(If you have something you think Montecito should know about, or wish to respond to something you read in the Journal, we want to hear from you. Please send all such correspondence to: Montecito Journal, Letters to the Editor, 1122 Coast Village Circle, Montecito, CA. 93108. You can also FAX such mail to: (805) 969-6654, or E-mail to tim@montecitojournal.net)

Water Rates Up Again

On July 17th at 2 pm, there will be a public meeting of the Montecito Water District to be held at 583 San Ysidro Rd.

As you have probably noticed your water rates were recently raised for the 12th time in 14 years. I urge everyone who is able to attend this public meeting, let the board know that we're sick and tired of this seemingly never-ending cycle of water rate increases. Ask what their plans are to stop water rates from rising. What are they doing to control expenses and entitlements?

If we do nothing, you can count on the board to continually raise rates.

David Strauss

Montecito Water District Customer

Instilling a Cycling Culture

Mark and Adriana Shuman (“Coexisting with Cyclists”, montecitojournal.net/archive/13/24/1121/) are not the only ones concerned about unruly cyclists. I’ve seen motorists yell at cyclists blocking the road. I’ve also heard more sensible residents ask what conciliating solutions could be found.

When I moved to Montecito in 1990, most bicycles in town were stationary. That year, Greg Lemond won the Tour de France for the third time. In 2005, Lance Armstrong heroically won it seven consecutive times and brought American cycling excitement to a crescendo.

Today, cycling's enormous popularity is problematic. Without established local customs, new enthusiasts learned the sport by watching it on television. Just imagine learning to drive by watching NASCAR.

The solution is to instill a local cycling culture adapted to roads we all share. New cyclists must learn the sport’s basic rules of courtesy and safety. For instance, form one line when cars are around; stop when road signs say so.

Cycling clubs have a responsibility to promote such rules and educate new members. Bike shops should provide information to new owners. Concerned residents could request new ordinances and one-line-only stretch of roads (where visibility is limited).

Of course, advanced cyclists in competitive events must break the rules. Then, organizers should request permits and law-enforcement assistance—as many already do.

I wonder if Lance could help by promoting yoga.

Jean-Luc Bourdon

Carpinteria

(Publisher’s Note: When cyclists ride as a large group I often see them zip through Stop signs at Coast Village Road, Cabrillo, San Ysidro, and other four-way intersections. If anyone is to blame it would be the Santa Barbara County Sheriff and Santa Barbara Police Department for not enforcing traffic violations for bicycles. Since bicyclists do have the same rights as vehicles, they should obey the same traffic laws. Imagine having thirty Porsches zoom through the four-way stop at Middle and Coast Village Road. – TLB)

Share the Road

I feel sorry for the Shumans who write that they moved to Montecito two years ago and can't get around his community because cyclists are always on the roads. Cyclists and joggers have been enjoying the roads for generations! Could cyclists ride single file along the road? Yes – and they should. Could motorists obey the speed limits at all times? Yes – and they should. But, Mr. Shuman ought to be reminded, if he hasn't caught on to it yet, one of the reasons why Montecito is such an ideal place to cycle and jog is that it doesn't have even a whiff of the frantic pace of a city. Perhaps that's part of the reason why Mr. Shuman moved his family here too?

Most drivers keep to the speed limits; the roads are quiet; they undulate, even narrow sometimes to give space to majestic old trees. People slow down, wave to strangers, joggers greet cyclists, cyclists greet walkers. I've been a cyclist for more than thirty years and I don't think I "own the road," but I know I have a right to the roads just as he does. I do my part by riding single file, and, Mr. Shuman needs to know this, rarely do I encounter a driver in Montecito who thinks I don't belong and has to honk his horn and speed by. I think it's because a large number of people in the community have a philosophy that sets them apart from other places. It's called share the road. It's a philosophy that allows people without motorized vehicles to utilize the network of roads, be it joggers, cyclists, walkers with dogs, equestrians, or hikers.

There is a very large populace of people living in the area who love to be outdoors and believe that the roads aren't just for cars! As one who has enjoyed this community for years and respects it for its unsurpassed beauty and tranquility, can I pass along some friendly advice to Mr. Shuman? Why not slow down, roll down the windows, inhale the perfumed air, listen to songbirds in the canopy of trees along the roads, smile and maybe wave, but please don't honk. Share the road! What a wonderful example you will be to your children. I guarantee you'll enjoy living here so much more.

Jeri Edwards

Westlake Village

(Publisher’s Note: Sharing the road would be optimum but irresponsible bikers and motorists often change that dynamic. The best thing we can do as bikers and drivers is remain careful when driving/biking on Montecito roads. – TLB)

Maintaining A Safe Environment

The Ortega Hill bike path cannot take you everywhere you need to go. It only connects Jameson to Summerland. If you work at QAD on the hill, you still need to ride on Ortega Hill just to get to work.

I know this because I used to work there and had to ride up that hill every day to work. I had people risk their lives to "teach me a lesson" or just because they were in a hurry. It took me only a few minutes to reach the top. Why risk injury and death for a couple of minutes time?

No one is forced to break the law and pass unsafely. That is a choice you have made yourself. You probably would not make the same choice if the slow vehicle in front of you was construction machinery.

The lawful thing to do is to wait until it is safe. But because so many drivers cannot seem to do this, cyclists will employ taking the lane in order to maintain a safe environment for themselves. A cyclist isn't as big as a tractor, so it is the only way to get the same respect. They will pull over when it is safe to let you pass. I always did on Ortega Hill. Believe it or not, there was space to do so.

Please drive safely.

Diane Soini

Santa Barbara

(Publisher’s Note: Making that choice to maintain a slow speed behind a biker is probably the right decision. I do know that when I bike, I get nervous if the driver won’t pass and trails right behind me. – TLB)