News & Opinion » Letters

Letters for the Week of May 16, 2012

Readers sound off on bikes, bullying, and Jane Brunner.


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Steve Gere, Berkeley

Another Eager Would-Be Biker

I, too, have been wanting to get back into bicycle commuting but am intimidated by living on an Oakland hill, as well as hearing horror stories from bike riders about trying to share the roads with cars. Also, I want comfort, but the vintage cruiser I own ($25 on Craigslist!) is too heavy and doesn't have gears. I've been recommended the Suede and the by Giant, and retail price for those is around $450 — significantly less than those models you were eyeing.

I'm nervous about spending a lot on a bike when they're so often stolen in the Bay Area, but I hear investing in a good lock is worthwhile.

Jennifer Moline, Oakland

Spend More to Get More

I'm sure your boyfriend is a wonderful man, but don't let him convince you that $650 is too much to spend on a bike. Yes, like with almost anything else, you can get a good deal on a used item if you are willing to search and wait.

But why wait? Go back and ride the Linus and Public bikes and similar and start riding today. For less than the cost of buying alloy wheels on a Honda Civic (more than $1,000), you can roll out on a new bike today.

Janet Lafleur, Mountain View

"Fashion on Two Wheels," Feature, 5/2

Hey, I Love Lyrca!

I am quoted in this article. Which would be fine, had you not completely misrepresented a pretty important part of our conversation. I'm referring, specifically, to your use of the word "lamented" [when discussing my feelings toward Spandex].

Really, you ask?

Well, considering that I, personally, wear Lycra pretty much every time I ride a bike (even when commuting to and from work) and we discussed how Lycra makes sense for our core market — given that they are primarily riding for recreation and fitness — I'm not entirely sure how my comment that urban townie cyclists don't want to go to the farmers' market looking like the "human sausage" became me "lament[ing]" the fact that my customers aren't usually the type to don tweed knickers and head to Berkeley Bowl to pick up some organic kale.

Considering that two of your main interviewees were Nan Eastep and Gary Vasconi, both folks that I suggested you speak to, the least I might have expected was to not have my words misrepresented and be made to seem as though I hold my customers (many of whom are good friends) in contempt for making the same sartorial choices that I make on a daily basis when cycling.

So, yeah, thanks for that — remind me not to bother the next time you ask me for an opinion that you intend to completely distort.

With all that said, thank you — sincerely — for at least accurately quoting me with regards to the Broakland hoodie and its ubiquity at East Bay barbecues.

Jonathan Hewitt, Montano Velo

The Bike Issue, 5/2

Safety First

I've had a bike most of my life, but now that I'm in my seventies, and where I travel is from the flats to events on the UC campus, the distance is more uphill than it once was, so now I drive.

I am increasingly worried that the bikers, who have no obligation to stop at a four-way stop, go sailing straight through without even a pause. These intersections are accidents waiting to happen. I've contacted the police department about my concern regarding the four-way stop at Dwight and Milvia, and, yes, Milvia has a bike lane, but ....

So, along with the issue's fun stuff, a few urgent road safety rules are in order.

Nancy Wilson, Berkeley

"The Anti-Bullying Movement Misses the Mark," Raising the Bar, 5/2

Capitalism Is the Culprit

Thank you for your excellent piece. Glad you mentioned Jessie Klein, author of The Bully Society. I heard her interviewed on KPFA radio and appreciated her in-depth analysis of the underlying causes of bullying. Yes, as you say, "in reality, we live in a world of bullies ..." Examples you provide: the Abu Ghraib atrocities, endless wars, etc. — ultimate disrespect of life and human dignity.

Our country's leaders justify acts of terror. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were never indicted for their horrific behavior, and unfortunately President Obama's decision to, as he put it, "move forward," sent everyone a powerful message that no one has to be accountable for perpetrating cruel, unspeakable acts of terror upon each other. So much for empathy and compassion!

I'm glad you talked about our schools. As a former teacher and the mother of a wonderful daughter, I deplore the movement in our country to privatize education and demonize teachers (and their unions), based on their students' test scores — endless test-taking that diminishes the joy of learning, but creates wealth for the corporations that produce and publish these never-ending tests.

Alas, President Obama's "race to the top" is, in my opinion, heinous! Obama's appointment of Arne Duncan as secretary of education? Well, all I can say is that I completely disagree with our president's view of education — and war. I, too, have come to the conclusion that capitalism is a system that encourages intimidation.

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