by Dennis Markatos-Soriano
NASA just released a report showing that the key culprit causing global warming today is on-road transportation. While coal plants and agriculture are big emitters too, some of their heating emissions are offset by cooling emissions such as sulfates. This research shows that alternatives to carbon dioxide-emitting automobiles need to be a priority for us to lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to stabilize our climate. In other words, the establishment of low-carbon transportation corridors like greenways are crucial to effectively mitigate climate change.
With gasoline prices approaching $3 per gallon in the US again, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure becomes an imperative to lower transportation costs as well.
The decade ahead is a time to shift federal transportation funding toward bike lanes, sidewalks, and greenways. Rather than ~2% of federal transportation funds, bike/ped infrastructure deserves its fair share of ~10%, since ~10% of all US trips are by foot or bicycle. Such a shift would allocate $4 billion to bike/ped infrastructure per year, potentially supporting the completion of a safe and accessible East Coast Greenway by 2020 from only 6% of the US bike/ped budget ($240 million per year or .6% of the US transportation budget).
Like solar and wind power in the coming years, we need greenways and bike lanes to become ubiquitous across America by 2020. And we need greenways to be networked (like the East Coast Greenway throughout its 3,000-mile corridor from Canada to Florida) so that everyday trips make us healthier rather than pollute our world.
Onwards to greenway and climate progress-