Letters to the Editor

Readers write about telecommuting, more efficient traffic design, and accountability in higher education.

Help telecommuters, encourage fuel conservation

Regarding the Aug. 18 article, "Congress to vote on drilling ban": Any comprehensive energy legislation Congress ultimately approves must include significant measures to promote telecommuting. These include meaningful tax incentives both for employees who telecommute and their employers, a standard home office deduction to ease the current complexity of taking the deduction, and the elimination of the telecommuter tax – the hefty penalty states may impose on nonresidents who telecommute to in-state employers from their out-of-state homes.

Because of the telecommuter tax, Americans may receive a double state tax bill simply because they telecommute across state lines. The punitive tax can cost employees even more to work from home sometimes than to drive every day – a significant barrier to fuel conservation.

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If Congress is serious about adopting a comprehensive program to address our energy crisis, it must include in that program such pending bills as the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act, which would abolish the telecommuter tax and pave the way for the nation to telecommute more.

Nicole Belson Goluboff
Scarsdale, N.Y.

Design roads to include fewer stops

Regarding the Aug. 25 article, "As more people cycle to work, some must relearn how to share the road": For a bicycle or a car to move most efficiently, it would move along at a relatively slow speed and make very few stops.

Why do we have so may stop signs? Car engineers have made cars safer and faster, so drivers drive them faster. Traffic engineers in the United States try to slow the cars down by making them stop a lot. The frequent stopping generates frustration in drivers and leads to the tendency of some drivers (cyclists included) to run stops.

In this time of awareness about fuel conservation, I am surprised that I have not heard this issue already discussed in the mainstream media.

If traffic engineers were concerned with safety and fuel efficiency, they would design roadways that need to be negotiated more slowly with fewer stops. Roadway design features more common in other countries such as chicanes, bulb-outs, traffic circles, and traffic diversions see little use in the US. These features slow traffic down without making it stop. This would be great for cyclists and more fuel-efficient for drivers.

Mark Dieter
Oakland, Calif.

Regarding the recent article on bicycle safety classes: Although, yes, the "Idaho stop" rule was considered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), most San Francisco Bay Area activists felt that there were more important issues to be dealt with that didn't receive as much publicity as the Idaho stop rule.

Tracy Corral
San Jose, Calif.

Hold colleges accountable for learning

In response to your Aug. 20 editorial, "Congress flunks in higher ed act": To think that Congress balked on accountability for universities charging me and my family $45,000 a year is astounding. In no other area would you let yourself pay that much money per annum without having some report at the end telling you that the money paid provided good or bad returns.

If the universities that pride themselves in preparing students for the world actually do so effectively, then why are they so reluctant to be brought to task?

Tony Rajah
Hayward, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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