Car drivers take up way more road space than they need since the size of their vehicles are disproportionate to their usefulness. Smart countries aim to limit the number of single occupant vehicles on the road for this reason and to ensure that all people can easily get from one place to the next. Traffic is so bad in some places that countries, like France, are now paying people to give up on their car.
France is working hard to push urban drivers out of cars and towards smaller and more environmentally responsible forms of transportation. In large cities like Paris, reduction in traffic from a switch to bicycles and scooters is perhaps just as important to many residents as the environmental effects.
We recently covered the case of anelectric bicycle company that is switching from vans to cargo e-bikesto increase the number of electric bikes it could deliver each day. The company’s delivery vans were simply too slow in Paris traffic, and switching to cargo e-bikes will help ramp up deliveries by using smaller, quicker, and more efficient vehicles.
Road users always complain that other people are breaking the law, every group of road users accuess another of breaking the most traffic rules. Truckers think cars are the worst, car drivers think cyclists are the worse, and cyclists think all vehicles are bad.
When it comes to an objective analysis of which category of road users are the worst: it’s the car. Bicyclists are the least likely to break laws.
Studies elsewhere in Europe have previously found that the image of the law-breaking “Lycra lout”is wrong. ATransport for London studyinvestigated the “hypothesis that the majority of cyclists ride through red lights” and discovered that 84% of cyclists stopped on reds. The study concluded that the “majority of cyclists obey red traffic lights” and that “violation is not endemic.”
It’s well known that vehicular traffic is deadly no matter where it is and how much of it exists. Even with all the evidence cities in North America put cars first with the occasional protections like bike lanes and pedestrian crossings. What we also need to talk about is the threat cars bring to our lungs.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment have released a report outlining how many health gains come from eliminating cars from our streets. Electric cars aren’t the solution because they are still only focused on single occupants and give off particulate matter when braking.
Recommendations for achieving those benefits include stronger fuel content and vehicle-type rules, restrictions on idling and the use of vegetation barriers along busy roads. Cities can also implement low-emission zones that favour electric vehicles, bicycles and public transit. Ventilation systems in buildings, which became a focus during the pandemic, can play an important role in preventing traffic-related pollutants from infiltrating indoor spaces.
But like many pollution issues of the past century, effective solutions typically require governments to motivate change.
“Problems like this just cannot be tackled at the individual level,” Dr. Green said. “If an individual is concerned about this issue, then they need to demand that their politicians take action.”
Regular readers of this site already know that highways are amongst the worst ways to move people effectively and also a way to ensure urban development is built to cater to cars instead of human beings. Yet, in Ontario the government wants to build a $6 billion highway to promote low-density car-based development and increase the region’s carbon output. The utterly incompetent Conservative party is set on destroying the efforts of environmentalists and farmers to conserve prime farming land.
Building a highway isn’t good. If you want to actually improve transportation in Ontario – or almost anywhere – build better public transit. Vox explores this concept in a recent video.
The concept of induced demand has been around since the 1960s â€” nearly as long as the inception of the federal highway system â€” and has been proven by several studies since. But it still hasnâ€™t stemmed the tide of big, expensive highway infrastructure projects as a Band-Aid to congestion.
A regularly seen warning on roads is that “speed kills” and cities have been slowing traffic around the world to protect pedestrians. However, have you thought about how speed as a concept kills? Over at the tech-worshipping magazine, Wired, they’re running an article that explores the idea that reaching for better speeds is in itself a problem. The need for speed is killing the planet and instead, they argue, we need to strive for efficiency.
Here’s the thing: These ideas for accelerating the future fail to address a far more pressing problem than our stalled speedometers. In the US, transportation accounts for 27 percent of the carbon we release into the air, more than any other sector of the economy. Four-fifths of that comes from cars and trucks. The internal combustion engine is rocketing us deeper into a climate crisis that demands an immediateâ€”and bigâ€”reduction in those emissions. Hyperloops might run on clean electricity, but it would take decades for them to become extensive enough to replace a significant number of cars. Supersonic flight requires engines that use much more fuel, and more carbon, than slower planes. These rosy renderings of effortless whooshing hither and yon distract us from what the problem demands: a way forward that prioritizes not thoughtless speed but calibrated efficiency.