As global warming and pollution take over the news today, some cities are doing what they can to fight this nasty trend. Cities across the globe are turning the tables on traditional transportation to find more sustainable ways to commute.
Oslo has laid out a plan that will ban all personal cars from the city center by 2019. This is the first step in an effort to ban all fuel burning cars from the country by 2025. Already, 20% of the five million Norwegian citizens drive fully electric cars and the government is doing its part to make sure that percentage continues to rise. Norway produces more than 90% of its local energy from renewable hydropower; so, somewhere in the near future Norwegians will be able to cleanly power their fleets of electric vehicles.
Recently, Oslo created yet another opportunity for its citizens to reduce their carbon foot print. The government is offering subsidies to citizens to cover up to 25% of the cost of purchasing a new electric cargo bike. Because of the hills and sometimes harsh weather conditions, these bikes can be significant improvements to both the ease and timeliness of cyclist’s commutes.
Over half the city’s population bikes to work each day. This large percent is due to the implementation of pedestrian-only zones which started popping up throughout the city in the 1960s. The percent of cyclist transporters is only going to rise as Copenhagen rolls out its plans for a superhighway which accommodates bike traffic, not car traffic. Some segments of this highway are already open, one connecting the suburb of Albertslund to Copenhagen. This segment stretches 22 kilometers (just over 13 miles) between the two cities. Along the route are air pumps, safe intersections, and traffic lights which are timed to average cycling speeds to reduce commuting times.
Just outside Chengdu, China architects have laid out plans to develop an urban center which limits its resident’s carbon footprint. The city will be built in a way which allows residents to walk anywhere within the city in less than 15 minutes. Only half the roads in the city will be open to motorized traffic; the other half are permitted for pedestrians, cyclists, and electric shuttles only. The goal of the layout is to make car ownership unnecessary for movement throughout the city!
In 2015 Portland opened the largest non-car traffic bridge in the United States. The Tilikum Bridge stretches over a quarter mile across the Willamette River. The bridge only accommodates public transportation, cyclists, and pedestrian traffic. The Tilikum Bridge adds to the existing 300+ miles of bikeways throughout the city!
Along with Portland’s extensive bike routes, they are also known for having one of the best public transit programs in the country. Commuting from point A to point B is a quick and reliable process using TriMet. The entire system is interactive, with opportunities to talk to real, live, trip planners and a downloadable app for your phone! In downtown Portland you will find The Fareless Square, here commuters can ride for free around downtown or just across the Willametter River. These seamless systems makes getting around the city an easy, convenient, and car-less experience!
Columbus is doing its part by introducing intelligent-transportation systems. As the winner of the Smart Cities challenge held last summer by the Department of Transportation, Columbus received $40 million, combined with other grants and local matches Columbus now has $140 million to turn the city into a hub of intelligent-transportation. This includes introducing the city to more electric-vehicle charging stations, emergency vehicles that interact with traffic signals, driverless shuttles, and much more. Columbus has also introduced networks of complete streets which maximize traffic flow by allowing pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation, and cars to efficiently and effectively share the roadways.
What does this mean for the future of transportation? A definite shift from traditional roadways to intelligent systems which consider more than just vehicle traffic. Finding ways to incorporate sustainable mobility into the transportation networks of cities across the globe is of growing importance as concerns for pollution and global warming rise. Not only is it important for cities to incorporate these networks, but it is even more important for citizens to take advantage of them!