Sustainable Transportation means using a variety of modes to get from point A to point B. Walking and bicycling are among the most sustainable modes of transportation, and EVs are more fuel efficient than gasoline cars. In addition, smart growth planning emphasizes the use of multi-modal transportation. Taking into account these factors, sustainable transportation is important for the future health of our communities and the environment.
Bicycles and walking are the most sustainable modes of transportation
Walking and cycling are two of the most sustainable modes of transportation available. They produce zero emissions, require little space, and are extremely cost-effective both in terms of direct user costs and public infrastructure costs. Moreover, walking and cycling are a great way to get a workout and stay fit.
In addition to their environmental benefits, active mobility – walking and cycling – also has significant health benefits. A decline in physical activity is causing major economic and health consequences around the world. Therefore, it is critical to invest in infrastructure and promotion of active transportation to encourage more people to use this means of transportation. Unfortunately, investment in cycling and walking infrastructure is often far below what is needed to support this sustainable form of transport.
EVs are up to three times more efficient than gas-powered cars
EVs can achieve efficiencies of up to three times greater than conventional gas-powered cars. This is primarily due to a higher conversion rate of electrical energy to mechanical power. In addition, EVs have lower lifecycle emissions. They also cost less to operate and maintain than conventional gas-powered vehicles. On average, an EV costs one-third less to operate per mile than a gasoline-powered vehicle.
To encourage more people to buy electric vehicles, the U.S. launched a national EV initiative under President Obama in 2009. The flagship federal incentive remains a $7,500 tax credit. Additionally, dozens of states offer incentives for purchasing EVs, ranging from free parking to waiving vehicle registration fees. In some states, incentives for EVs are even higher.
Smart growth favors multi-modal transportation planning
Multimodal transportation planning can provide significant benefits to cities and communities. It has the potential to reduce costs associated with automobile transportation. In addition to the increased convenience and effectiveness of public transportation, multimodal systems can also reduce environmental impacts and congestion. However, many challenges persist. Among these, the lack of proven data on the benefits of multimodal transport makes multimodal planning difficult to implement.
Smart growth encourages a variety of transportation options for residents and visitors. It supports transportation diversity by promoting walkability, biking, public transportation, delivery services, and telework. It also favors high standards of maintenance and livability. Smart growth is becoming a trend in many cities and neighborhoods.
Air pollution is a major problem associated with unsustainable transport
The main health hazards from vehicular emissions are nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM). PM is defined as any particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less. These particles are harmful to the human respiratory, vascular, and neurological systems, and their concentrations in the atmosphere can significantly influence health. Air pollution has an effect on nearly every person, and it is estimated that more than 90% of the population in Europe is exposed to levels of outdoor air pollution that exceed WHO air quality guidelines.
Transportation is an enormous contributor to air pollution and climate change. It also has devastating effects on ecosystems. Transportation represents over a quarter of world energy consumption and accounts for almost 23% of energy-related CO2 emissions. In addition, more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and this proportion is expected to grow even higher. By 2050, urban populations will increase by 2.5 billion, with more than half of that growth taking place in Asia and Africa. Vehicle numbers are also expected to increase three or fourfold in developing countries.