HUMMERS DRIVE SPRAWL
Brian Miller has understated the problems with the Hummer H2 [SW Behind the Wheel, "Urban Auto Smackdown," May 28]. We already use over 40 percent of urban land for cars (including parking areas and driving lanes), and if we drive and park oversized vehicles, that number will only go up. Sprawl, anyone? Second, if this street-legal monster truck hits a smaller vehicle, how many deaths do you think will be involved? Drivers who respect their neighbors and fellow citizens should avoid giant vehicles like the Hummer. Me? Every time I see a Hummer, I point at it and laugh out loud. Try it; it's fun.
ME AND MY SPARROW
Brian Miller's evaluation of the Sparrow was incomplete, unfair, and, I believe, unprofessional for a professional critic [SW Behind the Wheel, "Urban Auto Smackdown," May 28]. I have owned a Sparrow for two years. I also have traveled thousands of miles on motorcycles. The Sparrow is safer by leaps and bounds. I read of a collision between a Sparrow and an SUV: Both rolled; the Sparrow had a few scratches, the SUV was totaled. The Sparrow driver was not hurt; the SUV driver went to the hospital. I drive the Sparrow on L.A.'s freeways frequently, and I feel safe. I also drive an Escalade. Do I feel safer in the latter? Of course. But life is not about feeling as safe as possible.
When you have driven a Sparrow for a few miles, you quickly become accustomed to its acceleration and braking characteristics. It is the perfect vehicle for errands and for the single commuter. You can recharge at any 110v outlet. In consideration of battery-pack life, it is wise to limit the range to 20 to 25 miles between charges. According to government stats, the average commuter in this country has an approximately 18-mile one-way commute. Charging time for that commute is about four hours, cost for the recharge is about 1.5 to 2 cents per mile.
The Sparrow is more than just an idea; it is a real solution to air pollution and dependence on foreign oil. It is fun to drivenot as much fun as a motorcycle, but gobs more fun than an Escaladeand you can park places where cars can't go. Miller should drive a Sparrow for a couple of weeks, overcome his fears, and then resubmit his evaluation.
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
I drove my Sparrow every day from San Francisco to San Mateo on freeways [SW Behind the Wheel, "Urban Auto Smackdown," May 28]. Very comfortable. No problemsexcept maybe for the weirdos in the next lane, hanging out their window and taking pictures of me at 70 mph.
It just takes a little getting used to.
LOCKE NIXED GAS
Thank you for Mark D. Fefer's story reminding us that for all Metro's pro- environmental advertising, what comes out of Metro bus tailpipes is copious and lethal [SW Behind the Wheel, "Bus-ted," May 28]. Let us not forget that a decade ago, Metro voted to switch to clean-burning natural gas, and had even ordered the new buses. But Gary Locke's first act when elected King County executive was to abrogate the signed contract.
TAILPIPES FOR TROLLEYS?
Mark D. Fefer's article on Metro's tailpipe emissions was a real eye-opener [SW Behind the Wheel, "Bus-ted," May 28]. I had no idea those diesels were that dirty. But although he hinted at it with his mention of the tunnel buses, he didn't mention Metro's all-electric buses. (I believe they're properly referred to as trackless trolleys.) Just last year I noticed Metro extending the electric lines for these vehicles on Beacon Hill past their usual Jefferson Park turn-around point for at least an extra mile. They must be doing this in other places as well, and I've always wondered why they don't make more use of these clean (at least at the tailpipe) buses.
BUSES ARE BETTER
In his article, Mark D. Fefer implies it is better not to ride the bus [SW Behind the Wheel, "Bus-ted," May 28]. He divides an amount of smog he claims is produced by the amount of supposed riders and makes conclusions that must be questioned. He claims, "Even if all 32 passengers on the MAN bus got out and drove 32 new Ford Explorers around the clock all year, they still wouldn't come close to polluting that much." However, most buses I ride to work are full or close to capacity. Common sense tells me the bus saves far more than 32 drivers' car trips. Riding the bus makes a difference. Each day in Portland, Ore, there are 187,000 fewer car trips and 4.2 tons of smog-producing pollutants eliminated due to transit ridership.
What of night and weekend use of cars? Those of us who have given up our cars bike, walk, or take a bus or taxi for these trips, but many with cars spend evenings and weekends driving around just because the car is there. Using alternate transportation is a lifestyle change. I would also ask how much extra gas do I really consume by taking public transport two miles a day? I would be interested in a fair, balanced answer to that.
Additionally, one can ask how easy it is to harm or even kill someone in a car. Shouldn't this be a consideration? According to the World Health Organization, traffic is now the No. 1 cause of injury-related deaths of human beings, ending the lives of 1.26 million people a year. Why isn't that fact on the front page?
Ruth Ann Oskolkoff
GEORGE THE GOLFER
George Howland must be a hunter, fisherman, golfer, gardener, and/or rancher. How'd I guess? Simple, really, considering his snide tone regarding Gov. Gary Locke's veto of I-713's repeal [Buzz, May 28]. It is amazing that Howland cares more about his perfect lawn or favorite putting green than he does about the thousands of animals killed or maimed each year by leg traps, which he so eloquently describes as "body- gripping" traps. His story and opinion stink of "pooh-pooh."
The only "problem animals" I see are humans encroaching on every other animal's habitat without regard for their longevity or sustenance, and in particular journalists writing in "alternative weeklies" for media conglomerates.
In "Journalistic Downer" [May 28], Philip Dawdy portrays Bruce Friedrich as unqualified to recognize "inhumane treatment" because Friedrich does not have the scientific or medical evidence to back it up. Since when does someone need to be a scientific or medical "expert" to know that a cow hanging upside down by the leg in a slaughterhouse (whether the cow's head had been blasted with a bolt before or not), and one who is about to unnecessarily lose its life to become hamburgers for overweight children at McDonald's, is "inhumane" or not? I hope that if Dawdy witnesses some asshole kicking a dog, robbing an old lady, or even molesting a sleeping child, he doesn't wait to call in the "experts" and that he takes immediate and appropriate action to stop these inhumanities against the defenseless in the world. At the very least, I would hope that he would be able to recognize what "inhumane treatment" is all by his little lonesome.
Who's missing the point?
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