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Drivers have to look before they can see colorful bikers

FHP: Brighten up, bikers | July 17, story Drivers have to look before they can see Distracted. Not looking. On your cell phone. Oops, forgot to turn. Wrong exit. That is what is wrong with drivers! After almost losing my husband — my kids' dad, and a loving Pa-Pa to our grandson — almost nine weeks ago to a driver who didn't "look," this article made my blood boil!

People just don't take the time to "look." You can hear us coming on our huge full-dressed Harley, but wearing a "Canary Suit" will not make a difference.

This is the same situation at a red light. When it turns green, how many people take that extra second and look both ways? Why are people in such a hurry? We are among the lucky ones. After a very long time, my husband will recover, but his limbs will never be the same.

Yes, he was wearing a helmet, and this is the first accident he has been involved in. And he has been driving motorcycles for more than 45 years. Please, drivers, take that extra second to "look."

Patricia A. Cook, St. Petersburg

Bad biker behavior

As a person who drives U.S. 19 every day, I think I can safely say auto drivers are not at fault most of the time when it comes to motorcycle accidents. I'm amazed at the driving habits of these bikers. And it's so sad to hear them blame auto drivers. The bikers race, use no protective gear, weave in and out if autos are moving too slow for their powerful bikes, blare their radios so they can't hear what is going on, and enjoy showing they have the ability to whiz past us at breakneck speeds. It's hard to see a flea in the dark and these bikers expect a car to see them flying by and not hit them?

The words of Corky Craver with the picture next to your article say it all to me: "It's not going to make a difference because the stupid people ain't looking anyway." This says to me that he doesn't care, won't care, blames the auto drivers automatically, and will continue to ride how he sees fit. And his attitude should tell many that he ain't gonna change nothing.

Lynn Friedman, Pinellas Park

Flashing lights reduce risk

As a biker for the last 50-plus years, I was less than amused to see this quote from a biker: "It's not going to make a difference because the stupid people ain't looking anyway."

That quote was in response to a Times staff writer's sampling of opinions about a Florida Highway Patrol promotion for bikers. The promotion encourages bikers to wear brightly colored apparel so as to be more detectable by other motorists, presumably those driving four-wheeled vehicles.

Yes, it's true that approximately two-thirds of motorcycle crashes are the result of motorists obstructing the right of way, like when pulling out of a driveway or making a turn at an intersection. But it "ain't cool" for bikers to label those drivers stupid when in fact, the majority of bikers willingly put themselves at greater risk, when risk reduction is readily obtainable.

I have three motorcycles that are driven both by my wife and me. Each motorcycle is equipped with headlight and taillight modulators. In daylight driving hours, the headlight flashes. The taillight flashes when the brakes are applied. Both of these devices are intended to make motorists more aware of the presence of motorcycles.

I have never had any kind of vehicle obstruct my right of way when riding my motorcycle with a modulator operating. Furthermore, single lamp modulators can be bought for less than $100, and anyone able to change a plug can install it. The modulators I use over the years have never failed. Modulate for life.

Edward M. Blau, St. Petersburg

The helmet factor

We "stupid people" do look for bikers. My wife and I have a regular comment when we see one not wearing a helmet: "Hello, idiot" — knowing full well that some day our tax money may go to support him after an accident.

Elmer F. Mack, Sun City Center

For disabled, wait for benefits hurts | July 15, story

Our leaders are uncaring

A disabled Tampa man has been living in his car for four years and waited four years for inadequate interim Social Security benefits. More than 700,000 disabled Americans are waiting in many cases more than 600 days just to receive a hearing. I can't imagine the outrage and frustration these citizen taxpayers are feeling, waiting so long just to be heard!

The facts presented concerning this disturbing dilemma only serve to convince me that our current presidential administration and congressional leadership have turned their backs on the American people like no others in our nation's history. Consider the Hurricane Katrina debacle.

After having read your article, I turned to Page 4A and was truly shocked when I read that our Congress just approved $62-million for an ammunition storage facility and $41-million for a power plant in Iraq!

Frank Foglia, Apollo Beach

For disabled, wait for benefits hurts | July 15

Getting valuable help

I read the article about the backlog in disability payments and wanted to share a more positive experience. My longtime friend, who has chronic mental illness and lives in Pinellas County, applied for disability in the summer of 2007. By January, he was receiving monthly payments. In addition, somehow they determined that he had been disabled since 2006 and sent him a lump sum for more than $10,000. He did have a lawyer to help him file the initial paperwork, but he had no help after that.

Overall, we have found the system to be very helpful and relatively easy to use. If it were not for this government program, our friend would be homeless or in jail — or possibly dead. This is definitely an example of our tax money being put to good use!

Marlene Rubin, Tampa

For disabled, wait for benefits hurts | July 15

Working hard to help

I work for the Social Security Administration. I work 10 hours every day and, if available, any Saturday that I can.

We see hundreds of clients every month, either applying for the first time or appealing or requesting hearings. We apply for any and all benefits a client may be entitled to, develop all technical aspects of a claim, as well as the medical, work and school information. We can spend as much as two hours on a single application.

We expedite the cases that are approved by the judges and the numerous cases that are remanded to the local disability state offices for a faster decision. We call employers, welfare, worker compensation, unemployment offices for verification. We understand people's frustration and strive to give them their benefits as fast as possible.

Please give us some consideration. We are all working as hard as humanly possible to serve our clients. We never forget that, at any time, we could be the person on the other side of that desk. Give us the respect we deserve for the job we do and the attitude we bring to work every single day.

C. Thomas, Largo

Eating that tomato can put you in moral peril July 13, Bill Maxwell column

What's the answer?

The headline caught my eye. What? I love tomatoes. I need to read what Bill Maxwell has to say. Workers enslaved so that I can get my tomatoes cheap? Egads, I don't want that! What can I do? I keep reading. I'm sure Bill will tell me what I need to do since he quotes at length the guy who keeps carping on consumer responsibility and the need for me to change my ways. Surely he'll tell me how to change my ways.

Nope. I read it all the way through and just ended up with the usual feelings of guilt and helplessness that always come with these indignant sorts of pieces that are long on awareness-raising and short on remedies.

So I opened my Sunday paper and had my beloved tomato salad ruined for me with no alternative that I can think of beyond going out back and growing my own. Been there done that — brown thumb. Thanks, Bill.

Lynn Allen, Tampa

Eating that tomato can put you in moral peril July 13, Bill Maxwell column

We do what we can

I applaud Bill Maxwell for bringing this to our attention. However, he falls somewhat short. In fact, no matter what we eat, no matter what we wear, no matter what tools or machinery we use, unless we can lay claim to knowing the rectitude of everyone in the chain from the raw materials to the delivery of the product, we are ignoring the fact that, somewhere, people are being exploited for it, or as Maxwell says, it is "made possible on the backs of abused workers."

Maxwell quotes the Rev. Aaaron McEmrys as saying, "It's not just a question of whether we should get involved. If we eat tomatoes then we are already involved. … What are we going to do about it?"

What do you suggest, Mr. Maxwell? That we boycott everything? That we rally against each and every recognized injustice? I'm not a superhero. I cannot fight every injustice I know about and may be forced to participate in. I have to eat something. I have to wear something. I have to get to work and do my job.

Even keeping informed about the injustices in Florida, much less the entire United States, would require every waking moment, and I would still, no doubt, miss something.

So, again, thank you for bringing this particular injustice to our attention, Mr. Maxwell. Whether or not you personally decide to give up eating tomatoes, please try not to be overly concerned with everyone else's moral peril. We all do what we can.

Michael Zwerdling, Palm Harbor

It's not cuddly, soft, but ... | July 15 Even reptiles need responsible owners

Any pet requires work, and representing reptiles and amphibians as requiring only occasional food, water and a clean cage is the reason so many are deprived of full length and quality of life.

Vet appointments are never something you can just "wait and see" about. If your pet has an infection or parasites, it probably won't be obvious until it's life-threatening. If the pet owner even knows where to take his animal for treatment, the cure — if there is any — will be that much more expensive and less likely to work.

And parents, you'd better not agree that a gecko is a good pet for your elementary schoolchild just because it's cheaper than something big and furry. Who's going to be driving to the vet, buying crickets, possibly cleaning the cage?

These are among the questions you would've been asking about a dog or cat, and if you're not asking those questions you're probably going to be maltreating that lizard in ways you'd never treat a mammal. Please reconsider.

That snake in its bare terrarium is going to get bored, if not physically sick without regular checkups. And if you don't care you shouldn't be buying it.

Bob Potts makes some good points, the ones about doing research before buying a pet and acknowledging the long-term commitment. A pet frog or snake is just as much of a responsibility as a pet cat.

Kathryn Dorn, Tampa

Drivers have to look before they can see colorful bikers 07/18/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2008 5:34pm]
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