Letters to the Editor

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Legally and logically, drivers turning left off a multi-lane, high-speed road do so from the far left lane. Often an extra braking lane is provided there.

That's so these drivers avoid surprising those behind them by braking, and to remove the real possibility of miscalculation of the size and duration of any left-lane gap at which they're aiming while slowing.

But with our bike lanes/green strips, we have a lane on our left we cannot enter; a lane populated by translucent vehicles travelling at between 7 and 70km/h; zombies encouraged to ignore other traffic.

Apparently, green strips offer personal force fields.

But I'm told (Letters, January 14) I must keep examining my left, far ahead, over crests and around bends, to gauge whether today's zombies are consistently doing 7 or 70km/h and may arrive as I ease back to turn, and, if necessary, slow right down (on a 100km/h arterial) to properly accommodate them.

When there's a long cycle-club snake or, in some bike-saturated future, should I just park in the freeway lane for a while?

Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython

Like Cuthbert Douglas, I too had to make the turn on Belconnen Way's exit onto Wakefield Avenue (Letters, January 13).

As I approached the exit, I looked well ahead to plan my turn and saw there were multiple cyclists, riding downhill and in line; and that we would converge as I needed to enter the off ramp.

I gave plenty of time indicating left and gradually slowing down so that the drivers behind me were able to see my intentions, and pass me safely on the right.

I decelerated to match the speed of the cyclists and, at about 50 metres before the turn, I slotted into a space between the groups in the cycle lane, as the law allows me to do, and then made my exit safely.

Cyclists gave me a wave and a smile, and we all lived.

I used knowledge of the road rules, awareness of the situation and commonsense and courtesy.

Apparently some drivers are having difficulty with such situations. Perhaps we need to improve driver training and awareness, lower the speed limits on such roads, or both, so they are safe for all users.

John Handley, Belconnen

I would like to make two points about Cuthbert Douglas' letter.

First, motor vehicles have no greater right to travel on our roads than any other vehicle.

Douglas gives the impression he was annoyed or impatient that cyclists impeded his desire to exit Belconnen Way.

Second, it is imperative that we all drive/ride defensively if we are to reduce the number and severity of road crashes and consequent injuries.

This means we must be alert to what is happening around us on the road, anticipate what is likely to happen and react accordingly in a timely manner.

Douglas, was it not possible to anticipate what was likely to happen ahead of you at the Wakefield Avenue exit and slow down well before you reached the exit thus allowing the cyclists safely cross the intersection?

Perhaps if you had done so you would not have had to brake hard and the dangerous situation that arose behind you may have been avoided. The roads are there for us all to share.

D. O'Connor, Gordon

Perhaps it is Cuthbert Douglas who should be removed from the roads. Instead of braking hard in front of a stream of traffic, he could have looked ahead and assessed the situation earlier, operated his indicator early to allow other cars to see his intention and assess the situation for themselves, and slowed down gradually so the cyclists concerned had passed the intersection before he reached the turn.

Too many drivers these days drive with their eyes fixed on the back of the car in front. This does not allow them to anticipate and prepare for hazards.

Geoff Mander, Hawker

In addition to the point raised by several others about Cuthbert Douglas' letter about his close encounter with cyclists in the green lane, I'm equally concerned with his actions.

He gave two options, both dangerous. There was a third, non-dangerous, option that he clearly didn't consider.

Why not simply miss the exit he wanted to take, continue on to the next exit and come back? Given where he was and the options available, that would have added about two minutes to his journey.

Slamming on the brakes is dangerous and something that should be reserved for an emergency, not for the purpose of getting you to your destination two minutes earlier.

John Spooner, Curtin

While in Guangzhou city (population 13 million) in China over Christmas, I noted an interesting system for bikes on major roads.

Instead of riding with the traffic like we do on, say, Northbourne Avenue, they ride towards the traffic in cycle lanes.

So the cyclists and the motorist can both see each other. It seems very sensible. Inquiries to our guide indicated they have few accidents and conflicts. I was taught that walking facing the traffic was always safer than walking with the traffic.

Ken Helm, Murrumbateman

So who's the expert?

What a lucky country we are to have writers as well informed as Tom Switzer to counteract the climatic change hysteria propagated by Ross Garnaut, climate scientists and other Cassandras (''The game is up - carboncrats have had their day'', Times2, January 14, p5).

Such a relief we no longer have to worry about abrupt, irreversible and very large changes such as the rapid release of methane from Arctic permafrost and marine sediments as they thaw, because changes will be moderate.

Other good news is that polar ice is not declining, global temperatures have flatlined since 1998, and politicians can stop wasting public money on mitigation. With his deep understanding of climate science, Switzer should be appointed to review our schools' science curriculum.

Dr Nick Abel, Spence

For the records

Brian Hatch (Letters, January 5) tries to cry foul over record hot temperatures, citing some cold records in the US in recent weeks and making his usual implication that global warming is all a giant conspiracy.

Despite the cold snap, in the 30 days up to January 5, the US saw four times as many record high temperatures as record lows. Over the past decade, the US had more than twice as many record highs as record lows. The ratio has been steadily increasing since the 1970s.

In Australia, the ratio is now more like three to one. Let's not forget that in the last year we've had our hottest year, hottest season, hottest month and hottest day ever recorded.

It's about time the reality-deniers got a grip.

Matt Andrews, Aranda

Law needs to be changed to ensure due care for suspects

Reading the article on a $40 million windfall for the Raiders being in jeopardy (''Challenge threatens Raiders' $80m plan'', January 13, p1) after reading the accompanying front page article on Jonathan Crowley (''Trapped far from home, shooting victim pleads for help'') was an indictment of the ACT government's priorities.

Mr Crowley, after a titanic legal battle, was awarded $8 million by the ACT's Justice Hilary Penfold.

It was a fair judgment taking into account the failure of obligation of care that, in her opinion, had been shown to Mr Crowley.

That obligation of care is enforced throughout the community on everyone except law-enforcement officers.

The reason for that omission is that, if you are in danger of being killed, there is often little chance for thought.

The police are taught that if they draw their weapon, they should use it. Inferior courts in Britain, America and now Australia have disputed that procedure.

In Mr Crowley's case, Justice Penfold was of the opinion that the police were in no immediate danger and should have called for back-up.

I am sure her view is reflected in our community.

I would suggest that the law be changed to insist that police take reasonable care of a suspect's rights.

This would allow for killing when it is a you-or-them situation and for other methods when there is no immediate danger.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

Content is the key

One can always rely on Jenna Price to wallow in the politics of envy at the expense of facts (Times2, January 14, p5).

So funding rather than content is the real problem in our classrooms. Poppycock! It's what goes on in the classroom that must be the acid test for assessing Australia's positioning on international league tables.

Hence, we see a lazy and politically correct reference to Mount Druitt vis-a-vis Red Hill outcomes, plus a snide reference to ''giant canonical overload'' and by implication, negligible attention to the story of Aboriginal settlement.

Ms Price and her ignorant and bigoted ilk may care to track me down and review remnants of what was taught for a solid six months to terrific year 8 boys not just from the aforementioned suburb, but from Forrest as well as from all over Canberra and beyond. And of course, there are parallels with Catholic and systemic schools. Their parents want the best for them and invariably they come from traditions going back centuries where grey matter was seen to be worth developing. Mount Druitt's demographics frankly point to other factors whether the loony left likes it or not.

On second thoughts, Ms Price is urged to contact CGS rather than me, study the curriculum across the board, and change her diet from bias to crow.

Patrick Jones, Griffith

Neglect exaggerated

In recent days, two letters have been published asserting I neglected the state of Wentworth Avenue for ''many years''.

As I have only been the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services since November 2012, this may seem to be an exaggeration.

Nonetheless, both writers may also be reassured to know that the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate built a section of Wentworth Avenue during 2013 and further stages are planned, in large part to remove the annoying ''railway-like experience''.

Design work is well under way for the second stage of upgrade works to further improve the road surface between Telopea Park (north) and Canberra Avenue roundabout (south).

Shane Rattenbury, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services

Holiday not for all

I note we are again spinning our wheels over whether Australia Day should fall on January 26 (Editorial, January 10).

The main argument appears to be that many people are excluded from the celebration because they do not believe Australia was founded on this day.

May I point out that many non-Christians believe they are excluded from Christmas and Easter holidays because their beliefs differ.

Yet we see no great debate over this. Perhaps we should title our holidays holiday 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. Or simply call them another day off work.

But the arguments are unsolvable, so why all the fuss.

C. J. Johnston, Duffy

A number of letters concerning a particular T-shirt have been published but I have yet to see an objection to the T-shirt that showed the words ''Down Under'' covering, in part, the Australian flag (''Australia Day T-shirts get thumbs down'', January 10, p2).

Surely, we can be proud to call our homeland ''Australia'' rather than the American appellation.

Ken McPhan, Spence

Getting the right data

In his spirited defence of Cory Bernardi, Paul Sheehan makes the same fundamental mistake that Mr Bernardi makes in his book The Conservative Revolution (''Ready to throw book at Bernardi without reading it'', Times 2, January 13, p5).

Both quote President Barack Obama's summation of statistics on the various outcomes for children from different family backgrounds.

Those figures come, of course, from the US.

They cannot simply be extrapolated to Australia; our demography is quite different to that of the US.

Both Mr Bernardi and Mr Sheehan should have referred to data from organisations such as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics if their arguments were to have any validity.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Don't work longer; speak out louder

The Canberra Times says staff ''at the Russell Offices could refuse to work outside standard business hours and some are planning to seek jobs at other Defence sites when paid parking is introduced'' (''Staff threaten action over paid parking plan'', January 14, p1).

Both options are certainly the prerogative of Defence Department staff, just as instituting paid parking is the prerogative of the ACT government (and, I believe, long overdue).

Some feel ''trapped'' by transit limitations (eg, buses, car pools), such as this survey respondent: ''The last bus to Gungahlin, where I live, is proposed to leave just after 7pm on weekdays. I have been required to work well past this time on many occasions so does this mean I have to pay almost $60 for a taxi?''

No, that is not what it means. It means you need to speak up for yourself, and make it clear to your boss, your teammates, your customers and suppliers what your limits are, and why.

If you cannot do this without fear, then you're in the wrong position. Take this opportunity to make a change for the better.

And if you're working ''well past this time on many occasions'' in addition to your normal ''9-to-5'', then you're giving away your time ''free'' - at far more than $60. Take this opportunity to get that addressed, too!

And then the $60 for the taxi will be a fraction of that.

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

TO THE POINT

STANDING PROUD

I also grew up in Canberra in the 1960s (Letters, January 13). My late father always referred to the Australian-American Memorial as ''Bugs Bunny''. He arrived in Canberra as a teenager in the mid-1930s so could pretty much claim to be across local lore. Perhaps he kept the less polite term to himself.

Janet Thomas, Kaleen

I recall that another, once common, epithet for the memorial was ''the great American erection''.

Ed Highley, Kambah

ONE-ARM BANDITRY

It is sad that the Abbott government intends to repeal the former government's poker machine reforms (''Push against pokies'', January 13, p4). While they are a half-hearted attempt to address the pokie problem, the repeal will only encourage clubs and pubs to avoid any responsibility for problem gamblers.

Arthur Connor, Weston

NORTHBOURNE FUTURE?

I support the Raiders' proposed redevelopment of their Braddon club and the land surrounding it (''Challenge threatens Raiders' $80m plan'', January 13, p1). However, I hope they do not plan to also destroy our historic Northbourne Oval, a sacred landmark for generations of Canberra footballers and others. I would appreciate clarification on this matter.

James Baker, Ainslie

HIGH-TECH'S DOWNSIDE

Technology's exponential progress has been zealously embraced by corporations, which have used it to displace employees, in the process condemning millions to humiliating alienation and penury (''Befriending the machine'', Times2, January 13, p1). Perhaps corporations may persuade technology to buy their untouched-by-human-hands consumables, as displaced workers no longer can!

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan NSW

ALCOHOL AND VIOLENCE

Page 3 of Tuesday's Canberra Times notes ''Doctors say alcohol-fuelled violence is increasing''. The same issue has an advertising lift-out by Dan Murphy offering discounted alcohol, headlined: ''We don't match prices. We beat them.'' What more can I say?

Peter Toscan, Amaroo

NO RAY OF SUNSHINE

I was shown through a unit at a well-known Canberra retirement village where, if you sat until 30 minutes before sunset (at certain times of the year) a tiny crack of sunshine entered the living-dining room area. The rest of the day left the unit in shadow. Who was it who said ''they also serve who only stand (or sit) and wait''?

Olle Ziege, Kambah

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