You see it every day. Long lines of vehicles, moving slowly in a start/stop pace occupied by single drivers. All of them looks irritated. All of them looks stressed out. Traffic congestion is a huge problem both from a logistic and an environmental point of view. Start/stop traffic is a very wasteful way of driving, practically spewing out CO2 and particles as the engine of the car has to work hard on low gears. Not a green way to commute at all!
I came across this article during the morning stroll through my article feed. IBM recently made a quite large survey in several large cities across all continents . They asked some 8000 people questions about how long the commute usually take, traffic flow, price of gas and health issues. And much much more. All this went into their index of how bad a city is to coping with the commute;
The Top 10 cities with the worst commute in the world:
- Beijing (99)
- Mexico City (99)
- Johannesburg (97)
- Moscow (84)
- New Delhi (81)
- Sao Paolo (75)
- Milan (52)
- Buenos Aires (50)
- Madrid (48)
- London (36)
-Andrew Nusca, smartplanet.com
Stockholm, Capitol of Sweden got the 20th place. If you live in one of these cities, then you probably spend a lot of time in traffic. All of these cities have one thing in common; they are large. Some of them are growing at a rapid pace, and the infrastructure can’t keep up. Economical growth have its backsides after all. As you can see, Mexico City is sharing the first place with Beijing. The interesting thing is that Mexico City’s employees are using Commute Greener! and are getting great results. A while ago they even got the first Commute Greener! certificate for good results in saving CO2 and changing habits. I must say, good work! Especially since the city is one of the worst in the world to commute in.
If it is possible to commute in a greener way in such a city, why couldn’t it be possible in all cities around the world? Not being stuck in those long lines of frustratingly slow moving vehicles is something to strive for after all. That kind of traffic situation even affect the health of the driver a great deal with all the emissions, particles, stress, irritation and all that sitting still. Better to do a little research and try out a transit commute, or a bike commute once or twice a week.
One problem for at least some of these cities are that driving is a status symbol. Being able to afford a car is a sign that you are doing well for yourself. Making money. Status. In these cities, like Beijing and New Delhi, the car culture is somewhat new. I grew up with pictures of massive amounts of cycling Chinese on the news every time a TV rapport from the east was on the air. Now we get rapports of mile long traffic stops instead. On the other hand, they do have some interesting ideas of how to combat the congestion, like those huge monster straddling buses. Better infrastructure, this or regular, will come even in booming cities but for it to be effective, people will have to use it. And as long as it is only poor people riding it won’t be a priority. Sad but true. And according to this study 95% of the asked Chinese’s said that the commute affect their health. Does that sounds sustainable?
The bottom line is that it is often possible to commute greener, even if you live in a large city. That will probably be the only sustainable way to commute in the future. It is better to do your share now, and benefit from better health while saving the planet. It is possible. The workers of Mexico City showed that. Why not try it out. A little planning, some changes of habits and some endurance and you may very well start your greener commute really soon! It is worth it.