Letters to the Editor, September 1, 2021

Cyclist catastrophes

I appreciated the letter in the Union, by Tricia Riel Saunders, about rogue cyclists in the Arcata Community Forest. I have harped on City officials for years to resolutely and formally address this clear and present danger. With the exception of a couple of obscure signs recently posted in the Forest, which I appreciate, the City’s response has been only to adopt and gravel the illegal trails made by cyclists, and to install a “bike repair station.” These “improvements” act as signaling: Cyclists, this forest is yours, have at it.

And they do. Only a small minority of cyclists speed dangerously in the forest, and the safe riders fear and loathe the rogue riders as much as I do. (So do equestrians, who can be severely injured or killed by a horse that is spooked by a missile heading their way.) But there are enough dangerous cyclists (their numbers appear to be increasing) that it doesn’t take a prognosticator to predict that someone will soon be seriously injured or even killed by a cyclist. 

What’s doubly irritating is the arrogance with which rogue cyclists pass others. Doesn’t matter who it is — adult, child, dog, horse, fellow cyclist — they don’t slow, and if you yell at them they laugh or worse. It’s as if other people don’t exist, or don’t matter—like these guys (and of course it’s virtually always guys) live inside their own video game, or they’re having a Dungeons and Dragons flashback.

About a month ago I was walking down one of the steep dirt roads in the forest when a cyclist passed on my left with no warning while maintaining a speed of at least 25 miles an hour. He banked a bend ahead of me and disappeared. A minute later up the hill came a family of four: mom, dad, and two boys of about three and five years old. The younger boy was crying, the parents alternately ashen with fear and red with ire. They told me the cyclist had come within inches of one of the children, and that the cyclist didn’t slow even after the near disaster. Only luck had saved the child. There was no time for the cyclist to change course, nor for the child to get out of the way. He could have been killed. When they yelled at him he let out a woo-hoo, then blithely continued at high speed around yet another blind turn.

I frequently encounter cyclists such as this guy. Not every time, of course, but enough that I can never fully relax in the forest, which negates one of the most important qualities of the experience. Something has to change.

What will it take to rein in the rogue cyclists? For one, local cycling organizations, whose members have put significant energy into improving trails and securing access to pretty much every segment of the Forest, must get involved. Visual human presence does a lot. Cycling safety volunteers could wear identifiable vests, create large signs, and, on the dirt roads, install and clearly mark speed trenches. The trenches would be outfitted, on the embankment side, with an arced go-around that allows cyclists traveling at safe speeds (and those heading uphill) to avoid the trench. Go too fast and you eat the bank. Most single-track trails (where there is no getting out of the way) should be converted to pedestrian-only, leaving to cyclists a couple of excellent single-track options, including the wonderful Arcata Ridge Trail.

If nothing at all is done to rein in rogue cyclists, then unfortunately the only solution would be to ban bicycles from entering the Community Forest. As someone who frequently rides in the Forest, and has done so since the 1980s, I would feel that loss. But I’d rather lose my right to ride there than see a parent lose a child.

Greg King

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The trashiest of trails

I have hiked and biked many trails and roads in northern Humboldt and have noticed lately, much to my dismay and frankly disgust, how trashy our environment has become. Plastic bags, disposable and recyclable containers, PPE, fast food cups, and those 1 oz. plastic or glass hard alcohol bottles are everywhere. 

This seemingly infinite assortment of intentionally and unintentionally discarded junk just keeps piling up and most of us do not seem at all concerned. But, I for one am and, actually, quite disturbed and embarrassed by it. 

What does it imply when a community of humans casually defiles their environment and then does almost nothing to clean it up? This is an especially important question since we live by the Pacific Ocean. A lot of this detritus blows out to sea to poison and kill its creatures. 

Wake up Humboldt Citizens! We and the rest of our species are destroying Mother Earth in many ways. If we do not correct our transgressions we and many other species will cease to survive.

In response to this, I propose that governmental and private groups organize, collectively and cooperatively, weekly volunteer clean-up projects all over the County. 

Sure, every now and then we hear about a beach clean-up. That’s great, but the problem has gotten far too immense for occasional efforts to have any significant impact. We need weekly, year round volunteer clean-up events and we need them now!

Martin Smukler

War is good business

In his farewell address to the nation, President Dwight Eisenhower gave a warning:

 “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government... Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

 At the end of WWII, it was apparent that big arms dealers made a hundreds of millions of dollars. The industrial companies went on to make more and more millions in rebuilding most of Europe. And so it goes, on and on.

 Those of us who fought against the draft, and the “Police Action” in Viet Nam, thought we were having an effect on the Political Landscape, when in reality the reason the US got out of Viet Nam is that it was no longer PROFITABLE. Because the North Vietnamese controlled the land our construction companies were not able to reap the rewards in the re-building. The US went into Indochina in 1955 and were forced out in April of 1975, just 7 months shy of 20 years. For our troubles we had 55,000 casualties and thousands of soldiers who returned home never to be the same again. I lost 10% of my high-school graduating class and another 10% to the effects of Napalm and Agent Orange.

 Now we are at it again. In theory the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001 to find and punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. In reality the Bush Presidents traded American Lives for Oil. In 2011, with the death of Osama Bin Laden, the US should have withdrawn from the Middle East. But by that time the construction and logistics companies like Bechtel and Halliburton and the big security firms like Blackwater were running the show. Now that the Afghani tribes have taken over, and destroyed almost all of what was built with US money, it is time to leave.

 If there had been 24/7 news coverage, like there is now, the withdrawal from Saigon would have looked exactly as the withdrawal from Kabul looks today. Talking heads all have opinions about what should have been done and what has to be done. But they do not have to make decisions or take the heat. Aren’t we lucky?

 I do wonder why Americans stayed. They were told a month ago to get out. The only reason I can think of for them to stay is that they are tasked with staying and spying. I do have a few friends who stayed in SE Asia and just faded into the jungle. They went to Laos then up into Cambodia and really did not come home until the 1990s. Is that what is happening now?

 Thank you for listening.

Jan Phelps

Fascists on Facebook

A pro-Trump White supremacist, partisan Republican fan of Fox News from Grover, North Carolina drove his mud-caked pickup truck up onto the sidewalk of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on August 19, 2021 where he parked for five hours.

All the while, he filmed himself on Facebook live-streaming his right-wing political bomb threats against President Biden, Democrats and the residents of D.C., including this pro-Trump terrorist filming his apparently inert, improvised explosive devices all on Facebook for any cross-burning QAnon crackpot to copy. 

For some reason, this 49-year-old attempted bomber by the name of Floyd Ray Roseberry seemed to individually personify traitor Trump’s political base as it’s become known generally: a violent, racist, low-IQ, neo-Confederate numbskull who is completely out of touch with reality and is in desperate need of psychiatric medication, much like the deranged and delusional dimwit Donald Trump himself.

I don’t know if it was the brain-damaged sounding, slow Southern drawl with which this White supremacist spoke, or if it was Mr. Roseberry’s bulbous shaved head and unnecessarily large pickup truck with unnecessarily large tires, but if one were to hypothetically be able to look up a picture of the average Trump supporter in the dictionary… a photo of Floyd the barber from Mayberry (I mean Grover), North Carolina is surely what one would find.

 And as far as Floyd’s idiotic insistence live on Facebook that “The South shall rise again,” please! I’ve watched Gone With the Wind too, but if you’re actually taking your American history lessons from a pro-Confederacy, pro-slavery cinematic crapfest that was so racist (even for it’s time) that it actually portrayed Black folks as happy to be enslaved, well then you’re probably too racist and clueless to be cognizant at all.

 Speaking of clueless racists, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently contracted COVID-19 after spending the past several months issuing dictatorial edicts from the Governor’s Mansion in Austin against local mask mandates and blocking other necessary public health safety measures, instead of repairing Texas’ broken power grid before the upcoming winter. 

 Hopeless, hapless Gov. Abbott and his pro-Russian Republican comrade from Canada, Rafael “Ted” Cruz, should both plan on making another mid-winter escape to Cancun, Mexico in the midst of what is sure to be another disastrously deadly power grid shutdown season in Texas. Both Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Cancun Cruz will no doubt continue to complain about law schools teaching “critical race theory” as a manufactured distraction from their own personal political corruption and their continuing criminal negligence.

Jake Pickering

Vaccination works

We always admire your well-reasoned and timely editorials and clever and well-drawn political cartoons, but this time you both get a triple A+. The cartoon was clever, creative, and so “right on.” We never weigh in on current events, but this time we felt compelled to commend you both.

The pandemic did not have to happen if everybody had immediately taken the recommended and obviously self-evident precautions to prevent spread and save their own lives. And society could put an end to it by getting vaccinated and continuing with behavioral precautions. After all, a parasite goes extinct without hosts to infect. The sooner we ALL do this, the sooner society can get back to normal.

Smallpox was eliminated world-wide because of mass vaccinations, and polio has been nearly exterminated. Both were threats in our childhood, and we had to get vaccinated before entering first grade. Nobody put up a fuss – we were so thankful for the vaccines.

Again, thank you.
Jim and Virginia Waters
North Trinidad

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