Are there transportation answers to climate change? The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released a plan outlining how governments can reduce oil reliance in the transportation sector. The key is to increase the use of public transportation and to improve the infrastructure for walking and cycling. It appears that public transport needs to double and that 50% of trips should be made by walking or cycling by 2030 in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, the target scientists believe is necessary to prevent the worst effects of climate change. There are several ways to boost public transportation and active mobility in order to reduce oil reliance and create a more sustainable future. First, we need to keep motorization growth in check. We are on pace to go from 1.3 billion cars today to 2.2 billion by 2050. Even with electric vehicles, reducing the number of vehicles remains a key to reducing transportation-related carbon emissions. There are several ways to do this. We can incentivize land use and transportation strategies like installing rapid transit corridors and making city centers more pedestrian-friendly. We also need to improve the quality of mass transport. Riders will only use public transportation frequently when those services are affordable, high-quality, and reliable. It is time for creative finance of public transportation systems. Extensive public transport systems are rarely paid for by ticket fares alone. They need funding from the public sector and capital investments to thrive. Second, we need a safe infrastructure for walking and cycling. While mass transportation is the key to making cities functional, walking and cycling are certainly the easiest, least expensive, and certainly the greenest modes of transport. Studies show that 35% of most urban trips are 3 miles or less, and 50% of all trips are 6 miles or less. Creating well-designed walking and bike lanes, and safe infrastructure will help prioritize walking and cycling. If the Russia-Ukraine war showed us anything, it was the costs of oil reliance. We cannot limit global temperature rise without transformative change in transportation, especially urban transportation.
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