Friday, November 30, 2007

StreetFilms: Transportation Ethics


Clarence Eckerson at StreetFilms presents this provocative conversation between Mark Gorton, executive director of the Open Planning Project, and Randy Cohen, author of The Ethicist column in the New York Times Magazine and occasional commentator for NPR. As shown in this interview, Cohen is also an intelligent and articulate voice for Livable Streets.

I'm typically wary of ethical/moral arguments against car culture. Certainly there is a personal responsibility argument to make against non-conscious automobility. However, bicyclists win few friends with a self-righteous posture. Our project is to push public officials for more comprehensive, inclusive, sustainable, and community-centered transportation systems. We shouldn't simply be scolds.

Most Americans don't wake up and say "I think I'll pollute the air, endanger children and seniors, deposit toxic residue, create noise, consume petroleum, contribute to global climate change..." No, most Americans wake up and say "I'm off to work." And thanks to decades of automobile-centric government policies, they have few reasonable choices but to drive. Transforming the priorities of transportation policy is our political project.

This interview is provocative, without plunging into off-putting moralism. Cohen suggests that policy-makers have the primary ethical responsibility to favor community over private interests. And there's a great segment illustrating the rampant criminal abuse of public parking privileges by New York City officials.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

1 comment:

Fritz said...

I really really really like Cohen's presentation on the ethics of transportation for the reasons you note. He presents the topic without too much of the "us vs them" mentality that too often plagues people like me. :-)