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Our Readers Write: Bike lanes, PTSA email, San Diego Community Power

A buffered bike lane without raised barriers
Buffered bike lanes without raised barriers are maintained during normal road maintenance and make for a better, safer alternative, reader Phillip Young writes.
(Courtesy of Phillip Young)

Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor:

‘Safety bubble’ of ‘protected bike lanes’ is misleading, even dangerous

City planners and some cycling advocates insist that “protected bike lanes” are the best and safest way to encourage many San Diegans to ditch their cars and join the cycling transportation revolution.

Bordered by raised asphalt barriers and bright plastic pylons, these bike lanes create a sort of “safety bubble” that protects cyclists from vehicles moving alongside them in the same direction. In theory, cyclists of all ages and abilities can enjoy the San Diego sunshine and scenery while cars and trucks whizz by in the adjacent vehicle lane. Motorists will see the fun-loving bikers not slowed by traffic jams and join them in droves. Soon we’ll all be pedaling together in cycling bliss.

But those rosy assurances crumble when we confront the real dangers of “protected bike lanes” and the emotional and economic cost of the accidents, injuries and deaths that plague them.

According to statistics gathered by North County cycling advocates, there were 24 accidents — all at slow speeds — in just eight months on a 1-mile flat “protected bike lane” stretch installed last year on the Cardiff 101 beach route. Fifteen of those crashes were caused by cyclists who hit the raised asphalt barriers designed to keep vehicles away from the bike traffic. Many of the crashes resulted in ambulance rides to a hospital, including one knocked unconscious, one neck injury, two multiple bone fractures and one broken pelvis.

The “protected bike lanes” on popular beachfront roads also attract pedestrians, joggers, families with strollers, beach-goers carrying umbrellas, coolers and chairs, and scores of other non-cyclists. Those pedestrians don’t always pay attention to the cyclists, which creates a serious hazard for everyone. Raised barriers also are a pedestrian trip hazard. When a “protected bike lane” is on a steep grade, the added bike speed makes the situation even more hazardous.

The raised asphalt barriers, plastic pylons and fences also give cyclists a false sense of security. Bike riders assume cars and trucks can’t jump the barriers, but in reality vehicles easily can. The barriers also pen in the cyclists, reducing their ability to maneuver around obstacles and debris and to avoid vehicles that drift into the bike lane or cut them off with a quick right turn.

“Protected bike lanes” also are a magnet for trash, sand and other debris. The raised barriers block the normal “sweeping” action created by vehicle traffic movement. Plus, the narrow lanes can’t accommodate street cleaning and repaving equipment. Accumulated debris and sand thus cause more falls and crashes.

Experienced bike riders see those dangers and most will not ride in a “protected bike lane,” preferring the safety of “sharrow”-marked traffic lanes shared by motorists and cyclists. Traditional buffered bike lanes with wide painted vehicle exclusion zones also are a much safer design alternative, facilitating safer right turns for vehicles, and they are routinely swept and paved.

Buffered bike lanes also are much less expensive to build. That’s crucial now and will be for years to come, because local governments hobbled with huge, pandemic-induced budget deficits can’t afford to build at a cost of $2.6 million per mile and maintain “protected bike lanes.” That money could build miles and miles of sustainable buffered bike lanes, providing a much safer, cleaner and smoother riding experience.

Phillip Young

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Sharing information for parents is appropriate for PTSA

This is in response to the La Jolla Light article “La Jolla PTSA president’s email inviting ‘advocacy’ regarding school closures, online learning sparks outcry” (March 18).

I am the e-news editor for the La Jolla High School PTSA and a parent of a senior at La Jolla High. I fully support LJHS PTSA and its president in their efforts to share information in order to enable parents to advocate on behalf of each child. Not only is this appropriate for PTSA to share such information, it is the very purpose of the organization — to connect parents and families by providing a range of information and resources for parents to speak on behalf of every child. This is clearly spelled out by the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs (sdcouncilpta.org/advocacy-legislation) as well as our state PTA umbrella organization (capta.org/about/our-mission/policies).

I am also concerned by the attempt of some parents and community members to shame and silence the voices of fellow parents for advocating on behalf of their children.

Luba Khomskaya

Nothing political or offensive in PTSA president’s email

I found nothing inappropriate or offensive about the La Jolla High School PTSA’s e-blast notifying parents of school reopening rallies. Nor would I classify three complaint e-mails to the PTSA president [the number that PTSA President Sharon Miller said she received] as an “outcry.”

The article states that Dawniel Carlock Stewart reached out to the La Jolla Light complaining that the PTSA e-blast was politically motivated. I certainly didn’t find the e-blast to be political. I appreciate all the volunteer work of the LJHS PTSA.

Jessica Hughes

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Why are some so opposed to reopening schools?

The “outcry” article in which a parent demanded that the La Jolla High PTSA president resign for running the reopening protest information in the email is a sad example of how divided our town has become during these difficult times.

Why would someone even be opposed to such information to be available widely to the families of our school? I see it as a perfect example of how those few who want to continue with remote learning go into an attack mode by using forceful tactics and stirring things up. They know they can keep their option of remote learning, no matter what. They know that nobody will make them sacrifice their comfort levels if others go to school in person. Why do they work so hard to keep others from going to school in person? Are they our new CDC to tell us what’s safe?
Are they qualified to keep schools closed at this stage? And who are they to dictate what can and can’t be shared in the PTSA’s email newsletter?

Nobody is stepping down, nobody is taking those people seriously and schools will have to reopen to in-person learning, no matter what some people say.

Olga Wharton Newman

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Real ‘outcry’ should be over children’s suffering from not being in school

We are responding to the recent article titled “La Jolla PTSA president’s email inviting ‘advocacy’ regarding school closures, online learning sparks outcry.” As far as we can tell, we can count on one hand the number of individuals who take issue with Ms. [Sharon] Miller’s email to parents using the La Jolla High PTSA database. This hardly seems an “outcry.”

As parents of school-age children in La Jolla, we are grateful and appreciative of Ms. Miller and other parents who volunteer their time unpaid to serve on the parent boards of our schools, whose work and advocacy benefit all students. As mentioned in the article, there are over 1,300 students enrolled at La Jolla High, with at least the same number of parents, so one can only assume that a substantial majority of those receiving Ms. Miller’s email have no issue with it. Putting aside the propriety of the email, most parents would take issue with calling for Ms. Miller’s resignation as PTSA president, a remedy that is wholly disproportionate and inappropriate given the nature of the email.

The reopening of our La Jolla public schools is a significant and emotional issue for parents. Our children have been out of school for over a year now. Parents, who have seen their children suffer mentally, emotionally, academically and physically, are simply seeking the choice to have their children attend school in person — just like the students of many private schools in La Jolla and other public schools in San Diego County have been able to do safely since fall 2020. Likewise, parents who have concerns about sending their children to school want to ensure their children receive quality online instruction from the safety of their homes.

It seems parents differ on whether online or in-person schooling is the best choice for their families, but one thing is clear: Children, who are the least likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, are suffering tremendously, and in some cases permanently, as a result of this pandemic and the closure of schools. What happens to the once-happy-go-lucky, social kid who no longer wants to see friends or leave his home? What happens to the child who is no longer reading at grade level? What happens to the teen who has been isolated in her bedroom for a year and now suffers from anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide? What happens to the children who have been abandoned, neglected or abused for the past year? What happens to the children who feel that the adults in their lives have failed them?

Have we? This is the “outcry” we all need to be talking about.

This letter was signed by 199 students and parents and sent by Kat Peppers.

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San Diego Community Power isn’t worth the new bureaucracy

The brand-new CCA [community choice aggregation], aka San Diego Community Power, is going to save us ratepayers all of 2 percent to 3 percent less for electric power than what would be paid to SDG&E if one chooses the “PowerOn” option, sayeth the government minions creating another public bureaucracy, or one will pay the exact same amount as being paid now if choosing the “Power100"option (“5-city community choice energy program launches,” La Jolla Light, March 18).

That reduction applies only to “electricity generation” and not to “delivery,” so that equates to all of less than a dollar a month ... not even enough to buy a latte at Starbucks.

Check your own SDG&E billing statement to see exactly what this vast new government entity could save you. The CCA buys renewable energy, so when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t out, the CCA will be using the same energy sources as the current utility. In fact, the CCA is required to have SDG&E act as its backup source of energy should the need arise. We will be asked to rely on a new municipal department managed by egregiously paid bureaucrats to “keep the lights on.”

How will this impact homes with solar panels already installed? With increased competition for renewable energy, market prices will rise on the supply and demand theory. Could this be another Ash Street-type disaster in the making?

Be wary, folks!

Lou Cumming

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What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the La Jolla Light express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. Letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity and accuracy. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your first and last names and city or neighborhood of residence to robert.vardon@lajollalight.com. You also can submit a letter online at lajollalight.com/submit-a-letter-to-the-editor. Letters without the writer’s name cannot be published. Letters from the same person are limited to one in a 30-day period. ◆