RE: “Out of Pocket: Portland’s Last Pay Phones” [Feature, Aug 24]. “The pay phone is destined to go the way of the telegraph and the party line,” Ned Lannamann wrote. “Computer technology has changed every facet of our interactions with one another, and the shift from telephone landlines to cellular networks and VOIP is the most visible evidence of that.”
This subject is something everyone thinks about in the back of their mind but you rarely hear about in common conversation. We are not just dependent on new technology but the corporations that control it. Back in the day, all you needed to make a phone call was a quarter. Now you need a contract or an email account with a company that knows who you are and where you are. Our convenient little pocket computers all have cameras and microphones. While many of us chuckle at the image of a dinosaur-like telephone booth, I fear we will regret the disappearance of this last vestige of free and private human communication.
Hello, Ned Lannamann. I’m calling you about your pay phone... thing. At the very end of your article, you state that pay phones are going “the way of the telegraph and the party line.” You should maybe do some research. Party lines aren’t going anywhere. They’re still there, and they’re still strong. What you should really do if you’re gonna do a story about pay phones is a story about what’s being done with the phones that you don’t know about. There are lots and lots of little private internet networks—blind people who use the phone in a really interesting way. I enjoyed your article—kind of. Goodbye.
WALK THIS WAY
RE: “Portland’s Speed Limits Ignore Cyclists and Pedestrians” [News, Aug 24], Dirk VanderHart’s story about how, following “an exceptionally bloody month on Portland’s roads,” the Portland Bureau of Transportation plans, for the first time, to “take pedestrians and cyclists into account when adjusting speed limits.”
A vast number of accidents could also be prevented by improving corner visibility. Nearly all Portland intersection corners are obscured up to their very tip by parked cars, commercial signage, foliage, or all three. Most cities zone these obstructions away, clearing at least 30 feet at corners of parking, plantings, signage, etc.
Reducing speeds is a good idea, but even 30 MPH can be perfectly adequate to kill a cyclist or pedestrian, and is much more likely to do so if no one can see anything. If the city is serious about a zero-fatality policy, they need to start thinking about how they’re going to sell Portland on corner clearance.
Something that would really help would be if the recently updated pedestrian right of way law was better explained to pedestrians. Since it has been enacted, when I drive, I have had more problems with pedestrians walking right out into traffic from blind spots without pausing to see if traffic is too close to safely stop. It doesn’t work like that. The updated pedestrian right of way law says pedestrians must indicate they want to cross the street by stopping, placing one foot off the curb in the street, looking both ways, and waiting for traffic to stop before fully stepping out into the street.
I walk, bike, and drive, and I’ve been hit by cars as both a bicyclist and a pedestrian, so I’m very careful any time I’m out on the street. Given the near misses between pedestrians with cars and bikes that I’ve witnessed, ODOT has been remiss in how they explained the updated pedestrian right of way law.
Another law that isn’t enforced that could help would be the law against vehicles over five feet tall parking within a car length of crosswalks. Tall vehicles make it impossible for many pedestrians and bikes to be seen by cars. These are laws that are already on the books which would save lives if they were enforced, or at least explained properly.
APPETITE FOR ASSIMILATION
This is an odd request, but I want to reconnect with two guys I met at GnR in Seattle. They said they won tix for the show and are from Portland. I thought they were really decent and cool but in my excitement to get to the show and also resolve a ticket issue I didn’t get their names and forgot to give them my contact info.
Meeting them made me realize how shitty people are in my hometown. I can’t figure out why people are so self-centered and assholey in here in Vancouver.
One of them had a Borg tattoo on his leg.
I hope you can help in some way. I was the girl in the red shirt.
Are YOU the GnR-loving gentleman with the Borg tattoo? THEN A REDSHIRT IS LOOKING FOR YOU (and your buddy), and you should email email@example.com so we can put you in touch! Provided you find each other, we’ll give Shirl the Mercury’s letter of the week prize—tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, which, thank Axl, Vancouver’s self-centered assholes have yet to find out about.
Letters and comments may be edited for space. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.