From: Joy Hughes, MD
In response to the article Winona County reviews Amish rights, buggy concerns (09/08/2013) By Chris Rogers, I would like to express my support for the Amish citizens to continue using the roadways along with motorists. My reasons for this begin with a deep respect for the Amish community, but also include several practical matters and concerns over related implications.
First of all, the Amish community has earned a reputation for stewardship and profound respect for local resources and responsible, sustainable living that should be celebrated. As the article states, they should not be punished for the rapid changes of technology and automobiles just because they do not participate. I lived in Jackson, Miss., during hurricane Katrina, and I know firsthand how fragile our “advanced” infrastructure is in the face of disaster, and it comforts me that there is a strong community of citizens who remain resourceful and independent of the “grid.” I believe we should carefully consider the effects of any further impositions on the Amish way of life as potentially detrimental to the good of the community as a whole. Secondly, other nonmotorized users of the highways, namely bicyclists, are not required to carry liability insurance. Neither are dog-walkers. The use of the roadways comes with an inherent risk of crashing into bicyclists, pedestrians, domestic and wild animals, and other users of the road system.
The Amish pay taxes to support the roadway infrastructure, and they should be allowed to use it. Limiting the access of the Amish to the roadways or imposing liability insurance for their buggies would add additional hardships to which other non-motorized users are not subject, and would further endanger the way of life of this admirable, valuable community. I would much rather have more diversity in the community than further bow to the narrow-minded view of a bureaucracy-loving, gas-guzzling, self-interested conformist who would have everyone mandated to carry a dozen different “insurances,” that line the pockets of so many middle-men.