Letters to the Editor

School day, bike safety, vaccination exemptions, etc.

Nine out of 10 bicycle fatalities involve cyclists without helmets. State Sen. Carol Liu has introduced a law to fine bicyclists $25 if they are caught riding without a helmet.
Nine out of 10 bicycle fatalities involve cyclists without helmets. State Sen. Carol Liu has introduced a law to fine bicyclists $25 if they are caught riding without a helmet. Sacramento Bee file

School schedules need overhaul

Re “Schools consider starting classes later” (Page A1, Feb. 17): Our thinking about school schedules needs to change at a basic level. The idea that the vast majority of students must march into school at the appointed time in the morning and march out at the same time in the afternoon is at best outdated. The best our school officials can come up with is to slightly adjust these times.

Students are not automatons and a one-size-fits-all timetable does not work for everyone. Why not have various starting and dismissal times based on the students’ other activities and their own natural inclinations?

Computerized attendance accounts for students many times each day. The problem is a lack of flexibility and creative thinking on the part of school leaders, which is apparent in many other facets of school operation. Simply shifting the school day forward or backward is not going to solve anything.

Gregory P. Gorbach, Folsom

Other ways to curb bike deaths

Re “Helmet law isn’t only route to safety for bicycle riders” (Editorials, Feb. 16): As an always-helmeted cyclist for more than 40 years, I laud The Bee’s position on state Sen. Carol Liu’s all-ages helmet bill.

Helmets are an inexpensive injury-reduction measure. However, I take issue with The Bee’s apparent belief in helmets’ 100 percent efficacy in preventing fatalities. The Bee wrote: “Liu’s compelling retort is that nine out of 10 bicyclists killed in accidents nationwide in 2009 weren’t wearing helmets.” The Bee concludes, “Saving 90 percent of those lives would be an achievement. But is that achievement worth another new law and a regressive fine?”

This conclusion fails to recognize that not all cyclist fatalities are due to head injuries. Often a helmet would not have prevented death. Many fatalities occur owing to cyclist’s lack of cycling skills, scofflaw behavior, motorist’s fault, or due to poorly designed or maintained roadways or bicycle facilities.

Liu should consider other measures to reduce cyclist fatalities.

David Takemoto-Weerts, Davis

Enforce existing bike laws

Thanks for the editorial on bicycle safety and a proposed law for adults to wear helmets, and especially for mentioning the growing tendency of some cyclists to ignore the rules of the road.

The California Vehicle Code, yes, bicycles are considered vehicles, states: “Bicyclists are entitled to share the road with motor vehicles; have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle and motorcycle drivers; must obey all traffic signals and stop signs; must ride in the same direction as other traffic, not against it.”

As children growing up in the 1950s we were taught these rules in the early school years, usually by a police officer. Nowadays, it seems that either a lot of cyclists never learned those rules or choose to ignore them. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see one of these cyclists putting themselves at great risk by failing to follow those basic rules of cycling. Perhaps it’s time for law enforcement to take a more active role in enforcing them.

Karl Urban, Sacramento

Reduce vaccination exemptions

Re “Scolding the anti-vaxxers will backfire” (Viewpoints, Feb. 17): Bruce Maiman gives excellent advice on communicating respectfully with others and getting them to understand other perspectives. But trying to convince opponents of vaccines, who are disregarding the science on the subject, to change their minds is neither necessary nor sufficient. This is a public safety issue.

Drunken drivers threaten public safety. Instead of just trying to convince them that they jeopardize others by their choices, we inform them that their conduct is illegal and that there are consequences for ignoring the well-being of others. People who refuse to vaccinate their children place not only their own children at risk but also the children of others. Some choices are unacceptable.

The only exemptions to vaccinations should be those absolutely required by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Donald D. deRosier, Carmichael

Tuition is too high

Re “Living within our means” and “It’s a daily struggle?” (Letters, Feb. 16): Letter writers Danny Delgado and Bill Goll are missing the point. We have gone from a society where anybody willing to work hard enough could have a college education to one where only those who are willing or able to pay for it can have a college education.

Tuition is too high. Whether it’s because our schools are underfunded or because our schools pay out too much money for the wrong things, tuition is too high.

We have given huge tax breaks to large corporations that don’t create enough jobs in exchange, and we pass the costs of education on to those who can least afford it. Doesn’t anybody else see something wrong with this picture?

Dawn Wolfson, Cameron Park

Trolley cars good or bad?

Re “Electric trolley a waste of funds” (Letters, Feb 13): The concept of putting in a trolley car line to connect downtown Sacramento to West Sacramento is a great idea, especially with the new Kings arena, Raley Field. Oh, and maybe a Major League Soccer team and new stadium. But don’t wreck the Tower Bridge with a trolley car line across the river. The trolley car line should use the railroad bridge to cross the Sacramento River. The streetcars can use adjustable truck rail wheels to compensate for different gauge rail. Let’s build it smart!

Ken Ashworth, Folsom

Obama wants a fall guy

Re Obama and Congress (Editorial cartoon, Feb. 16): Again The Sacramento Bee shows its true Democratic bias by printing Jim Morin’s editorial cartoon. The House of Representatives, now being controlled by the Republican Party, has been put in a Catch-22 position by President Barack Obama, who never makes a decision without first knowing whom to blame when something goes awry.

The first panel of the cartoon shows Obama being criticized by Congress for making one of his many executive actions. The second is Obama asking for a War Powers Authority, when he really doesn’t need it. He is again looking for someone to blame. We need a president whose first concern is the United States of America, its military forces and its citizens, not a consensus taker looking for a fall guy.

Don Quesenberry, Elk Grove

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