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Letters to the Editor - Jan. 19

Bridge replacement a regional matter

There's been some recent debate about the best way to replace the Sellwood Bridge and frustration expressed at some of the Troutdale City Council about its vote on the matter. Fair enough. It's a tough issue. Other city councils have yet to vote on it, so it may end up being more than Troutdale that causes the county to reconsider its options. And there are good reasons to ask them to reconsider.

Seventy percent of those who use the bridge are, by Multnomah County's estimate, from Clackamas County. Yet they have presented no plan to have Clackamas County residents help with paying for it. They talk a lot about the regional impact and the region's needs but have not asked for any other part of the region to contribute. Only Multnomah County residents should pay for this 'regional necessity,' according to our commissioners.

Additionally, if it is so important to have this money for this bridge, why doesn't the IGA (intergovernmental agreement) state that the money can be used only on this bridge? It actually gives the county discretion to use it on other bridges as well. And if sufficient funds were secured from state, federal and other sources, there's no stipulation the 'fees' would stop being collected. The same would be true if they don't come up with the money and the project gets scrapped. They'd keep on for 20 years, and none of it would go back to the cities it's collected from.

I agree it's a regional problem but disagree it calls for a Multnomah-County-residents-only solution. Leadership at the county level should be able to reach out beyond its borders and negotiate with other communities. There are too many flaws in the plan being proposed. It's not being angry or mistreating county representatives when we tell them we're not open to reconsidering the same plan with a prettier ribbon. Give me a plan that is fair, equitable and worth reconsidering, and I'd be happy to look at it.

NORM THOMAS

Troutdale City Councilor

Clackamas residents must help pay for bridge

I live in Gresham, but I agree with the Troutdale Council. If 70 percent of the users of the Sellwood Bridge live in Clackamas County, how is it fair that they pay NONE of the cost?

Tolls might work, but what about the buses, ambulances, etc., that use the structure (and the people who would use other bridges to avoid the toll and time it takes to collect them). The bridge is already narrow and in disrepair. Perhaps this is an issue for Metro. Also, haste makes waste. In our hurry to get federal dollars, let us not forget lives are at stake, and there's no price tag on those.

KATHY BROSE

Gresham

'It's nobody's fault'? Think again

Two recent bicycle deaths in Portland have caught everyone's attention because they were so preventable and were so close together and they happened to young people who should have had a lifetime ahead of them. Particularly the one involving bicyclist Brett Jarolimek, which the media and police labeled as 'nobody's fault.'

If that were the case, I could conclude that I was equally to blame as the two principals involved even though I was 20 miles away!

It was somebody's fault. As a bicyclist I have to conclude that it was shared fault. Whenever I am riding in the bike lane with traffic to my left and I see turn signals ahead, I assume the vehicle is going to turn. If I don't see turn signals blinking I assume they might turn right.

Either way I position myself in front of the adjacent vehicle, again making the assumption that they will see me and not intentionally run over me, or place myself behind the vehicle so I have a chance to swerve in case they do make a turn - anywhere but next to them. There are no guarantees, and I know I have more at stake in avoiding a collision than they do. It appears from reports that I've read that neither of the two cyclists took such precautions.

But the driver of the vehicles are not only morally bound to check for hazards, such as bikers, pedestrians, wheelchairs or whatever, but they are legally bound to check in the direction of their turn to ascertain that it is safe to make the turn. And it appears that neither one did. That sounds like negligence at the very least (but nobody has been charged with anything at this point).

All of these large vehicles (cement trucks, garbage trucks, etc.) have a mirror system that will allow their operators to see practically anything alongside their vehicles - if they will only use them and look. I had an almost identical experience happen last week when a local garbage truck went down my road and I pulled out on my bike at the same time and followed behind him. He couldn't have missed noticing me (although I found out later he was on his cell phone at the time). He came up to a signal intending to turn right on red when traffic allowed.

There was a full bike lane to his right, which I could have legally occupied because I was turning right too, but with my mind flashing back to recent events in Portland I opted to just await his next move and remain behind him. That's when I noticed by looking in his side mirror that he was on his cell phone. He never gave this mirror a single glance, was not aware that I was there and then turned right, completely running over the bike lane.

We have laws that are presumably passed to protect us from one another. But laws that are not enforced do not exist. Until we start enforcing these laws and citing people for violations, we would be equally served if we just struck the laws from the books.

We don't enforce seatbelt laws, teenage cell phone use laws, immigration laws, speed limits, littering , etc. Law enforcement counters that they can't cite everybody for everything (that is nothing more than an excuse for doing nothing), but can't they cite anybody who violates a law when they see it happen? Even if they only pulled somebody over and did five minutes of education, this would be an improvement.

In the meantime, those of us who choose to ride our bikes will have to realize we are at war with the driving public and the people charged with ensuring our safety. And we'd better be prepared to ride that way.

DAVID CARY

Gresham