Street Smarts not quite so fair, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Ramona--you were doing well with this article (“Us vs. them,” Monday, June 25) until you laid all the blame on motorists: 'Even if it is perceived that "the other guy" is being inconsiderate, try to be the person you want everyone else to be. Change starts by looking in the mirror -- rear view, side view and even the one tucked in the sun visor.' You definitely have an anti-car sentiment in your column. This only adds fuel to the fire and is not helpful in a meeting of the minds as you claim to want. Too bad. I guess you are subjected to the powers that be at the Sentinel. Don Honda via email A: Actually, I'm a driver. In fact, I drive a lot. Last July, I bought a 2011 Ford sedan and it has just under 25,000 miles on it. The last time I rode a bike was in my early 30s. I used to ride for alternative transportation as well as recreation. But I started needing a car as part of my work and dumped the bike. Since I log all those miles, I see people do dumb things on the road, whether they are in cars, riding bikes or motorcycles, or on foot or skateboard. People do not obey the rules and I, as a frequent driver, must be ready to evade a car drifting into my lane, a bike blowing a stop sign or a jogger running into traffic without so much as a flinch. I'm not anti or pro any type of transportation. I am pro safety. And safety starts with our own selves. If one person read any of these bikes-n-cars columns and they changed their habits because of it -- whether they drive or ride -- that's my goal. And I've gotten email comments representing both sides of the fence. So, that means some people got it. Since it is only possible to reach some of the people some of the time and not all the people all the time, I'm going to keep trying. I've been at it for 7 years now, off and on. On the road, no matter your transportation mode, you have to pay attention and you have to be ready for anything. Expect the unexpected. But the difference is, when you are in a car and not on guard, you can injure or kill someone -- whether you're following the rules of the road or not. For example, on Sunday, I was sitting at a red light waiting to make a left turn. The light turned green, I turned my head left as I released by brake and my peripheral vision caught something -- a skateboarder traveling the wrong way, crossing over two opposing traffic lanes and beginning to cross my path not in the crosswalk. While I was obeying the law, and the teen wasn't, I would have hit him had I not seen him in time. His injuries may have just been bruises but that's something I don't want to deal with psychologically. Besides a field mouse crossing my path on a dark road in the middle of the night, I've never hit any living thing. With the feeling of a small creature's bones crunching beneath my tires, I had to keep telling myself there was nothing I could have done. I hope to never have to say that in regard to a human being. Thus, I stay vigilant. Of course, I muttered a swear word under my breath as the teen nonchalantly rolled by. But, as I get older, and other people on the road get bolder with their habits, all I can do is pay attention, anticipate and be ready to react. By the way, the topics you see in Street Smarts are reader driven/inspired -- including this one. The responses are provided by expert sources, whom I forward the emails to along with any observations I may have seen and would like them to comment on. I told Chris Cochran of OTS about Santa Cruz County's love-hate relationship with bicyclists and he offered a lengthy response. Street Smarts, its topics and my words are not regulated by the paper.
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4 Responses to Street Smarts not quite so fair, reader says

  1. Anonymous says:

    I guess Ramona didn’t have the decency to reply to my email.nnThank you for your lengthy response.nnI understand that a motor vehicle is the “heavier” one and can do much damage and injury.u00a0 However, when you only put the onus of responsibility of safety on drivers and do not explain to others (cyclists, pedestrians, etc.) their contribution to their own and everyone’s safety, you are doing a ndisservice.u00a0 You do lose the opportunity to instruct and educate those nwho really need to hear those words and not the same “advocate” ngibberish that inflame and misinform.u00a0 I would hope that you would nwelcome that opportunity to self-regulate and self-knowledge to those nwho need to first learn that THEY need to be aware of their circumstancen and those around them.nnA motorist cannot be totally aware with an 360 degree view constantly. As one of the commenters wrote, this town nis full of self-absorbed, entitled jerks who could care less about theirn own safety, much less of those they share the road with.nnI nunderstand it is a short column, but when you give a “print-bite” of nglib all-compassing advice that sways the argument to one side and ninflames the argument further, you are not being helpful. Also, when youn quote your sources, you should add more information as to their nadvocacy of alternative transportation, so as to inform your readers as nto their bias (Caletti).u00a0 Also, when you are given a specific situation nto deal with, you should deal with that specific situation, and not withn some generic “just sit back and enjoy the ride”, smoke a doobie, nresponse.nnIn short, I think you should stop feeling guilty about nbeing a motorist and having us do your penance for you.u00a0 In fairness, nyou have advocated the Rules of the Road, the DMV handbook, etc. at ntimes.u00a0 But, I find that, most of the times, you present a weak nargument.nnI apologize if I have upset you, but you have a nresponsibility by running this column to inform and educate those who nare still wanting to do the right thing without losing their rights in nthe process.nnLooking forward to commenting on more of your columns.nnDon Honda

  2. Mark Nockleby says:

    Actually, Don Honda supplied a good link in the comments:nnhttp://sccrtc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/What-Cyclists-and-Motorists-Want-2011.pdfnnAlthough it is a little amusing that some motorists get upset with me for following the advice “what motorists wish cyclists knew”nnCyclists should follow lane markings. For example, use the u201cright-turn-onlyu201d lane for right turns and the rightmost through lane for going straight.nnnhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/7448358698/n

  3. Hi there Don, you do not offend me. I’ve been in jury duty this week and have been focusing my attention on future Street Smarts topics, as well as writing the Education Digest and transportation-related stories in the hours around that civic duty.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Here’s another good link:nnhttp://www.santacruzlive.com/streetsmarts/2011/05/12/cycling-side-by-side/comment-page-1/#comment-804

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