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Letters to the Editor

Tuesday November 21, 2000

Bicyclists should follow rules of the road 


Jonathan Cass, a “Southside cyclist,” in arguing against traffic signals on Durant and Bancroft (“Southside Redevelopment to Focus on Traffic, Housing,” Friday, 11/17) is quoted as saying, “Traffic signals are a way to move automobile traffic. That area is dominated by foot and cycle traffic and that should be our first concern.” 

It is striking to me as a resident, property owner, and former teacher not unsympathetic to student concerns, that Cass views traffic signals as exclusively designed for automobile traffic and, therefore, unrelated to his cycling on Berkeley’s streets. It helps to explain, but does not excuse, the disregard which cyclists throughout the city show for traffic regulations, and the faith they appear to have that drivers will protect them from injury by being extra alert and obeying those regulations when the cyclists do not.  

Safety is my first concern when I drive, but not just for those on foot or on cycles. I want a city where we all protect each other by obeying traffic signals, signs, crosswalk conventions, and the courteous rules of traffic coexistence. Probably Cass does too, but his apparent assumption that the burden is exclusively on drivers needs to be given some thought.  


Charles Schiller 



Associated Press homogenizes news coverage 


Eight years ago I made the acquaintance of a French graduate student in journalism who was doing a year of study abroad. One evening I performed the melancholy task of educating him about the nature of American newspapers. I sat him down with copies of the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, the San Jose Mercury News, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, and showed him how most of their 'stories' were exactly the same wire service reports, and most of their space was devoted to advertisements. So much for the American free press. He was as amused as I was dismayed. (The situation is quite different in France, where quite a wide spectrum of views are represented in the national press.) 

I am writing to express my dismay at the recent proliferation of “Associated Press” stories in the Daily Planet. These reports (or “press releases,” as they should properly be termed) are to be found in nearly identical form in every ‘major American newspaper’ locally and nationwide. There is absolutely no reason for the Daily Planet to print them too. It is particularly disheartening to witness this incipient transformation when the Daily Planet was beginning to serve a valuable role as a local source of local news and as a forum for local discussion of local issues. Filling this ‘niche,’ you offer an important service to the community. Reprinting press releases you become one more organ of the American un-free press and serve no one. Please reconsider your course of action. 


Jim Powell