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Letters to the editor: Sept. 10 issue

Straight facts, or roundabout fiction?

The ongoing Del Mar roundabout debate is a classic example of California pop philosophy at its worst. At the height of the ferment, one side argued, “We have experts who attest to the rightness of roundabouts.” This side hid their vested interests, and stood firmly with the argument of authority. The other side, also concealing their interests, argued that common sense dictated the irrationality of the roundabouts. Harrumph!

Now, in the current never-say-die stage, some plead for experimentation (let’s try one), others wonder how much gasoline is wasted at stop signs, still others implore us to just get along.

The worst argument is the Bird Rock analogy. It works there, shout the proponents — citing no data whatsoever — so it will work here. But this is a false analogy. Think: A block to the west of those roundabouts is the La Jolla Scenic Route, the preferred path taken by the hundreds of cyclists who traverse Bird Rock regularly. Bicycle versus auto conflicts are thus not even remotely analogous to what our town would experience with roundabouts.

Truth is, this is not a theoretical question open to transports of untethered philosophy. It is an empirical question, well-studied and eminently answerable based on the data — provided the data comes from towns truly analogous to Del Mar.

Full disclosure, my bias — actually, biases: First, as an emergency physician who witnessed bicycle versus auto injuries frequently, my bias is to prevent such injuries. The cyclist never wins. Second, as a 38-year resident of 8th Street, I do not wish to see Stratford become the main bicycle thoroughfare that would obviously result from the proposed roundabouts. Now the facts.

A 270-page report by the Federal Highway Administration (June 2000) on roundabouts in 15 urban towns in western France reveals that bicycle accidents increased as a result of the roundabouts by nearly 100 percent (from 3.7 percent to 7.3 percent). Moreover, the collisions resulted in dramatically more injuries to cyclists at roundabouts. Likewise, in Britain, cyclists fared worse at roundabouts than at signalized intersections. This same federal report cites a Swedish crash model that recommends a validated bicycle safety measure glaringly absent from our previous village plan.

In fairness, auto vs. auto collisions generally were reduced, and the severity of resultant injuries mitigated by roundabouts, according to this report. (Not that auto vs. auto injuries are the driving concern here.)

The bottom line is this. Whether roundabouts will work or not is a matter of fact, not theory. The facts must be relevant to our precise traffic situation. Bias has no place in this assessment. Let’s get our facts straight, put our biases aside, and make a reasoned judgment for the sake of all involved.

My vote is to protect the most vulnerable — those hundreds of cyclists who use the coast highway every day. Due consideration must also be given to the facts concerning cars, pedestrians and motorcycles.

Whatever we decide, let it be based on fair evidence and not wishful philosophy.

Steve Bierman, MD

Del Mar

How can there be a disbanded Public Safety Commission in Solana Beach?

City Manager and Director of Public Safety David Ott called for the special meeting of Oct. 8, 2013, to discuss the value/values of the Public Safety Commission.

Each of the seven appointed commissioners as well as Sheriff Capt. Robert Haley (since retired), Fire Deputy Chief Mike Daigle, and Director of Engineering Mo Sammak all participated in the discussion.

The minutes of this one-hour-plus meeting were subsequently adopted at the meeting of Jan. 14, 2014. At that time, Sheriff Lieutenant Mario Zermeno, Battalion Chief Dismas Abelman were also in attendance. As well, “a recommendation was made to bullet point the highlights from the October 8th meeting for the City Council to review.”

To my knowledge, commissioners did not see said highlights; however some concepts from the minutes included:

• Communication to the community and from the community of concerns and happenings

• Advisory on topics based on public interest

• Recommendations on action items to be brought to Council.

“The commission is an extension (representative) of the community working with staff to bring citizen concerns (what is important to people) to staff’s attention for responsiveness”; “extension to staff, Fire and Police Departments relating to Public Safety issues.”

Our city has seen changes on streets and roads: Santa Helena! Highland! San Andrés! Dell! Lomas Santa Fe! Cedros! 101! Stairways and bluffs! Stevens is coming!

All discussed in collaborative input over time.

Other suggestions made included more exposure of commissioners’ names and having their attendance at community meetings, monthly communication to citizens, use of social media and city’s website.

In consideration of the resources needed, perhaps bi-monthly or quarterly meetings with the full complement of commissioners might suffice.

In their wisdom, San Diego moved from Public Safety and Neighborhood Services to Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods. Kudos to them!

In the beginning, Solana Beach established The Crime Commission which moved on to the Public Safety Commission.

On Aug. 25, 2015, the City Council voted to “sunset” their Public Safety Commission.Shame on them!

Perhaps January will be for new beginnings; perhaps the Public Health and Safety Commission.

Addendum: In the workshop, all commissioners described the commission as “vital.”

Lynn Salsberg, BScN, RN

Solana Beach