Letters for November 5, 2009

Letter of the week
The fixie factor

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

Nick Miller brings up a timely subject in his article on the current “fixie” fad.

From my perspective as a daily bicycle commuter, there’s no arguing the fact that fixed-gear bikes have absolutely no place on today’s crowded, congested urban streets. The brakeless, stripped-down, fixed gear bike concept originated on the old-time banked velodrome-style oval wooden race tracks that were popular at the turn of the century, where they were designed for speed and simplicity. Even on a track they were dangerous as hell to users and other racers.

The fixie fixation we are seeing now is indeed simply a fad, just another poorly thought through and remarkably puerile attempt to be different or to stand out from the rest of the proles, with absolutely no regard given to public safety.

Miller quotes several “expert bicyclists” who argue that they are perfectly capable of operating their fixed-gear bikes safely, giving the impression that there’s no hazard or danger at all posed by fixed-gear bikes. That is an alluringly deceptive oversimplification and blatant distortion of the facts. The truth of the matter is that skidding to a halt on a bicycle is a tricky, demanding and technique-intensive skill that few ordinary bike riders possess; it is not something that the majority of cyclists can easily master. Even then, given the ride range of variable abilities found among 99.5 percent of bike riders who are “nonexpert bicyclists,” riding a fixed-gear bicycle in an urban environment congested with cars, trucks, pedestrians and other cyclists is about safe as playing Russian roulette with five bullets in the chamber.

Riding a “normally” configured bicycle (multiple gears, hand brakes, etc.) on a city’s dynamic streets poses enough danger to riders and the public to satisfy even the most thrill-deprived among us, but using a fixed-gear bike in the same setting is literally begging for a quick trip to the nearest ER (since users of fixed-gear bikes also think protective helmets and safety wear are uncool, too).

I’ve been a street and mountain bicycle rider all my life, both recreationally and functionally, and I’ve ridden bikes for fun and practical transportation in many foreign countries. Although I am extremely safety-conscious, I’ve still had my share of accidents. I know from direct personal experience how absolutely brain-dead pro-fixie arguments are, since death literally lurks at every corner and behind every tree. …

So, cool fixie dudes: Sorry about the stiff fines and impounds for fixie street riders, but if reason and logic don’t work for you, perhaps a bite in the wallet will, eh? Sacramento bike Officer [David] Valdez is absolutely correct; his comments might even save your worthless posterior extremities, too.

Christopher T. Carey

Best of a bad situation

Re “Furlough Friday” by Jeffrey Ewing (SN&R Feature, October 29) and “Furlough fundamentals” (SN&R Editorial, October 29):

Thank you for publishing such positive articles about the situation happening to state workers. So many times, articles and people bash state workers as being overfed and lazy. Maybe some people at the top are, but the average state worker is a hard worker and struggling, barely making ends meet. Even then, cars are being repossessed, homes are foreclosing, daily necessities are hard to afford.

A state worker gets many perks, such as the much-touted pension and solid health care, but the pay isn’t as good and we certainly aren’t treated very well. And if furloughs go away, layoffs will soon follow.

I’m trying to stay positive, and I am certainly grateful for my job. I’m trying to make the most out of a bad situation, which is what everyone is trying to do, state worker or private-sector employee.

Sarah Reed
Rancho Cordova

Help with the gleaning

Re “Gleaning in the trees” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green Days, October 29):

For any of your readers who would like to get involved by either helping coordinate a gleaning effort in their neighborhood, picking fruit with us or adding their fruit tree to our registry of trees to be harvested, please visit our Web site (www.harvestsacramento.org) or send us an e-mail at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,104,97,114,118,101,115,116,115,97,99,114,97,109,101,110,116,111,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,34,62,104,97,114,118,101,115,116,115,97,99,114,97,109,101,110,116,111,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script>.

Thank you for helping us get the word out about our project.

Randy Stannard
Soil Born Farms

Family before money

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

I have come across many of these families and they are not at all what this article has made them out to be. Husbands love their wives dearly, and wives love their husbands. The children are indeed very respectful, kind and intelligent. They have all the good qualities every parent wants for their children.

What are these families doing different? They actually put their families before money, unlike our society today. Mothers today are going out into the workforce because society tells them more money is good and staying home is for those that are unworthy. So it’s safe to say that money and work come before the children.

I think there is great logic in what these families are doing. Many of us parents wonder why our children lack respect, [couldn’t] care less what parents say, start having sex early, do drugs, have poor work ethics, drink heavily, and the list goes on and on. Where did we go wrong? Maybe if more mothers stayed home and actually put their families before anything else, their children would grow up knowing they have some worth.

I suggest to anyone who judges these families poorly to take a good look at themselves first and only judge if they find themselves perfect. These families are all around us and you probably don’t even know it. They are the ones you look at and say, “Wow, why can’t my husband treat me like that?” or “Wow, those are some pretty well-behaved children.”

Paula Avanto
via e-mail

Times are tough all over

Re “Furloughs mean crappy service” by Kel Munger (SN&R Cut&Paste, October 22) and “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

Let me get this straight. You’re trying to tell me that furloughs for state employees cause deadline delays?

How many years has the state budget been late? Guaranteed way before furloughs were instituted. Last time I checked, Assembly members were state employees, too.

Customer service likely to get worse? I don’t think that’s possible. Service is consistently bad because of the difficulty in getting rid of a state employee. They need to remember who they serve and who actually pays their salary: we, the taxpayers of the state. They need to think about how much more fortunate they are than those who are unemployed and homeless instead of sniveling over a 15 percent loss of pay.

On the topic of “fixies,” getting targeted and ticketed is the price you pay for joining the “next cool thing” (see: skateboarding, rollerblading, etc.). Operating any moving vehicle, human-powered or otherwise, without brakes is inherently unsafe (see above-mentioned skateboarding).

Times are tough all over, for everyone.

William Varn
via e-mail

Baby Makers & Bikes

Additional Letters

What would feminist Jesus do?

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

Let me get this straight: An African-American who faced bigotry in his collective past propagates sexist hatred along with a smattering of little, insignificant “men” who further this insidious agenda of disenfranchising over half of the world’s population all in the name of “religion.” The pastor’s wife who knows she is not supposed to vote, but does—for a political ticket that includes a woman for the second highest office in the land, yet women aren’t allowed to hold public office. This is all under an imagined “perfect” society, as dictated by some off-the-wall cult.

Now I wonder just what the flight attendants—and female pilots and co-pilots—who work with pilot Johnson will say when they read his sexist, hostile and ignorant ideas on where a woman’s place should be in his own idealistic little world. It is so easy to proclaim an advantage when those advantages are denied others. The only way these pitiful, insignificant and sorry little men can be anything at all is to deny, bully and overlord those they deem a threat to some purported and imagined position.

If anything, it is criminal to repress human ambition and the potential of others with the capability for human achievement and accomplishment. This is particularly heinous when it is proclaimed in the name of religion. Religion has been the scapegoat for human failings and brutal hostility since the orchestration of fixed faiths.

The biggest scapegoat is Jesus Christ, himself; Jesus was the greatest feminist of all time. He created the means for humanity to supersede the sum of its parts, women included. His belief in the reason for humankind was in that each and every human has the potential for personal growth and contribution. He loved men and women equally and provided through example how much he expected from each and all of us. His father equipped each and every one of us with different skills, talents, strengths and aptitudes to accomplish our mission on Earth. This includes our own uniqueness to accomplish whatever tasks we must in order to completely contribute to society. It is our duty to grow and expand outside of ourselves and to meet those challenges through opportunity and extraordinary means, which we are all capable of.

I am grateful, however, that SN&R chose to print a story about this damaging, destructive and morally reprehensible movement, and that this agenda has come to light. We have met the enemy, and this enemy is the “Church of the King.”

Elizabeth M. Boggs
Rancho Cordova

Takes the cake

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

Wow. I never thought that I would find a religion that would make Scientologists say “That’s ridiculous.” Wake up, people. The Arabs have a word for this religious group; it’s called the Taliban. Let me know when the Duggar girls hit the joy book so I can find myself a slave.

Damn, that was outlawed in the 1850s. Welcome to the real world, people. Women can speak. That’s why we have more reported rapes and domestic violence: Because in our country, everyone is allowed a strong and equal voice.

Let’s give these nuts their own tree so they can not spread their nuts to other trees.

Mike Bedrosian

Manipulated …

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

It’s the same old story: Children submit to parents; women submit to their husbands; husbands submit to church leaders, who claim inspiration to interpret the Bible. Church leaders submit to politicians who wrap themselves in the cloak of religion.

Here we have a family, against the illegal war in Iraq and against feminism, who nevertheless voted for Sarah Palin, a woman who aspired to a high leadership role and who called the war in Iraq “a mission from God.” The greatest danger to our society in all of this is how easily these religious people are manipulated by those seeking power. It’s as if they have been pre-masticated so as to be ready for the ultimate imposition of dominance.

Dale Frankis

… foolish and weak-willed …

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

This is just another example of how religion, faith and the Bible are manipulated to meet the needs of the ignorant, greedy and power-hungry few. You can pretty much put this one along side the [Ku Klux Klan]; Al Qaeda; Waco, Texas; Jim Jones and every televangelist who has been busted with a male prostitute. And what’s really sad is the only real sin is that there are people who are foolish and weak-willed enough to follow. What does that say about our society?

Beverly Hall

… patriarchy …

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

I appreciated your routine usage of the term “patriarchy” in your article about the fundamentalist family. Outside of feminist circles, the term is rarely used, though it effectively describes the social structure of each and every nation on the face of the Earth. That, of course, means that men carry disproportionate influence over decision-making everywhere.

Our country is no different. Men have always comprised at least 83 percent of our Congress, and the country existed 130 years before it even elected its first woman to Congress! And to speak nothing of the fact that 95 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs continue to be white males.

At one time, as mankind looked upon a foreboding, mysterious planet, religion provided a reasonable explanation for life, but today, as we stand on the precipice of environmental collapse, only our turning away from the traditional deity and embracing logic, reason and cooperation can afford a viable answer to preserving the planet for our progeny.

Of course, capitalism, the masculine offspring of patriarchy, has led us down this path, particularly through the creation of the multinational corporation. Yes, over the years the corporations have improved our standard of living mightily, but their influence has profoundly diminished our sense of compassion for each other and our planet and replaced it with self-love and greed.

As for the fundamentalist family in your article, their experience only confirms what I learned in my graduate sociology courses: that heavy socialization and programming will create mindless followers. By denying them external influences, they are creating copies of themselves—a clear injustice to the children. Time and again, we have seen that abundant enriching experiences in early life (particularly in visits to varieties of foreign countries) results in the most well-adjusted and well-rounded individuals.

Don Knutson

… tough decisions …

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

Long before feminism got into the abortion business, it was not anti-child as it is today, and many did have large families, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had eight children. But in modern society, she would probably be for smaller, budget-friendly families, too. She wouldn’t want mothers today having to make decisions about which kids will be covered for medical/dental care or which ones can they afford to educate at a university or college.

I’ve only heard “horror” stories of telling me how they had parents that kept having children they could not even feed or clothe properly, including my grandfather, who had to quit high school to help support the family, and so I cannot even imagine such pain.

However, since just one child in America costs and consumes as much as eight or more kids in countries like India, those who are presently considering having big families here in the United States should perhaps instead extend their ideas of “family” beyond their own home and this nation’s border, and consider supporting as many of the world’s poor children as they can.

Michelle Kunert

… and overpopulation

Re “Meltdown is imminent” by Bill McKibben (SN&R Green Days, October 22) and “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

The first story tells us that Earth’s carbon dioxide concentration is “not compatible…to life on Earth” and each American child will add 10,000 tons of CO2 over its lifetime.

And in “The baby makers,” a little further on in the issue, we learn of the Quiverfulls, who produce as many babies as is humanly possible. Trying to hasten Judgment Day, are they?

Evan Jones

Where’s the money come from?

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

My first question is about the Duggars, of the TLC show 18 Kids and Counting. Does this show send a message to kids (and adults) that if you have a huge family, you too will get a show on TLC? I never realized when watching the show that there was an actual name for what they are doing.

As far as the Duggars, how would they support all of those kids without a show? I have heard that Jon and Kate Plus 8 got $75,000 per episode. After reading the quite long article, it’s a lot of new information that I will be taking in/thinking about over the next few days.

I think SN&R does a good job reporting on things like this that I am not seeing on a regular basis without a Google search.

Noah Kameyer

Welcome to good old America

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

I cannot believe that this misogynistic article was published. You wouldn’t publish something containing racism, but sexism is OK?

All these people are stupid freaks who hate women and use God to justify violence against women. They’re fucking rapists. They’ve got mental problems. I feel sorry for them. Welcome to good old America, I guess.

Jane Su

It’s not funny

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

Is this a joke, a money-making tax dodge or what? My first impression was that this guy spent too much time watching The Stepford Wives. He’s apparently thrown in a bit of pseudo-Christianity in an effort to claim he’s onto something new, but it sounds like another batch of the old recipe for starting a “Christian” cult: Take any idea (no matter if it’s somewhat insane or outright ludicrous), add a few Bible verses out of context (the better to twist the meaning), then run it up the flagpole. All sorts of people—the unstudied, the clueless, the gullible, the weak-minded and those looking for a father figure—will most likely salute.

Anyone can claim they’re a Christian or anything else they’ve deluded themselves into thinking. Calling yourself something doesn’t necessarily make it so. I can call myself an apple. The only difference would be the ability of most people to discern the disparity between the claim and reality.

I hope this is only a joke or another money-making tax dodge. All too often the “or whats” end up being deadly, à la Jim Jones, the Branch Davidians, etc.


The newest cult

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

Disgusting. Irresponsible. In an overpopulated world with limited resources and a country where women still fight for equal pay for equal work, we have a cult (Quiverfull) that utilizes an archaic, 2,000-year-old bigoted book as its outline for daily living.

Women can’t speak within the walls of its building? Women shouldn’t have the right to vote? They are wombs with legs and are left to baby making and mothering? Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton would roll their eyes in horror.

We have women who are doctors, lawyers and heads of companies in the industrialized world. Thank you for highlighting the newest cult we need to protect our daughters from. I only hope the girls use any literacy they have to escape before it’s too late.

Rosalie McClung
via e-mail

Don’t procreate—adopt!

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

This way of thinking horrifies me, and not just because of the obvious oppression of women and children. I don’t care what people choose to believe in the comfort of their own homes or churches. But when their behavior spills over into society, with no apparent regard or concern for the consequences of their actions, then I get peeved.

How can this group have such blatant disregard for the enormous problem of overpopulation and its strains on our ecosystems? If they really cared about children, they would adopt rather than procreate—take care of the kids who are already here rather than producing so many new ones, which we do not need!

Jeanine McElwain

Only agrees on one thing

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

I’ll agree with them on the idea that children should be allowed communion; that’s about it.

I read this [article] on Reformation Sunday, the day in the Lutheran Church when we remember that Martin Luther nailed 95 discussion topics to the door of a church, in which he made claims that people should be allowed to read the Bible in their own language and interpret it for themselves (and a whole lot of stuff against paying your way into heaven). I’m glad we all have the freedom to do that; I just wish that people would educate themselves on how and why the Bible was written so when we interpret it for our daily lives, we have a context to frame our thoughts.

So many of the practices and theology of this group might stick to what some parts of scripture say literally but ignore what the scripture is really talking about. What makes me sad is that so many people who know nothing of Christianity will hear about this group (or groups like these) and think that Christianity is about excluding women, people who are gay or lesbian, and preaching all the don’ts and all the hates instead of love and grace.

The books and letters that make up what we call the Bible share with us the story of God and God’s people. These are stories that show, more often than not, that God chose to use people who the rest of us wouldn’t choose, stories that tell about how God’s people keep wanting to do things our way and to be in charge, and we keep messing up. But God forgives us, loves us no matter what and continues to use us. God used a small boy to defeat a giant, an infant born in a barn to change the world, and, hey, God even chose women to be the first to spread the news of the Resurrection! Imagine that!

I wish this group no ill will, but imagine if they could only see that God is so much bigger than the box they put God in!

Kirsten Moore
Rancho Cordova

Ruining several centuries of hard work

Re “Baby makers” by Sena Christian and Ted Cox (SN&R Feature, October 22):

The idea that there are women in America who honestly believe this tripe about their value sickens me. The thought that this is what we are reduced to is horrifying.

The good sisters that crossed this nation in the covered wagons while we were busy subjugating the indigenous peoples of this great continent would have a thing or two to say about this type of biblical interpretation. Thanks, Quiverfullers, for ruining several centuries of hard work on the part of reasoning, thinking people who recognize everyone has the right to an opinion and options regarding their own bodies. Your very ideology shows how small-minded you really are.

Why don’t you all move to Iran? You should fit right in with the other fundamentalists.

Betty Rae Merrill

Wrong problem, wrong solution

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

Oh, dear. Once again, we (as a community) are, in our misguided attempt to increase safety, focusing on the wrong side of the equation.

The number of accidents in which a bicyclist is at fault for failing to brake adequately (or at all) is absolutely minuscule when compared to the number of clippings, right hooks and other accidents caused by motorists willfully ignoring cyclists (or anyone’s) right of way. All this police emphasis on effectively criminalizing a certain segment of bicyclists and yet not doing targeted ticketing aimed at aggressive drivers who endanger others clearly sends the message that the Sacramento Police Department is not in step with the overall vision of the city, as expressed by the planning department, the city manager and the mayor. Rather, they are intent on making the streets safe for cars, not for people.

I am absolutely incensed. I don’t ride a fixie; I am a motorist as well as a bicyclist, a motorcyclist and a pedestrian, and I feel this is patently ludicrous. When will the police departments in the greater Sacramento region learn that the most effective thing they can do overall is to ticket the reckless drivers who endanger everyone?

I do understand that it’s easier and quicker to demonize the bicyclists and play into the numerically unsupported stereotypes (the dangerous, scofflaw bicyclists are everywhere), but it does not help (well, it may help generate easy ticket revenue, I suppose). I have to say that it seems absolutely ludicrous to me that Sac P.D. are so bloody misguided that they will target bicyclists (even confiscating their bikes) and yet they routinely turn a total blind eye to right-of-way violations in which autos nearly maim or kill bicyclists and/or pedestrians. The sub rosa message they are sending to us all is clear: “We enforce laws to protect cars, we enforce laws to generate revenue, we do not enforce laws for public safety and we don’t want bicycles on our auto-raceways/streets.” I vociferously object to this message being sent by my police departments, with my tax money, about my streets, when it’s so clearly and egregiously in violation of the law, and common sense, and the direction we’re all trying to move—away from the wasteful, emissions-laden, unhealthy, autocentric culture promulgated in the 1950s.

As a city, Sacramento has come a long way; we’re moving in the right direction for public safety and health and the environment in so many ways, all based on one simple principle: Streets are for people. Sac P.D., take note.

Gerard Falla
West Sacramento

Who’s making money here?

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

As Deep Throat said so many eons ago, “Follow the money.”

They couldn’t care less about you, your bike or how you ride it. All they care about is finding new sources of revenue. That’s where you, humble rider, come into play. They’ll squeeze every last dollar they can out of you, and they’ll do it because they’re desperate for cash nowadays, so they’ll do whatever it takes to generate cash for their coffers.

And best of all? The law is on the books, so it’s all perfectly legal! Just like taking candy from a baby.

John O’Grady
via e-mail

It’s the hipsters, not the bikes

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

The article on “fixed-gear bikes” is just another example of Midtown-downtown bike riders who refuse to follow the law. This whole “they’re all out to get us” mentality is getting old as is the too-cool-for-school attitude of so many hipsters cruising around on their bikes.

I am no hater; I live downtown and love it here. I am just tired, as are many of my friends, of the utter stupidity and disrespect for the law that these bike riders have. I am referring to bike riders in general, not just the fixed-gear idiots.

I have almost been hit while walking by [one of] these fixed-gear bikes, at night while he had no lights on, no less. Bike riders here constantly ride with no lights, roll right through stop signs without even looking.

Worst of all is the way they always ride on the sidewalks. Use the bike lane! If you are afraid of getting hit by a car, don’t ride your bike. The city spent a ton of money on these extra bike lanes (see 19th Street, 21st Street, L Street, etc.), but these people continue riding on the sidewalk. Even on a street like J Street with no bike lanes, you are still supposed to ride in the street. Look it up. Or better yet, go down a street with bike lanes.

I would be willing to bet most bike riders that get hit by a car are at fault for doing something illegal, and it’s probably not the person driving the car’s fault.

I need to go now and find a bike rider and yell at him for breaking the law. Shouldn’t be hard to find.

Geoff Gray
via e-mail

He’d rather bike than switch

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

As a fixie rider since 1996, an ex-messenger and now the author of a book on bike messengers (Hermes on Two Wheels, just out this month), I watched with interest as this subculture became a prime-time, full-on fad.

The number of kids riding fixies has exploded recently (and I do mean kids: I’ve seen pre-teens riding fixies, although usually with brakes), attracting the attention of cops in Sacramento and across the nation. And though I am mildly irked that those of us who ride with careful control based on years of experience are now subject to a legal crackdown caused by such neophytes, I also recognize that I had to start somewhere, too (though I started with brakes and rode that way for five years).

But one has to ask of this phenomenon: Why do it? There is a certain amount of danger involved with riding brakeless. Using skill and care, riding a brakeless fixed-gear is a beautiful symphony of simplicity and grace. Getting to such a point, like the ugly duckling, can be a long (and risky) path.

Why do young riders today take these risks voluntarily? In part, because they express an urban hipster cool and, in part, because they mimic the authentic style of bicycle messengers. The messenger rides at breakneck speeds across town because [he or she] has to to get paid. But most kids on a fixie are not messengers, even though they ride like them and look like them. This is a style that represents an authentic identity, which is in short supply these days. It’s something different, something edgy, something their parents will hate.

Perhaps, like skateboarding and mountain biking, fixies will be the next big fad. Or perhaps they are the “flavor of the month” and will fade away like the once-heralded Segway. All I know for sure is that I’ve been riding brakeless for 10 years (without a single crash), and the cops and the hipsters aren’t going to persuade me to switch any time soon.

Kevin Wehr

Safety doesn’t ruin the fun

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

In most expert guidance on bicycling, there’s a page that explains that when a bike is slowing down, the rider’s weight transfers to the front wheel. This reduces the weight on the rear wheel, reducing the braking power of the rear tire. This is equally as true of fixed gears as of conventional rear brakes. No matter how skilled the rider, unless they can bend the physical laws of space-time, they can’t stop as fast using just the rear wheel as they could with the addition of a front brake.

I’m the first person to say that the “safety” issue tends to be overblown, especially by noncyclists. And it’s important to note that if the fixie riders in the article were driving cars instead of riding bikes, they’d be creating a lot more danger for pedestrians, drivers and other bicyclists. Riding a bicycle—any bicycle—is a better ethical choice than driving a car. But simply adding a front and rear brake (as almost all urban cyclists do) brings fixie riders into compliance with the law, increases their stopping ability and stops them from wasting Sgt. Valdez’s time.

My mom would say that being responsible enough to add an effective piece of safety equipment doesn’t make a fixie any less fun to ride. I’m just saying. And brake cables are now available in a variety of fashionable colors. May I suggest that anyone who has the foresight to equip their bike with a brake and thereby avoid an expensive ticket could donate the money they’ve saved (minus the cost of the brake) to bicycle advocacy? Then we can keep providing information and encouragement to elected officials and their staffs, to keep making changes in roadway design and policy that benefit all bicyclists.

The best form of advocacy is to ride your bike, often and legally.

Owen Howlett

Sacrament Area Bicycle Advocates

Hand brakes suck

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

I grew up using a bicycle where you back-pedal to brake. For years, I delivered newspapers in New Jersey on that bike every Sunday morning, even in snow, and the brakes always stopped my bike quickly, without skids, even though a basket of heavy Sunday newspapers hung on the handlebars, and two more baskets of papers on each side of the rear wheel, and the streets were often icy in winter.

Now I have hand brakes that take a block to skid to a stop on dry pavement and are always coming too loose to actually grab and stop the wheel at all—the bike shops get rich over all these constant brake adjustments (my childhood bike’s only required maintenance was the occasional squirt of 3-in-One oil on the bike chain and sprocket). The front hand brakes never seem to quite sync with the back brakes—the pressure is never quite equal between front and rear—so I get scared to death that I’ll fly over the handlebars.

I suspect the law prohibiting back-pedal bikes was written by lobbyists from the hand-brake-manufacturing industry, perhaps with additional support from private ambulance companies.

Ed Hass
Elk Grove

Fixies aren’t as bad as hogs

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

Fixed-wheel bikes seem to be dangerous only to the rider, and perhaps the occasional pedestrian. But there is another kind of cycle that is a danger to all bystanders who aren’t already deaf from the viciously loud noise of some vehicles, which are usually Harleys.

It would be nice if cops would protect citizens from a more widespread hazard that is also a form of illegal pollution. California Highway Patrol staff were unable to promptly clarify how much such a ticket offers in state revenues, but apparently the sum varies by region. Given the number of abusively loud motorcycles on our streets, such enforcement offers hapless cities and counties a few more bucks at a time when they will be most useful.

Muriel Strand

Bad bikers, bad drivers

Re “Braking the law” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, October 22):

I really have mixed emotions regarding this article because, as a cyclist and a motorist, I encountered clashes with cyclists, motorists and the officers employed to protect our community. Ticketed for failing to stop at a four-way stop sign on a deserted street by an officer sitting under a tree on a hot summer afternoon, swerving to avoid two children without helmets riding recklessly in the direction of oncoming traffic, or being run off the road onto the sidewalk by a motorist who failed to give me the right of way.

I always see employed police officers at public events. I think it’s time they include a booth with safety literature to make the public aware of the dos and don’ts of cyclists, motorcyclists and car drivers.

How many times have I seen numerous drivers talking on their cell phones while driving? When I was cycling, I lost count after the second block.

Guy Madison
West Sacramento