Forum, April 10: Keep Your Bikes off the Sidewalks

Monday, April 09, 2018
Keep Your Bikes off the Sidewalks

As spring returns, the bicycles are reappearing on the sidewalks in Hanover. I recently spoke with two cyclists who said they’d never heard that the town has a statute prohibiting bicycles ridden on the sidewalks by anyone older than 12, which these two clearly were. I wasn’t surprised to hear both of them say they “had no idea,” because Hanover appears to be taking no action whatsoever to communicate or enforce existing rules.

My mother-in-law was struck by a bicyclist on a Hanover sidewalk this past October and died from her injuries. Will the town wait for more — maybe many more — collisions between bicycles and pedestrians before taking a consistent and unambiguous position? Since Hanover continues to be passive, if not outright irresponsible, I’d urge pedestrians to speak up for themselves, politely but firmly: Bicycles don’t belong on sidewalks, especially at the speeds they’re being ridden there.

Jim Schley

South Strafford

The Best Protection Is Compassion

It was disheartening to read Spencer R.B. Cone’s dismissal of the “March For Our Lives” youth protest in Washington, D.C., and other cities as “pathetic” (“My Rifle Is the AR-15,” April 4). He seems to forget that the motivations he suggests as more worthy for mass marching — environmental justice, equality, peace or love — are each predicated on human life.

Cone, a self-described gun hobbyist, also suggests people should be precluded from calling for commonsense gun legislation if they “can’t properly identify firearms.” My wife and I recently moved to the Upper Valley after living and working for many years in a picturesque Connecticut town that learned about the AR-15 in one swift and cruel lesson that cost the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators who tried to shield them. Newtown’s profound grief and subsequent calls for common sense have an authority and authenticity that has nothing to do with its gun savvy.

The AR-15, Cone instructs, fires “a very small caliber projectile.” What he fails to mention is that the high velocity and “yawing” of these projectiles cause “the same sort of horrific injuries seen on battlefields,” according to trauma surgeons. (See The New York Times, March 4, “Wounds From Military-Style Rifles? ‘A Ghastly Thing To See’”) Consider now that the 6- and 7-year olds who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School were shot by Adam Lanza’s AR-15 between three and 11 times each.

Cone says he needs his AR-15 for self-protection in case of natural or human-influenced disasters that could leave him without food, water, power, law enforcement, government, etc. From what I know of disasters, the best protection comes from people helping friends and neighbors, banding together in common cause, in compassion, and for the common good as we seek less horrific ways of dying and better ways of living.

Curtiss Clark


Our (One) Heat Pump, by the Numbers

Willem Post is right that a heat pump can handle a larger portion of the heating job in a well-insulated house “Heat Pumps Need Efficient Homes,” April 3). However, a cold climate air source heat pump can save money even in an ordinary house, if run when most effective.

Never having met Post, I have no idea why he wrote in his letter that my wife and I have two heat pumps costing $10,000 each. Actually, we have one heat pump, which cost $4,655, including installation, in June 2013. (I still have the invoice.) It supplements heat provided by the oil furnace that came with the house when we bought it in 2003.

Though only a supplement, the heat pump has saved about $400 a year in heating costs. At that rate, it would take about 12 years to pay for itself through lower heating bills.

But we didn’t buy the heat pump to save money on heat. We bought it to air condition the house in summer and stop a minor mold problem that might have expanded. Because it is so efficient, it uses much less electricity than the several window air conditioners it replaced, so we’re saving money there, too. Lower heating costs are a bonus for us.

Wondering about the house? Size: 1,700 square feet. Age: 118 years. Quality of construction: Indifferent, even for 1900. Insulation: Poor in 2003, better now but still ordinary. Oil burned: Winter of 2003-2004, 936 gallons; last three winters, 183 gallons each, on average; this winter, not finished. Thermostat setting: Day, 72; night, 65. Price: $105,000.

“Only the most efficient houses are candidates for heat pumps”? Nope.

Richard Andrews

Springfield, Vt.

Home Schooling Harder in Vermont

In these days of uncertainty about school safety, many parents may be looking at other education options for their children. Home schooling is a viable option. In most states, becoming a home-schooler is easy. However, Vermont is one of the most regulated states in terms of home schooling. It is far easier to home-school if you simply cross the river to New Hampshire. Most states require nothing or simply notifying the state or town of your intent to home-school.

Vermont requires for the first two years that you make a proposal in six areas of education, which must be approved before you may begin home educating. This must be done again when the child reaches age 12. I feel this is counterintuitive to the process of home schooling and may discourage people from trying a very beneficial option. One of the greatest benefits of home schooling is the ability to be flexible and focus education on the interests of your child. With the current regulation, if I proposed a study of constellations and my child is suddenly interested in geology, I would have to send a reproposal to the state to be approved before I could make that change.

I feel this is especially burdensome for new home-schoolers, who are the most likely to be affected by these rules. They are forced to propose their educational plan before they even know what their child’s learning style is or what resources may work best for their family. They have a tendency to over-propose in the interests of being approved and then are burdened with accomplishing exactly what was on that proposal.

Please consider contacting the Board of Education or your state representatives if you agree that parents should have the freedom to educate their children in whatever way serves their child and family best. It has only been a few years since New Hampshire changed its laws to make it easier to home-school; it is time for Vermont to re-examine home study regulations.

Dayna Wood

White River Junction

You Can Help Reduce the Debt

This is meant to be a timely reminder to all loyal and fiscally responsible taxpayers. Along with filing your income tax return, you can enclose a gift in the form of a check made payable to “Bureau of the Fiscal Service” to reduce the national debt. This is especially crucial at this time, in view of increased military spending and the Make America Great Again tax cut.

Stephen Neirman

East Thetford