Bike Rage

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[Re: Council Watch, “Bike and Shop,” Oct. 16-22] I was pleased to see that Councilor Isaac Benton has proposed a bill updating Albuquerque’s bicycle traffic code. I just fear that the changes may be too late for me. I commute to work each day on a bicycle, on a road that has a low speed limit and is supposedly safe for bicycles (name of the road is withheld for my own safety).

In the past month, there have been numerous incidents, each involving different motor vehicles, that really freaked me out. One night, a pickup passed me with its side mirror nearly hitting my head. The driver then pulled over to yell at me out his window as I passed and started to pass me again, this time yelling at me out his passenger window. He passed me again, pulled over, this time started to exit the truck, and ran at me into the street. The whole incident ended with him passing me once more, this time swerving so as to force me into the ditch. (I did call the cops on this guy, but I don’t know what came of that.)

Just this morning, a different pickup passed me very closely, slowed down to let me pass him, and then swerved to try to run me off the road. Most trips either to or from work include at least one vehicle’s driver or passengers screaming epithets or profanities at me.

I saw the article about the new bicycle codes and felt hopeful that at least some people in town give a shit about what happens to us cyclists. I wonder about what kind of chip-on-his-shoulder Neanderthal feels the need to try to intimidate a guy on a 10-speed with his truck or sees some poor schmuck on his bicycle and thinks it would be a hoot to blast his horn while his bumper nearly touches a 2-inch-wide rear tire.

I know most Albuquerque drivers, and most
Alibi readers, are considerate people who allow for passing room when they come across cyclists. I’m just hoping to get to work on time, and to get home in one piece.

Letters Money, Money Everywhere, And Not A Bill To Spend

[Re: The Real Side, “Buddy, Can You Spare Some Change We Can Believe In?” Oct. 2-8] Jim Scarantino laments Americans’ spending way too much—close to $1 billion—on the 2008 elections. It is indeed too much, but some perspective is in order.

Just after the 2006 elections, columnist George F. Will pointed out Americans had spent $1 billion in the year leading up to them. He also pointed out that in the same time period, Americans had spent $2 billion on chocolate.

Could not the money be better spent? Well, yes, of course. As Mr. Scarantino rightly points out, there are many worthy causes: the cure for cancer, fixing roads and bridges, improving our schools, putting more police on the streets. These are very worthy causes indeed, and I concur with Mr. Scarantino’s lament—we do too little for them.

I suspect, however, many Americans see their political donations as an investment—or maybe even a gamble—their future can be better. One billion dollars spent now to elect public officials to get the U.S. out of a $2 trillion war may well seem worth it to them. Spending $1 billion now to elect politicians who will oversee Wall Street rather than bail it out for $700 billion may also seem worth it.

Democracy is messy. Is it too expensive these days in America? Absolutely. I’d settle for $100 million to be spent on Election ’08—one-tenth of what we’re spending now. I firmly believe election campaign reform could help us get there for Election 2012.

In the meantime, I try not to get too discouraged by keeping in mind Winston Churchill’s words (and I paraphrase): Democracy is a perfectly awful form of government, but it is the least worst the human race has invented yet.

Letters Freedoms

[Re: Art News, “Naked Controversy,” Oct. 16-22] It seems inconsistent to me that all the liberals want freedom of speech unless you disagree with them. All the conservatives want freedom of speech unless it contradicts their vision of that speech. Different sides of the same slice of bread.

What neither side seems to recognize is that they need each other to prevent extremism to rule.

While I am generally on the side of some speech oversight and control of content, limited censorship of art, I am not for total censorship. Our poor judicial system has recognized, for example, that you cannot have the freedom to stand up and shout, "Fire!"

Was it not Socrates or Plato who said that without laws and constrictions, man becomes enslaved to his passions?


CORRECTION: In last week’s Art News [ "Naked Controversy," Oct. 16-22], Eyegasm Erotic Art Show creator Darla Hallmark was misquoted. Her quote should have read as follows: "There are some wonderful artists that have works that galleries won’t take because the owners have allowed the vocal minority to intimidate them." The Alibi regrets the error.

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to letters@alibi.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter. Word count limit for letters is 300 words.

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