Flying the grumpy skies, fishing the crabby seas and recognizing bicycling in Buffalo - The Buffalo News

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Flying the grumpy skies, fishing the crabby seas and recognizing bicycling in Buffalo

We knew it!

We aren’t getting fatter … the airlines are putting a squeeze on passengers. A recent Associated Press article exposed a truth that the airline industry wasn’t exactly hiding, but sure feels like a conspiracy when boarding a plane to find the seats have slowly migrated closer and closer together.

Turns out, the largest U.S. airlines are removing those old, bulky and yet comfortable seats for so-called slimline models that take up less space from front to back, allowing for another row or two of profit-generating seats on each plane.

Unhappy passengers can now add bruised knees to the avalanche of fees forced on the flying public by the airlines’ “ka-ching” culture.

With the government shutdown finally at an end and House Republicans coming to their senses, we can continue to enjoy one of the finer things in life.

Not to diminish the truly awful consequences many Americans faced as a result of the stupid partisan effort to gut the Affordable Care Act, but fine diners faced the possibility of losing a delicacy: Alaskan king crab. The scrumptious creatures (apologies to vegetarians) were left at sea when the nation’s king crab fishing fleet, which was ready to deploy off the coast of southwest Alaska, had to cool its hulls in port because of the government shutdown.

Federal workers who process the permits for each boat’s catch quota were on furlough, one small example of how the shutdown affected far more than federal workers.

Those Alaskans had real jobs with real paychecks. As the New York Times reported, the livelihoods of around 500 or so crew members and captains on more than 80 crab vessels were at stake. Local economies were adversely affected.

But now that the Washington foolishness is finally over, we’ve got our crab bibs on and we’re patiently waiting for the latest catch to hit the table.

Here’s yet another way Buffalo is changing for the better: The city is going bike happy. Buffalo has been designating 10 miles of bike lanes a year, providing benefits to health, the economy, the environment and transportation. GObike Buffalo notes that the city ranks 14th in the nation for the number of bicycle commuters, growing at 88 percent a year and 269 percent since 2000. That’s impressive.

Those efforts are paying off in recognition. The League of American Bicyclists, announcing the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community awards, has designated Buffalo as a Bronze BFC.

To be sure, there is a learning curve as drivers adjust to sharing the road with increasing numbers of bicyclists. Some kind of education program could be helpful, and there may be better ways of setting off the bike lanes, but change always requires accommodation. This is a terrific program for Buffalo and it’s great to see that the city’s efforts are not going unnoticed.

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