Cyclists in D.C. already get a free ride

Re: "Car-free D.C. in your future?" Sept. 22

Cyclists in the District have the same privileges of the road as motorists even though they require no licensing to demonstrate knowledge of traffic rules, carry no insurance, pay no gasoline tax to fund road upkeep, and carry no visible vehicle identification.

If a cyclist suddenly pops out from the curb into oncoming traffic (which quite commonly happens), a driver has to make a split second decision between hitting the cyclist or the car in the next lane. In the latter scenario, the cyclist can pedal away unidentified and bear no liability.

A mandatory car-free day would effectively become work-from-home day for many. I can't take Metro every day, and it would become I-can't-get-to-class day since I leave work for night school in Montgomery County some days.

Don't get me wrong. I like the bike lanes and use them regularly myself. However, Harry Jaffe should recognize that cyclists are getting a free ride in D.C. and already have it pretty good.

Brian Wrenn

Washington

Autos destroyed communities, made workers commodities

Re: "Cars gave Americans mobility, prosperity, greater freedom," Editorial, Sept. 22

The Examiner's

hagiographic editorial lauding the car as a "freedom machine" that "freed rural America" is laughably one-sided. Russell Kirk, one of Ronald Reagan's favorite writers, pejoratively referred to Henry Ford in his masterwork, "The Conservative Mind," as "the Midas of velocity" and the automobile as a "mechanical Jacobin" that altered our national character "more thoroughly than could the most absolute of tyrants."

Mass-produced, fossil-fueled mobility certainly brought positive benefits, but the disintegration of traditional communities, the commodification of human labor, and massive highway subsidies were significant prices to pay. Not to mention the loss of efficient and popular urban transit systems, in no small part due to the efforts of a sham mass-transport company formed by GM, Firestone and Standard Oil.

Some things are complicated. Countering the naivete of World Car-Free Day with corporate cheerleading and incomplete history is a disservice to your readers.

John Murdock

Falls Church

Abbas does not want peace with Israel

Re: "Palestinian President Abbas' big lie," Sept. 21

The recent vitriolic address by Mahmoud Abbas should dispel any illusions that the Palestinian Authority unity government of Fatah and Hamas is ready to make a meaningful peace with Israel. He killed any possibility for peace by claiming that U.N. Resolution 194 -- passed shortly after the end of the 1948 Arab war to destroy Israel -- is the starting point for any negotiations. He ignores the fact that U.N. Resolutions 242 and 336 giving Israel defensible borders superseded the earlier resolution.

If Abbas is looking at history, he should remember that the League of Nations Palestinian Mandate established not only Israel but the present state of Jordan as a Jewish homeland. His previous denial of the Holocaust, and his present claim that Jews have no connection to the Holy Land, is a studied insult to Christians as well.

Abbas is a replica of Yasir Arafat. He is not extending the hand of peace, but continuing Arafat's efforts to destroy the Jewish state.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring