Think of a city. Any city at all, anywhere in the world—maybe even your home city. What characteristics first come to mind? Is it the impressive buildings, or perhaps the fancy restaurants and luxurious retail shops? What about traffic jams and the fact that automobiles contribute to greenhouse gas emissions? Now, that is not aesthetically pleasing nor is it sustainable. After all, what’s green about traffic congestion and global warming? The thousands of cars driven in major cities contribute to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the concrete used to create our roads and sidewalks increase the chance of flooding. However, what if there were ways to make a city green and still have them serve as the metropolitan areas they are today? There may be many issues to address, but cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a great start.
Unfortunately, the past few decades have emphasized the drastic need for individual cars. Most people today require an automobile to even leave a neighborhood, not to mention the fact that it takes an average citizen at least 10 minutes by car to reach a supermarket. Even if one were to have the option to walk or bike to a destination, oftentimes there are little to no sidewalks or bike lanes available, making pedestrian life not possible in many areas. Is the answer to just ditch all automobile use and go back to horses and wagons?
Although that solution would definitely cut down greenhouse gas emissions, that answer is not realistically possible. What if instead of eliminating cars, we carpooled more often? Made bus systems more available everywhere? Sharing the drive may not only drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions, but they may also motivate people to walk and bike more. Accessibility to bike and pedestrian lanes can aid in making people more physically active, which in turn can lead into making a community healthier. In addition, having to commute with others increases the amount of social space within a community, which in the long run can have incredible impacts as well. We should aim to make communities more pedestrian and bike friendly to aid in ensuring a greener and more sustainable future. By reducing carbon dioxide emissions and promoting more physical activity, not only does an individual person benefit, but the world as a whole can benefit.