Last Saturday I went to the City of Fort Worth Earth Party to set up a booth making a case for Transit and encouraging folks to try going car-free for a day. While it was REALLY windy and incredibly cold, we were still able to get 14 people to sign up and try going car-free!
To prepare for the Earth Party, I did some research on why transit is an excellent choice for the environment, as well as some other lifestyle choices you can make to go a little greener, and I wanted to share them with you.
The Case for Transit
I know, I know one can't go door-to-door the same way we can in a car, a bike, or on foot – but let me give you some earth-friendly reasons why you might want to try and support our local transit system (buses or trains).
- Because transportation accounts for about 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, public transit is an effective means for reducing these emissions without requiring a large capital investment
- One study found that a bus “with as few as seven passengers is more fuel-efficient than the average single-occupant auto used for commuting,” and that buses generate only about 20% of the carbon monoxide and just 10% of the hydrocarbons per passenger-mile when compared with a single-occupancy vehicle.
- By taking up less space and reducing gridlock, buses and other public transit options can also enable more efficient traffic flows for all vehicles, which in turn helps to reduce fuel waste and emissions that come from sitting in traffic jams. A big deal when you consider how much our population is growing.
- These high-occupancy vehicles also free up parking spaces, which reduces the amount of time and fuel spent circling the block to find a good parking spot.
- According to the American Public Transportation Association, in 2011 the use of public transportation “saved 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel in 498 urban areas.”
20 ways to fight climate change through transportation choices
These were graciously borrowed from a more extensive list from Curbed.com and slightly adjusted to be more relevant here.
- Start walking. Is there any single action that’s better for your mind, your body, and your planet?
- Work from home one day each week. Studies show that 45 percent of the U.S. workforce has a job that’s suitable for full-time or part-time telecommuting. Working a few days from home each month means one less commuter on the road contributing to greenhouse gases.
- Map a two-mile circle around your house and walk everywhere within it. You’ll not only realize how many places are an easy half-hour walk away, but you’ll also be able to eliminate unnecessary vehicle trips that make emissions and congestion worse.
- Take public transit. Public transportation helps reduce gridlock and carbon emissions.
- Download a transit app. Transportation planning apps like google maps or Moovit help you get around the city and the GoPass app helps you buy tickets on the go.
- Become a member of your city’s bike-sharing program. Shifting just a few trips per week from a car to a bike could help the U.S. reduce emissions enough to achieve the Paris goals. Support the Fort Worth Bike Share by buying an annual membership to help keep the system humming.
- Just ride a bike. Yes, riding a bike really can save the world. According to a 2015 study by the University of California at Davis, shifting more urban trips to bicycling, and cutting car use accordingly, could reduce urban transportation CO2 emissions by 50 percent worldwide by 2050. That seems especially feasible when you consider that half of all urban trips are a bikeable six miles or less.
- Start a carpool. In 2014, over 76 percent of commuters in the United States drove to work alone, most often in their own personal vehicle. Carpools save money on gas, reduce your carbon footprint, let you work during the drive, and get you access to specially designated carpool lanes that are reserved for high-occupancy vehicles.
- Support transit-oriented development. Cities such as Chicago have codified the concept of transit-oriented development, which allows for larger buildings with smaller parking minimums if they’re near transit lines. It’s a conservation two-for-one, adding denser housing downtown with less need for private automobile trips.
- Say yes to transportation initiatives. Improving transit costs money, so the next time there is a transit-focused ballot measure in your city, vote yes.
- Fight parking minimums. Up to 14 percent of the land in some U.S. cities is dedicated to parking motionless vehicles. That’s not just incentivizing driving, it’s also taking up precious land that could be used to build places that allow people to live and work closer together. Attend hearings for new developments and encourage planners to reduce or nix the construction of required parking spaces.