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Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007 07:22 am

Letters to the Editor

Untitled Document We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.
WE NEED A PRO-BIKE CULTURE Jeanne Townsend Handy tells a tale of cities that have embraced cycling as a viable transportation alternative [“Pedal power,” Aug. 30]. Many European cities are fortunate to have kept their central cities intact, with their narrow streets, cobblestones, and historic districts. By contrast, Americans have embraced the automobile, often to their chagrin. Who can forget the miles of sprawl, the decline of community and struggle to keep the city core viable? Americans have embraced the fast culture, fast cars, and fast food. They have inherited road rage, stress, and soaring health problems linked to obesity. No, bicycling cannot cure what ails Springfield. What we can do is look at the opportunity to make incremental and life-affirming choices. Madison, Wis., and Rochester, Minn., have cultures that affirm the rights of cyclists, with bicycle commuting as a true alternative. Bloomington-Normal and Madison County have used old railroad right-of-way to create networks of cycling paths for commuting and recreation. Schaumburg and Chicago have met criteria of the League of American Bicyclists and are designated “bike friendly cities.” Other cities have used the League of Illinois Bicyclists to promote bicycling as a transportation alternative. What does Springfield have going for it? We have low-density urban core. We have the Old State Capitol square and broad streets. We value tourism and promote walking tours. We have scenic areas dispersed throughout the city and a safe community. What we lack is the will to build on the Trails and Greenways Study conducted in 1997 by the Regional Planning Commission. Why do we not promote bicycle tourism, as many cities have? Cycling has not been on the radar screen — or in the news, until recently. The near-death of the Interurban Trail at the hands of the MacArthur extension was a wakeup call to trail advocates. Cycling is a kind of chicken-and-egg phenomenon. Ask residents of Bloomington-Normal, Madison County, or Rochester, Minn. Before trails were constructed, there was little interest or support beyond a few activists. But once [trails were] built there was a steady and sustained demand by the citizens at large. Now residents, Realtors, and business leaders point to the quality of life the trails have added. Not everyone uses trails, but parents, teachers, employers, and health officials all know someone who has benefited from cycling, not just for recreation but also for that “Hey, I could jump on my bike for that errand. I could be green and enjoy the trip. I could be that person who makes a difference in the drop of an ocean of imported oil.”
The Sangamon Valley Trail, a 39-mile rail corridor from south of Athens to Auburn, is a future trail with marvelous scenic potential. Sangamon County is completing the engineering of the initial five-mile section from Centennial Park to Stuart Park. But it will take community support to compete for the grant application. Trails are linear parks, not just for cyclists and runners; they are multiuse for birders, roller bladers, for moms with strollers, for all of us.
The League of Illinois Bicyclists and Springfield Bicycle Club have published a “Bicycle Map of the Springfield Area,” free. It is available at your local bike shop, at the Springfield Park District Office and other locations. It shows streets that local cyclists find safe and convenient to commute and how to access the Lost Bridge, Wabash, and Interurban trails. Yes, Springfield, bicycling is an alternative, and you can make a difference. Hats off to Ms. Handy for an article well-written and a cause worth supporting. Call your alderman, your Sangamon County Board member, your Springfield Park District representative and voice your support for trails, bike lanes, and a healthier Springfield. Tell them you support the Sangamon Valley Trail, bicycle lanes, and bicycle parking. For further information, contact the Springfield Bicycle Club (www.spfldcycling.org), the League of Illinois Bicyclists (www.bikelib.org), the League of American Bicyclists (www.bikeleague.org), Madison County Trails (www.mcttrails.org), or the Springfield Road Runners (www.srrc.net). And visit a bike shop or the Springfield Running Center and talk about your interest.
Lynn Miller Bill Donels Legislative and Education Committee Springfield Bicycle Club
WHAT’S MY PRICE? $54. I just called around to compare prices for my drug prescriptions. At Walgreens, the one drug in its generic form was $60. I called Wal-Mart, and the same exact drug, same strength, same quantity was $6 — yes, that’s right, no zero on the end. So I don’t want to hear any more complaining about how Wal-Mart is taking away business from other businesses. The businesses often do it to themselves. I don’t mind paying a slightly higher price for items made in America and to patronize local businesses, and I do, but this is a difference of $54 here. I used to sometimes say to people who asked why the price of drugs was so high, “There is a reason why there is a new Walgreens on every corner. They have to pay for those new stores somehow.” Yet Wal-Mart is the fastest-growing retailer in the U.S., scheduled to build something like 200 new stores in the next two years. They manage to build new stores without raising the price of drugs to hundreds of a percentage more than what they cost. So where does all that profit go for “the other” drug store?
Jean Stables Decatur

I am a student at Lincoln Land Community College here in Springfield. I am seeking answers as to why colleges charge so much money for books. I purchased a used book from the college bookstore that cost more than $60. I am talking about a
used book. I emphasize the word “used,” as this book had writing in it and worn pages. I looked it up online, and a brand-new copy of the exact same book was $80. I wonder how much the actual cost of printing was for this book. There are sites online where you can get used textbooks for much cheaper, but by the time the college releases the book list to the students it is too late to order a book online — you won’t get them in time for classes. They want your money, so, of course, they are going to do this. I realize that a lot of students receive some type of financial assistance, but I still think it’s wrong. Students who don’t receive financial assistance pay for these overpriced books out of their own pockets. Used books should be discounted to students and bought back from students according to what condition they are in. So basically at the end of your semester you have a few extra bucks in your pocket, which might be enough to go buy yourself a new shirt or a meal at Panera.
Jessica Shoup

CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL We humans tend to reject what we cannot see or touch, and our conscience is constantly polluted by a world populated with sinners. However, those who don’t believe in God or Satan believe they can rely on their polluted conscience to live what they define as a good life. Anger, pride, lust, laziness, greed, envy, and gluttony are frequently called the seven deadly sins. These traits exemplify the sinful nature of humans, and God did not create them in us. These traits are inherited; that is, we got them from the enemy of God, and this makes us also the enemy of God. From the womb we humans are unable to meet the perfection demanded by God, and the penalty is death. For Christians, Jesus Christ comes to the rescue. He is our only hope for blissful eternal life in heaven, and it is understandable for Christians to want this for all others. Many are insensible or think they can achieve God’s perfect standard all by themselves. They can’t, not even for a single day, and in this world none of us ever will. Having admitted that we are poor sinful beings motivates us to repent; we then confess and ask God for forgiveness. We are not always conscious of the sin we commit; nonetheless, it is sin, and we should be fearful of the separation from God that all sin causes. This is why Christians need to confess their sins and participate in Holy Communion at every opportunity.
Bob Ruble Springfield
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