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Pole Position

Letters, July 20

This is in reply to Jim Skinner's letter concerning the display of the American flag. You may not fly the flag upside down as a sign of protest. That position is formally reserved as a sign of distress. One who sees the flag in such a position should immediately alert the police, fire department, FBI, Coast Guard, Army, etc., depending on the placement of the pole where the flag waves.

Let us nip this one in the bud before Mr. Skinner launches a wave of unnecessary 911 calls. Denise Cook,
Overland Park

This Week We Love, July 20 Royal Flush
Nathan Darrow is straight. And polite. He does drink. And he's a pretty good poker player to boot. That's why I've been crushin' on Nathan since high school! Great article.

Elizabeth Wilcox,
Ellijay, Georgia

Kansas City Strip, July 29 Hell on Wheels
The July 27 article on bicycle safety in the Kansas City area contained an incorrect percentage of bicycle crashes in the region. From 2000 to 2004, bicyclists made up slightly less than 1 percent — not 4.74 percent — of all traffic fatalities in the Greater Kansas City region. This percentage is lower than the nationwide average listed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Local and state governments in the Kansas City region are taking proactive steps to improve transportation safety, including adopting it as one of four major transportation goals for the region. The Mid-America Regional Council tracks regional safety trends to help local decision makers choose where and how to implement safety improvements to the system.

MARC is also working with local and state planners and bicycle advocates to develop more bikeway linkages, address barriers and improve river crossing accommodations. While new bicycle lanes, trails and sidewalks near Zona Rosa may seem disconnected, they are important pieces to a growing regional network of non-motorized facilities. One of the bicycling limitations identified in your article is being resolved. A project recently completed by Platte County, Kansas City, Missouri, and the Missouri Department of Transportation received state transportation enhancement funds for a bicycle and pedestrian connection through the I-29 and Barry Road interchange.

Local officials need to continue to hear from their constituents that safe and convenient bicycle facilities are needed. Likewise, it is important that all jurisdictions in the region work together to balance various travel modes. Michael Briggs, Transportation Planner,
Mid-America Regional Council
I'm 53 years old. I have given up more sports due to age than I have digits on my fingers. About three years ago, I started bike riding. The more I ride, the more I like it. Yet, the lack of city safe lanes or our manic drivers keep me from riding to work. Perhaps when gas hits $5 a gallon or politicians get global warming or when obesity medical complications cost zillions — then our "leaders" will offer wiser alternatives.

Scott Busch,
Kansas City, Missouri

I've been trying to ride to work for the last three years. I live in Olathe on the west side of Interstate 35. Try crossing I-35 on 119th or 135th on a road bike. The 119th Street bridge has "bicycle rack"-type drainage grates, and 135th has crazy traffic and puts me miles farther from my destination.

I was commuting twice a week last year (14 miles each way) using the Indian Creek pathway from Olathe to 95th Street and State Line Road. I would park my car at the Black Bob streamways access and ride the rest of the way.

It was a wonderful commute. I never sat in traffic and saved all kinds of gas. I saw a few regulars using the trail in the morning — people who found a way past all the traffic to save fuel.

But then "project management" hit. The trail was torn up for a construction project to redo sewer lines at Antioch and I-435. Weeks went by before it reopened again, only to be reclosed for the big Antioch bridge project. Why didn't they do the bridge and the sewage upgrade at the same time? They laid brand-new pavement for the trail, only to have it torn back up again.

Riding down 103rd toward Metcalf in the early morning rush hour is nuts. People driving SUVs while talking on their cell phones make it very dangerous. I'm waiting for the trail to open back up. Since we really don't have many bike lanes, it seems to be the only real option for riding to work in KC. Robert Berndt,
I love biking. After getting my license and a line on a hand-me-down used car, I gave it up for a shiny new mountain bike and haven't looked back in three years.

It should come as no surprise, then, that "Wheels of Misfortune" infuriated me. I have been run off the road, harassed by self-righteous SUV soccer moms and even shot at. And I'm proud of it.

So here's what I really wrote to say: I'm tired of being a second-class citizen. I believe in my right to the road and my right to defend myself with force. These attempts at vehicular manslaughter are not to be taken lightly, and I invite other angry cyclists to stand up with me. Nathan McDaniel,
Kansas City, Missouri

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