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October 14-21, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

Nutty Responses to Cyclist's Letter

TWO ISSUES ago, a courageous cyclist who I don't know, Erin Copp, reached out to road users by writing a letter in the Santa Cruz Weekly reciting a humiliating incident in which a driver threw trash at her. I'm sure it was hard for her to expose herself in this way, but she must have thought it could be instructive and useful to speak out.

In the next issue, one person called her a liar, one used the incident as an excuse to lash out at the bicycle movement, and a third gave her some useful advice on riding confidently. No one said the obvious thing: that she didn't deserve it, and that throwing a bag of trash at another human being is violent and dangerous.

Even after 20 years as a bicycle advocate, I still get surprised at the vehemence with which some folks are determined to blame bicyclists for being victimized. Whether cyclists are subject to trash bags or death by cement trucks, some people in Santa Cruz seem eager to blame the victims on two wheels. If a woman wearing a short skirt gets harassed, we rightly blame the person harassing her, but if she is riding a bicycle, apparently it is OK to question her cycling style or launch a tirade against bicycle politics.

The fact is that people who ride bicycles are making ourselves vulnerable to the potential violence of a collision with an automobile. We depend on the care and concern of drivers as well as our own skills to keep us safe. By and large, in Santa Cruz anyway, that trust is repaid by careful and respectful driving. In exchange, cyclists create a much safer environment for everyone by using a far less dangerous way of getting around.

We wouldn't need as much special bicycle infrastructure if it weren't for a minority of drivers that are disrespectful, rude and dangerous. Having recently ridden 300 miles in Japan with my wife and our three-year-old on the front of my bicycle, I had a chance to see a traffic culture of respect that placed a priority on safety. No one passed us dangerously in Japan or tried to sneak in a last minute right turn. Certainly no one threw trash at us. We didn't feel a need to fight for our right to use the road in Japan. We already had it.

It scared me to read one writer assert that each cyclist is "responsible for your own safety." I hope that the statement is not an attempt to evade responsibility for an automobile based transportation system that kills 40,000 people annually in the United States or as a way to excuse the actions of dangerous people like the one that threw a bag of trash at a vulnerable human being.

Thank you to the majority of drivers who put human life first and drive carefully. And thank you to my two-wheeled companeros like Erin who get around by bicycle. Each bicycle rider means one less potentially deadly vehicle on the road, and that is the safest thing of all.

Micah Posner,
People Power

The One-Week Class War

I RECENTLY wrote a letter to local newspapers, part of which read:  "I hope UC agitators seriously put forth demands and boycott with vigor. Previously, they have quit too soon. Many are on furlough already, so what the hey!" 

Sure enough, one week later, UCSC demonstrators folded their tents, and apparently left a mess in their wake. Real class. I digress.

Taking over the commons for a week didn't cause much of, if any, impact. To wage a class war requires far more commitment. It's a long haul kind of thang, like our own Civil War. If y'all are serious, then get at it. Stare down administration daily; make them queasy. "Up against the wall," though overworked, has significance here. 

The recent "show of force" was a joke.

Kathy Cheer,
Santa Cruz

Vick Besmirches the Game

IT'S FOOTBALL season, you can feel it in the air. It's the time of athletes at their physical peak clashing to claim territory on the gridiron. There's that buzz in the air and it's contagious, whether one is a football fan or no--the tribes are gathering and it's everywhere. Honestly, what would fall be without football? I might just be finding out.

What is Mike Vick doing stinking up the field? Who said it's OK for this creep who committed unspeakable cruelty upon trusting dogs and neighborhood cats to be in uniform again? I guess the big and powerful NFL executives can exonerate this sadistic punk and laugh his deeds off and convey to the rest of us that what matters is an athlete's performance on the field and we just better get over Mike Vick's barbarism. It's more important Vick be playing so the NFL can generate money from those capable hands. Yes, those same capable hands which held his trusting dogs underwater, staring up at him with pleading eyes until they drowned. Those same hands which pushed kidnapped pets into a bloody enclosure to be ripped apart by Vick's savage fighter dogs.

My football season is sullied every time an announcer mentions Vick's name--during halftime or between quarters of a Sunday game we get a little update on Mike Vick: what kind of play he made, what ass cheek he scratched--it is intrusive to hear that punk's name during Sunday game-time. You know the NFL executives pull some really nasty stunts to optimize stadium attendance: I guess the immoral and vicious are given the privilege of playing if it means profit.

The football season isn't quite ruined for me; other teams still have class and moral standards. But if a game is broadcast with Mr. Vick playing, I'll switch to the golf channel where there are no dog drowners or torturers in uniform.

Theodore F. Meyer III,
Santa Cruz

If You need her, she'll be at Real colima

GREAT article about the "Essential Santa Cruz" (Student Survival Manual, Sept. 23)! I'm a sophomore here up at UCSC and I didn't know about even half of these best kept secrets! I can't wait to do some more exploring of Santa Cruz this year! Thanks for the info!

Jessica Giles,
Santa Cruz

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