Monday, June 25, 2007

A feature, not a bug...

Cyclists do not have to pay car insurance premiums. To judge from the comment recently dropped on I Bike TO, some people regard that as a bug. I see it as a feature, for two reasons:
  1. Operating a vehicle with a mass of 100 kilograms powered by a 100 watt power source carries less risk to everyone around you than operating a vehicle with a mass of 2000 kilos and a peak power of over 150,000 watts. Cars pose a risk to drivers, passengers, other road users, and even pedestrians. As well as keeping hundreds of auto body shops in business, your (2003) car insurance premiums helped pay the funeral expenses of 2,778 people killed in crashes in this country, and medical and rehabilitation costs for 222,260 people injured. When you drive, you operate a two-tonne battering ram fueled by the explosive equivalent of 800 pounds of dynamite. The risk translates into cost, but even insurance premiums cannot offset all the risks of driving. We should welcome a method of transport which avoids the risks of the car, not resent it for costing less.
  2. The Canadian Charter of Rights identifies personal mobility as a right. Attaching a price tag to a right makes it hard for many people to exercise, and makes it irrelevant to many poor people. In a car-dependent culture, high-speed roads can act as prison walls confining poor communities. A means of personal mobility available to everyone makes everyone free.

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