Our Readers Write: Bicycling, streetlights, ‘Pillage the Village’

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Letters to the editor:

Let’s focus on the benefits of bicycling

The article “Local officials look to promote teen bicycle safety amid examples of unsafe riding” (Sept. 15, La Jolla Light) tends to promote our community’s safety. However, I think the focus on teenagers’ unsafe behaviors is unhelpful. Rather than putting the blame on teen bikers, we should celebrate that kids are biking to school and shift our focus to promoting safe environments for bikers.

Biking offers many benefits. To help reduce our community’s environmental impact, we should encourage greener modes of transportation. Additionally, biking can provide opportunities for physical activity, which benefits individuals’ health.

La Jolla is special in that the weather permits comfortable biking most days of the year. Therefore, it’s the perfect place to promote better infrastructure that encourages healthy, environmentally helpful habits.

Despite having painted bike lanes, our infrastructure fails to create a safe biking environment. The setup of Nautilus Street in particular is wildly concerning; having a bike lane between a busy road and parking area (and allowing cars to enter the bike lane) is dangerous and sets bikers up for failure.

Rather than criticizing the teens making healthy, environmentally friendly choices by biking, we should implement a structure that encourages these choices for all members of La Jolla. Structural changes could include creating a protected bike lane using physical barriers (e.g., planters).

If we are truly trying to “work together as a team to make sure our kids are safe,” we must set up environments in which kids can lead healthy lives.

Sarah Dembling

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Streetlights can be beacons of La Jolla’s beauty

Thumbs up, way up, for the charming [streetlight] design and its installation in La Jolla Shores (“La Jolla Shores to get 37 new streetlights as community leaders give input on design,” Sept. 22, La Jolla Light).

Now if only we could add some beauty befitting The Village of La Jolla to the streetlights at La Jolla Parkway as well as Torrey Pines Road. (And not have to wait a quarter-century for its implementation.)

It would, after all, signal to those coming here, “You are now entering a very special place.”

Denise McGuire

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Why change from ‘Pillage the Village’?

“Pillage the Village” has long been a catchy name for trick-or-treaters roaming through The Village to “pillage” shop owners for Halloween treats (“‘Pillage the Village’ name is out for trick-or-treating event following complaint from Native American tribe,” Sept. 22, La Jolla Light).

Sadly, in this day of “instant outrage” and “implied insensitivity,” one single complaint can cause the destruction of a career, business or, in this case, a phrase that has been innocently used for many years.

To my understanding, there has never been a complaint until now. Why should one person or group wield such incredible influence over the La Jolla Village Merchants Association as to cause the name change of a long-standing traditional event?

Actually, I’m fairly certain that most people did not associate “pillage” with Native Americans. As for me, I think of pirates or soldiers and the spoils of war.

The only evidence I’ve found that even remotely connected Native Americans to “pillagers” was in Wikipedia, which says the Chippewa word “Makandwewininiwag,” referring to a historical band of Chippewa, means “Pillaging Men.” The French called them “pilleurs,” which translated to “plunderers.”

Aside from this reference, I can’t determine why this tribal band felt offended. Perhaps they can enlighten us.

I have the utmost respect for Native Americans and the tremendous struggles they have endured. However, in my opinion, this was a frivolous complaint and should have never been acted on by the Merchants Association.

Was their action just another example of the current trend of cowardliness to placate one group in a show of political correctness? Very disappointing.

Mary Rayes

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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. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your first and last names and city or neighborhood of residence to You also can submit a letter online at The deadline is 10 a.m. Monday for publication in that week’s paper. Letters without the writer’s name cannot be published. Letters from the same person are limited to one in a 30-day period. ◆