city can arbitrarily make this decision.
Baker City wants to be friendly to our tourists, and yet our city park is right off I-84 and with many out of town events taking place in the park, will not let tourists have their leashed dogs in the park. I travel Oregon with a small dog and find most cities and small towns have parks where one can stretch our legs along with our dog. Most parks have doggie stations (poles which host containers with doggie bags) and then let the walkers know they are expected to clean up after their dog.
I'm not sure that Baker City is very tourist friendly!
I noticed Randy Daugherty was stated as saying that there are plenty of places for dogs to run without having them in the city park. I would like to ask where? The Leo Alder Parkway? I'm sure prohibiting dogs along this pathway will be their next mission. I again think that andquot;doggie stationsandquot; should be placed there like most places. I always bring my own bags with me, but there are times when I can see they are needed for those who don't bring their own bags with them.
I'm very confused as to the reason for this ordinance.
Crosswalk sting doesn't make sense
I think our gas tax could be put to better use than giving a small town almost $3,300 over a year's time for sting operations.
What did it cost your town to send the police officer to school to learn how to do the sting operation? If every small town in Oregon gets $3,300 a year for crosswalk sting operations, that adds up to a lot of money that could be spent on road repairs.
It doesn't make much sense to me to let people know ahead of time that you are having a sting operation anyway.
Building new BMS would be better
To the editor:
If you had a 1916 Ford car that you loved (that had been kept up, but still needed major repairs) and a family (that you loved) and you all needed to get to somewhere important far away, how would you do it?
Would your first concern be your family's safety or using your beloved Ford? Would you spend the money to put in a 2006 engine, a wheelchair lift, more seating, seatbelts, in a 1916 Ford body? My guess is that, no, you would spend the money on a newer car, maybe a van to carry the kids and their things, with fewer problems that could accommodate your family safely.
Does that mean the old Ford should be scrapped? No, but it is not appropriate anymore for what you need. Hopefully, the old car could be preserved and some updates made and then it could be used for something other than accommodating a modern-day family and their modern-day needs.
Such are the choices we are confronted with concerning providing safe, quality education for our children here in Baker City.
Recent editorials and other letters to the editor have raised questions about the idea of building a new middle school versus remodeling the two existing buildings. It is true that renovating the existing middle school would not cost as much as a new school building. However, renovating would still mean there are lots of old parts that may need renovating in the future. And, renovating would not solve a major safety concern students would still have to cross a sometimes congested street between the two buildings.
The cost difference between building new and renovating is a couple million dollars. Think of it this way: Is less than 50 cents per thousand dollars in assessed property value too much to pay for safety?
I don't think so.
andquot;The education of our youth is the surest foundation of happiness.andquot; (Inscribed above the south door of the Helen M. Stack building of the existing middle school.)
Educate the pedestrians, too
To the editor:
I am writing in support of Paul Olmstead's view of the crosswalk sting. I own a business next to one of the busiest crosswalks on Campbell Street (the crossing at the Leo Adler Parkway). I can't count the number of times I've heard tires squeal because drivers had a near miss with a pedestrian, a bicyclist or skateboarder etc. Most times the squeal comes from the second driver back who had to stop to avoid hitting the car that stopped for the crosswalk and have the right of way, the drivers will magically see them and stop. It won't be long before someone is hit, and it won't be the driver's fault.
I agree with Olmstead that we need pedestrian education as well as driver punishment. Making eye contact with the driver before stepping out into traffic is crucial to crossing safely. That is the responsibility of the person crossing.
When I am driving, I make it a point to be very aware of pedestrians but when they step out quickly, sometimes from behind another vehicle that is blocking my vision, it is very hard to get stopped in time, especially when another vehicle is right behind me. When that happens, I can only pray that the walker will be smart enough to step back until I can safely stop or get by.
The fine is high enough to wake drivers up for sure, but is taking a whole week's pay from someone in the name of andquot;educatingandquot; them really the answer? The stings are more like entrapment. If you watch anyone long enough and close enough they (including the officers conducting the sting) are bound to make a mistake. If the stings aren't changing things, then maybe the money would be put to better use, such as with lights or some education added to school curriculum (at all levels) or additional driver education.
The walkers that dart out in front of people without even looking should be liable for punishment also. A little crossing guard time for every violator might help wake people up more than the hefty fines.