What Is Happening In The World?1. Transportation comprises 28% of U.S. energy consumption. This includes both private vehicles, shipping, and food transportation.
2. Burning petroleum powers 93% of transportation, so issues of transportation are also issues of petroleum drilling, import and export, and pollution.
3. In the United States, 87% of households own cars, airplane travel is more popular than ever, and human-powered transportation is at a historic low. With this mix of transportation choices, pollution and fossil fuel consumption is higher than ever.
4. Americans are commuting, on average, 212 hours per year by car. That equals more than 5 weeks of full-time work. Traffic is on the rise, cities are struggling to keep up with the volume, putting hundreds of billions of dollars into road infrastructure.
5. Car-centric transportation has a negative impact on physical and mental health and air quality. Cars are the primary source for atmospheric NOx (nitrous oxides, not to be confused with laughing gas).
6. More coming soon about shipping and goods transportation!
Where Can I Learn More?More coming soon!
Recommended ReadingBambrick, Yvonne (2015). The Urban Cycling Survival Guide.
Blue, Elly (2013). Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save The Economy.
Further In-Depth ReadingUnited States Bureau of Transportation Statistics (2015). National Transportation Statistics. (Access them here.)
Jaime Lerner on Redesigning Curutiba, BrazilThe mayor of Curitiba, Brazil describes the journey and innovations that make it one of the leading cities in the world for more sustainable transportation.
What Can I Do To Create Positive Change?When talking about shipping and goods sources from faraway places (often overseas), the obvious solution is to stop consuming as many things, buy things of quality, and repair what you already own. It's hard to understate how much energy goes into transporting little-needed goods all over the world. In the well-known film, "The Story of Stuff," Annie Leonard covers extraction, processing, and consumption of material goods, but she neglects to say that in between every step (the arrows in her film), the goods get loaded on a truck or a ship or a plane and moved across the world.
Creating positive change in personal commuting can be difficult if you live in a system that is dependent on long-distance commuting using fossil fuels. Obvious solutions in some areas are trains, buses, and bicycles. While these options can increase commuting time, they can also create more time for relaxation on public transit without having to focus on the road, or exercise by walking or biking. In some places, especially less-dense suburban areas, these aren't a viable option.
For an alternative fuel in diesel cars and trucks, take a look at waste vegetable oil systems. Usually, these are installed as a dual fuel system using diesel to warm up an engine, and swtiching to burning pure waste vegetable oil once the engine is hot. Check out Greasecar and Golden Fuel Systems (formerly Frybrid) for more information. Also see this article I wrote on the functioning veggie oil system at Mission: Wolf.
Click here for more information and tips on using bicycles as primary transportation. To look for a trailer to carry more cargo with a bike, look at this online bike trailer shop.
More coming soon!