TPD Seems to Be Overly AggressiveI missed the Oct. 23 bike ride but have witnessed several cases of Tucson Police Department aggression since moving here in 1993 ("Tucson on Two Wheels," Nov. 8).
I was part of an early 1990s Critical Mass bike ride broken up by an enormous phalanx of shield- and club-wielding cops, motorcycle patrols and a helicopter. The show of force was incredibly disproportional to the cyclist-protesters' disruptions. A few years later, at a small but vibrant march against United States support for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, Tucson police demonstrated an astonishing gusto for violence. I saw an officer drive a patrol car full-throttle, in reverse, into a group of people who clearly weren't involved in the protest. The officer's battering-ram tactic seemed eerily automatic to me, as if it were a matter of training. Seconds later, a beefy cop bolted with surprising agility from a patrol car at full sprint, slamming two protesters against the glass doors of a Fourth Avenue print shop. The two women were tied up and whisked away before I even understood what had happened.
More recently, TPD discovered that some of our neighbors were dealing drugs. Police decided on a surprise-raid approach. We'd just returned from dinner when the percussion bombs went off. Our close friend and her daughter were holed up in the house next door, so we called them to figure out what to do. Cops were everywhere, weapons drawn, and we ran through the melee to help our friend out of the house and across the street to relative safety. Worse still, the Sinaloa cartel that TPD was apparently hoping to get a piece of was gone; they hadn't been there all day.
Police have unfortunately been rendered "first responders" for social problems that lie far beyond the ambit of law enforcement. But this is exactly the problem: Americans seem increasingly complacent with law-and-order responses to issues that will only grow untenable when dealt with by force. And now we've got police checking for "papers" in our public schools, while so-called Homeland Security dozes the desert for its costly, silly wall. The insularity--the anger and fear projected onto protesters' bodies and fragile landscapes--can only return in spades.
Bicyclists Should Follow the Law, as Should MotoristsI have to disagree with a couple of points made in the "Tucson on Two Wheels" article. While I applaud the community-building Tuesday-night rides, I think law enforcement is unfairly portrayed. Given the limited information available, Tucson Police were justified in their response. No one--not a pedestrian, motorist or cyclist--has the right to block intersections for the sake of convenience. It is illegal and dangerous.
Regarding "abuses bicyclists receive from motorists," unfortunately, inconsideration and outright cruelty do exist and are never warranted. But abuses take place from both ends of the spectrum. There are rude, obnoxious drivers, as well as cyclists with attitude who blast through stop signs, zip across multiple lanes of traffic and straddle the bike line.
Although Erik Ryberg's clients may claim to have been ticketed unjustly when colliding with a car, my own experience of car-versus-bike several years ago was quite the opposite. When a motorist opened his parked car door in front of me, causing me to swan-dive over my handlebars onto a busy downtown street, TPD officers accompanied me to the hospital and wasted no time in citing the motorist. They were attentive and professional.
Finally, ticketing kids who are riding without a helmet or lights serves as a deterrent and will hopefully motivate them or their parents to buy them the safety equipment they need. The notion that TPD (in other words, taxpayers) should be handing out free helmets instead of tickets is absurd. If you can afford a bike, you can afford a helmet. If Mr. Ryberg feels so strongly about it, perhaps he should set aside some of his profits from cyclist litigation, establish a nonprofit organization and distribute helmets to his heart's content.
As with most conflicts, there is his story, her story and the true story. Hopefully, the cyclists can continue their weekly rides while obeying traffic laws, and both cyclists and motorists can learn to respect each other enough to share the road.
I Was Quoted Accurately, but I Still Didn't Like ItI was pleased that the Tucson Weekly covered the Community Bike Ride, but I was sorry that Mari Herreras cherry-picked my most idiotic comments and quoted them verbatim while she paraphrased the rest of what I said.
I apologize for my ugly and inarticulate language and would like a chance to rephrase my point.
It seems absurd that the Community Bike Ride and Critical Mass rides are perceived to disrupt traffic and shut down streets. I believe they are the gentlest reminder of the peaceful presence of cyclists. If the hundreds of cyclists who ride every day as an alternative to driving were serious about civil disobedience and really wanted to snarl traffic, we would get off our bicycles and drive instead, adding hundreds of cars to Tucson's already congested streets, and thousands of pounds of carbon to the atmosphere. The problems caused by the worst cyclists are nothing compared to the problems caused by the best drivers.
Remember when you're out there driving around: Bicycles are the solution, not the problem.
Janet K. Miller
Hey, Bicyclists: Where Are the Helmets?How disappointing it was to not see one person other than police having a helmet on in the photos. We bike riders must become good examples for others. Maybe everyone should take the bike-safety class offered by the county. I did.
Danehy Needs to Re-Review the Data on VegetarianismTom Danehy's recent column on "cascading" (Nov. 1) was bogus.
The use of the word "link" requires a distinction that is a basic tenet of statistical analysis. There may be a "link," but is it correlational or causal? In fact, there is a "link" (relationship) between high-fat diets and heart disease. Is it a cause-and-effect link? Probably, but other crappy lifestyle factors may also contribute to the significant reduction in lifespan for meat eaters and their higher incidences of diseases of affluence, so a causal effect is tougher to parse out.
And "zealots"? Last time I checked, the American Dietetic Association and American Heart Association (all advocating the vegetarian diet) are hardly considered zealots.
Seventh-day Adventists actually live seven to eight years longer than the average American, and meat-eating Adventists (not all are vegetarian) live three years less on average than vegetarian Adventists. Now all other factors are randomized within the Adventists, and Danehy's caveats disappear. (Methinks it was Danehy "cherry-picking" the data.) The other very important consideration Danehy did not address is quality of life--many more active years and less hospitalization for vegetarians.
Former rancher Howard Lyman and nutritional researcher Dr. Colin Campbell have recent books documenting everything that Danehy needs to verify the info. One has to wonder why he would cling to such notions--his diatribe smacks of something that would appear in one of Rupert Murdoch's media outlets.
Danehy (who likes to brag about how smart his kids are) should also be interested to know that children with high IQs are more likely to become vegetarian. Chew on that!