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Transportation faster  smarter  greener  cities need fewer cars | Upload Plug in

Faster, Smarter, Greener: Cities Need Fewer Cars

by: Moon Apple
faster  smarter  greener  cities need fewer cars | Upload

The specter of our cities choking with unhealthy air has prompted numerous governments to transition to electric cars. Their concerns are well-founded, even if their proposals fall short of what is needed.

Faster, Smarter, Greener: Cities Need Fewer Cars

Over the past four decades, cars have become far less polluting. Their fuel efficiency has practically doubled, and their tailpipe emissions have been reduced by more than 95%. Yet cities such as London and Paris are still battling smog and pollution. For decades, California has demanded the toughest emission standards in the US, yet Los Angeles heads the list of US cities for bad air quality. Moving to all-electric car fleets will be a positive step, albeit an inadequate measure.

areal-from-traffic-on-roads
Photo by Denys Nevozhai Unsplash. Shanghai interchange.

Recommended: Self-Driving Cars Can Fix Phantom Traffic Jams

Urban Architecture: Faster, Smarter, Greener  

  • Our urban mobility architecture will have to undergo fundamental change. In Boston, more than 40% of cars in rush-hour traffic have only one occupant. We envelop each occupant, weighing an average of 70-80kg (11-13st), in a package that weighs 20 times their weight to achieve mobility. It takes a lot of energy to move that mass.
  • Even considering the far greater efficiency of an electric vehicle, zero tailpipe emissions do not mean zero carbon emissions for the travel. Today over 50% of the electricity generated in the UK and over 65% of electricity generated in the US comes from fossil fuels. Our carbon footprint will improve by barely a quarter if we all switch to electric vehicles.
  • And there are other aspects to be concerned about. We currently demand considerable amounts of valuable urban land for roads. London allocates almost 24% of its land area to roads and supporting infrastructure. In many US cities, this can be as high as 40%.

Red-and-white-curved-lines
Photo by Robin Pierre Unsplash. 

Recommended: Green Hydrogen By Hyundai, Toyota, And Honda

Cities Need Fewer Cars

The World Health Organisation has estimated that a city needs to allocate at least nine square meters of green space for each resident. Yet many fast-growing cities worldwide are making do with less than two square meters after allocation of ever more precious land to feed the insatiable appetite for roads and parking.
These serve as invisible subsidies to car users even as public transport systems face hostile scrutiny of their more visible finances. A World Bank study points out that most surface streets and roads in urban areas are underpriced, even after the taxes imposed on fuel sales are considered.

And, it appears, even this does not solve the problem. As Los Angeles, which offers more road capacity per capita than any other large US city, has discovered, adding roads and highways merely encourages more people to use private transport modes. The average Los Angeles commuter wastes almost 5.5 days each year paralyzed in gridlock. Traffic congestion is also a growing economic burden for most cities. A study in India has determined that traffic congestion can account for the erosion of almost 3% of GDP for the sprawling New Delhi metropolitan region.

In other words, the rush to cleaner cars alone will not solve the problems cities are grappling with. Rather, cities need far fewer cars and should support a wide variety of modes favoring pedestrians, cyclists, and mass transit or shared mobility.

New York City, where, per capita, car ownership is half the US average, has half the overall carbon footprint per Los Angeles person. The transportation component of this total per capita carbon footprint for NYC is a quarter of the Los Angeles resident. To get people out of cars, cities also need to make it easier for people to connect between different transport modes. Behavioral studies have shown that commuters will switch routes and modes if better options are available.

Above all, city administrators are recognizing the importance of governance for improving mobility efficiency. Regulations that manage parking capacity or city center driving restrictions, coupled with financial and non-financial interventions, are increasingly used to motivate commuters to gravitate towards travel modes aligned to societal goals. These range from incentives for higher occupancy vehicles, favorable access to roads and parking spaces for low environmental impact vehicles, and incentivizing last-mile connections to improve mass transit viability.

We all want our cities to be faster, smarter, and greener – and the car is not the only answer. We must use technology and entrepreneurship to ensure that our urban future is fair, inclusive, and aligned with the common good.

Recommended: Tesla Electric Cybertruck: Explorer’s Best Friend

Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

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Send your writing & scribble with a photo to [email protected], and we will write an interesting article based on your input.

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I'm interested in everything that has to do with sustainability. My house is solar powered and I have my own water supply and filtering system.  I grow my own vegetables and fruit. Most of the time I go on the road by bicycle and for long distances I use public transport.

I'm interested in everything that has to do with sustainability. My house is solar powered and I have my own water supply and filtering system.  I grow my own vegetables and fruit. Most of the time I go on the road by bicycle and for long distances I use public transport.

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Faster, Smarter, Greener: Cities Need Fewer Cars

The specter of our cities choking with unhealthy air has prompted numerous governments to transition to electric cars. Their concerns are well-founded, even if their proposals fall short of what is needed. Faster, Smarter, Greener: Cities Need Fewer Cars Over the past four decades, cars have become far less polluting. Their fuel efficiency has practically doubled, and their tailpipe emissions have been reduced by more than 95%. Yet cities such as London and Paris are still battling smog and pollution. For decades, California has demanded the toughest emission standards in the US, yet Los Angeles heads the list of US cities for bad air quality. Moving to all-electric car fleets will be a positive step, albeit an inadequate measure. Photo by  Denys Nevozhai  Unsplash. Shanghai interchange. Recommended:  Self-Driving Cars Can Fix Phantom Traffic Jams Urban Architecture: Faster, Smarter, Greener   Our urban mobility architecture will have to undergo fundamental change. In Boston, more than 40% of cars in rush-hour traffic have only one occupant. We envelop each occupant, weighing an average of 70-80kg (11-13st), in a package that weighs 20 times their weight to achieve mobility. It takes a lot of energy to move that mass. Even considering the far greater efficiency of an electric vehicle, zero tailpipe emissions do not mean zero carbon emissions for the travel. Today over 50% of the electricity generated in the UK and over 65% of electricity generated in the US comes from fossil fuels. Our carbon footprint will improve by barely a quarter if we all switch to electric vehicles. And there are other aspects to be concerned about. We currently demand considerable amounts of valuable urban land for roads. London allocates almost 24% of its land area to roads and supporting infrastructure. In many US cities, this can be as high as 40%. Photo by  Robin Pierre  Unsplash.  Recommended:  Green Hydrogen By Hyundai, Toyota, And Honda Cities Need Fewer Cars The World Health Organisation has estimated that a city needs to allocate at least nine square meters of green space for each resident. Yet many fast-growing cities worldwide are making do with less than two square meters after allocation of ever more precious land to feed the insatiable appetite for roads and parking. These serve as invisible subsidies to car users even as public transport systems face hostile scrutiny of their more visible finances. A World Bank study points out that most surface streets and roads in urban areas are underpriced, even after the taxes imposed on fuel sales are considered. And, it appears, even this does not solve the problem. As Los Angeles, which offers more road capacity per capita than any other large US city, has discovered, adding roads and highways merely encourages more people to use private transport modes. The average Los Angeles commuter wastes almost 5.5 days each year paralyzed in gridlock. Traffic congestion is also a growing economic burden for most cities. A study in India has determined that traffic congestion can account for the erosion of almost 3% of GDP for the sprawling New Delhi metropolitan region. In other words, the rush to cleaner cars alone will not solve the problems cities are grappling with. Rather, cities need far fewer cars and should support a wide variety of modes favoring pedestrians, cyclists, and mass transit or shared mobility. New York City, where, per capita, car ownership is half the US average, has half the overall carbon footprint per Los Angeles person. The transportation component of this total per capita carbon footprint for NYC is a quarter of the Los Angeles resident. To get people out of cars, cities also need to make it easier for people to connect between different transport modes. Behavioral studies have shown that commuters will switch routes and modes if better options are available. Above all, city administrators are recognizing the importance of governance for improving mobility efficiency. Regulations that manage parking capacity or city center driving restrictions, coupled with financial and non-financial interventions, are increasingly used to motivate commuters to gravitate towards travel modes aligned to societal goals. These range from incentives for higher occupancy vehicles, favorable access to roads and parking spaces for low environmental impact vehicles, and incentivizing last-mile connections to improve mass transit viability. We all want our cities to be faster, smarter, and greener – and the car is not the only answer. We must use technology and entrepreneurship to ensure that our urban future is fair, inclusive, and aligned with the common good. Recommended:  Tesla Electric Cybertruck: Explorer’s Best Friend Did you find this an interesting article, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your article about electric cars? Send your writing & scribble with a photo to  [email protected] , and we will write an interesting article based on your input.
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