Letters for the issue of September 29-October 5, 2004 

Transit bureaucrats, activists, and other residents of the East Bay rise up to demand the conversion of Telegraph and International to bus-only.

"Devin Satterfield's Culture of Chaos," Feature, 9/1
Like my bad brother
I performed at Liminal as a guitarist, helped construct the two gallery walls that are up on wheels, and lived at Liminal during a time you aptly title the "culture of chaos." I am pictured inside with a group of Oakland artists that created massive undertakings of material and craftsmanship under the duress of salvaged material and little outside support beyond the Liminal space that existed.

Liminal was a refuge for artists, where the brain could contemplate creation, the process. Liminal was a threshold of ideas that would manifest. People migrated slowly in and out like campers around a stream. Devin embodies the diversity of spirits that sought refuge from the world of creation at the Liminal space. He pursued the arena of creating, the process of craft and the substance/sustenance of performance, and in the chaos defining the arena, a space in the form of constant formation, a Liminal space that we all held so precious. Beyond every misperception lurked the invisible forces at the Liminal, people of vision beyond their station, all fulcrums churning for leverage on the stage-door real estate, a wise man is not judged by what he knows alone but by how he incorporates the unknown forces into his process. Wisdom is the ultimate praise for a vision like DEVIN who is like a brother who broke my car, to me, well rounded, all of heaven and hell.

I hope Liminal keeps its doors open and fixes its fan, so that more people can learn to share a wilderness community space.
Dan Laks, Oakland

"Careening Out of Control," City of Warts, 9/8

Imagine no gridlock
I found it absurd that Chris Thompson demands his "right" to an easy drive down Telegraph and International while ignoring the needs of those who do not, or cannot, drive. Many East Bay residents rely on public transportation to get to work, school, healthcare, and childcare, and a quicker bus ride means expanded access to these opportunities as well as more time with their families.

AC Transit's proposed Bus Rapid Transit project along Telegraph and International does not "ignore the lessons" from their San Pablo project, as Thompson claims, but will actually bring a similar service to the corridor by 2006. Rapid service includes fewer stops, distinctive bus shelters, traffic lights that stay green for buses, and real-time bus arrival information. AC Transit is hoping to eventually install bus-only lanes along parts of the route, but cities and communities will have to agree on any improvements before a final decision is made.

Instead of decrying the loss of thirty seconds during his drive down Telegraph, Thompson should imagine himself relaxing on a Rapid bus while it breezes down the road, leaving him more time to research his next article.
Amber Crabbe, Transportation and Land Use Coalition, Oakland

Did he buy a Hummer?
I don't know where Chris Thompson looked for information on AC Transit's Express Bus funding, but if he had looked at page 10 of the Measure B Expenditure Plan, he would see that the $18,000,000 of Tier 1 money for these projects was allocated to either San Pablo Avenue or Telegraph Avenue. There is much more additional Tier 2 money allocated for these and other projects. I don't know why Chris Peeples and Jim Gleich didn't tell him this, since they were on the Expenditure Plan Committee. Undoubtedly it was from being blindsided by an unprepared reporter.

I also don't understand why Mr. Thompson is so upset with the idea of giving back some of the lanes that were originally dedicated to transit back for that use, especially when that use would be much more flexible than it originally was. Most of the streets in the country are dedicated solely to automobiles. Undoubtedly more people travel the Telegraph/International corridor in buses than do in cars. What is the problem with even discussing giving a mere third or less of the street back to the majority of the people who use it? Has he bought a new double-wide Hummer? Or does Mr. Thompson just think the people who use buses are the new minority for him to kick around?
Bruce De Benedictis, Oakland

Consider the benefits
I was surprised and distressed to read Chris Thompson's sweeping criticism of AC Transit's proposal to have dedicated bus lanes on Telegraph and International Boulevard. He seems to disregard the presumed purpose of dedicated lanes: to make bus transit faster, more efficient, and more reliable. Yes, this will impede car traffic, but that's just the "cost" half of a cost/benefit analysis; a more thoughtful critique would have weighed both.

While it may be true that "the concept has barely been tested in cities around the country," this concept has been implemented with much success in cities around the world. A great example is Curitiba, Brazil, a city that's seen as an exemplar for sustainable urban planning for many reasons, one of which is its exceptional public transit system. In the mid-1970s, Curitiba implemented a ground-breaking bus system, one of whose central attributes is its dedicated lanes. The result: the bus system runs extraordinarily efficiently and, although the city has more cars per capita than any other city in the nation (besides Brasilia) 75 percent of all commuters use the bus. Due to this, air pollution levels are some of the lowest in the country. Traffic has diminished by 30 percent since 1974, although population has doubled.

It seems odd to me that Mr. Thompson would bemoan buses getting in the way of cars and creating traffic; a good public transportation system has the goal of making its use so attractive that fewer people commute by car altogether. If dedicated lanes encourage this long-term goal, so much the better.
Kristin Traicoff, Berkeley


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