Letters: At length

Serious bikers are 'dangerous'

I think it's time for someone to express a different point of view in regard to bicycling.

Let's face it, the vast majority of serious bicyclists are an arrogant, self-centered, rude and dangerous bunch. I'm not writing here about the normal bicycle rider who just wants to get from Point A to Point B or who wants to enjoy a good form of exercise in the open air. The people I'm identifying are "bicyclists," almost entirely male; the ones with the funny hats and tight pants, completely disdainful of every one else in the neighborhood.

These folks are the ultimate expression of the "me" generation. They expect anyone in their path to get out of the way. They don't feel it's their responsibility to give warning of their imminent presence; they joke among themselves about the old geezers like me they almost skin with their stealth approach. They whine constantly of the lack of space for their recreation, despite the hundreds of thousands of square feet of scarce blacktop dedicated to their occasional passage. On the sidewalk, they don't feel they have to behave like pedestrians, and on the street, they don't feel they have to behave like motorists. They complain about the proximity of 3,000-pound vehicles when, after all, it is their decision to insert themselves into a risky environment.

Let me ask you. When have you ever heard a mountain climber complain that gravity needed some discipline?

These are not great role models for bravery or heroism. I don't see many contact-sport bicyclists. I don't see police officers, firefighters or soldiers into this pastime of intimidation of others. What I do see is a bunch of belligerent thugs bent on having things their way regardless of the discomfort and danger to others.

What to do about this sorry situation? I don't know. Some law enforcement on speed and warning might help. But probably the most effective solution would be to loosen their pants and let the increased circulation relieve their aggression.

Dick Pischel

Activism turns into negative sport

There was a time when we land-use advocates helped protect communities such as Ashland from projects that don't reflect community values. Home Depots or other big box stores come to mind. Certainly reckless expansion of our city limits; sprawling growth into farmlands is another.

Twenty-two years ago as an architect, I moved to Oregon to attain a Masters of Land-Use Planning because Oregon's land-use laws are the envied model to enhance and preserve lands and our quality of life. This includes resource conservation, desirable development and a balanced economic factor. The first goal on the list is "public participation." Unfortunately in Ashland, this honorable goal No. — is abused to the detriment of our community.

The "at any means" tactics taken by the recent group against property owners or applicants in monthly personal attacks at most any Planning Commission hearings with "technicality" appeals to City Council and LUBA have gone beyond ethical conduct. You might ask, "So what does this have to do with me? I'm not complaining if it stops another house from being built."

The answer is that it dumbs down quality development. I have growing plan drawers of wonderful community-oriented projects I believe Ashland would value but will never see. Low-cost Live-Work Lofts, a recent 23-unit affordable housing project, or a group home for mentally disabled adults, just to name a few. All would have to go in front of our Planning Commission and even if they passed (narrowly), it would be appealed to City Council and then LUBA by the three activists. Since these three have made life living hell for applicants, personally and financially, too many quality projects are dropped.

Half of our planning commissioners and half of our City Council are philosophically opposed to any variance, even when it clearly improves a project from a community-planning standpoint. The same half seem opposed to changing the code to allow better projects to come forward without variance. Too many applicants now realize the odds are so stacked against them that it is foolish to even try to go forward. Each time this happens, Ashland loses a positive project, or gets a "neutered version" that waves the surrender flag at best. Most importantly, Ashland loses every time a quality project or a creative solution is killed because of a few obstructionists.

Raymond Kistler

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