In response to the recent letter writers who think that cyclists should be required to have operators' licenses: First, I hope they realize there's a difference between a "cyclist" and some teenager on a BMX carelessly crossing an intersection. "Cyclists," like myself, use the street the way a car uses the street and most of us do our best to keep from getting hit. I have to admit I've never been to Santa Cruz, but in all the years I've lived in Orange County, L.A. and Bakersfield, I've continued to observe a "Please don't hit me" attitude among cyclists.

Seriously, how much damage are we gonna do? It's not a 2,000-pound vehicle barreling down the street at 60 mph. If we get hit, we're the ones that get hurt. If people are worried that one of us might put a dent in one's Mercedes or get blood on one's windshield, slow down a bit and pay attention.

Second, the agency that would have to be created (by the government ) to govern such licensing would be costly. More government control and something else to spend our taxes on is a good idea.

Most cyclists also own cars and pay the same fees and taxes as noncyclists. A lot of us ride bikes because we want to. Not because we don't have cars.

In conclusion, try getting on a bicycle and joining us "self-styled" and "privileged" people, as one writer called us, for this "free lunch" we're all having. You might enjoy the exercise.

Paul Blakely