Monday, August 20, 2012

I am not a legal cyclist, but I am an ethical cyclist

Randy Cohen's recent OpEd in the NYTimes, If Kant Were a New York Cyclist, attempts to draw the distinction between legal cycling and ethical cycling. From the article:
I roll through a red light if and only if no pedestrian is in the crosswalk and no car is in the intersection — that is, if it will not endanger myself or anybody else. To put it another way, I treat red lights and stop signs as if they were yield signs. A fundamental concern of ethics is the effect of our actions on others. My actions harm no one. This moral reasoning may not sway the police officer writing me a ticket, but it would pass the test of Kant’s categorical imperative: I think all cyclists could — and should — ride like me.
My style of biking is very similar to Randy's. That is, I tend to roll stops when there is no other vehicle or pedestrian traffic present. Sometimes though, I worry that my actions contribute to the view of cyclists as crazy people who demand equal access to the road and then refuse to follow traffic rules. Writing for, Brent Cohrs, presents a counter point to Randy's NYTimes OpEd. In his piece, What Can Cyclists Do About Our "Rogue" Element?, Brent wonders what responsible cyclists can do about the few rotten apples that besmirch our good name.
Fellow cyclists, it appears we have a serious perception problem in the city of Chicago.

Despite the efforts of Transportation Secretary Gabe Klein, the Active Transportation Alliance, the chainlink, Grid Chicago, and other pro-cycling advocates, certain careless “cyclists” among us threaten the goodwill everyone else has fought so hard to garner. While being lumped together and stereotyped is not fair for reasons too numerous to list, it is a perception problem that we will need to address sooner rather than later.

It is difficult to wage a campaign for the right to share the road safely when some riders we seek to protect exhibit no regard for their own safety or the safety of others.

Gentle readers, what do you think? Is it OK to for cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs? How can cyclists counter our negative image as self-absorbed anarchic tree-huggers?

1 comment:

  1. Boise Does It Best: