Randy Cohen, the man who sorts out readers' ethical dilemmas in his NY Times Magazine feature column The Ethicist, weighs in on the automobile's impact on urban life.
"Ethics primarily concerns itself with the effect of our actions on other people. Especially when you live close together in a city it's very easy for one person's actions to have a profound effect on another... and it seemed to me that what was significantly undermining the ordinary daily happiness and health and economic life of both me and my fellow New Yorkers was the private car."
One of the things I don't get is when a cyclist is denegrated in traffic.
I guess it's just the selfishishness of the driver coming out, but I think it's clear cyclists on the road is better for everyone, but maybe not for that particular driver at that particular time.
I get the impression people recognizing one less car is better for traffic and they also probably know that the exercise bicycling provides is something people know they should do but rarely get around to but mostly, people are still making individual choices that they think are best for them, even if they're not.
Cyclists should do better by behaving responsibly and not selfishly as well because a selfish cyclist doesn't help an already dicey social acceptance bargain (after all, what's a more American cultural icon than an automobile?) by acting in a way that gives reason to not accept cycling as a good social goal. Maybe that's one of the reasons why cyclists are so easily denegrated.