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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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