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Paris programs très bien

by: CLEMENS BILAN, Centuries after Marie Antoinette said “Let them ride bikes” (or something like that), Paris’ new public bike rental program (above) is catching on, according to one reader and traveler. Portland is considering launching a similar service.

We sampled the Velib bike rental program in Paris a couple of weeks ago while on vacation (City gives bike rentals a spin, Oct. 12). It was wonderful to be able to get around the city without having to take public transportation.

We talked with many locals who enjoy using it for quick trips. We also watched the trucks come around each night and redistribute the bikes throughout the city. I think what amazed me the most was that these bikes weren't stolen.

Kristine Kukich

North Portland

City needs to address bike theft epidemic

I'm a Portland State University student who was planning on riding my bike to class through the year (City gives bike rentals a spin, Oct. 12).

Unfortunately, only three weeks into the term, my bike was stolen while I was in class. I registered my bike with a stolen bike Web site and was not exactly shocked to find that there were 1,371 stolen bike listings for Portland alone.

It sure would be nice if a little more effort was put into ensuring that people who choose to bike have some protection and can expect that their bike will not be stolen in our city.

Parking and driving downtown is expensive, but not as expensive as replacing a bike every few months.

Jason Christensen

Southeast Portland

Program will make city cleaner, safer

I am not even living in Portland yet, but I plan to relocate there soon. I chose Portland out of an endless number of places to live because of positive ideas like this one (City gives bike rentals a spin, Oct. 12).

I know there are details to work out, but it sounds like Portland is well on the way to proving what a smart city it is. This program will help not only with transportation, but with pollution and personal health as well.

Kudos to Portland!

Annette Long

Arvada, Wyo.

TOPOFF exercise was no mere show

Regarding your Oct. 16 article 'Topoff: Learning experience or show' (localnewsdaily.com), I want to comment on my experience as an observer/participant at the Emergency Operations Center for the Multnomah County Health Department.

I am a health officer from Southern Oregon who was accepted into the operations center to learn from the exercise and hopefully make modifications to our local plans as a result of 'lessons learned.' Everything I saw was the opposite of what was reported in the article.

There were more than 60 staff members at our site. They were well-organized and prepared and took their tasks seriously. In fact, after a few minutes, we all seemed to forget that this was an exercise, as events unfolded in real time.

Our leaders had to make difficult decisions based on the information available and to modify our plans as updated information came in.

We had to coordinate with local hospitals, the state, federal assets and other experts from around the country. This was an opportunity for us to understand our different approaches and skills and to learn to create a unified response. Our briefings and conference calls felt very much like 'the real thing.'

I've attended many tabletop and virtual exercises concerning emergency preparedness; the activities at the command center were the most comprehensive and professionally executed I have seen.

Jim Shames

Medical director, Jackson and Josephine County health departments

Housing program is LEEDing the way

Thank you for highlighting the new Helensview subdivision in the Oct. 9 Sustainable Life section.

As a new resident of Portland and a public health student, I'm pleased to say that this project exemplifies Portland's progressive attitude and wide-ranging, enthusiastic commitment to sustainable, healthy and safe communities.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificate for neighborhood development is an excellent example of thinking 'upstream' rather than 'downstream' to further public health.

While the national trend is to highlight individual behavior and assign personal responsibility in the promotion of health, the broader social and economic context in which health problems exist cannot be ignored when formulating policy to effect positive change.

I encourage all of us to applaud the combined efforts of families like Jamie Smith's and community leaders like HOST's (Home Ownership a Street at a Time) John Miller and Gina Franzosa, the Oregon director of the Cascadia chapter of the Green Building Council.

Each is contributing to the promotion of this innovative program, the first of its kind to directly connect housing affordability with sustainability.

Emily Sarah Moher

Southeast Portland

Paper's tone in police story is disturbing

We were greatly disturbed by some of the coverage on the demise of Portland's questionable drug- and prostitution-free zones in the Oct. 9 issue.

Two major articles about the end of the zones focused more on police and business concerns than on the concerns of the independent audit which led to the end of the zones.

That study - which challenged the Portland Police Bureau's lack of intellectual curiosity in examining why African-American suspects were excluded more than whites and Latinos - also noted that it was not a comprehensive look at other issues involved in the zones.

The third article, focusing on Officer Jeff Myers, presumes that police treating people downtown as criminal suspects is acceptable behavior.

In the article, Myers approaches two men with 'no real basis for stopping them.' He talks to them, gets the name of one man and his probation officer, and ends up taking the other man (who happens to be black) in on a probation violation.

While Myers is praised by Commissioner Randy Leonard, we believe that Myers' actions directly encroach on individual rights. If Myers had no real reason to stop these men, they should have been free to go.

The article concludes with Myers stopping two different pedestrians for jaywalking - one black, one white - lecturing them both and letting them go. Myers states that he 'treats everybody the same.'

But while the other two articles quote critics of the zones, this piece leaves Myers to approve of his own actions, with Leonard wishing for more like him to 'send a message to criminals that this is not the place to be.'

If more officers acted on hunches, asked every pedestrian his or her name, and made policy decisions, it's likely we'd have a police state devoid of constitutional rights or the freedom to move about freely.

Dan Handelman and Regina Hannon

Portland Copwatch