Readers' Letters
by: Christopher Onstott Portland is considering spending more than $600 million to expand its bicycle infrastructure — an investment that one researcher says will pay off in health care savings. Readers weigh in on the topic with their letters.

Six percent of the population is not enough to have a major impact on saving health dollars (Will a bike ride a day keep the doctor away?, March 3).

This study means 6 percent of the population is healthier than those who do not bike? I doubt it. There are numerous other ways to work out other than biking around the city. Exercise is only part of the equation - the other is diet.

More people would bike if the weather was conducive for it. It really is not that pleasant to bike. In actuality more people would prefer better bus service, not the continual reduction of buses and longer wait times.

Cars are still supreme in the city and in the majority of cities. Let's get real!

Joanne Denzer

Southeast Portland

Biking wards off depression

Great article, Tribune (Will a bike ride a day keep the doctor away?, March 3).

I also did the exact thing the woman and her family did this past year: ditched driving my car to work every day and got on my bike. I've dropped a dress size and I feel fantastic in the year I've been riding. And yes, I rode every day through the winter.

It honestly isn't that hard if you set your life up to get around by bike. In fact, I would guess that the stats on the percentage of bikers have gone up significantly too. And while I've suffered from depression most of my life, I've had no bouts this past year. I ride 30 minutes to and 30 minutes from work every day, including rainy and snowy days.

Deborah Schultz

Southeast Portland

Energy costs push many to ride

Past circumstances may have made Portland unique: smaller city blocks, active and engaged citizenry supportive of bikes, and a youthful population of cyclists (Will a bike ride a day keep the doctor away?, March 3).

However, the future of rising energy and transportation costs will shift incentives in all cities toward human-powered transportation and land-use patterns that favor proximity over mobility.

So different, new factors will increase the payoff of investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure now. Making these small local investments will facilitate, extend and soften the inevitable transition to less car-dependent communities and make for cleaner, safer and more fun cities sooner.

Two key bonuses include reduced greenhouse gas emissions and reduced dependence on oil-pushing dictators - and thus fewer and less costly foreign wars.

Jim Labbe

North Portland

Doc didn't factor race into study

How can an epidemiologist not apply basic public health principles and the equity lens in a cost analysis on health care cost savings related to riding bikes (Will a bike ride a day keep the doctor away?, March 3)?

How often do you see black and brown people use a bike lane? Not everyone benefits from Portland's maze of bike lanes because not everyone is using them. So Swiss epidemiologist Thomas Gotschi fails miserably from a public health perspective in his cost study. If he were to disaggregate the data, the results might secure a snapshot of the entire populace, a core goal of public health.

According to statistics from Centers for Disease Control and Multnomah County Health Department, racial minorities have much higher rates of heart disease, obesity, cancer and other chronic disease than whites.

Clearly, the $57 million Portland spent on bike infrastructure lacked a marketing plan to encourage people who are disproportionately impacted by sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits to utilize bike lanes more often.

We applaud reporter Peter Korn for raising the issue, and are appalled by the epidemiologist and his trigger-happy failure to complete his research of the Portland bike landscape. Whose health care costs are being cut?

Yugen Fardan Rashad

Northeast Portland

El Camino gives mood a lift

Will the Trib do a story on the health benefits of massive torque/horsepower (Will a bike ride a day keep the doctor away?, March 3)?

I have a 625-horsepower/688-foot/pound torque '69 El Camino that gets, hopefully, seven miles to the gallon. Whenever my mental health starts deteriorating, I fire that puppy up and go for a spin.

Yee haw! I be rejuvenated!

Tom Wenning

Southeast Portland

Healthy family meals are possible

People absolutely can eat well and cheap if you put a little planning into it (The corner store gets a new mission, March 10).

You can make lots of healthy, inexpensive meals in the crock pot from scratch like beans, stews and soups for next to nothing. Homemade breads don't cost a lot, and many fruits and veggies are quite reasonable in season. The best bet is to start the crock pot before bed, then put it in the refrigerator in the morning. Dinner then just needs to be warmed that evening.

It can be done, and the family will be healthier in the long run.

Betsy Fernley


New Columbia a failed experiment

Steve Law got this one right. Good reporting. Well done.

I wish the very best of luck to those who are trying to make the New Columbia Village Market a success (The corner store gets a new mission, March 10).

However, let me caution those with excessively high expectations. Most grocery stores operate on a very small profit margin, so the difference between profit making and not-for-profit will have a lesser effect than some might imagine. Co-ops rely on a continuing commitment of volunteers. It is quite possible that New Columbia residents will be able to furnish the necessary amount of volunteers after the initial excitement of a new project wears off.

I hope so. But there is no guarantee.

New Columbia is a failed experiment in social engineering. Unless and until there is no longer the absolute necessity to have four full-time, uniformed, armed Portland police officers assigned to New Columbia to keep the peace, New Columbia will remain the exemplar of the public policy failure of unlimited neighborhood concentration of public housing.

Richard Ellmyer

North Portland

Residents need tips on healthy living

I, for one, am very happy for the residents of the New Columbia (The corner store gets a new mission, March 10). Although I don't live in North Portland, I have frequented the park adjacent to the new store location and the market there, formally. I am delighted that so many from the community got involved and helped make this happen.

What some people don't take into account is that Americans are addicted to fast food and instant satisfaction, and are infamous for making poor food buying/eating decisions. The key is education. I am confident that with the proper nutrition information, access to fresh produce, gardening skills and techniques, quick and easy recipe ideas, and a neighborhood that supports healthy lifestyles, Village Market and others like it will succeed.

So, I challenge the doubters of this neighborhood's success, and ask that you see how many healthy choices you can make with a limited income. Some people feel they are unable to provide a healthy affordable meal when faced with a budget. But imagine the savings when you are even providing your own food. You may be surprised! My family and I do it daily. I am aware of the struggles that low-income families go through, but also realize that there are healthy alternatives.

I wish Village Market and its patrons huge success.

Hannah Phelps

Northeast Portland

Biggest Losers find winning habits

'From Biggest Losers to Biggest Winners' (March 10), both Arthur and Jesse are demonstrating how their lives have changed because of 'The Biggest Loser' TV show and how they are giving back here in Portland to help others wanting to change their lifestyles.

While I'm not an expert, I understand the look and feel of morbid obesity. It was only when I began changing my diet, eliminating foods that supported my weight problem that I began to think and view the world differently.

It's a tough road. It's as much about the mental and emotional issues of food addiction as it is the physical aspects of obesity.

As Jesse, a recovered substance abuser, said: 'We fall on alcohol and drugs and then when you get rid of the alcohol and drugs, you go somewhere else.'

Food addiction is an addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has a support group for friends and family called Alanon. Arthur could not have reached his top weight of about 650 pounds without codependency patterns in his family. You have to break the chain and learn new patterns of behavior that support healthy lifestyle choices.

I'm not at my goal yet. I watch 'Biggest Loser' and I applaud this father and son for their tremendous strides in creating not only positive new images for themselves and their families, but for their efforts to give back to community and make a difference.

Jacqueline Lerner Aderman


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