Share the road
Bill Chenoweth’s recent letter to the editor asks why bicycling organizations do not discourage bicycling on the vast majority of Maine roads, those without paved shoulders.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine encourages safe bicycling on Maine roads. People bicycle for their health, enjoyment, to commute, to save energy and the environment. BCM and DOT have a Share The Road campaign to remind motorists and bicyclists that both have equal rights and responsibilities on the road.
Those responsibilities require motorists and bicyclists to drive and ride safely given the road conditions and to obey the speed limits and other laws. That helps protect everyone. There might be a bicyclist around that corner or over that hill, but there might also be a pedestrian, stalled automobile, accident, animal or other road hazard. We all need to drive defensively and to anticipate the unexpected.
Maine law requires bicyclists to ride as far to the right “as practicable.” Maine roads are in terrible condition. It is not always “practicable” to ride on the edge of a deteriorated road. Motorists are allowed to pass a bicyclist on a solid yellow line only if it is safe to do so and they must give the bicyclist at least 3 feet.
If those conditions are not present, slow down and wait. Enjoy the beautiful scenery. The bicyclist won’t make you late. The road belongs to all of us. Share the road. For more on safe bicycling, visit our Web site http://www.bikemaine.org/.
BCM board member
Perhaps someone can help me understand how it would take $53 million to renovate the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building when Wal-Mart built a brand-new superstore on Stillwater Avenue for $24 million? Even considering that the $53 million is tax dollars, the discrepancy between the two seems ridiculous.
Maybe Wal-Mart should be contracted to do the job at the federal building.
Dollar out of every six
America is facing a health care crisis caused by a combination of skyrocketing costs and an insurance system that leaves 47 million Americans without any coverage. The current health care system is endangering our economy.
Congress needs to take action to reduce the costs of health care for individuals, businesses and communities. As a nation, we are spending $1 out of every $6 we earn on health care.
Legislation must provide effective cost controls, equitable distribution of services and allow for efficient and economical delivery of care. Offering everyone a government-administered health insurance plan such as Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans will be key.
Health care reform legislation must guarantee quality, affordable health care to all U.S. residents. Universal coverage will give humanity to our system. All Americans must have health care of their choice.
Coverage should include the choice of a quality, affordable public insurance plan. Achieving this kind of comprehensive, systemwide reform is doable, but will take a shared effort by citizens and our representatives in Congress.
Barbara A. McDade
League of Women Voters of Maine
What side are you on?
Congress was duped about the reasons to go to war with Iraq, a decision that has caused this country and others countless lives and economic catastrophe.
Now Congress faces a decision to reform a broken health care system that leaves more than 50 million people with no health care coverage. The insurance industry is gearing up their fear-mongering machine to stay the course and keep their tight grip on health care profits at the expense of millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans.
Whose interests will Sens. Snowe and Collins represent in health care reform — a few megainsurance companies or the American people who want a public plan?
Mary Jane Bush
In politics, the words conservative and liberal are confusing terms. For example, President Clinton was often labeled a “tax and spend liberal,” yet he left the United States with a $236 billion surplus in the year 2000. Conservative presidents such as Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush left office with $200 billion to $400 billion deficits. Thus, it is difficult to define the labels of conservative and liberal.
Our national debt has risen more than 70 percent in the past 28 years. In 24 of those 28 years, the government ended with deficits. The fiscal deficit for year 2008 was a historic $482 billion. The last three fiscal years of the Clinton years and the first year of the George W. Bush presidencies ended with surpluses. Our national debt now tops $9 trillion.
President Obama was elected when the U.S. was in a deep recession. The country is fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and our reputation is hurting in Russia, China and other countries, which makes his job challenging. President Obama will need the assistance of Congress, state governments and all of us to weather this stormy era.
Nat Crowley Sr.
Focus on environment
The Natural Resources Council of Maine would like to thank Congressman Michaud for his recent vote of support in the House for the American Clean Energy and Security Act. This act, along with the stimulus package, will create 10,000 new good clean energy jobs for Maine workers by making significant new investments in energy efficiency and clean renewable sources of energy, while protecting our environment for future generations.
We now need strong leadership from Sens. Snowe and Collins as the debate moves to the Senate. There is tremendous support in Maine for action at the federal level on climate change. Over 100 businesses and 100 health professionals from Maine have publicly asked our Congressional delegation to support climate legislation this year, and hundreds more have written letters and phoned their offices. We all recognize it is time we reduce our dependence on foreign oil and stop emitting the amount of carbon pollution that is warming the planet. We also recognize the important jumpstart this legislation will provide for the Maine clean energy economy.
In December, the United States will participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen. Since the U.S. has emitted more greenhouse gases than any other country in the world to date, it is time we showed our commitment to leadership and to change with our global partners. The American Clean Energy and Security Act is a good start and Congress must see it to the finish line this year.
Natural Resources Council of Maine