Durham News: Opinion

What you’re saying: Mark W. Wethington, Eric Thomas, Brian Vaughn, Peter Aitken, Cole Barnhill and Graham Marlette

Let’s build a bicycle boulevard

Transportation infrastructure is our region’s most significant asset. Roads connect us to our jobs, to family, and opportunity that beckons to the Triangle’s greatest minds. They also kill us at an increasing rate, make our air quality worse, and waste 23 hours of our year while motorists cope with congestion.

Last summer, I had the great fortune to intern at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx’s leadership of that Department inspired me to make North Carolina’s streets a safer place than connects its citizens to opportunity, safely and efficiently.

This passion has led me to work with Durham Bicycle Boulevards, a local advocacy group. Our mission is to influence the city of Durham to create a 15-mile connected bicycle-priority network by making minor changes to neighborhood streets. We are convinced that Durham can accomplish this by the end of 2017, for less than $1 million. The network we propose has a comparable cost to constructing 2 miles of a paved multi-use path akin to the American Tobacco Trail.

Imagine your child safely riding her bike to school along calm neighborhood streets. The trip to the grocery store, to entertainment in downtown, and to connect to the East Coast Greenway could be prioritized for every cyclist in the urban core of Durham. Infrequent city bus service shortchanges Durham’s carless. For every minute spent waiting for a late bus, those in Durham unable to afford a car could instead bike quickly and calmly to their destinations. What better a way to address mobility than to empower our city’s residents with a bicycle network that addresses connectivity, and not merely the number of miles built?

The time is now to make Durham the bicycle capital of the South. Consider donating our Kickstarter campaign to turn this vision into reality.

Brian Vaughn,

Intern, Durham Bicycle Boulevards

Gun didn’t save life of store clerk

I read The N&O every morning and it is often fascinating how some things connect. I read the Feb. 15 letter “Guns save lives” where the contributor ends the letter by saying, “Guns in the hands of law-abiding residents saves lives, period.”

Prior to reading this letter I had just read the news article, “1 dead, 1 injured in store shooting, “ about a clerk who was working at a convenience store in Durham on Valentine’s Day morning when robbers entered the store with a gun. During the attempted robbery the clerk pulled a gun and exchanged fire with the robbers. John Wesley Pruitt Jr., the clerk, was fatally shot while the robber, who was wounded, ran away.

As a resident of Durham I mourn this victim of another of our city’s shootings, and I express deep sympathy to the family. I also wonder how the Pruitt family might react to the statement in the newspaper the same day that “guns in the hands of law-abiding residents saves lives” ... “period”?

Mark W. Wethington


Gun bill a horrible idea

I read in the Feb. 13 Under the Dome article “Bill would allow concealed carry without permit” about a new proposal for eliminating the permit requirement for possession of a concealed weapon.

I used to have a concealed-carry permit. I got one when they were first made available, not because I thought I needed one or even wanted to walk around with a concealed pistol, but as a political statement. I thought such a right ought to be available to people who have a need to carry a weapon.

I took the required classes on the legal aspects of armed self-defense and on basic handgun safety. I found them useful but minimally rigorous. Overall, I felt the requirements to get the permit were very lax.

Eliminating even those minimal requirements is a horrible idea. We require a license to drive a car, to dispense pharmaceuticals and to operate any number of businesses. We require permits to build simple additions on to our houses. How is it wise to allow anybody, without having to demonstrate any knowledge of how to handle a gun or of when it’s permissible to use deadly force, and without any vetting whatsoever, to be able to carry around a concealed, deadly weapon? The answer? Not very!

Eric Thomas


Mardi Gras this Tuesday

Durham’s free Mardi Gras celebration on Tueaday, Feb. 28, includes a free-to-join parade, free live music, royalty, and year-round active krewes.

The parade leaves CCB plaza at 201 Corcoran St. at 7 p.m. after the traditional opening ceremony. Live entertainment featuring The Sunday Special, Curtis Eller's American Circus, Lakota John and the Bulltown Strutters will be at the usual hot spots: Motorco, The Blue Note Grill, The Pit, Fullsteam, and The Bar Durham.

Royalty candidates have been nominated and voting is going strong with four candidates to choose from. The crowning ceremony at Motorco will be held once the parade arrives and will be accompanied by The Bulltown Strutters. The Sunday Special then will launch into the live music portion of the event and will be followed by other groups in a staggered schedule allowing ambitious folks to see all of bands.

Royalty ballot: www.durhammardigras.com/durham-mardi-gras-royalty-2017-nominees/

Since day one, Mardi Gras night's events have been accessible to the public with no cover charge at any venue and no fee to join the parade. Generous contributions from individuals, from venues, local businesses, and our bands have made this possible. www.generosity.com/celebration-fundraising/laissez-le-bull-temps-rouler/x/14784907

People can lend a hand by volunteering the day of the event in a variety of ways. They can sign up though our website at www.durhammardigras.com/volunteer/

Laissez les Bull Temps Rouler

Kathy Violette


Think 10 years from now

The recent letter about the Durham Orange Light Rail project promulgates the misconception that building such a system can be justified only if existing transit needs will keep the trains full and the books in the black.

The fact is, building DOLR now is more correctly viewed as an investment in the future. When we really need DOLR, say in 10 years, it will be there.

If we wait until we really need it to start building, we’ll be in a mess. The land purchases required will be hugely more expensive and it’s very unlikely that the cost of borrowing money for the construction will be as low as it is today. We will have spent billions building and widening highways because people were forced to drive due to lack of public transit.

If built now, the mere existence of the DOLR system will have altered land use and housing patterns, with residential and commercial development clustered around rail stops, making the rail system even more useful. We’ll have reduced automobile use and highway needs, we’ll have less greenhouse gas emissions, and there will be reduced sprawl. We can be thankful that we have at least some city planners and politicians who think beyond the short-term balance sheet.

Peter Aitken

Chapel Hill

Observe, then legislate

I have never been one to be scared of “bureaucracy,” but recent appointments have me worried. My reasons for concern are, to be honest, selfish. But I also find them valid, and I won’t stop fighting for what I think is right.

I am a college student, born of two educators. My father is a kindergarten teacher with over 20 years of experience. My mother is a first-grade assistant who is still young in her new career. The previous state administration attempted to cut her job once. If this new federal administration slashes funding, as they hope to, my mother will lose her job. Period.

If this happens I will not be able to afford school. Neither will my sister who attends another UNC system school. If this administration slashes funding for federal aid I will not be able to afford school. I will, after 18 years of hard work, be forced into either crippling debt or waiting to complete my education when I can afford it.

This all said, I am extremely privileged. I have two parents who work full-time jobs. Other students don’t. The government seems to forget this fact when making policy. When education policy is made it changes the lives of countless students, educators, administrators, and parents, among others across the state and the country.

My plea for the incoming administrations is to go to a classroom, observe, see the everyday struggles. Only then should policy changes be considered.

Cole Barnhill


A vote for Jay Bilas

Here in the college basketball capital of the world, we celebrate those professional announcers who bring us the play-by-play and the occasional commentary. With the recent retirement of the great Brent Musburger, fans are hoping for a new announcer who also speaks perfect English, a person who analyzes the game at hand, and one who is fair to both teams and coaches.

Given his outstanding performance in bringing us the first Duke-Carolina game of the season, former Duke player Jay Bilas gets my vote. He goes out of his way not to favor his alma mater but to present the game in an unbiased format, sprinkled with humor and helpful with an understanding of this complex and exciting sport. He even entertained his audience with a parody of loopy Bill Walton, whose UCLA team was next on the ESPN agenda.

Bidding a fond farewell to Brent Musburger, I look forward to the next game with Jay Bilas.

Graham Marlette