Letters to the editor from June 24

Fix city’s ill-timed traffic lights

EDITOR: I noted with interest the front page article on roadways in Petaluma with the highest injury and accident rates: East Washington Street and Lakeville Highway (Lakeville is area’s deadliest roadway” July 10).

While there is no good excuse for speeding and other driving violations, at least part of the reason for these high rates can be attributed to some of the worst traffic and highway engineering on the planet. Ridiculously long or astoundingly short traffic light cycles, asynchronous sequencing of signals particularly on these two streets, and poorly conceived crosswalks contribute to drivers’ frustration and risk-taking. Some, if not all, of these problems could be fixed cheaply with a little brainpower, and without a one-percent increase in our sales tax.

There’s another benefit derived from synchronizing our signals: many folks who live on the east side would go downtown again. Even though, arguably, Petaluma’s best restaurants and most interesting shops are around East Washington and Petaluma Boulevard, I dread driving there. I do my shopping in greater downtown Cotati. I hear Petaluma Market is wonderful; I’ve never been there because of the trip. Last week, I went to the Cavanagh Center to play ping pong (a very enjoyable experience). From Maria and East Washington to the Center took 23, almost 24 minutes. Is it a wonder that drivers become exasperated and break the law?

If, truly, City Public Works Department doesn’t have the expertise or the funds to rationally re-engineer the signals on these two thoroughfares, I have a suggestion: challenge the advanced science and math gifted classes at our local high schools to come up with a plan. And to the city council, stop arguing which tax to raise (“Sparks fly over sales tax,” July 10) and start taking care of issues that you can with the resources that we have.

James Pointer, Petaluma

A real conversation without religion

EDITOR: Although I share in Joy Metten’s real concern about tending to issues regarding morality (“Cheating, religion and the morals of American children,” July 10), I believe that linking ethics with religion in our pluralistic society is neither helpful nor necessary. We have too many examples of members of various religions behaving in horrifying ways for us to be able to assume that religious affiliation or training results in morality. There is plenty of evidence, alas, that religion can even be given as the reason for such behavior.

In the current American spiritual landscape, there is a growing group of atheists called “secular humanists” who specifically commit themselves to rigorous moral principles regarding humanity and the planet. A colleague of mine who is risking her life in Doctors Without Borders is in this group — as is my husband, an atheist whose kind, ethical and generous heart often puts me to shame. They embody what George Washington could not have imagined 200 years ago; folks who are neither religious nor spiritual, but who live from an awareness of their union with and responsibility toward all life.

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