Letters to the Editor: June 2 issue
I was delighted to see that La Jolla Light put bicycles and cycling on the front page (May 25). More cycling means less cars (maybe) and safer streets (also maybe). Before I continue, I acknowledge that some cyclists don’t behave in a manner that is courteous to other road users. Nor do they obey all the traffic laws all the time. Having said that, is there any reason to endanger a cyclist with your 4,000 pound vehicle because you saw a different cyclist blow past a stop sign yesterday or last week? Is 10 seconds of your time worth endangering a person just because they are on a bike?
Bulletin to motorists: Driving faster does NOT get you to your destination sooner. You just wait longer at traffic signals and stop sign queues. Is La Jolla safe for cycling? It can be if all road users stop competing and start cooperating.
Bird Rock’s roundabouts are a boon to the community. They slow traffic yet increase average speed through the area. There are two things to remember when going through a roundabout:
Bicycles should not ride next to a car. Take the lane. Don’t let a car get alongside you. Don’t squeeze by on the right.
Motorists should not drive next to a cyclist. Slow down and wait until the next straight to pass.
Torrey Pines Road can be intimidating. I never ride on Torrey Pines Road between Prospect Place and Girard Avenue. Virginia Way or going through the Village are preferable to me. I do appreciate that most motorists are tolerant of cyclists heading toward the Village on Torrey Pines Road as we climb the hill up to Prospect Place.
The Village is a great place to ride if done effectively. Traffic is slow and most cyclists ride at the speed of cars. Intersections are 3- or 4-way stops. My advice to cyclists is to stop at the stop signs, take your turn at the stops, and take the lane (motorists will see you better and you can see cars pulling out from the curb better). Remember, the law is for drivers to leave at least three feet between their car and a cyclist. That’s from my left arm, not my wheel. That applies whether there is a bike lane or not.Let’s look out for each other. And no distracted driving please!
I was pleased to read the May 26 article by Maria Jose Duran, concerning biking in La Jolla. It is my hope that La Jolla will continue to add and improve biking lanes and biking trails for all of us. How special it will be to see more families biking together and all young (and not-so-young) La Jolla residents and visitors biking regularly. Biking is great for our health. With more safe, designated biking trails and lanes, our roads will be less congested. For those who have enjoyed biking in Hilton Head and Kiawah Island in South Carolina, we know that biking improves the community for residents and visitors. Improved biking trails and lanes will encourage our students to bike to school every day. Let’s also encourage parents and grandparents and all those who work in town, to start biking again. Let’s cut down on pollution by biking instead of driving. Join me and let’s make our community a safer biking community. The website https://time.com/3854835/best-bike-work-cities/ lists many biking communities that could be models for us.
Susan H. Shmalo
As an avid (100-plus miles a week) cyclist in La Jolla, I like the tone of the Light’s recent article on biking in town — yes we are bike-friendly, but as some comment, we could do much more. I’m glad to see us moving forward with “friendlier,” including more dedicated bike lanes, but always with an eye for “safer.” The issue of safety is so important for cyclists and drivers that I wanted to add a few points to those already mentioned. People for Bikes is a wonderful organization; their Green Lane project is something I hope La Jolla will embrace and perhaps become a focus city in the near future: peopleforbikes.org/green-lane-project/landing/focus-cities
I happen to be a personal injury attorney (yes, insert joke here _) as well as a lifelong cyclist, so I’ve seen it all: driver opens car door into cyclist, driver hits cyclist from behind, driver cuts off cyclist turning right in front of him, driver turns left in front of, and hits, an oncoming cyclist, driver plows head-on into an oncoming cyclist. I’ve seen every iteration of “bike versus car” and “bike” has yet to win. I’ve also seen several of my good friends become my clients. La Jollans may remember Juan Carlos Vinolo’s 2014 bike accident on Fiesta Island, paralyzing him from the chest down. Juan Carlos is my friend of many years and I filed a lawsuit on his behalf, but the truth is, I’d rather not have his business — I’d rather have my friend healthy and fully mobile. His family feels the same way.
As La Jolla works to increase bike friendliness and bike safety, please, let’s all educate ourselves as to how to be part of the solution, rather than the problem, as cyclists and cars, and pedestrians and dogs, continue to share the road — mikebomberger.com/bike-resources/ offers links to bike safety resources from AAA, California Department of Motor Vehicles, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and more.
Biking in La Jolla is fun and scenic but not safe. The primary safety issues are the conditions of the road itself (potholes, lack of bike lanes, danger-squeeze intersections, etc.) and less-than-careful drivers. One suggestion to riders who like to ride in the Village: Take advantage of the many “lanes” (aka alleys) that grid our picturesque little Mecca. They’re much safer and you get to see the lesser-seen parts of town.
For fun, maybe one Sunday a month, we could close off some Village streets to bikes/walkers only. (Event sponsored by La Jolla Light?) Such a happening would turn the Village into a magnet for families, hipsters and race teams to come for a La Jolla bike regatta!
Is La Jolla a good place to bike? NO. NO. NO. NO. La Jolla is the worst place to ride a bike! It’s scary and dangerous with almost no separate bike lanes. When I want a biking trip, I go to Minneapolis/St. Paul to visit friends and bike all over on separated bike paths for miles -- including through downtown. All of San Diego needs to improve bicycle lanes, which will make it safer and fun to cycle around town.
Due to the “pedestrian friendly” nature of La Jolla Village, I find that biking around the Village is pretty safe. However, getting into La Jolla and exiting from the north is very unsafe due to the high speed traffic along Torrey Pines Road. Since Torrey Pines Road is the primary access to the Village, it would not be practical to add a lot of bicycle lanes to this route. It would be fairly simple, however, to add a two-way section to the sidewalk between Prospect and Princess streets to give bicycles a path to the Shores and points north. Most bicycle riders just illegally ride on the sidewalk now. Why not provide a legal path to make La Jolla much more bicycle friendly. This would be a very small and low cost change to an existing route.
Probably the only reason my family still bikes around La Jolla is because we rode bikes to school in the 1960s and refuse to give up this wonderful recreation despite the serious dangers. We love San Diego for the activities spent in the fresh air, not for the time in our cars. Of course our concern about Climate Change is another reason we try to bike. Let’s brainstorm together how we can make space along our streets for activities we need outside of our cars.
1) Please walk or bike along the “scenic coastal route.” The car congestion is nearly unmanageable. The sidewalks are too narrow. Strollers, dog walkers and joggers have difficulty sharing the limited sidewalk and often jump into the street between moving cars.
2) Parents drive their high schoolers a few blocks to school as biking is too dangerous. It’s so scary to bike with a car door opening on your right and a car passing you on the left. How about some one-way streets with room for bikes, runners, strollers and others alongside the curb -- no parked cars on that side? Diagonally parked cars on the other side. In Denmark, bikes are given priority and an hour commute by bike is popular, safe and enjoyable. For a happier, healthier community we need safe biking, running and walking.
Artist, questionable yard work must adhere to laws
There are several fantastic architects in La Jolla. Most would agree that they are great artists. Should they be allowed to exempt themselves from setbacks, building codes, electrical and plumbing inspections? Should we consider their work so special that it can exceed legal height limits? Can they use their artist exemption to build 4- or 5-story houses as long as they’re labelled “sculptures”?
Some of us may disagree with aspects of the building and zoning codes. But one section that has almost universal support, probably even from Nasser Pirasteh’s supporters, is the setback laws that prohibit building too close to the sidewalk. Don’t we all want a little open space as we walk or drive down the street? How would La Jolla look if everyone constructed a 120 square foot “sculpture” a few feet from the sidewalk?
Should Mr. Pirasteh’s self-proclaimed right to maintain an illegal structure trump his neighbors’ right to legally mandated open space outside their windows? Should building and electrical permits and inspections be optional for a self-declared special class? What happens when flimsy construction collapses or burns in an electrical fire?
His supporters claim that only one neighbor complained to the city. They conveniently ignore the fact that the La Jolla Light poll more than 2 to 1 (67 percent to 32 percent) in favor of removing the structure from his property. We don’t know whether people want it gone because they consider it an eyesore or because it is illegal. But we do know that most La Jollans support the city’s removal order.
Contrary to the opinions expressed by some of supporters, this is not a case of an artist being oppressed by the city. It’s about a man who believes he is entitled to violate seven sections of the building and zoning laws that the rest of us have to live by. The city is correctly telling him that he is not so entitled.
Stop cutting down La Jolla’s trees
It seems that the powers that be will not be satisfied until La Jolla is turned into a desert, sans cactus or camels! Every time I look around it seems someone has hacked down a thing of beauty - a tree. Now, yet another, and this one a true beauty, is gone. Whenever I walked along Prospect Street, just beyond what used to be the old IHOP Restaurant, I used to stop for a few minutes to admire the absolutely stunning beauty of the gigantic Podocarpus growing in all its glory. Today, to my horror, and, yes, distress, I find it has been hacked down.
Who is the person that requested this ghastly act? Is there no one left in La Jolla who will stand up and say “no” when someone with no thought for anything except themselves, decides that yet another beautiful tree be hacked down. I dread to think what will take its place. Let me see, could it be cement, perhaps? Yes, that would really add to the beauty of La Jolla.
Carlos Rodriguez of the local rock band, Stone Horse, e-mailed to say bassist Al Venditti is no longer with the band. Bassist Jeffrey Bloom of Bird Rock, a graduate of La Jolla High School Class of 1984, joined the group in January. In the May 26 issue, the Light had a News Nugget about the band’s recent Indie Award.
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