ISSUE | TRAIN WRECK

Seat belts could help

My heart goes out to the victims of the tragic Amtrak derailment and their grieving families. In the spirit of preventing or at least reducing future casualties, I don't understand why most trains don't have seat belts, as airplanes and automobiles do.

With trains typically traveling at or above the speeds of vehicles on highways, passengers are subject to the same kinds of bone-breaking, destructive forces in the interior if carriages suddenly crash and decelerate. We would not be reading about people flying around inside the train cars during this crash had they been wearing seat belts. We need legislation to require seat belt use on trains.

|Michael Pravica, Henderson, Nev.

So would investment

Official findings on the cause of Tuesday's Amtrak derailment won't be in for a while, but we would not be surprised if there was a problem with track maintenance. The dangers are not limited to passenger rail; there have been too many freight train derailments, often involving hazardous cargo. Meanwhile, America's road system, including Pennsylvania's, is also under-maintained.

There was a time when the world looked to America for how to run railroads, but no longer. Even the Northeast Corridor, the star of the Amtrak system, pales in comparison with Japan's passenger trains, which run safely at around 200 miles per hour!

Of course, we save money so we can keep our taxes down - the same short-term mentality that rules the public schools. How can America continue to be a world leader with a second-rate transportation system and second-rate schools preparing its next generation of workers and leaders?

|Ernest B. Cohen and Elaine H. Cohen, Upper Darby

ISSUE | EDUCATION

Girard's goal

What a wonderful affirmation of the vision, generosity, and love of Stephen Girard is the success of Brandon Dixon and the support of his mother, Virginia Dennis ("From Juniata Park to Harvard on a full ride," Sunday). This young man with solid family support represents the goal of Girard College.

I can only hope that this story will inspire many other parents to take the time, energy, and whatever else is needed to encourage and support the Brandons in their families.

|Frannie Rink, Lansdowne

Parents' role

Yes, as a recent letter noted, educational standards are necessary ("Case for standards," May 6). Unfortunately, though, a teacher's role is to guide and direct learning, not to force students to focus and study the information presented.

Along with teachers, parents and students need to be accountable for learning. Students, parents, and teachers must work together to see that learning happens.

|Carol Pergolino Snowden, Philadelphia

ISSUE | FOOTBALL

The Tom Brady edition

Despite important local, national, and worldwide issues, The Inquirer's top front-page headline Tuesday was: "Brady Suspended." Big whoop. Tom Brady is a Boston team's quarterback, with little to nothing to do with Philly.

How about featuring Brady in the business section? There could be a story about how he invests his massive earnings. Or the Sunday real estate section could carry pictures of his home and information about how much it cost. The food section could have his favorite recipes, and the health section could run a story on his workout.

Or there could be a commentary about the cheating that goes on in professional sports, the all-too-frequent episodes of spousal abuse by players, and the misplaced American values that call for sports "heroes" to be paid millions while teachers, nurses, and social workers make far less.

|S. Reid Warren III, Elverson, srwjmw@dejazzd.com

Our cheatin' hearts

Just above The Inquirer's important article on the FBI spinning technical testimony, also known as cheating ("Hair analysis a discredited tool," Tuesday) was one about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's cheating ("Brady suspended"). I couldn't help but think about the gravity of the offenses and outcomes for the cheaters and the cheated in the criminal justice system compared with the professional sports world. An Inquirer editor did well to juxtapose these articles on the front page.

|Don DeMarco, Philadelphia, donald.demarco@verizon.net

ISSUE | PARKING

Race for the revenue

I was No. 30,018 at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sunday. Many more lined up behind me for this passionate demonstration by ordinary people contributing to a cure for cancer.

Every year, we struggle to park near the Art Museum. This year, we parked too close to a corner and got a $41 ticket. And every corner in sight of 25th and Mount Vernon Streets had a ticket. Yet I saw not one car parked next to a hydrant or blocking a crosswalk. Like my car, they were just beyond the "No Parking" signs at every corner, squeezed in to get to the race. And soon, all these streets would be empty, the people who raced having gone home (probably out of the city) to pay hefty parking fines with a bad taste in their mouths.

I'm asking the city to allow space for this event. Why risk goodwill? It's not too much to ask on a Sunday morning when the only vehicles stirring belong to cancer survivors and those who care about them and preventing the disease for good.

|Yvonne Haskins, Philadelphia

Convenience is the ticket

Regarding a cellphone app that would ease payment for street parking ("Parking break," Friday), the Parking Authority has a good point: We want people to pay the meter; we want compliance with parking laws.

We need penalties to incentivize proper payment. But things would work far better if people just pay when they should. Parking violations create administrative burdens, appeals, and angst that don't exist if people just pay the meter.

|Mark Zecca, Philadelphia

ISSUE | CYCLING

Cyclist deaths aren't inevitable

I was an acquaintance of Jay Mohan and I appreciated the article on his life and passions ("Philadelphia filmmaker, 26, struck on bike, killed," Monday). However, I was troubled by the line: "As more people use bikes to get around - with or without helmets, during rush hour or after dark - some invariably are struck by cars."

I find this victim-blaming and the presumption of ongoing cycling deaths intolerable. In the past month alone, we have seen three other Philadelphians killed by drivers and another who is in critical condition. Our city and our citizens have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all users of our streets, regardless of their mode of transit.

|Jake Liefer, cofounder, The 5th Square, Philadelphia

Yo, bikers, get off my roads

So not enough bikers wear helmets ("Bikes make a city better," Tuesday). The way they ignore every rule of the road, they should wear as much protection as possible. Or they should stay off the roads altogether. That would be wonderful.

|Dale J. Porter, Philadelphia