Big Wheels

Bike safety for all: I was pleased with the feature ["Collision Course," by Craig Malisow, October 16]. It was well written, factual and well researched. It quoted many parties of interest and perspectives. It was intriguing reading -- it kept my interest to the end. It did not race to a conclusion or find fault.

Your story does present a conflict that can be solved only with cooperation by all parties: cyclists, motorists, law enforcement, TxDOT and governmental officials, among others. It is doubtful that it will ever go away. I am trying to do my part by riding safely (I have definitely become more compliant since joining The Woodlands Cycling Club) and have been trying to educate others by writing articles and by taking a leadership role.

Your article showed the tragedy experienced by the Brazosport Bike Club and highlighted similar experiences by the Woodlands club (there were two non-club-member fatalities and numerous other encounters that would have made another article). We think we're making some progress with the "Share the Road" signs (in cooperation with county officials) and in our meetings with TxDOT on designating bike routes.

We still have a long way to go. Until motorists realize they cannot go as fast as they want all of the time -- with or without paying full, undivided attention to driving -- we will continue to have accidents. And cyclists need to be sure they are taking steps to minimize the risks. We all need to respect the other vehicles with which we share the road.

Steve Schoger
The Woodlands

Schwinn or lose: I regularly share the roads between Seabrook and Rosharon with bicyclists and generally have no problem. However, most roads that I travel are the new-style FM type with very wide, paved shoulders that seem almost designed for bicyclists.

Even under these good conditions some bicyclists seem to enjoy deadly risk-taking. Most commonly this occurs when a pack of 20 or 30 Tour de France wannabes travel at high speed (about 25 mph, high for bicycles) in a dense peloton that moves out of the shoulder lane a little bit into the main lane because the riders are three or four abreast and because riders are moving left to pass within the peloton.

In the event of a mass crash, such as regularly occurs in the Tour de France, oncoming and overtaking cars and trucks will smush scattered, crashing cyclists like a herd of cane toads crossing the road.

Jay Bute
El Lago

Let's face it: As a cyclist and skater, though it may be wrong, I learned long ago to go against the traffic so you can see vehicles coming. It may not save you every time, but this area is obviously for cars only. You can either give yourself a chance by facing traffic, or risk getting hit with no warning. Law or no law, rights or no rights, dead is dead.

Don Dickerson

Sensational coverage: I just want to say how sensational the Houston Press is these days. In recent weeks you've covered quite an array of ways to die: cycling on the road, riding in an elevator ["Catching Elevators," by Wendy Grossman, October 9], as an aborted fetus ["Go, Baby, Go," by Michael Serazio, October 2].

The cover story ["Doing Time," by Scott Nowell, September 18] before your Best of Houston issue started with this line: "In 1985, Robert Sutten was standing in horror holding a pistol he'd just fired into the head of the mother of his two children."

Sensational. Just sensational.
John Ferguson

Protecting Who?

Facilities don't care: The likely permanent injury suffered by Kristen Turner when under custody of CPS or the "therapeutic" facility in which she was placed illustrates that she would have fared better had she just stayed with her own mother ["Attention Deficit," by Margaret Downing, October 16].

Most of these "therapeutic" facilities don't really care about helping the children in their care. All they are concerned with is controlling, managing and collecting tax money off them.

Name withheld by request

Give her a guardian: Why hasn't a long-term, dedicated guardian ad litem been appointed for this young lady? It seems to me that no one is looking out for this poor girl's best interests. I can't believe that no one thought this poor child didn't need a full-time adult to champion her. Don't even bother to tell me that an overloaded CPS caseworker is capable of staying on top of a situation like this. Please, please appoint a guardian ad litem to advocate for this child as soon as possible!  

J.A. Harrell

A mother's thanks: Margaret, I wanted to thank you so much for being my daughter's angel and looking out for what is right for her.

Your story could not have been worded better. My family sends its thanks to you.

Elain Philpott
Port Neches

Getting Floored

Elevator cutbacks: Wendy Grossman, your article was excellent ["Catching Elevators," October 9]. I have been working on elevators for 38 years and have seen the industry decline because of greed at the top of the major brand companies.

If you were to investigate, the major companies cut personnel and increased workload to the extent that service is mostly performed only after the elevator has shut down. In Connecticut, ten years ago the average number of elevator units a mechanic was responsible for was between 50 and 55, and he saw them every month.

Today he has 150 and hopes to see them three or four times a year. The companies call that working more efficiently. I have been writing about that for six years in the International Union of Elevator Constructors' monthly publication, The Elevator Constructor. Thank you for your good work. I have forwarded it to all my friends across the country and in Canada.

James Rusty Haigh
Southington, Connecticut

Light Railing

The trolley's flawed: Far from the accidental coincidence Richard Connelly states in his "Trainspotting" feature [September 11], we are voting on Metro's rail extension -- prior to the initial seven-mile system being completed -- to avoid two obvious problems. The current "turnkey" contract has been selected prior to completion of plans and without knowing who was getting subcontracts and for what work or amounts. If Metro is granted billions of additional funds prior to completing this initial section, then these "off-budget" items can be easily rolled into future contracts and "who knew?" A $150 million cost overrun on phase one is realistic.

The second reason we need to vote prior to the system being operational is that once the first month of operation has passed and the "start-up problems" excuse has worn thin, even the most fanatical rail buff will be forced to admit its failure. This 19th-century trolley has eliminated two traffic lanes each way on Main Street and will be subject to system-wide delays for every accident. It can be outrun by a horse-drawn buggy.

This is not a transportation improvement. What rail does best is to travel long distances, in a straight line at high speed. This extension is more of a dot-to-dot for powerful real estate holdings than a coherent transportation system. Vote no -- we deserve far better than this.

Joe Olson

Apologies Sought

Fair treatment for the Turks: After I read your title followed by your subject matter, as a Turkish-American living in Houston more than 20 years, I found it very sickening to my stomach to see and read your column [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, August 21] for the purpose of gaining some readers for the Houston Press.

This was very misleading to the public. You are responsible for this. You need to print a huge apology for Turkish-Americans and all Christians who know the history where religion came from.

Do the right thing: Print that apology!
John Yurda Ceker
Sugar Land

Looped Out

Cascadas regulars: We read Robb Walsh's acerbic review of our favorite happy-hour hangout, Cascadas Restaurante y Cantina ["Cancún Cuisine," October 16] and wonder who tampered with his Cheerios that morning. This oh-so-needed outdoor respite on the west side is a wonderful escape from the smoke-choked bar scene. We, as the overserved norteamericanos described in his diatribe, wonder if he and his friend were the obvious Inner Loop wallflowers cowering near the exit. As a group, we apologize for our outrageous behavior, but you folks from the other side of the Loop 610 glass barrier were probably just exhausted from your trek to the burbs.

On a serious note, you correctly reflected the excellence of the botanas menu but clearly missed the boat in the rest of this scathing review, especially the margaritas. These are the best available in the "hinterlands." The restaurants you so unfairly compared Cascadas to are older and more established. One is okay (Noche Cocina), one is pretty good (Backstreet Cafe), and the other is downright boring (Daily Review). We and the management invite you to try our wonderful little oasis again, and please let the owners know when you can come so they can be sure to invite us to help liven up your evening again.

("The Drunk Americans" -- Tommy, Marshall and John)  

Tom Burke

Ballot Challenge

Disbeliever: It is unbelievable that the restaurants listed in the Readers' Choice Awards [Best of Houston, September 25] truly received votes as "best ofs." It is more likely that: 1) these are the paying advertisers of the Houston Press, or 2) Pappas and the like have paid employees who do nothing but stuff votes in envelopes. Ridiculous! These chains are far from any "best of." Please!

Jay Burgess

Editor's note: An explanation for the readers' selection of chains and high-visibility establishments could be: 1) they are likely to draw more votes because they attract far more customers than smaller, less well-known competitors, and/or 2) readers simply judge them to be the best in their category.

Regardless, be assured there are absolutely no advertising considerations. The news staff independently selects Best of Houston categories and winners; Readers' Choice Awards are based solely on the voting results. Any indication of "ballot stuffing" causes those votes to be immediately disqualified -- with or without hanging chads.

Grave concerns: Best Confused Cemetery is a better name. After arriving at Glenwood in April 2002 to arrange burial for my mother in one of our two family plots, I was shocked to see two graves in my family's plot next to the office.

We had a deed for the plot and another document from the Glenwood trustees accepting the deed to my grandfather on June 22, 1935. The girl in the office originally said that their books had been sent away for binding so they couldn't verify anything.

At the June Glenwood board meeting, my sister and I were assured that the matter would be looked into and resolved. Now, not only have we been taken off the mailing list for board meetings, but we have been ignored. Maybe they think we will just die and go away.

Colette Baker Herzog

No Visionary

Stuka attack: It's a shame the Houston Press lets someone like John Nova Lomax spend so much time and space on someone like Tim Murrah [Racket, October 2]. "Since when was attitude a sin in the rock and roll business?" Well, never. But there is a difference between attitude and just being didactic and sardonic all the time.

Rock and roll is a spirit, a real simple thing -- either you get it or you don't. Murrah and Lomax never got it and never will.

Your paper and a few others seem to think Murrah was appointed by the gods as some sort of rock and roll puppetmaster, here to teach us what good music is all about. Cram it. We don't need his contribution. Tim is a smart guy, and he's right about some things. Houston's club-and-music scene is a lethargic fireball in need of something; I just don't think it's Tim. He was given a large sum of money to make "something" happen and he blew it. That's not Trent Pham's fault, that's Tim's fault.

People like Tim and John are music critics who think attitude makes for good rock and roll. That's hardly ever the case. I think they both should stick their thumbs up their asses and roll right out of here. They are pathetic and boring.

Shawn Stevenson

Louie's Last Stand

Righting Welch: As a former Houstonian, cousin of Mitchell Welch and casual reader of the Press, I was disappointed to find the glaringly irrelevant reference to Louie Welch [Racket, by John Nova Lomax, October 9]. Though the article concerns the evolution of the independent film Balmorhea, Lomax strays off-topic and includes a skewed recap of an incident that has been taken out of context several times (by, might I add, the Chronicle, the same larger corporate-driven newspaper to which the Press claims to be superior in its "alternative" methods of reporting).

The "gaffe" to which Lomax refers did not take place in a public forum and, furthermore, was not the answer to any question concerning AIDS policy. But then I suppose it was too much to ask for you to thoroughly research these details, given that the article was not about Louie Welch and his politics, but in fact about an independent film and its key players.

I suggest that Lomax stick to what he does best: reviewing the heavy metal music scene. His obvious lack of concern for the facts of politics sullies the Press's so-called journalistic integrity and thus fails to distinguish the paper from any other publication that takes cheap shots in order to further a political agenda.

But then again, what do I know? I'm just the granddaughter of a redneck.

Siobhan Welch
Tallahassee, Florida

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