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Cyclists and motorists

Regarding the article on the road diet on East Avenue ("Towns, DOT at Impasse on Bike Lanes):

1) Whether the right lane is marked as a bike lane — or is left unmarked as a shoulder — has significant legal and operational differences.

A bike lane is a lane, and unless there is more than one lane marked for turning right, drivers turning right are required by law to merge into the rightmost lane before turning. Merging requires yielding to whomever is already using that lane. That user has right of way: first come; first served.

It's unsafe and illegal for a driver to turn across a through lane without first merging into that lane.

The roadway is that portion of a highway that is improved and intended for travel. A shoulder is not part of the roadway, and cyclists using the shoulder have no roadway rights.

Because the shoulder is not a lane, drivers do not need to merge onto a shoulder to turn right, which means they don't need to yield to whomever is already using the shoulder.

On the other hand, since most drivers don't know about these subtle differences, cyclists are at risk whether the space they use is marked as a bike lane or left unmarked as a shoulder. This is especially dangerous if the cyclists are moving faster than motor traffic, which often happens.

2) Cyclists sometimes get pushback from the motoring community on the grounds that they are blocking the roadways or slowing the progress of motor traffic.

Ironically, for the East Avenue road diet, cyclists are being encouraged to get out onto the roadway in an effort to do just that — slow down motor traffic.


Reviewing our review of 'Black Panther'

It's hard to know where to begin with James A. Brown's uneven review of "Black Panther," in which he criticizes the film's "uneven" relationship with stereotypes . But I'll cite two sentences near the end.

"The film justifies Killmonger's actions by using a few ham-fisted nods to American slavery." No, it doesn't. We know from the first time we see him in the museum that Killmonger is not a good guy. But the film simply doesn't demonize him the way I suppose Brown expects a superhero film to do. It actually shows his human motivation. But he's clearly not a hero.

Secondly: "N'Jobu... conspired to commit terrorism and this could easily be read as reflective of the stereotype that American black males are inherently violent." Yeah, I guess, or it could just portray a reasonable expectation of what black Americans are up against when put in the context of the mythical never-colonized Wakanda.

To the last sentence of the review: "... I cannot confuse exuberance for a cultural moment with excellence," I say, Mr. Brown, you don't know excellence when you see it.


The RPO's programming diversity

A recent letter in CITY concerning the 2018-19 RPO season intrigued me. Not altogether correctly, it complains of an almost complete absence from the orchestra's programming of works by women and composers of color.

Tellingly, the letter overlooks the Jennifer Higdon Harp Concerto scheduled for September 20 and 22 and the work of African-American composers that feature prominently in the scheduling of the RPO's "Pops" series.

And there's the rub. The letter suggests that orchestral music suitable for Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra performance resides solely in the past. Not a single living composer is cited in the letter. They are still around. Next season's programming includes three: Jennifer Higdon, Patrick Harlin, and Jeff Tyzik.

That really is not enough, but it is something! And it is three more than recognized by this letter.


Editor's note: The previous letter writer did mention that the RPO season includes one work by a woman composer. That's the Higdon concerto.

The US needs common-sense gun restrictions

I try to listen to both sides of the gun issue, and have at various times sided with one or the other. One thing commonly heard from the pro-gun side is that anyone intent on killing large numbers of people will find some way to do it, making the banning certain types of firearms futile.

This idea needs further scrutiny. Sure, there are examples of mass killings done by means other than large capacity rapid-fire guns; Oklahoma City and the Boston Marathon come to mind. But we must ask ourselves if most killings at populated venues were done by people so determined to commit mass murder that they would have gone to any length, inconvenience be damned, to accomplish it. I'm not convinced most of them would have done so.

Isn't it more likely that these killers are simply opportunists? Like a knife or gun pulled out to settle an argument, we must examine whether it was the easy access to efficient killing machines that spurred the atrocities committed with them. In most cases the killers either already owned the firearms or had an easy path to acquiring them.

I'm not advocating an outright ban on semi-automatic firearms. But some common-sense restrictions need to be in place. The words "well regulated' would not have been put into the 2nd Amendment if the founders had envisioned a personal right to unrestricted access to any and all firearms along with unlimited ammunition.


Wind power is the best counter to climate change

Everyone should be working to help bring as much wind energy to our area as possible. As someone who has been researching wind energy on scientific sites for a few years, I have come to the conclusion that wind energy is the best way to stop or at least slow down climate change.

As with all forms of energy there are concerns, but overall, wind energy is our best chance for action with the least environmental dangers. My community is one with a proposed wind project, and I am working hard to ensure that the project moves forward.

The concern that wind turbines are "eye pollution" is the kind of argument that has historically been common during times of progress. Everyone had a problem with powerlines and poles when they were first proposed, but we barely notice them anymore and they brought about wonderful changes for everyone.

Cell towers, radio towers, and microwave towers are not attractive, but no one is going to give up their cellphone. Sometimes progress is perceived as ugly, but in hindsight the advantages far outweigh the negatives. I personally find the turbines beautiful, peaceful, and a sign of hope, and I am not alone.

The argument that wind power is subsidized is another misrepresentation. All forms of energy are subsidized. And an active campaign to spread false information about renewable energy is funded and backed by the fossil fuel industry. I suggest folks read Jane Mayer's book "Dark Money" for more information about the money-funneling system set up by the Kochs and fossil fuel interests.

Wind energy is a good choice for a viable change from fossil fuels that pollute the earth. Humans, birds, animals, vegetation, water, and the air are all affected by the mining, drilling, and burning of fossil fuels.

There will come a day when our children and future generations will ask us: "Why, when you knew what fossil fuels were doing to our world and you knew what could be done to limit their damage, did you do nothing? Why did you fight against cleaner energy forms?" I will be able to say I did everything I could to ensure them a cleaner, livable earth. What will your answer be?