The Charlotte News

Tuesday, November 26, 1940



Site Ed. Note: Despite that nearly 64 years have passed since "The Guilty" appeared in daily print, it remains true that few municipalities and states make adequate provision in their substantial macadamizing budgets for the cyclist. And that despite the fact that far more adults today use bicycles for recreation and exercise than they did in 1940.

While the pedestrian generally is much better protected with better and wider and more sidewalks than in that earlier time, the bicyclist is still left in the cold in most places, with his or her legs peddling inches from the cold steel of the passing bumpers and fenders and the jutting jagged edges of protruding passenger-side mirrors.

Although we observe that motorists do generally proceed by peddlers with due caution, still it would be far safer to provide a narrow strip--provided in many municipalities, especially in the West and around national and state parks--separated from the main roadway with the motorist attention prompt of Bot dots, those three-inch round or square, raised reflective devices one sees often, again especially in the West, to separate lanes in the roadway. It's a little more costly perhaps in the initial expenditure, but the calculation of health care costs and resulting higher insurance costs for all from that occasional wandering motorist who kills or maims a pedestrian or bicyclist or jogger no doubt outweighs over time the eventual initial cost of this simple expedient.

Obviously, not every road needs such lanes, but a central route which leads from recreation area to recreation area, park to park, primary shopping area to major residential areas, would alleviate most of the problem in most places. Most main thoroughfares have plenty of room for the vehicles, such that a thirty-inch wide lane would not unduly impede traffic. And in the country, in designated areas, there is generally plenty of room within the right-of-way already owned by the state to accommodate such additional narrow lanes--or even to provide a separate narrow paved strip off to the side of the roadway, fenced by a guard rail.

Yet another idea is to use existing but no longer used railway right of ways, laying interconnecting plastic plates down between the old rails, leaving the old rails as a curb for the cyclist. Should we ever revert to use of the abandoned tracks, the plates could be designed to be removed with ease with the expedient of a special tool. A number of such ideas could be employed to make for a more cyclist and pedestrian friendly environment without tremendous expense.

Given the ever-increasing rate of obesity in our adult population in the United States, we certainly could use the exercise. And for exercise to be any fun, there needs to be varying sights and sounds along the way.

And, if expense is really a substantial concern, states and municipalities could simply issue permits, maybe a small distinctive plastic tag which fits in the triangular crevice behind the steering tube on the bicycle, at a small annual fee for the use of these lanes. If one is stopped while using such a lane without the current permit, one must simply pay the fee for two years in advance rather than one. (Don't fine the poor bicyclist.) Voila! Limbs are saved. Many get slimmer.


Fayetteville Has Sunday Movies But Not by Change of Mind

If there is any place in North Carolina where the argument can logically be made that Sunday amusements are of necessity, it is Fayetteville. The tremendous enlargement of Fort Bragg because of the defense program and the consequent increase in the size of the town and the number of its transient visitors all combine to make it essential that local customs be modified out of consideration for the strangers within the gates, if for no other reason.

As a matter of fact, Fayetteville's moving picture theaters were open last Sunday, and doing a good business too, without apparent harm to anyone or interference with church services. But they were open not because of the consent of the City fathers but by reason of the decision of a Recorder's Court judge that an ordinance prohibiting entertainment between midnight Saturdays and 8 A.M. Mondays was invalid.

It is an empty victory, however, when one technicality of the law has to be invoked in order to circumvent oppressive enactments which bind all people to be guided by the still small voices of a few people. Doubtless the soldiers at the Fort and visitors in the town, as well as many of the townspeople themselves, don't care a fig by what means Sunday movies come about so long as they may go to the shows.

But anyone jealous of North Carolina's name for tolerance is bound to contend that until such officious enactments are expunged by positive action, the mind of the state remains discreditably small.


Steam Up

Only Pressing Reason Could Push These Ships To Sea

Maybe the Nazi pocket battleship raider in the Atlantic is getting desperate for fuel. Or perhaps the Nazis want to use the twelve Nazi and Italian freighters at Tampico, Mexico, as motherships for submarines, and so extend the operations of the latter much closer to Canadian and other American shores.

Anyhow, the restlessness of the freighters shows very clearly that they must be getting imperative orders from Berlin and Rome to get out of Tampico at almost any risk. Last week four Germans among them actually tried it, but lost their nerve when they sighted American destroyers on neutrality patrol, and one particularly jittery captain even fired and scuttled his ship, claiming that he had been ordered to surrender by non-existent Britishers.

And now the Germans have been joined by nine Italians. Sunday they had cargoes of fuel oil aboard, steam up, and tugs standing by. The expected--didn't happen but they are still ready to sail almost on an instant's notice.

Manifestly, it is a desperate undertaking. The British have had ample warning of this attempt, and undoubtedly their destroyers are lurking over the horizon ready to strike the moment a radio flashes them the news that the freighters have lifted anchor.

Adolf Hitler needs oil and he would like to crow about "breaking" the British blockade. But it does not seem probable that the dash is directed to German home ports. The game simply wouldn't be worth the risk, if that were the case.

But it would be worth it if the pocket battleship needs fuel badly or if the Nazis want to extend their submarine operations to the mouth of the St. Lawrence and waters close to the coast of the United States-and even though only a few of the twelve got away and escaped destruction.


An Excission

Judge Barnhill's Candor Might Serve as Model for Judges

Judge M. V. Barnhill of the State Supreme Court has struck out of his opinion on the case of the Charlotte Negro, Noah Cureton, the words which we, along with others, found offensive. Cureton, sentenced in Superior Court to die for murder, had been charged with using his pistol against other persons three times in his life. And with reference to that, Judge Barnhill wrote: "Unfortunately for him, this seems to be the third strike-and out."

The Judge denies that he meant the utterance to be facetious. And, when we think about it, as much is virtually self-evident. Judge Barnhill has uniformly conducted himself with dignity on the bench, and knows very well that facetiousness in a judge is unbecoming, and above all in written opinions of capital cases. He used the language of the playing field, we have no doubt, simply by way of obtaining vividness.

The fact does remain, however, that the utterance inevitably gave the impression of levity.

What is pleasant about the case is that Judge Barnhill is obviously a man who pretends to no infallibility, who is attentive to criticism from the public, and who is willing to amend himself. There are a lot of judges in this country, of whom we hear from time to time, particularly in connection with "contempt" proceedings, who could do with a great deal more of that admirable attitude.


Food For Sale

Grange's Zeal for Charity Is Not Quite Simon Pure

The National Grange is somewhat less than a disinterested party in the matter. It has adopted resolutions approving the sending of food to the countries conquered by Adolf Hitler, provided Britain and Germany will "give assurance that such food will reach the non-combatants." That is the same proposition Herbert Hoover has been trying to sell the country.

At the same time the Grange released the news about its action, it proudly called attention to the fact that it has over one million members. But it neglected to say that most of them are Western farmers, who grow precisely the foodstuffs which Europe would get under the proposed arrangement, and whose pocketbooks would be fattened by the sale of that food. It neglected to say, that is, that the humanitarian zeal of its membership had a lot of plain old self-interest in it.

Nobody wants a single person in the conquered countries to starve. And it would be pleasant to see the Western farmers as prosperous again as they used to be. But the clear fact is that the conquered are starving because the Germans have stolen their food. The clear fact is that the Nazi's word is worthless. And we believe profoundly that if food is sent to these nations, the cunning Nazi will know how to lay hands on it regardless of attempts at safeguards.

In any case whatever, it would serve to relieve Hitler of his responsibility in the case and to make his task of enslaving these lands easier- aid him in winning the war, and so bring about the ultimate tragedy of humanity.


The Guilty

State Sets Stage for Hit And Run Drivers

The poor broken body of the young woman lies in the Lumberton undertaking establishment, and somewhere her murderer walks around with his guilty conscience as his only accuser to date.

Or perhaps he hasn't a conscience. Come to think of it, it seems pretty certain he hasn't. For having struck the girl down with a speeding automobile as she walked along the road at night, he did not stop to see if she were dead and give her her remaining chance to live if she weren't. He fled on, like the heartless coward he is. And the chances are very great that the girl was not dead as he fled, for doctors said she had been dead only about an hour when she was found at four o'clock yesterday morning. It is not likely that she was walking along the road as late as three.

But it is not only the cur who struck her who is guilty in this case, and all like it. The State of North Carolina has its share of guilt also. For like most other American states, though not all, it has consistently built its highways without ever making provision for the pedestrian.

The United States is the only country in the world which does not make provision for the pedestrian--and the cyclists--along all important roads. But over here it is apparently our conviction that the only people who count are people who ride in automobiles and that if the rest makes bold to use the roads at all, they'll just have to take their chances of being dealt with as open game.


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