Letters to the Editor

How do you write a letter to the editor?

  1. Open the letter with a simple salutation, a greeting.
  2. Grab the reader's attention. Make it interesting!
  3. Explain what the letter is about at the start. Go straight to the point.
  4. Explain why the issue is important. Try to get everyone to see it like you do - make everyone care.
  5. Give evidence for any praise or criticism. If there isn't any evidence, why should anyone believe you?
  6. State your opinion about what should be done. If there is a problem, suggest how it could be solved.
  7. Keep it brief. Short and sweet is better than long and tedious.
  8. Sign the letter.

Opinion 1

Everyone — including bicyclists and pedestrians — should be more careful

May 22, 2021 (Washington Post)

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s “Vision Zero” plan to bring traffic fatalities to zero by 2024 is the right idea. The initiative calls for $10 million in new spending on safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists, including more signage, more protected bike lanes, more electronic warnings, and new and rebuilt curb extensions and medians. Additionally, the plan will target drivers with more speed and red-light cameras. These will certainly help make our streets safer for all traffic. But the plan lacks any new responsibilities for cyclists, those using scooters and pedestrians. 

We bear daily witness to pedestrians walking along, engrossed in their cellphones, expecting others to avoid them as they amble obliviously forward. Frequently, cyclists and scooter riders do this while in motion, creating mayhem around and behind them as they look up just in time to swerve and avoid a collision. But if distracted cycling, scootering and walking were ticketed, perhaps the collisions and fatalities would decrease on their own and with less infrastructure spending. Even just limiting the illegality of phone distractions to actual crosswalks and intersections would have a measurable positive effect.

Drivers certainly must be held responsible for their actions, but pedestrians and cyclists should take some responsibility for their own safety. If they would focus their attention on the roads rather than on their phones, we would stand a far greater chance of reaching the mayor’s goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024. 

Scott Henrichsen, Washington

Opinion 2

Vitamin D is a vital Covid defence tool

(Guardian)

Prof Devi Sridhar argues correctly for prolonging the travel ban (If we loosen restrictions too early, there is a real risk of a third wave in the UK, 17 May). Creating distance between us and the virus (masks, ventilation, social distancing, travel bans etc) has been the main battle tool. But shouldn’t we also be advised to keep our own bodies’ defences in the best possible condition?

I cannot understand why public health doesn’t emphasise this – for instance, by recommending we stock up on vitamin D stores. Some 30%-40% of the UK population has a severe vitamin D deficiency. Why is this tolerated when we are in the middle of a pandemic and know that vitamin D is a vital ingredient for a healthy immune response?

Ireland’s public health bodies recently published a report addressing vitamin D deficiency. Finland, meanwhile, has for some years fortified food in sufficient amounts, so that the average Finn has double the vitamin D blood level of the average Scot. Now even the Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology recommends this. What is stopping our public health bodies from doing the same?
Helga Rhein
Retired GP, Edinburgh

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