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Cycling and snow - John C. Kirk

Jan. 19th, 2013

12:28 am - Cycling and snow

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As many people have noticed (and mentioned), it's been snowing today in London. I normally cycle as part of my commute, but when I got up this morning I considered walking to the bus stop instead. Still, I try not to be a "fair weather cyclist" so I took the bike out, and it turned out to be a surprisingly good day for cycling. The council have gritted the main roads, so as long as I stayed about 1 metre from the kerb (always a good idea) I wasn't in any danger of slipping over. Also, there were far fewer cars than usual, and the cars I did see were going slower than usual, so it was all quite pleasant. I only had one near miss, and the driver apologised non-verbally (he put his hand up inside the car, and flashed his hazard lights after he'd gone past). Some of my work colleagues said that I was mad, but I think I already have a reputation for being a bit eccentric.

When I left work tonight, I cycled towards the station. I went past a couple of pedestrians, who called out and asked me for directions to a particular street. I slowed down to talk to them, but didn't recognise the name, so I said "Sorry" and kept going. I do actually carry an A-Z with me, but it would be a faff to take my gloves off and start flicking through it, and it would take long enough that I'd be in danger of missing my train. I felt a bit guilty afterwards, but I rationalised it to myself by saying "If I knew where it was, I would have told them." Just as I said that, I noticed that the next junction included the street in question. Bum. The couple in question were now going in the opposite direction to where they wanted to be, but if I went back to find them then I'd be going in the wrong direction for my train. On the other hand, if I kept going then I wouldn't have to lie about it to them, or anything like that, because it's unlikely that our paths will cross again. So, I went past that junction and kept going.

About 2 seconds later, my conscience got the better of me. Since the road was empty, it was easy enough to do a U-turn and catch up with the pedestrians, and they were very grateful. Another U-turn, and I was back on course. I got to the station just in time to see my train leave. Ah well, I caught the next one, so no harm done.

I doubt that a situation like this will ever be considered a great moral dilemma in philosophy classes. However, I think it's interesting that I struggle more with temptation when the stakes are lower. Anyway, I've passed the "Would my younger self be horrified at the person I've turned into?" test for another day.

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