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Let's fill in the gaps on waterfront bike trail

This summer, I explored the bike trail along the waterfront. My Hamburg starting point was the "Southtowns Bike Trail Head Lot" near the Dock at the Bay, which appears to be lightly used (the lot, not the bar). Here's what I learned:

Biking north from the trail head, it's possible to stay on a safe trail all the way to North Tonawanda (about 20 miles) with two notable gaps: a two-mile heavy-traffic stretch on Route 5 through Lackawanna, and about a mile on Ohio Street between Dug's Dive and Swannie House, which has lighter traffic. The unsafe Lackawanna gap could be filled by allowing bikers to use an existing road through the former steel plant (now closed to the public). Navigating the winding trail along the outer harbor and Niagara River is a great experience, which includes close-up looks at several impressive bridge structures.

Biking south from the trail head out to Angola beaches (about 15 miles) is a different story -- there is no bike trail. This requires riding along busy Route 5, fortunately on a wide shoulder, until taking a right turn to the lake on a two-lane road of your choice. For a more scenic route but with narrow shoulders, you can branch off onto Old Lake Shore Road. If you make it out to Angola, check out the new, but isolated, bike trail between Roat Acres and Bennett Beach (about a mile long), which hopefully will be extended.

The good news is that there is a waterfront bike trail that is fun to use, northward from Hamburg. The bad news is that this mainly safe trail takes bikers to gaps requiring on-road use, which is hazardous.

Jim Greene

Orchard Park

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We all reap benefits from a diverse society

I was profoundly moved by the full-page ad from Khalid J. Qazi, M.D., president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York. Qazi expressed that American Muslims "stand united with our fellow citizens to defeat the scourge of terrorism." Understandably, many of our citizens harbor fear or mistrust of anyone fitting the Arab or Muslim profile, however, it is unfair and irrational to blanket an entire race or religion based on the actions of a "depraved band of zealots."

We, each one of us capable of empathizing with being labeled or misjudged, must take it upon ourselves to make a concerted effort to let our Muslim neighbors know that they are welcome and appreciated. We need to unsilence our voices, smile and greet them warmly. We are all integral members in this great United States of America, "united" meaning together as one. To slight or ignore any one of our citizens is to depreciate ourselves. We all benefit from the contributions of a diverse and accepting society.

Salvatore D'Amato

Hamburg

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Dr. Oz's statements are cause for concern

To many people, Dr. Mehmet Oz is a medical and health advocate superstar. Whether it's his authorship of research papers and books, being a regular guest on talk shows or having his own TV and radio shows, Oz is ever present. But has he overextended himself to the point where his work is suffering and become shoddy? Recently, the Food and Drug Administration condemned Oz's suggestion that there are high levels of arsenic in apple juice. He was accused of presenting an "extremely irresponsible" report. A lack of clarity and suspect methodologies were the basis of this criticism.

A few weeks ago, in a story about diets, Oz again faltered. He said that a number of forbidden foods may actually be good for us (in moderation of course). Dairy, meats, certain fats, nuts, non-starchy vegetables and most fruits are on the healthy list. Oz cautions against some non-fat foods that are loaded with sugar.

Decades ago, Dr. Robert Atkins was a proponent of these things. Yet Oz pooh-poohed the Atkins diet because he claimed it is too restrictive. While the first two weeks of the Atkins' diet have a number of limitations, the diet has four different stages. The last maintenance level allows most low-starch, low-carb healthy foods; the foods that Oz said were good. It is obvious Oz didn't do his research concerning the details of Atkins' work.

While these faux pas are hardly earth-shattering, the caution flag should be raised. We need to have accurate information in order to have confidence in our medical advisers. Otherwise, the snake-oil, predatory elements of our society are sure to bring us to an early death.

Gary M. Schulenberg

Kenmore

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Obama should decline to run for re-election

It's time for President Obama to do what Lyndon B. Johnson did, without waiting for a primary challenger.

I voted for Obama in 2008, not because I thought he was a better potential president, but because I thought his opponent was a worse choice. Obama was not ready to be president then; he is not ready now.

Unlike Johnson, Obama does not know where the levers are to formulate and implement policies. He does not know how to play hardball, which is what national politics is all about. Obama has been there for nearly three years and, sadly, he still doesn't know.

Some Republicans care more about ideology than this country. Some, in both parties, care more about their next election than this country. I don't know what Obama truly cares about because he is unwilling or unable to fight for anything. So put the country first, Mr. President. Decline to run for re-election. We need someone who can and will do the job.

Sandra W. Myers

Williamsville

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All groups should fund their day-to-day expenses

In response to the letter, "People are the lifeblood of any arts organization," yes, it is true that the people are important to the success. However, the organizations should not count on government support for operating expenses. It should be up to the organization to fund day-to-day expenses from income produced and donations. It makes sense that funds granted should be used toward capital expenses, which are difficult to fund from normal operating income.

I have been involved in several foundations/organizations that supply grants. One only gives grants for capital expenses and makes sure the organizations have sufficient funds to continue their operations on an ongoing basis.

Another, United Way, many years ago discontinued giving funds for operating expenses. It changed to outcome-based funding, providing funds for programs that can measure results or success by the number of people affected, i.e. numbers trained, obtaining jobs, etc.

As there is less money available, organizations have to find ways to stand on their own, just as individuals need to learn to live within their means. Unfortunately, many people never learn to live within their means and continue to look for support from others.

Barbara J. Campagna

Amherst