How do we build a sustainable transportation system in a world where urban sprawl is on the rise- leading to traffic congestion, air pollution, and high economic costs? According to a recent report published by New Climate Economy, buses and bikes may be our saving grace.
Many worry that diversifying transportation options will lead to lower economic prosperity. The opposite may be true, though. The report, Accelerating Low‐Carbon Development in the World’s Cities, found that “investing in more efficient transportation, buildings and waste management could save cities worldwide at least $17 trillion.”
Where do these savings come from? Investing in smart development will help save by improving traffic safety, conserving energy, vehicle cost savings, parking cost savings, decreasing healthcare costs, and cutting costs related to urban sprawl, such as time and worker productivity lost to traffic congestion.
We need a well-integrated, well-thought-out city plan built around transportation options. Not only will this make our city more dynamic, but it will also attract talent that expects great transit. After all, there are no great cities in this world that don’t have great transit.
So, how do we begin to implement changes?
In order to counteract some of our traffic congestion issues, we must expand our network of bike lanes and sidewalks to promote cycling and walking. We can work to improve the safety of these facilities, to make people feel more comfortable traveling via bicycle or on foot.
Investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure can also be a valuable community asset. Researches have mapped real estate transactions and discovered that bike facilities can have a significant, positive impact on home values. In addition to increasing property values, bicycling and walking can also increase our health and productivity!
Supporting the start of Bus Rapid Transit in Raleigh would change how we commute in many ways, too- we would spend less time in traffic, less money on car maintenance, and we would see an increase in the quality of air. The BRT has been implemented successfully in over 200 cities worldwide. These buses get their own lanes, so they don’t interfere with other traffic. They don’t make unnecessary stops, making long trips more time-efficient. They also enable you to pay for your pass before you get on, making it more convenient.
Cities around the world are trying out a different approach in their urban planning- a more smart, organized development built around transportation choices. I hope that Raleigh can also adopt a similar model as it will continue to propel us in the right direction. We will be a cleaner, more sustainable, and beautiful city with happier citizens spending more time doing the things they enjoy and less time sitting in traffic.