Letters for May 7, 2009

Letter of the week
Bravo for the bike life!

Re “Step up to the bike” (SN&R’s May Is Bike Month Guide, April 30):

I really appreciate your coverage in SN&R lately about how everyone can benefit from more people riding bikes instead of driving their cars. I sold my truck more than three years ago and bought a Raleigh mountain bike to replace it. Since then, I’ve ridden all over Orlando [Florida], Los Angeles and now Sacramento.

I’m 58 now, and when I first started to ride my bike more in Florida while I still had my truck, it was to save on gas and to get more exercise. But now that it’s my only source of transportation, it’s just part of my life, and I ride rain or shine, hot weather or cold. I’ve bought rain gear and have layers of jackets and gloves for cold weather, but Sacramento is an easy city to ride around in most of the time with beautiful weather, though the wind is a force to be reckoned with sometimes.

I love being able to see everything around me as I ride. I sing to myself to pass the time, and I watch the birds and other wildlife, especially since I ride on part of the river trail on my way to work. I admit that I don’t really like riding in the rain, but it’s nice to take a hot shower when I get home.

I understand why a lot of people don’t take riding a bike seriously as a way of transportation. I do feel free and kidlike on my bike, which I think is awesome. I know my bicycle riding has helped keep me healthy and I can basically eat anything I want and not gain any weight, though being a vegetarian and eating healthy helps, too. My muscles are strong, and that makes me feel strong and healthy. I ride 45 minutes to work now, though it took me months to work up to going that far and not feeling tired.

I dream about having roads with one car lane and all the rest for bicycles. The image of that makes me smile. Thanks for promoting the bike life!

Ellen McMahill

Where’s Sac’s Robert Moses?

Re “Taylor town” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, April 30):

Unfortunately, there is no Robert Moses for Sacramento. There is no vision, no architecture, no design [ekphrasis] in the city’s big-box urban environment.

Instead, we get David Taylor’s Kleenex boxes or roll-on cylinders: faceless stone and glass claddings done on the cheap to suit mediocre mindsets, attempting no challenging aesthetics that might make hearts race and passions soar.

Great buildings can do these things.

When I returned to Sacramento in 1990 to help my family run their firm, I was struck by the plainness of some of the newer buildings and wondered just what moron approved such ugly buildings. I hoped that a design review process might establish some core values indigenous to this town and region to be incorporated into major commissions, especially because large buildings have such an impact on perceptions about the city. I hoped that major projects would invite great architects to offer their talents, [creating] an environment where architecture was prized and locals could learn side by side from international design rock stars.

But the David Taylors and their political incestuousness dominate and doom the downtown into a corporatist nightmare, almost wholly derived (probably unintentionally) from the Italian theoretical group Superstudio (a frightening blandness marked by a direct outcropping of Mussolini-era tastes and frames).

Now we have the perfect storm of developers with no civic pride (apart from turning a not-so-fast buck), an economy hitting the skids, leadership so stupid and compromised that it spends more time keeping its past out of the papers than promoting a new vision, and allegiances focused on the mundane and sameness of blah.

We need a Robert Moses now—a smart, savvy, encyclopedic nudge to promote and cheerlead and goad erectors like David Taylor into greater work. The truly great development work in this town is being done at the human scale, with infill projects that are unique, urbane, smart and green.

Our big projects need to catch up to their brainpower and thoughtfulness and rationality and beauty.

Alex Berg

Try third rails.No, really.

Re “Streetcars not desired?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, April 30):

Actually, urban rail systems can be run by third rails that are practically invisible. Of course, many “rail” people say that third-rail systems are too dangerous. They don’t have to be. The [Bay Area Rapid Transit] system is third-rail, and I don’t believe there has ever been a serious accident.

Yes, a third-rail system on a city street would have to be carefully designed to avoid problems with contact to the third rail. But I am sure it could be done, if there really were desire to make such a system safe. And any third-rail system would almost certainly be less expensive to build and operate than any overhead catenary system.

Streetcars can also be operated by cables or rails under the street, as in San Francisco, and the Washington, D.C., streetcars until fairly recently. Such systems might be more expensive than either overhead catenary or underground third rail to build and/or operate. Of course, neither an underground third-rail nor cable system would “block” views of the Capitol building, etc. I suggest that these options be considered, given a fair investigation and not be categorically dismissed as “impossible.” In the meantime—or any time—I would like to discuss these matters with policy, technical or other interested people.

J.D. Rowell
via e-mail

True Christians don’t hate

Re “In their own image” by Kel Munger (SN&R Frontlines, April 30):

It seems these Slavic students want it only their way. They are strong-arming their views (which are mostly filled with hate) and using our freedoms in this country to their advantage until something that they don’t like or approve of surfaces and then they want to use tactics that may be acceptable in their home country but not here.

It’s hard to buy the Christian talk when it seems most of their issues are so hate-filled. They have so much prejudice for everything other than their own beliefs.

Why are they here? Please, go home. I have to say in the last year, watching TV, reading articles, seeing these people during the [Proposition 8] campaign—it has honestly evoked prejudice in me. I can’t say I like that about myself. That’s something I have to look at and work on as a human being.

I suggest they do the same. If they really are Christian, they should examine their own hate-filled minds. I applaud the [American River College] Students for Change. I would not want to be attending ARC in this environment. I am not gay, but if I were, I would be very intimidated by these people.

A true Christian doesn’t hate.

Patrice Fairman