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Rethink Midtown park

In reading your Urban Journal on Midtown ("We don't need a park on the Midtown site," July 20), you make reference to being patient in revitalizing downtown. However, developing an outdoor entertainment venue would be great in encouraging community participation and creating a great party atmosphere.

Wouldn't it be great to have entertainment the size of the Jazz Fest and East End without having to close major downtown streets? The city could flood the area during winter and create a wonderful snow park/ice rink.

DON TOSTI

Easing worries about oil trains

I can certainly understand Evan Lowenstein's concern about highly flammable Bakken oil traveling by rail within sight of the Neighborhood of the Arts (News, July 13). No argument there. But perhaps I can help him breathe a little easier.

First, yes, "a major CSX line" is actually mild language for what used to be the New York Central's signature Water Level Route, and it remains one of the busiest in the country. But current CSX management has treated it as such and maintains it to a very high level.

Second, oil traffic is often re-routed south of the city center via the West Shore Line bypass, which has also recently been given major maintenance attention.

Just this morning I happened upon a solid train of oil moving east on the West Shore, its estimated speed at or slightly below the area 40 mph limit, and with a specially-designed impact-absorbing "buffer car" at the rear. One could tell by the sound how smooth the ride was. Finally, there now is a government-imposed program under way to strengthen the standard tank cars at several crucial structural points, and aided by a recent slackening in demand, the oldest and worst-offending cars are now in safe storage all over the country.

Progress? Overdue, yes, but certainly evident, at least in our neck of the woods.

BRUCE BEARDSLEY

On the possibility of Rochester getting a bike-share program:

The bike-share concept sounds great, but when you look at the risks posed by riding a bicycle in a city, you come to the conclusion that taxpayers are eventually going to get raked over by bike injury-related lawsuits at some point.

The mortality rate among cyclists ages 35 to 54 has tripled in the last four decades, an indication of how risky riding a bicycle can be. Most, if not all, bike-share programs do not provide helmets. Wearing a helmet can cut the death risk of riding a bike in half; this alone tees taxpayers up for easy pickings once a bike-share participant suffers a head injury.

The risk to the taxpayer's wallet just isn't worth it. If you want to ride a bike in the city, ride your own bike, not one that sets the taxpayer up for paying a huge lawsuit settlement.

ANIMULE

Whole Foods on Monroe Avenue?

There is a Whole Foods in Pittsburgh. Most of the time you cannot get in there with a shoehorn.

JONATHAN GATES

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