Driving less is one of the keys to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, and to reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Most states have seen an increase in per capita vehicle miles traveled over the last 25 years. There are exceptions, however, where political action, multimodal investment, or the development of compact neighborhoods acted to pull VMT numbers down, says a new report by the Frontier Group.
In one sense, departments of transportation are in the business of making it possible for people to travel less, or to at least spend less time traveling. But choosing to build capacity and reduce delay effectively speeds up drivers rather than shortening the length of their trips—in an era when driving less is acknowledged as a first-order climate change mitigation strategy. A recent article in Planetizen proposes a solution. If efforts were focused more on allowing people to conduct their daily affairs—shopping, banking, working, health care—over the internet or on the phone, the author writes, it might make a dent in vehicle miles traveled (VMT): a reduction that decades of tepid investment in multimodal options have not been able to achieve.
While electric vehicles continue to become more mainstream, we might be headed toward a peak. Electric vehicles remain a key focus for reducing emissions, despite barriers such as grid capacity, consumer preferences, and mining for materials. But as the push for large-scale electric vehicles accelerates, new barriers and opportunities emerge.
The Biden administration, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, targets a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in order to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change. Because it contributes almost 30% of GHG emissions the transportation sector is a ready focus for transformation. Reducing the amount people drive, increasing the use of transit, building better infrastructure for people to safely walk and bike, and electrification are common goals. But changes to land use policy are often missing from this equation. To this end, the researchers at the Rocky Mountain Institute have begun to examine how changing land-use patterns might help curb GHG emissions.
Electric vehicles (EVs) will be critical for meeting ambitious climate goals at the national, state, and local levels, but their rapid adoption continues to face challenges. This wrap-up touches on the latest barriers that are essential to overcome.
More and more people are recognizing the costs associated with driving, and that driving less opens space for alternatives and makes us healthier. Now new research adds one more tick to the human health costs column: particulates from transportation cause cancer.
Numerous factors may scuttle an anticipated fuel-price driven boost to electric vehicle adoption. Due to shortages, manufacturers may not be able to ramp up production to meet demand, and the cost and availability of materials may raise the sticker price, along with the environmental sacrifice. EV manufacturers are also not immune to the resistance faced by industrial development in general.
Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are burdened disproportionately with pollution from the transportation sector, say researchers and journalists. Often these neighborhoods, sometimes clustered in proximity to high traffic or industrial areas, show elevated disease levels when compared to majority white communities located in areas of lower emissions.
Traffic forecasts and other projections are often presented as a single line on a graph or number in a chart. But we know—now more than ever—that these predictions are full of uncertainties. The Sacramento Council of Governments (SACOG), for a new study in JAPA, puts hard numbers to some of those uncertainties in order to plan better for them.
A new paper under review presents evidence that exposure to pollution—including that from motor vehicles—reduces the survival rate of individuals who have contracted COVID-19. Those most at risk of death have underlying diseases which may be due to, or exacerbated by, long-term pollution exposure. This adds to the mounting awareness that disadvantaged communities may disproportionately bear the brunt of the effects of COVID-19.