In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Shared bike lanes deserve a chance;bureaucrats don't need more time off

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Cheers: To improving bicycle safety on MacArthur Boulevard. Some say the unusual road, which resembles a freeway, used to be an airstrip. Its unusual design, with a ditch separating the travel lanes, tends to encourage fast driving. It also attracts bicyclists, who worry about both the fast traffic and the deep ditch.The first idea was to remove some of the travel lanes and replace them with wider shoulders and dedicated bike lanes. Neighbors objected, and the city of Vancouver changed its mind. The new plan calls for striping a shared-used lane that would be wider for bikes and could also be used by cars. Cyclists are skeptical that cars and bikes can successfully share. But the lanes, which will go into effect this summer, are at least worth trying.

Jeers: To giving public employees and students time off work for reasons of faith or conscience. Democratic state Sen. Bob Hasegawa's bill, SB 5173, got a public hearing this week (a companion House bill has not.) It would require government agencies and schools to allow employees and students to take up to two days off per year on days that suit their beliefs. Hasegawa correctly notes that Washington is a state of many faiths and beliefs. It's also true that workers want to celebrate and commemorate deeply personal occasions. But isn't that what regular vacation days are for?

Cheers:To Bret Simpson's new prison jumpsuit, which he'll be wearing for the next four months. This week the Ellensburg man who bought the barge Davy Crockett and then botched its scrapping was sentenced to a federal detention center. Simpson pleaded guilty to several charges in relation to polluting the Columbia River near Camas with oil, asbestos and other debris. The cleanup and salvage cost $22 million, with the brunt of the cost borne by the taxpayers. After he's released from jail, Simpson will serve eight months of home confinement and will have to do community service and be on probation.

Jeers: To a bill that would seal the majority of juvenile criminal records. Are the teens down the street trafficking heroin? Was your daughter's date convicted of assaulting his last girlfriend? A bill passed in the House and now under consideration in the Senate would keep it all a secret. Washington law now allows full public access to juvenile criminal records, a practice that both promotes public safety and allows oversight of the justice system. Proponents argue that court records, which private companies make available online, can follow an adult and cause discrimination against those who have changed their ways. That's true, but there are better ways to deal with discrimination than to cover up a felonious past.

Cheers: To the Vancouver mall's new Library Connection. Increasing rent forced the Fort Vancouver Regional Library to downsize its space inside Westfield Vancouver mall, which had been its fifth-busiest branch in terms of circulation. The new space, still upstairs at the mall's east end, is only about half the size of the previous branch, but will still offer an array of services. Library staff offered a "soft opening" this week with the ribbon-cutting to follow next month. The Library Connection will offer a smaller book collection but will have nine Internet terminals, plus offer Wi-Fi and plenty of power ports to digitally equipped patrons.

Jeers: To fraudsters who game the system to score lucrative federal contracts. The feds set aside certain opportunities for small businesses or companies owned by women and minorities. But often these opportunities are seized by firms that lie about their credentials. If caught, the same crooks may turn around and apply again. A bill sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, would put a stop to this serial fraud and deserves approval by Congress.