Today, I’m going to share why I am interested in transportation and why it should interest you too.
I get the feeling that too often when people hear about transportation, they think about trains, planes and automobiles – something that is the domain of engineers and governments, but not your average citizen. It is something that doesn’t really matter to most people until a new freeway or transit line is proposed through their neighbourhood.
Well I’m going to tell you why transportation does matter and why it matters for everyone.
There aren’t a lot of things that everybody on this planet has to do every single day. It’s not a long list:
- Eat Food
- Drink Water
- Breathe Air
- Go to the Bathroom
- Move – to do all the above things and more a.k.a. Transportation
Transportation is a part of our daily lives. How we get around has profound effects on our economy, on our health and environment, and what our society is about.
How we move goods and people around has a profound effect on our economy. Saving resources used on transportation means we have resources for other economic activities. Road congestion alone costs the US over $100 billion dollars. (This does not include infrastructure and pollution costs). If we would build a better transportation system, we build a better economy.
Transportation is about health. Many studies now show a powerful link between how we be build our cities, how we get around and how healthy we are. Areas that are not walkable have been show time and time again to have higher rates of obesity and heart disease. By building around more active modes of transportation we can greatly improve peoples’ health.
Transportation is about the environment. It is well documented the air pollution that road transportation generates. What is less often heard is the huge amount road transportation consumes through road space and parking, not to mention the sprawl it encourages, threatening agricultural land and wildlife habitat. If we to make cities cleaner and protect our natural environment, we need to be smarter about transportation.
Transportation is about equality. To have a society that provides equal opportunity to all its citizens, those opportunities need to be physically accessible to all citizens. Modes such as walking and public transit that can be used by everyone, make our society more of an even playing field and should be encouraged. Unfortunately, many cities and communities are designed around the private automobile, a mode that is only accessible to those wealthy enough to afford a car and able to drive (which excludes teenagers, seniors and the disabled). By prioritizing modes that are accessible to all, we ensure equal opportunity.
The final reason why transportation matters to me is that we have done such a poor job building transportation networks that ensure all the above. There are new technologies on the horizon that will help achieve these goals, however, that should not stop us from taking action now; we already have the transportation tools to create a more efficient, healthy and fair world.