Car and other vehicle emissions are a major source of greenhouse gases, and eliminating such emissions is an essential part of moving to a zero carbon society. There are many ways you can reduce your transport emissions and at the same time improve your quality of life. They mainly involve shifting to public transport, walking or cycling (‘active transport’), but you can also travel less overall, or reduce the emissions from car journeys you do take.
Benefits of walking, cycling, or taking public transport
For a start you get exercise – on average, your recommended daily dose of it! This includes public transport commuters who, on average, walk half an hour a day to and from stations or stops. Switching to active transport reduces your risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, obesity, breast cancer, depression, insomnia, dementia and other conditions.
Whole communities benefit from this transport switch too. Of course it means fewer deaths and injuries on the roads, and quieter, more traffic-free neighbourhoods, but the cleaner air is a major benefit too, as air pollution from vehicles is a major source of all air pollution, which kills more Australians than traffic accidents do.
Save money by walking, riding a bicycle or using public transport.
Almost all active transport time can also double as reading time, so you can read more!
Walking improves your neighbourhood
In communities with more walking and less driving you see your neighbours more and get to know them better, and people are less stressed. It’s no wonder, therefore, that the most walkable localities are now the most sought-after places to live. There are even ‘walkscores’ to inform prospective house buyers about the walkability of areas they are considering. And low car-use localities can devote less space and less money to transport overall.
Strategies for carbon reduction
When you need a car
It may be hard to avoid using your car, given the places you need to go, your physical capacities, the people and things you have to transport, the time available and, often, the lack of suitable transport alternatives.
When you can’t do without a car, there are still lower carbon choices you can make. Carpooling, car sharing, better maintained vehicles, hybrids, electric vehicles, and more fuel-efficient conventional cars are part of this.
Plan ahead and stay local
You can also travel less overall, especially if you’re able to work, shop, access services, entertain yourself or holiday more locally, now or at some point in the future (when, for example, you move house or change jobs).
Consider alternatives to flying. A long haul round trip can equal your yearly carbon emissions, so think about taking holidays closer to home, taking trains, and teleconferencing or phoning as an alternative to business trips.
Use communication technology
When you can, let your words do the travelling more of the time, by using the phone, email, Skype, social media or teleconferencing more often – as opposed to meeting face to face – at work or in your personal life. This can save you money, time and stress, as well as reducing emissions.
Get started today!
In most cases, you don’t need more information to make the switch to lower carbon transport; you just need to start and experience its many benefits. But the following information and links may help you:
- Public transport services in your area: Google ‘journey planner’ and the name of your state or capital city and you will find a site that enables you to work out how to get public transport from A to B at the time of your choice. If you Google ‘journey planner mobile apps’ and add your state or capital city you will locate apps supplying this information for different kinds of mobiles.
- Public transport users organisations: On the Public Transport Users Association (Victoria) website is a page of links to equivalent organisations in other states (half way down the page), as well as listing other useful organisations, such as the Pedestrian Council of Australia and Victoria Walks. Advocacy organisations for public transport, cycling and walking play a vital role in the ongoing improvement of facilities and services, so they need your support.
- Bicycle users groups: This page on the Bicycle Network’s website can help you locate your nearest Bicycle Users Group, wherever you are in Australia. These groups can link you to other cyclists in your area, give you practical assistance with cycling, and enable you to advocate for better cycling facilities.
- Car sharing or carpooling: Google ‘car sharing’ and your location to find car sharing services with cars parked near you for use when you need one (including vans), although these services aren’t available in all areas. If you Google ‘carpooling’ and your location you can find sites for ride sharing (where you and your driver or passenger are sharing the same trip), some of which are for one-off longer trips and some for daily commutes.