Wheel Of Fortune

To the Editor,

I read with interest and empathy Kay Sather's "Pedal Pushing 40" (Tucson Weekly, March 5). While I did not sell the car and depend solely upon a bicycle for transportation, I did spend one year riding frequently and commuting to work several times a week on my bicycle. My original motivation was more the need to get more exercise and get in better shape, realized when I tuned up bikes for my two kids, and was winded taking them up the street and back to check their condition.

Mailbag After tuning up a bicycle for myself, and conditioning enough to handle the 12-mile ride to work, I began bike commuting. Before long, I would even leave extra early to detour and lengthen the ride to work, increasing the workout. Like Sather, I also found that the mornings I bike commuted I arrived at work more alert and ready to face the day, and the ride home helped me unwind. With spring just around the corner, I am planning to resume bike commuting on at least a couple of days a week.

One aspect that I would like to add to Sather's article on the bicycling environment here in Tucson is the attitude of many drivers that bicycles do not belong on the road. I almost snicker with amusement each time I see one of the "Bicycle Friendly Community" signs scattered about town. I continually wonder if this is the city's way of informing the drivers that we're supposed to be bicycle friendly, or if somebody is really under the delusion that we already are. During my peak of riding, when I was racking up 500-plus miles a month, I personally experienced many incidents of motor vehicle rudeness and recklessness.

One morning, a SunTran bus even pulled right next to me and began to move over to the curb. I can only surmise the driver did this purposely, as it seems unfathomable that he could not have seen me as he approached from behind. One afternoon a car swerved by with someone hanging out the window swinging a baseball bat at me. They found their antics amusing, laughing as they pulled away. Others have turned in front of me (forcing panic stops), failed to yield, and in general sent the message that they regard their car as having more rights on the road than a bicycle. I've even heard it argued that bikes do not belong on the road as they pay no road-use taxes through gasoline or registrations. I pay those taxes anyway, through those same things with the vehicles I own.

If our city government really wants to encourage more alternate commuting, including bicycles, then officials need to stress the education of the ignorant. It needs to be clearly broadcast that bicycles do have the right to be on the road. Transportation dollars spent on bike lanes and paths can produce a tremendous return on investment if they will help alleviate the congestion on our roads. Encourage employers to provide facilities to accommodate bike commuters, such as secure bike storage, showers and lockers, and safe access to company property for bikes. (Raytheon {nee Hughes} lacks on that last one). Bicycle commuters need to encourage friends who might be sitting on the fence to try motorless days. True, by myself I cannot make a noticeable difference in the traffic and pollution levels of this city. But none of us makes any difference at all if we don't try.

Kudos to Sather for her contributions, and for the chutzpah to not let the mishap of an inattentive driver break her resolve. I hope to ride up next to her in the bike lane sometime and thank her personally.

And kudos to TW for 14 years. In spite of the criticisms of certain groups that have had toes stepped on, I hope TW is still growing in 14 more years.

--Rick Higginson

Take Us Out Of The Ballgame

To the Editor,

My wife and I decided to take in a Spring Training baseball game at the new Tucson Electric Park to experience the experience. We have been attending Major League Baseball games for at least 20 years and appreciate a leisure afternoon in the sun to "people watch" and enjoy the skills the baseball players display.

Our first clue to our wonderful afternoon should have been our driving past the somewhat unmarked ball field. A few more signs would have helped everyone! We parked the car after paying our $3 fee (reasonable) and proceeded to go to the ticket turnstiles.

At the turnstile we encountered our first Gestapo-type ticket taker who proceeded to illegally search our bag and refused to let us take water in because it was not sealed. The only thing we could figure was the Gestapo people wanted us to buy their inflated, inflated, inflated water. I explained that I needed my water (75 degrees F) and the Gestapo ticket taker told me to tell anyone who questioned this that the water was sealed when I brought it past the ticket turnstile. There is not a search notice posted on the ticket or at the turnstiles, nor do the Gestapo folks have a warrant to search anyone's private bags...but they were doing it!

The next Gestapo Agent was at the section where we had our field level ticket. She checked and double-checked everyone sitting in our area even though about 80 percent of the seats were empty. Everyone was warned not to move to any other areas. This Gestapo Agent went up and down our aisle and would not let those who paid to have a nice afternoon, do so. At one point she had to be asked to move because we couldn't see the game.

This is not a "sour grapes" or "pick the pepper from the fly shit" letter, this is a plea for someone to tell these folks (all volunteers in their 60s and 70s) to "lighten up!" Either teach them some people skills or get rid of these Gestapo agents. We don't need less attendance then we have now. They drove us away and we won't return until something changes. Major League Baseball has never searched us until this time and we won't be abused and violated again at the Tucson Gestapo Park.

--Jerry A. Young

Ware Wolves

To the Editor,

Margaret Regan's "Warehouse Renaissance" (Tucson Weekly, February 26) was very disappointing for a publication so avowedly anti-developer. The text of the article showed me how artists, arts organizations, and other stewards of our common vision are all swiftly becoming "landlords." Is the sign of a healthy arts community one where the creative vanguard becomes the landed gentry, the "master leaseholder," only to subdivide and sublet to the next wave until they become landed gentry in the future ad infinitum ad nauseam. Til each warehouse is no longer a repository of things (as they were when active), or a repository of what could be (as they are now, as well as repository of some history to be written), but instead the building becomes a symbol of the no-longer marginalized.

Well, the marginalized is where I prefer my art to gestate, and from where new ideas emerge. It is not the mainstream, not the co-opted real estate mogul that wrests free the one creative image or word that moves my soul.

Touting these trends only makes you part of the same machine that blades and grades the hinterlands, only now it is right here under our noses, and it is friends of ours, renowned artists (Andres, Grygutis), the Arts District Partnership and TPAC, and a host of other people we entrusted with our vision. What these people do as individuals, on their own, is fine, but for this forward-leaning paper to codify it, under a banner, into a movement of sorts is the first step at institutionalizing it.

Let us re-examine the mission, our mission for this small nucleus of our community, downtown. And if it is truly to get a piece of the real-estate pie and rent to the newcomers, then you are no different than your vanguard in this type of thing, those other forward leaning forces at SAHBA. You might as well pack up and move out to the eastside and subdivide subdivide subdivide....

--John Richards

Editor's Reply: So everything created by humankind should be left as it is, including rundown buildings in the center of town; artists shouldn't be allowed to make money, and they certainly shouldn't be allowed to own property. What's that philosophy, The New Feudalism? And God forbid that these serfs organize!

Besides, John, developers are people too. We primarily object to their wholesale rape of this region's unique desert environment, not their business activities per se--or would you outlaw those and have us live in happy communism? That's worked so well in North Korea lately, where they're reduced to eating the shrubbery.

Furthermore, institutions aren't necessarily evil, as you seem to imply, they're just hard to change. Thus we doubt the arts institutions in this town will be joining forces with desert-raping SAHBA anytime soon.

And finally, what's this business about preferring art only from the marginalized? That's a matter of personal taste, of course, so please excuse us if our own tastes are somewhat broader.

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