This page outlines our views on transportation.
In societies that are mostly car-oriented, driving is often the most convenient means of transportation. However, driving has a number of significant negative impacts on others, and sometimes on oneself. Some of the negative impacts on the individual can include:
- Driving can be stressful for some people, as it requires constant attention while a person is driving.
- Driving is sedentary and typically involves sitting in a constrained space for the duration of the drive, which is not beneficial to health.
- Owning and maintaining a car can be expensive.
There are also ways in which driving can negatively impact other people directly:
- Driving, especially at times and places where there is a lot of traffic, contributes to traffic congestion.
- When people drive to and park in an area, their car fills a parking space that would otherwise be available for another car.
- Cars pose a risk of hitting other vehicles as well as bicyclists and pedestrians.
- When a driver is stressed and it affects their driving, it can pose a safety threat to other drivers.
And there are ways in which driving can negatively impact society as a whole:
- Cars generate pollution and noise.
- Cars consume a lot of energy.
- When people choose to drive rather than taking other available forms of transportation, it contributes to the society becoming car-oriented, so that most people need a car in order to get around. This is a problem because not everyone can afford a car, and driving is less sustainable than most other forms of transportation.
- Cars create a high demand for paved areas such as roads and parking lots, which contribute to extreme temperatures and flooding, and reduce green space.
Drivers can minimize or reduce some of the negative impacts both on themselves and on others by a variety of means:
- Choosing to drive during less busy time periods, or choosing less congested alternate routes, can reduce the negative impacts of traffic congestion both on oneself and others.
- Leaving extra time, or giving up an attachment to the idea of arriving on time, can minimize the stress associated with falling behind schedule due to unexpected traffic.
- Practicing safe and defensive driving and refraining from aggressive driving. We have also acknowledged though that a certain degree of assertiveness in driving can be important in both promoting safety and ensuring that traffic proceeds smoothly.
- Carpooling can save resource usage and money.
Many of the negative impacts listed above can also be avoided by choosing other forms of transportation.
Walking is healthy and is one of the least resource-intensive forms of transportation, one that has the smallest negative impact on others and on society.
Property owners can do numerous things to make life easier for walkers:
- Shoveling sidewalks on your property during snowstorms.
- Create new pedestrian right-of-ways through your property, when there is a need for such right-of-ways, such as in areas without many through streets.
On a broader scale, we have also discussed the creation of pedestrian plazas, closed off to most motor vehicle traffic, as well as a style of development similar to a college campus, with buildings connected primarily via pedestrian paths, and parking situated around the edge of the area. These areas can create a pleasant public space, quieter, safer, and with cleaner air due to the absence of cars. This sort of public space can contribute to community.
Bicycling is energy efficient, healthy, and can be fun. It uses far fewer resources than driving, although it still requires more than driving. For example, dedicated bicycle paths and right-of-ways are typically less expensive than roadways, but still cost something. Similarly, bicycle racks take up much less space than parking lots, but still do take up space.
The availability of secure places to lock bicycles can be a limiting factor in the practicality of bicycle travel to certain destinations. For this reason we have agreed on the following principles:
- Place a high priority on building new bicycle racks whenever existing racks fill up and space to lock bicycles becomes scarce; because bicycle racks can be a limiting factor in bicycle use, and because bicycle use can reduce the use for more costly forms of transportation like driving, this can result in a cost-efficient use of resources on a broader scale.
- In destination areas, such as business districts, set a time limit of about a week for bicycle parking, and place clear signs around the bike rack that bikes left for longer will be confiscated. This would not apply to residential areas where people may store bicycles for longer times.
Public transportation can have numerous benefits both to the individual, and to society as a whole. However, it is often less convenient and flexible for the individual than driving, and can impose restrictions on users who need to work around routes and schedules. Public transit tends to work best in areas with higher population density, where there is a denser network of routes and the routes run more often.
Public transportation has some of the negative impacts of driving, but these impacts tend to be smaller. For instance, public transportation is also resource intensive, but not as much, per person, as driving, although there are exceptions: running empty or near empty trains and buses can be much more resource-intensive than transporting a small number of people by car. Public transit can be sedentary, but may also require walking between modes. It can be stressful for some people, but the stress does not impose as much of a safety risk to others. Taking public transportation instead of driving can reduce these impacts overall.
Some of the benefits to the individual can include:
- No need to search for parking
- Can sometimes be less expensive than driving
- In some cases, such as subways during rush hour, can be faster than driving
There are also benefits to society as a whole, which include:
- When people take public transportation instead of driving, it takes cars off the road, which reduces the negative impacts of cars.
- Can make it easier for people to live without a car, or can open up travel options not otherwise available without a car.