City cycling is immoral and unethical (but itâ€™s not illegal)….
By Dr. Randolph Haluza-DeLay, Associate Professor of Sociology at The Kingâ€™s University College
I used to be a big advocate of cycling as a form of transportation. Ideally itâ€™s cheap, environmental â€“friendly. It keeps cars off busy roads and for a place like where I work, which is poorly served by public transit, might be a good alternative. Plus, cycling is good for fitness and I have a hard time finding time for gym workouts so working out while doing something I have to do (getting to or from work) makes sense.
With some other health and urban environmental researchers Iâ€™ve even written an op-ed on the topic for the Edmonton Journal . It appeared on the Ideas page back in May 2011: â€śBroad changes, not just helmets, key to bike safety: Improving roads better approach than laws that create barrier to cycling.â€ť http://www2.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/ideas/story.html?id=82a68092-b271-4aba-a705-4a22ac74a12c&p=2 Although I emailed every city councillor, I heard back from only one.
For me, itâ€™s a 17 minute bike ride between home and work. Itâ€™s a 9 minute car ride at the best of times. During rush hour I beat the cars by bike. Itâ€™s a 23 minute busride once a rush hour and up to 90 minutes at another time. So biking is a no brainer, so to speak.
But my kids have challenged that it is Immoral for me to bike to work.
Theyâ€™ve heard me complain about unsafe streets and unsafe drivers. I have to ride 50th Street from Millwoods to Kingâ€™s. There are no side streets or trails and not even sidewalks; 75th Street would be no better. So I am riding right with the traffic and in the 9 years Iâ€™ve worked at Kingâ€™s traffic has increased quite dramatically. Thereâ€™s been lots of building along 50th Street, and truck traffic is greater too.
I used to be a rockclimbing instructor, backcountry skier, and whitewater rafting guide â€“ the adrenalin-fuelled focus of city cycling matches those activities. I worry for my safety. And the kids say â€śif you get hurt, because you bike but the roads arenâ€™t safe for cycling, you are choosing to put yourself in harmâ€™s way, and thatâ€™s wrong!â€ť
Itâ€™s wrong that my kids might be without a healthy father, should an accident happen. Glad they love me!
So thatâ€™s the question â€“ cycling to work is a set of tradeoffs , mostly the public goods of environmental and congestion benefits, but at increased personal risk. And the consequences would be borne by my family.
What do you think? Is it immoral to cycle if the streets are less safe than they could be? Is this a moral issue?
(By the way, in the current version of the Edmonton city Budget, there is no money budgeted for â€śActive Transportâ€ť like improving cycling or walking as means of getting around the city.)