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Bicycling ahead

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Boston is all atwitter with the arrival of Hubway, the new bike sharing program launched last week. The arrival of Hubway certainly is an important milestone in what has been an increasing embrace of bicycling culture here in the Athens of America. Mayor Menino, who took a fancy to two-wheel workouts himself before being sidelined by recent injuries, has installed a “bike czar” in City Hall, and bike lanes are sprouting all over city streets. Notwithstanding the protests of the occasional cranky columnist trying to get a rise out readers during the summer doldrums, the growth of city cycling is a great development that could lessen automobile traffic and help people get in shape and get to work all at once.

Bicycling as an efficient means of commuting or getting around town, however, is still far more the province of tattoo-and-nose-ringed messengers and a sprinkling of outlier office workers than the mainstay of the suits who pour into town each weekday morning.  But give it time, writes Russell Shorto in yesterday’s New York Times “Sunday Review.”

“Those are the pioneers,” the chief planner for the city of Amsterdam tells him. “You have to start somewhere.” Amsterdam, with its fully matured bicycling culture, is the sort of place biking enthusiasts can only dream Boston will one day resemble.  “In Amsterdam, nearly everyone cycles, and cars, bikes and trams coexist in a complex flow, with dedicated bicycle lanes, traffic lights and parking garages,” Shorto writes. Between Boston’s notoriously aggressive drivers and bicyclists who sometimes seem more interested in thumbing their noses at the car culture than trying to co-exist with it, we have a ways to go before arriving at such a place.  

But with City Hall’s recent support for bicycling and the arrival of Hubway, which makes Boston one of the first American cities with a bike share program, we have made a start. 

                                                                                                                                                                         --MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Sunday’s Globe had this story of how a small number of deep-pocketed people have figured out how to turn the state’s aptly named Cash WinFall  lottery game into a nearly certain windfall.

The Eagle-Tribune, in an editorial, urges Gov. Deval Patrick to veto a provision in the court reform bill that would shield disciplinary actions against judges from public scrutiny. House Speaker Robert DeLeo, in a story in the Gloucester Times, says the bill “is a great piece of legislation.”

A pension crisis is percolating in Massachusetts, warns the Lowell Sun in an editorial.

A Worcester Telegram editorial applauds a series of legislative overrides, saying the Patrick administration’s continuing fight with health insurers over rate increases amounts to treating the symptoms of a disease rather than its causes.

The Berkshire Eagle asks “What can [Scott] Brown do for us?

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting highlights an inequity in excise taxes on boats. A $50,000 cap on valuations means the maximum tax is $500 even if a yacht is worth millions of dollars.

Did Transportation Secretary Jeff Mullan deserve a raise? asks CommonWealth’s Back Story.

The Fall River Herald News finds no towns in its circulation region and none of the area’s legislators have signed onto any of the measures to expand the state’s bottle bill.

The MetroWest Daily News argues that the state needs to get with the program and mandate financial education for students.

US Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Richard Neal vow to get Western Mass the tax relief the region needs to speed tornado recovery

The Sun Chronicle gets an up-close look at probation.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti said she was open to an ordinance that would require all applicants for city jobs to list relatives on the payroll after an Enterprise series revealed the Department of Public Works was rife with nepotism.

An anonymous gift to restore a library aide position at an Ipswich elementary school prompts a debate about accepting private money with strings attached, the Salem News reports.

The Cape Cod Times warns that Barnstable’s decision not to fund a sewer project already in progress is a “disturbing” one.

Kevin Peterson, writing in CommonWealth, says the state of black Boston is not so good.

Two local businessmen donated a refurbished van to the West Bridgewater Fire Department that will be used to transport necessary safety equipment to accident or hazmat scenes.

Pittsfield gets a new skate park.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A debt deal is reached; now for the hard part. The National Review offers its wrap-up of the debt deal with stories and analyses from the right, including warnings about disproportionate defense cuts and predictions of tax hikes. The far wings of each party rejected the debt limit compromise, Time reports. Michael Tomasky, writing in The Daily Beast, accuses President Obama of capitulating to the right. The president rates a “fail” from these three sages. The New York Times says both sides have been damaged by the debt fight. Here’s a succinct rundown of who got what. The Wall Street Journal previews Washington’s next all-or-nothing battle -- the one that will play out inside the Congressional panel charged with finding $1.5 trillion in budget cuts.

Time’s Joe Klein writes about Grover Norquist, the power broker who redefined the Republicans as the no-tax party.
 
Van Jones, founder of the American Dream movement, says most Americans oppose the Tea Party platform and believes taxes should be raised on the rich, WBUR reports.

ELECTION 2012

Interested in 6,000-plus words on Mitt Romney versus Jon Huntsman? If so, New York magazine is your man.

FISHING

Federal officials opened up two previously closed areas on Georges Bank for scallopers but the commercial shellfishers fear the delay in allowing the boats to fish those spots could pose a safety threat with as many as 400 boats steaming to the region today.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Springfield Republican argues that the Western Mass economy lags behind Eastern Mass and needs help from the state if it is ever going to catch up.

Robert Sullivan, writing on the Globe op-ed page, says while we lament the shuttering of Borders in downtown Boston, the latest in a string of retailers to pull up stakes there, we should raise a glass to the fresh infusion of places to eat and drink that are making the area more of a place to schmooze than shop.  

The Wall Street Journal outlines the path forward for the US economy -- or, conversely, the way into a deeper economic sinkhole.

EDUCATION

The Boston School Committee wants members of the public who attend its meetings to mind their manners, but some say the call for decorum is a polite way of channeling Joe Stalin and trying to stifle dissent.

Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen says traditional, big bricks and mortar universities aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, not even the one he teaches at.

IBM teams up with New York to revitalize a failing Brooklyn high school.

HEALTH CARE

Paul Levy looks at a couple new studies and data releases and finds the optimism that reforms are beginning to moderate health care costs are not always based on clear-eyed interpretation of the numbers.

Hospital chiefs are receiving healthy pay packages, the Lowell Sun reports.

Small community hospitials need more state and federal help says the North Adams Transcript.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Three trash plant whistleblowers walked away with $1 million as their cut of Wheelabrator’s $7.5 million environmental settlement with the state, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A 16-year-old Whitman girl was arrested and charged with threatening to blow up her school on a post on Facebook, which is becoming the new bathroom wall for teens.

GESTURES

Keller@Large talks with body language expert Don Khoury to see what’s behind the words of politicians such as President Obama (“He’s not as smooth as he normally is”) and House Speaker John Boehner (he wears pink ties “to soften his message”), local pols Alan Khazei and Transportation Secretary Jeff Mullan and recently acquitted Casey Anthony, among others.

 

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