Local bicycle repair shop in Bankpruga, Ghana
Photo by Roger Taylor (NREL PIX #07455)
Transportation is becoming an increasingly important issue because it is the world’s fastest-growing use of energy, accounting for 30% of total global energy consumption and 95% of global oil consumption (Worldwatch Institute). A great deal of research is currently being performed on making environmentally friendly fuels and more efficient vehicles, such as hybrids, clean diesel and fuel cell cars. While technological advancements toward more efficient and less polluting personal vehicles has its place, it does not take away from the fact that the symptoms of our current transportation dilemma manifest from a design failure.
The ultimate solution seeks the root of our transportation problems. In a sustainable world, people will decrease their reliance on SUV's, cars and trucks running on inefficient combustion engines. Sustainable urban and community planning should consider the creation of walkable or bikeable communities. Community design that allows people to walk, bike or utilize public transportation to arrive at their local grocery or workplace is the ultimate goal from which a sustainable transportation system will surface. For example, a bike path could be planned for the next major road project, thereby making it more convenient and conducive for safe bicycle travel by urban dwellers. Meanwhile, the transportation technology should be striving to constantly improve efficiency, for example through the use of hybrid vehicles.
So next time you get in your car, think about the impact that your individual choice may have in your community. It will, after all, be the sum of individual choices that ultimately change this ideal into reality.
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Header photo by Carol Y. Swinehart, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant Extension
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