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Automobiles: Our Transportation Default

14 May. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in automobiles, pollution, public transit, cars, highways, biking, walking
automobiles, pollution, public transit, cars, highways, biking, walking

Transportation is important to our everyday lives and health, and significantly impacts the environment and city development. When gasoline-run cars were introduced in the year 1885, they opened up possibilities and the freedom to live and travel in a way unimaginable at the time. However, the use of the automobile has also created a series of problems along with it.

Because we have catered to the expansion and use of the automobile, we have neglected to realize the benefits of other forms of transportation. Therefore the progression and modernization of public transit, bike lanes and walkways have been greatly inhibited.

Although the automobile allows us great freedom to go where we want, whenever we want, it is not always the best form of transportation- it has become our default. The air pollution, traffic and noise in U.S. cities are greatly attributed to automobiles.

So this is where other forms of public transportation come in and are part of what make cities so “green”. Public transit in the form of buses, subways and trains allow us to get where we are going in a timely manner, safely and relatively stress free. If more people used public transportation, then this would decrease air pollution and noise due to automobiles. It may also promote more city, state and private investment in public transit, making it even better.

We need to also promote more cycling and walking friendly neighborhoods. Integrating physical activity into our daily lives through cycling and walking is important to our physical and mental health. It also allows us to experience our community in a more personal way because we are walking or biking throughout the neighborhood, not just driving through it to get where we are going.

The most common and current problems with public transit are inconvenient schedules and locations. This ultimately means longer travel time. Common problems with walking and biking are safety and longer travel times, too. Other inconveniences with these forms of transportation include the difficulty carrying items such as groceries, weather and overcrowding.

The inconveniences of automobiles and other forms of transportation should not mean picking the lesser of two evils. Instead, lets start developing solutions that bridge the gap between automobiles and public transportation; support those ideas; and implement them. Now with this being said, I am by no means implying we should simply build more highway lanes or bypasses. This is only compounding the issue of automobile use, traffic and air pollution.

Developing better transportation in cities requires a dramatic shift in the transportation we use, regardless of some current inconveniences. It also means shifting government and private investment from highways and automobiles to tracks and trains. Persistence is key because if we do not stick with our goal and shift transportation use, then we will not inspire any real change.

Call To Action: 

Purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle
Walk, bike or use public transit
Get involved in community planning

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