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A Critical View

To the Editor:

Back in 1990 I got my first modern road bike and spent the next eight years commuting, training and racing in New York City. In 1998 my family and I moved up to Albany. I ride and race with a local team.

The Albany region is a glorious place to ride. Our geography and roads are great. Nearly all of our motorists handle themselves like good, compassionate people and treat riders like me with respect. I appreciate their courtesy and do my best to reciprocate.

I haven’t seen any Critical Mass rides in Albany [“Because . . . You’re in My Way,” Newsfront, April 6], but saw a lot of them back in NYC. They carried a potent message all right, and it was never good. To any outside observer they were a bunch of petulant people who happened to be using bikes as a means to throw public tantrums and create problems for the police. They won no hearts or minds with their gatherings. I resented that they were purporting to stand for the cycling community.

Nothing productive comes of putting police into no-win situations. If the police hold back and do nothing, ordinary people trying to get from place to place have to endure pointless interferences. If the police move in and make demonstrators disperse, Emmy Award candidates hop up and down claiming to be brutalized.

Either way, lots of ordinary folks going about their business will reach the end of their day with sour feelings about cyclists that they didn’t have that morning.

If police are overreacting or mishandling things then sure, they need to work on that. If they’re not, then shame on anyone spreading false criticisms. The police, and cyclists, are united in our interest in promoting safe roads. The last thing we need is to have people associating important issues like better roads and traffic safety with Critical Mass demonstrations. For the sake of safety, mature coexistence and a great sport, cyclists should make sure that road-sharing issues don’t become associated with such negative behavior.

Chuck Quackenbush



To the Editor:

I know that it may be fashionable for residents of smAlbany to make fun of Metroland. Sometimes people try soooo hard to be painfully hip that they don’t even notice what they do have around them. Metroland is a perfect example. Sorry it’s not the frickin’ Village Voice.

David King’s article “Citizen Diplomacy” [April 6] was just the sort of story that I was craving in light of current events. It was well-written, refreshing and as uplifting as it could possibly be. The Critical Mass article was timely and right on. I live in the city and ride CM with my wife and daughter regularly.

Please keep up the good work.

William Ullrich


Upstate Blues

To the Editor:

Thank you Metroland for restoring my faith (a little) that all of the political-coverage media were mindless, conservative, talking-head hand puppets [“Closer Than You Think,” Between the Lines, March 30]. Eliot Spitzer had the courage to say what anyone who lives in the North Country or the I-88 corridor running through western New York has known for years. Cities and towns are collapsing under the weight of dwindling tax bases caused by increased unemployment.

I grew up in New York City. People are spoiled there. If they lose their job or the company fails, some people don’t even have to leave the office building to find a new job. They can’t relate to people living in rural upstate areas where, when a business closes, they’re the major employer for a hundred miles, and thousands of families are affected.

I have held consultant jobs that have required me to have temporary residence in Binghamton and Saranac Lake. At the time, Binghamton was still recovering from losing IBM as a major employer when the second-highest employer, Defense Contractor CAE-Link, announced that it had been bought by Hughes Corp., and 2,000 jobs were moving to Texas. Of course anybody that wanted to sell their house at a loss and uproot their family was welcome to come along. I don’t know how many accepted the offer. Saranac Lake has relied on seasonal business and the overflow from Lake Placid for years. One unseasonably warm winter and both these towns would suffer.

I find it humorous that our governor was one of the first critics of Mr. Spitzer. As I recall, one of Mr. Pataki’s early acts as governor was to “re-allocate” jobs from the Albany campus to his area downstate. At the time I think he said, “Why should all of these jobs just be in Albany?” My answer, because this is where we choose to live. To be fair, buses were provided to transport the workers from Albany to Kingston and back every day. No doubt this was done to boost the lagging economy in his home area. I believe that IBM was a large employer there also.

Manufacturing jobs that were paying middle-income wages are leaving the state by the thousands and nothing is replacing them. Someone needed to speak up.

Daniel Lark


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