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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Death An Expected Part of Cycling?

It is the holiday season again, and this is the time of year when I conduct my annual White Elephant gift exchange. Every year there is at least one student who tries to fudge the rules and cheat just a little bit by giving a second hand gift, or having mom go out and choose something stupid.

The rules are very clear: 1) Buy a gift valued between NTxxxx and NTxxxx. 2) Choose the gift yourself. 3) Choose a gift you wouldn't mind getting yourself.

These simple rules outline a sort of Rawlsian idea of Justice as Fairness and I can often use it as an example to teach some very basic ideas about justice, law and following even the little rules.

I will choose some examples in society where people try to "cheat" just a little bit and decide to break a small rule, that can have dire consequences. I usually choose construction codes and traffic.

Yesterday, a couple days after this explanation, one of my students returned from a one-day absence and I asked where she had been. She had been at her aunt's funeral. Her aunt was only 38 years old and had been riding an old bike to one of the markets.

Someone had decided to blow a red light, because they were in a hurry, and killed her aunty.

As a cyclist this really strikes a nerve. I am even more upset when I think about how the government spends money on cycling tourism over making an overall riding environment that is safer by enforcing the laws and managing safe bikeways.

I am sure this is "bad voodoo", but here is a sample of just some of the stories that have been circulating over the past month or so from the English speaking press.

Taiwan's traffic situation is much worse.