Standing on BART train can be very dangerous

The newly designed BART cars have more open space for standees and bikes and many fewer seats. But the new train carriages are going to be surprisingly risky.

When BART opened in the early 1970s, the new train system advertised "A seat for every passenger." This wasn't just a marketing ploy to attract middle-class commuters, it was a safety issue.

BART is a hybrid: It is at once an urban metro system that travels about 25 miles an hour, say between Powell and Montgomery, and an unusually fast suburban electric train system that travels more than 70 mph. A panic stop in a slow-moving metro will cause a few bumps and bruises, but any sudden stop in the high-speed parts of the system would lead to horrifying injuries or deaths.

Next time you're in your car on Highway 24 heading east, safely strapped in with your seat belt, look in horror at the standees on the BART train next to you. While BART has an admirable record for safety, a sudden stop or minor derailment could cause carnage.

Are these cars safe for standees at 70 mph?

David Robinson

Oakland

Real battle is about changing our cities

George Zimmerman was lawfully acquitted under Florida's odious self-defense laws.

Here in California, he probably would have been convicted of manslaughter, not second-degree murder. The requirements for convicting Zimmerman of second-degree murder could not have been met without a reasonable doubt. It is what it is.


Advertisement

This has been a terrible incident and it is symbolic of some very real injustices. But we have to be brutally honest about the real misperceptions that all of us hold about racism.

Honestly, ask yourself that if Zimmerman had been a black man as well, would Trayvon Martin's killing have even seen the light of day? Since his death, thousands of black men have murdered each other and have been imprisoned for life, families have been destroyed forever, and a thousand children's futures grow darker everyday.

That's what this battle should be about: to fight to change our cities and to meet and solve the injustices that plague us along the way.

For now, let George Zimmerman deal with his own torments, I doubt that he'll need our help.

Erich Hayner

Oakland

Europe's store owners take extra precautions

I have noticed while traveling in European downtown areas that most businesses have metal security doors that roll down to cover the shop windows and entrance doors when the business are not open; either solid panels like a garage door or strong mesh gates.

European cities are not inherently more dangerous, but individual shop owners do take additional precautions to protect their property when the shops are closed.

Adopting the same type of measures where unruly crowds are known to gather would certainly reduce the broken windows that the business owners must now replace. No doubt, it could also help reduce burglary and smash-and-grab theft.

Cynthia Hegedus

Albany

Appalled, ashamed of police department

I was both appalled and ashamed by the Oakland police chief's statement that "the department hadn't known that the George Zimmerman jury would deliberate over the weekend."

How can someone in a position of leadership be so out of touch with current events? No amount of money or innovative strategies can take the place of simply staying connected to issues that impact everyone in our community.

I was also somewhat ashamed by my own reaction; my concern was with the immediate safety of my family and friends, who I advised to stay off the streets. But by the next morning, I realized we all need to be in the streets, to peacefully demonstrate our outrage at the conditions that have created so much fear and injustice in our communities.

As Eugene Robinson pointed out in his July 15 column, Trayvon Martin didn't stand a chance; the system is stacked against him. At the time of his murder, Martin had been suspended from school, a practice used all too often with young men of color that serves only to further alienate them.

Where are the religious leaders, community organizers, and political leaders to organize us and create a public place where we can stand up for justice, better schools, and safer neighborhoods?

Margit Birge

Oakland