SOME e-bike retailers including online suppliers, and their customers, have been blatantly breaking the law for at least a year. In NSW, e-bikes are supposed to be limited in power to 200w and be ridden at less than 25km/h. E-bike motors should not be capable of being independently throttle-activated, like a motorbike. Their 200w motors should only kick in when they are pedalled ("Customers warned on illegal bikes", Newcastle Herald, 30/12). Many of the newer e-bikes regularly break the 25km/h speed limit on our footpaths. They have large illegal motors (many are 500w and 750w) that may be throttle activated. I would like to know whether the e-bikes, used around the lake, are compliant. In my opinion, e-bikes generally are a menace to pedestrians on shared pathways. Very few e-bike riders use their bells, as the law requires, when coming up behind pedestrians. Given that illegal, fast, powerful, e-bikes now regularly use shared pedestrian-bike tracks, we should not be surprised that illegal unregistered trail bikes do the same. This seems to have happened in December on the Fernleigh Track where bush trails intersect the track. An elderly gentleman was critically injured when trying to avoid motorbikes. The cowardly hit-and-run bike riders must have known what they had done, but sped off without offering assistance. NSW is about to undergo an EV revolution. We are about to have e-motorcycles and e-mopeds with much larger battery power than e-bikes. They will be much cheaper to buy and run than e-cars. Many commuters will use them in our cities. NSW needs to start enforcing laws on e-bike specifications and on the licensing of riders. While they're at it, the NSW government should make unregistered trail bikes illegal, and start confiscating them. Without enforcement of e-bike laws, we could find ourselves in a situation like that of Shanghai, China. In Shanghai, e-motorbikes and e-mopeds are regarded as 'whispering death' by unwary pedestrians at dusk. The heavy bikes make little sound, and the riders keep their headlights off to limit discharge of their batteries. ONE of the longest political battles has been who is responsible for the rising health concerns in Australia; state governments or the federal government with a constant blame game. We, the public, know that even with the extensions and constructions of new hospitals the ratio of beds in the hospital systems in every state in Australia has declined as the population grows. Instead of wise refurbishment of old hospitals they are discarded, losing space that could achieve a better ratio of beds to population growth. Staffing levels in hospital wards have declined as the state governments have chosen to use only university graduates for nursing care in the wards. Every ward needs to have a percentage of highly qualified staff yet trainee nurses, which are cheaper, can be part of a team once the emergency has passed. A trainee nurse could do observation and report any irregularities to qualified staff as required. This would put more nursing eyes in the wards at a lower cost but still provide highest quality health care. This path is to achieve a better bed ratio to the population levels and less than 95 per cent bed occupancy in our hospitals. This would mean that the government hospitals would not need to have back-up beds in private hospitals, hotels and private homes as they do at present. The question is will we ever get a fully unbiased examination of the efficiency of our health system or do we just continue stumbling along like drunkards in an unknown direction. Health departments, state and federal, must become honest enough to understand the magnitude of the problem and stop protecting their turf with continuing declining healthcare outcomes. THE editorial "The need to trust experts on COVID" (Herald, 5/1), argued that we need to trust the authorised experts on COVID. The so-called experts got the story on COVID wrong over the last three years, so we instead need to trust the facts, evidence and science. And even then, only until new facts, new evidence and updated science revise what we understand about the infection. Disagree? Then ask yourself why at the current time some 662 million cases of infection, massive social/economic disruption and 6.7 million deaths from COVID have been allowed to happen with the 'experts' in charge? In reality there were no experts on COVID back at the beginning of 2020 when the pandemic hit - it was a new unknown disease. Highly paid health bureaucrats at the time appointed themselves as experts on the COVID pandemic and with endorsement from politicians started dictating draconian restrictions on our lives including lockdowns, vaccine and mask mandates, and travel prohibitions. I don't believe those restrictions were effective and most have now been dropped. That is the case even though caseloads are as high or even higher than in the lockdown periods. Concern raised about new testing requirements for travellers from China is bizarre. China itself restricted travellers to China for three years, but no one in the media complained. In the middle of 2022, Japan restricted entry to Japan and enforced COVID testing for travellers for months. I should know, as I applied to travel there last year. Again, no one in the media complained or made any fuss. I take the advice of wiser, older people than myself through history. That is: "Trust no one, check everything". IT has been just over eight years since the last train left Newcastle for the last time. On Tuesday I caught a train to the interchange at Wickham and then walked up Hunter Street to see how the city was going. I saw very little pedestrian activity at the west end. The situation wasn't much different at Civic. Indeed, I didn't see many on the footpaths until I got to Crown Street where there seemed to be a reasonable number of people. The numbers seemed to fall away once I passed Queens Wharf. In short, the influx of people we were supposed to see when the railway closed, the light rail was complete and the developments were finished doesn't seem to have happened. However, it seems to have been a different matter on New Year's Eve. According to a report in this publication, about 40,000 people packed the foreshore to see the fireworks. The transport systems couldn't cope. Concerns about such an occurrence were expressed long before the railway was closed. It seems they were right. Many also said that closure of the railway would do nothing for revitalisation of the city. I think they were right too. TIM Roberts ("Finish one job before starting on the next", Letters, 6/1), there's the white elephant in the room, Tim. Foreshore park must be broke, cause it don't fit Supercars! And don't ask any of the trees that might have been, cause they'll tell you what he or she looks like. JOHN Dickinson (Short Takes, 30/12), referring to the outside weekend rubbish at King Street McDonalds in Newcastle. I put forward my theory that security inside this establishment herd all the kids outside once they have been served their food at 3am. Young workers at Maccas usually clean up the area in a radius of 20 metres from ground zero before dawn from my years of observations. REGARDING Geoff Black's letter ("Don't hold your breath", Letters, 6/1), my brother in-law was a security guard at Williamtown RAAF Base for 20 years patrolling the grounds. He died last year of cancer and didn't even make it to 40. Nothing to see here. IAN King asks for the meaning of "woke", (Short Takes, 2/1). Basically, Ian, it means "aware", so the right-wingers waging their "war on woke" are fighting a "war on awareness". Sounds about right! IT seems the woke folks have used up all their carbon credits writing to the Herald. FIFTY years ago it was the fundamentalist religious types who were warning of an inevitable biblical apocalypse. Today it is the progressive secularists warning of a human caused extinction crisis and environmental collapse. Someone always thinks the party will be over before they've had a chance to finish their drinks. I THINK you'll find that the number of scientists who were predicting an ice age back in the 70s were a tiny, quickly discredited group of nutters, Bob Bennett, (Short Takes, 6/1). A similar tiny discredited group now denies our looming climate disaster. SO John Arnold and John Ure, (Letters, 31/12), are both for a Yes vote in a referendum on a "Voice" for Indigenous Australians. Haven't they been listening to Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Warren Mundine giving the many reasons why this is such a bad idea? This will make the "them and us" mentality so much worse. WELL done Steve Barnett, (Short Takes, 2/1). Living for today and being in the moment is all we have; we can't go 'Back to the Future'.