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Travel smarter, live better

05/10/10
Miguel Ángel Placer

By Miguel Ángel Placer Instalaciones, Mantenimiento Sostenibilidad BBVA

European Mobility Week was held from 16 to 22 September under the slogan “Travel smarter, live better”.

We usually do not stop to analyze the current transportation system in the most advanced societies, based on the private car; however, official figures in Spain make your hair stand on end.

20,000 kilometers of car consume the same total energy as an average household per year and the car consumes half of the total energy of each family. In Spain there are 20 million private cars, compared to only 14 million primary residences. Private transport is responsible for 32% of CO2 emissions, and congestion and accident costs exceed 2% of GDP in the EU. The most worrying factor is the following: 75% of private travel in Spain takes place in cars with a single occupant. In town, 50% of car journeys are for trips of less than 3 km. and 10% for runs of less than 500 meters!

In the seventies, the economist Ivan Illich, in his book “Energy and Equity”, conducted a study on the use of cars in the U.S. The result was that the average American devoted over 1,500 hours a year to his car: driving, working to pay off the car, taxes, gasoline, insurance, tolls, traffic violations and taxes for constructing roads and parking lots. And he did not count the time spent in hospitals, courts, or withstanding car advertising. These 1,500 hours per year will serve to cover an average of 10,000 km. a year. That is, with this effort 6.6 km/h is obtained, which is the speed of a pedestrian. Conclusion: It is absurd behavior. Moreover, the average American spends a quarter of his available leisure time driving, whereas in non-motorized societies only between 3 and 8% is spent on this activity. Adding future fuel shortages, pollution and CO2 emissions to this, many voices are already seriously considering a shift to a more rational transport model, with a gradual replacement by public transport.

It is certainly true that in the midst of a traffic jam, or enduring the noise and smoke from the sidewalks of our cities, we should rethink some things.


Images:  Alix Guillard, Atwater Village Newbie

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