Car use is going down in Australia, but we we are are not moving to sustainable transport modes nearly fast enough, and we can learn from cities that are making drastic changes to their transport systems to enable more sustainable travel to take place.
For instance, Copenhagen aspires to be the world’s first carbon neutral capital city by 2025 – and is known for its impressive share of cyclists - 40% of its inhabitants cycle to work simply because it is the easiest and quickest way to get around. It's not surprising, therefore, that green mobility is playing a big part in its plans for carbon neutrality. Three-quarters of all trips are to be made on foot, by bike or carbon neutral public transport. The Dutch city of Groningen is called the world’s cycling city due to 50-60% of all trips being made by bike. A compact street plan and discouraging car-driving in the city centre have made cycling simply the most viable and convenient way to get around. This video about Groningen is worth a look! In London, the Crossrail for Bikes’ initiative has seen more than 160 employers supporting plans to build segregated bicycle lanes in central London so that employees can get to work without having to drive. At home, the City of Yarra is introducing Copenhagen style bicycle lanes on Wellington Street in Collingwood in 2015; this helps increase biking safety by separating cyclists from motorists.
Cities that have made walking a joy – and are among world’s most walkable cities – include Paris, New York and Munich. New York is portrayed as leading the way in walkability among US cities, and partly achieves this by reclaiming space for pedestrians from cars, for example in Times Square. Walkability is an assessment of the extent to which is accessible and pleasant for walkers. One way to measure it is the Walk Score – a walkability index being promoted by real estate agents in US, Canada and Australia. Rising walkability has been shown to correlate with rising property values, not necessarily a good thing in itself, but a proxy for the pleasantness of the area.
Cities with excellent public transport systems include Seoul, Munich and New York. Buenos Aires’ bus rapid transit services, among other radical changes to city’s transport system, led the city to receive the Sustainable Transport Award in 2014. The city has reduced travelling time across it from more than 40 min to an average of 14 min by replacing car lanes by bus-only lanes on the Avenue 9 de Julio (one of their main transit avenues) and introducing high-quality bus corridors with a number of bus stations. Public transport in Stockholm is powered by close to 75% renewable energy, as detailed by their city climate and energy plan. And if you have to use a personal vehicle, it can be shared, or run on electricity, or sustainable liquid or gaseous fuels. For instance Oslo had 700 public electric vehicle charging stations at the end of 2014.