Our commute makes up a large part of our personal CO2 footprints. How large varies with what kind of transportation we choose, how far we go, how often and many other factors. Driving have been the transportation option of choice for a majority of commuters for several years, but lo and behold; trends point towards greener commutes!
I came across this interesting article in the Internet version of the New Scientist magazine a couple of hours ago. It contains a
Taking the bike to work is getting more and more popular. This is the Queen's Square in Gothenburg during autumn.
discussion of how our habits are changing in response to new technology, higher gas prizes and an economy that is down the drain. Apparently we reached a travel peak a couple years ago. Since then the number of new cars sold and vehicles on the streets have become fewer in the “west”. It is a shame that the “east” have taken up wests bad habits, but that is another story. Something quite interesting is happening right now; cycling to work, or taking the bus, is getting more and more trendy. Just look at the rapid raise in interest for biking. Facebook have several pages devoted to this mode of transportation and there are numerous blogs on the subject. That public transportation is also getting more and more attention in social media is a more low key trend, but it is still there.
Why is a greener commute getting trendy, and why now? Who are the ones who choose to commute greener? Well, let’s quote the article, as the author says it better then I could;
Demographics is a more likely explanation. It is surely no accident that peak car happened first in Japan, which has the world’s oldest population. Pensioners do not drive to work, and many don’t drive at all. There is also the rise of people like me, “virtual commuters” who work from home via the Internet. -Fred Pearce, New Scientist issue 2825, The end of motormania
Social scientists detect a new “culture of urbanism”. The stylish way to live these days is in inner-city apartments. The suburbs suck. Richard Florida, an urban studies theorist at the University of Toronto in Canada, points out that the young shop online, telecommute, live in walkable city neighbourhoods near public transport and rely more on social media and less on face-to-face visiting. Given those changes, they can think of better ways to spend their money than buying a car. -Fred Pearce, New Scientist issue 2825, The end of motormania
So, older populations and a new lifestyle from the young generation change the regular commute patterns. According to this article, the number of youngsters with a drivers license is decreasing. And due to the economy and rising fuel prizes, more people choose alternative means of transportation. Isn’t that just wonderful. Less CO2 from transportation, less congestion, less pollution and less noise are good effects that may come from this. The “new” emphasis on biking and walking may even help people to get out and become healthy.
The question is if this trend will continue. Public transportation projects are popping up everywhere and several cities in Europe are working hard to get their citizens to bike or use public transportation and ditch the car. In north America as well as Mexico there are several similar campaigns and projects going. Will we see a new kind of society growing from the possibilities of telecommuting and virtual meetings?
No matter if this holds or not, I personally hope more people will get interested in how they can reduce their CO2 footprint through this. And that walking, biking and taking the bus will become the natural mode of transportation for the young and the next generation. After all, by taking the bike once a week, you shave of 20% of your commute CO2 imprint. By doing it every day, you hit a solid 100%. No emissions at all. And a bus emits some 45g CO2/km and passenger. A large car, which most often only have a single occupant scores a wopping 240 g CO2/km. That is a large difference. Let’s hope the low end alternatives will be dominating in the future. While the trends aren’t that drastic, more green commuters is definitely a very positive thing!