The prospect of car-free cities, or at the very least car-free streets in dense downtowns has been a goal of livable street advocates for decades. Their reasons revolve around safety and social connectivity, citing the envelope of harm and loss of humanity created in places overrun with automobile traffic. Rarely do such advocates talk about getting rid of cars for their most dangerous side effect: carbon emissions.
Cars kill about 40,000 Americans a year, about a million globally. As grim as those numbers are, within a few short decades they’re going to pale to the numbers of people killed by the effects of changing climate on our warming globe.
Climate justice advocates are heavily focused on the fossil fuel industry, occasionally pointing out the role of animal agriculture in creating climate change, but almost never criticize the automobile industry itself, or personal fossil fuel use by those driving cars.
That needs to change. We cannot expect to hobble the fossil fuel industry while continuing to provide them with an endless demand for their product.
— Louis Roberge (@MacRoberge) September 16, 2016
Driving from city to city, or across country? Sure, cars make sense some of the time, though nothing beats the smooth, stress-free travel aboard Amtrak. But with half of Americans dwelling in urban areas now, cars make less sense than ever.
It’s estimated half of all trips in cities could be made with existing public transit infrastructure – in many cities more than half already do. A third more could be commuted by bicycle.
Most city trips are just a few miles – distances many of us can cover faster via bicycle than a car, once you factor in the time required to locate a place to park your two-ton land boat.
— Cities for People (@cities4people) September 26, 2016
And all that starting and stopping at lights burns up far more fuel, and emits far more pollution and carbon than driving the long distances cars were originally designed for.
The average American is responsible for 40 tons of carbon per year. Without driving, and by eating a plant-based diet, that amount falls to just 0.4 tons. Imagine if we started getting people out of their cars, especially in dense urban centers, what a difference that could make. With a fossil fuel lunatic about to enter the White House, it’s up to cities more than ever to make these changes.
As it’s been said so many times before; you can build cities for cars, or you can build cities for people, but you cannot do both.
See you in the streets.
— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) November 29, 2016
Always remember that urban quality, livability and efficiency goes hand in hand. (Each “circle” contains 70 occupants) pic.twitter.com/3WXZvKoA6s
— 21st Century City (@urbanthoughts11) November 28, 2016
“The layout reflects the desires of the community — there’s strong support for this pedestrian & bicycle connection” https://t.co/cLQiH5aO2a
— ARTCRANK® (@ARTCRANK) December 1, 2016
— Chris Bruntlett (@modacitylife) November 28, 2016
— Smart Growth America (@SmartGrowthUSA) December 1, 2016
Long live the resistance. pic.twitter.com/kbbqAKBsjn
— Cate Patricolo (@cycle_girl) November 29, 2016
Singapore gives central city streets a road diet by laying down prefab blocks to move the curb. pic.twitter.com/m2u5SDB6WG
— Richard Ashurst (@RichardjAshurst) November 27, 2016
— Robin Stallings (@RobinStallings) October 27, 2016
“Kids these days and their precious iPads. Why don’t they go outside?”
Yeah I wonder why? pic.twitter.com/FFjk6zweOj
— Edmond Chui (@EdmondChuiHW) October 25, 2016
— Chris Bruntlett (@modacitylife) November 1, 2016
— DutchCyclingEmbassy (@Cycling_Embassy) October 27, 2016
— Lior Steinberg (@LiorSteinberg) October 20, 2016
— Amanda Ngabirano (@mandyug) October 19, 2016
The cargo bike – somewhere inbetween the courier and the truck | Peter Walker https://t.co/rvict2BKSP
— James Szypula (@YokohamaRides) October 11, 2016
“Unpurposeful & random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are small change from which a city’s wealth of public life grows.”—Jane Jacobs pic.twitter.com/yaSkyV3MNq
— Taras Grescoe (@grescoe) October 4, 2016
— Momentum Mag (@MomentumMag) October 4, 2016
When people say that privatization is better, I cringe. In the end, you’ll end up paying more for the same service. https://t.co/mCMPdnL3ea
— Bicycle San Antonio (@BikeSanAntonio) October 3, 2016
— Keane Gruending (@KeaGru) October 3, 2016
— Karen Chambers (@Kamjers) September 27, 2016
— David Sigal (@davidsigal) September 15, 2016
— Chris Bruntlett (@modacitylife) June 12, 2016
“I can’t take the bus because I need to be on my own schedule.” pic.twitter.com/nOKRbF5uZI
— Michael (@wbbbmr) April 19, 2016