Randy Cohen on the Ethics of Driving in Transit-Rich NYC

On Friday we asked why the Times editorial staff chose to call for ticketing cyclists after forgoing a few good opportunities to weigh in on the need for stepped-up enforcement of dangerous driving. Lest you think the Times just won’t publish opinions that note the hazards of driving or criticize car culture, have a listen to the latest Podcast from the Ethicist, Randy Cohen:

[audio: http://podcasts.nytimes.com/podcasts/2010/12/16/17ethicist.mp3]

Cohen refers to two core principles to frame his list of ten reasons why driving in Manhattan is a bad choice:

First: Ethics involves the effects of our actions on others. There can be solitary sin. You can sit alone at home and covet your neighbor’s ox. But if you want to be unethical, you must  get up, get dressed, go out, and steal the ox. Ethics isn’t ethics until other people are involved. When you drive in Manhattan, you harm those other people. A lot.

Next: Ethics involves actions that are volitional. If you live in Atlanta or Phoenix or Dallas and you want to buy a newspaper or visit a friend or hold a job, you must drive. Here in Manhattan, you can walk to the corner for a paper, take the train to Brooklyn to visit your pals, bike to work. In Manhattan, driving is done by choice.

As for the choices we make while cycling, Cohen gives a great explanation of the wrong-ness of wrong-way riding in this Streetfilm from earlier this year.

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The Trafficist: An Interview With Randy Cohen

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"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."    –– Randy Cohen, "The Ethicist" Open Planning Project Executive Director Mark Gorton recently interviewed New York Times Magazine’s "The Ethicist," Randy Cohen, on the […]