Chapel Hill: Opinion

The conversation, Oct. 19: Martha Petty, Betty Buller Whitehead, Don Evans, Meg Midyette, Sally S.K. McIntee

Don’t blame citizens group

This is in response to Eric Hyman’s criticism of the petition mentioned in the article “Stancil defends fiscal management” (CHN, regarding the costs of consultants to the Central West Focus Area Steering Committee.

In my 24 years in Chapel Hill, I had not been involved in a planning discussion, but Central West was different because I live fairly close to the area. I had a good opportunity to observe that process.

Mr. Hyman focuses on the increase in the number of committee meetings required to respond to the desire of members of the public to have input in the process, but the petition does not blame Mr. Stancil for increasing the number of committee meetings, but for the arrangement with the consultants.

Mr. Stancil hired the consultants and settled the terms of their employment four months before the committee was seated. It was Mr. Stancil, not the committee, who determined that the consultants would attend additional committee meetings, and it is not at all clear that the consultants contributed much to the process. They offered their own plan without any input from either the committee or the public, and without even walking the property in question. Theirs was not the plan the committee adopted. The committee went with a plan that was quite different from the consultants’ plan, thanks to the input it received from citizens – input it received in great part because of the efforts of the signers of the petition to ensure that citizens’ voices were heard.

In short, the “extra” citizen feedback must have been valuable to the committee, since it relied on that input, and the costs incurred to pay the consultants resulted from agreements made and actions taken by Mr. Stancil without the committee’s participation.

Martha Petty

Chapel Hill

More dedicated bike lanes needed

Regarding “Cyclist killed in accident lived active, friendly life,” (CHN, ):

This is very sad. We need dedicated bike lanes not shared with vehicle traffic or pedestrians. Since that won't happen any time soon, bicyclists – when allowed to ride on sidewalks – should still ride on the side of the street going with traffic.

If a car pulls to an intersection, the instinct is to look first (left) to the direction from which traffic is coming and determine the speed of vehicles, bikes, pedestrians before pulling out.

When looking right, there is no oncoming traffic – just pedestrians – and it can be quite startling to have a bike suddenly appear from out of nowhere. It happens to me regularly where there is a stone wall partially obscuring the view of the sidewalk at the corner of Davie Circle and Franklin Street.

Betty Buller Whitehead


Self-driving doubts

Regarding Roger Waldon’s column “Here come self-driving cars,” (CHN, ):

With driver-less cars, it could be done right, and it can be done wrong.

For example, how do pedestrians cross the street? Do the cars stop for any pedestrian? Or just the ones in the limited numbers of crosswalks? Do the cars have a way of making sure they don’t side-swipe a cyclist on the road edge? How does the car know how to pass a cyclist?

Then there is the problem with any private vehicle, How do we save energy if the fuel of the future is moving both a person and a thousand pound vehicle, as opposed to moving just one person on a mostly full bus?

Right now, in Chapel Hill, the choice in fuel is between gasoline from oil and electricity from coal. I hope we can make it a priority to develop a non-carbon-emissions ways of moving people around. The best way for people to transport themselves is to live close enough to walk or bicycle.

Sally S. K. McIntee

via chapel

Sci-fi fantasy

Regarding Roger Waldon’s column “Here come self-driving cars,” (CHN, ):

Say, wasn’t self-driving cars what they were predicting at the 1939 World's Fair?

But seriously, encouraging sprawl? Twice as many car trips? More working in Chapel Hill but living out-of-town and therefore having no skin in the tax game?

The city doesn't need some sci-fi fantasy of a rosy future to address its congestion problems – it needs a Town Council that won't rubber stamp every development plan that comes up.

Don Evans

via chapel

Headline assumption

I rejoiced Friday, Oct. 10, when I learned that marriage equality had finally come to North Carolina. I was upset however, to see the Wednesday headline, “Gay and lesbian couples wed.”

Was each couple asked about their sexual orientation and/ or gender identity, or was it simply assumed? Opposite sex marriages are not necessarily “straight marriages,” just as same-sex marriages are not necessarily “gay marriages.”

The continued use of the phrase “gay marriage,” as well as the assumption that both partners in a same-sex couple identify as gay or lesbian, only contributes to bisexual and transgender erasure.

Meg Midyette

Chapel Hill