InTransition Magazine
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InTransition Magazine : Transportation Planning, Practice & Progress

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Letters to the Editor

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Stronger Emissions Standards Only Part of Solution

The higher vehicle fuel-efficiency requirements and new federal emissions standards proposed by the Obama administration represent a key step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but they are only part of the solution. To really make a dent in climate change, a three-part solution is needed that includes: 1) improved vehicle efficiency, 2) cleaner fuels and 3) reducing the need to drive by improving urban growth patterns.

At least two-thirds of the development expected to exist in the U.S. by 2050 is not yet built, and the bulk of what’s coming will be built on the outer edges of urban regions. Sticking to sprawling development patterns of the past will leave us spending more time behind the wheel, and even if we’re spending that time in more fuelefficient cars, we’re putting more cars on the road and adding to gridlock. That’s not a good answer to climate change. Responsible land use is a much better response.

The Urban Land Institute’s publication, Growing Cooler, states that if 60 percent of new development is built in a way the minimizes driving—and instead encourages walking, biking and using public transit—up to 85 million metric tons of carbon gas emissions could be saved each year by 2030. That’s the equivalent of at least a 28 percent increase in current federal vehicle fuel-efficiency requirements, reaching a level of about 32 miles per gallon. It’s a substantial impact that can be achieved by getting people out of their cars, and by building housing closer to jobs and shopping.

The greenest car is the one that is not needed for every trip to get from one place to another. Well-planned, compact development that reduces auto dependency is as critical to protecting the environment as cars that use less fuel.

Chief Executive Officer,
Urban Land Institute
Washington, D.C.

America Should Embrace Alternative Transportation Modes

Few are aware of the street-legal nonmotorized vehicle (NMV), which uses micro-processed co-generation technology (computers, flywheels, magnetism and a battery pack) for propulsion (Re: “Re-Inventing the Wheel,” Winter 2009 issue). The emission-free NMV blends the best of transit, automobiles, cycling and flight, while leaving out the negative aspects associated with those modes.

A non-motorized vehicle (NMV) prototype.

There are 12 types of NMVs being developed in the U.S., Canada, India, Ukraine and China. The City of Burlington, N.J., is an international landmark for the development of NMVs and “dual-mode” vehicles that can run on both standard roads and guideway systems.

The NMV was built with a guideway system in mind, allowing everyone equal access to mobility. A guideway system along a few major corridors with a modest toll would create new revenue streams for states and local municipalities.

The use of a guideway system gives commuters the benefit of “autopilot” in their own private vehicle, a feature that most people would gladly pay for. Having time to sip the coffee, read the paper, relax or nap (for the bold ones) is a luxury that the most expensive cars cannot offer. A 6-foot wide guideway system can move 12 freeway lanes of traffic at 60 mph.

Freight can be the main source for financing the guideway system. A readily available statewide evacuation plan is more feasible using guideways instead of highways.

The guideway system is America’s alternative transportation solution. A guideway can use multiple sources of renewable energy (solar, wind, ocean, biomass, etc.).

The guideway system has been proven for well over 200 years around the world. Roller coasters, elevators, trains, escalators, monorails and maglev vehicles have a higher level of safety and reliability than random automobiles speeding on a highway.

A plan to fund 100,000 service shops across America to build NMVs and dual-mode vehicles has been in the works since 1999. A dual-mode petition before the U.S. Congress was somewhat successful in 2006, and now a more aggressive approach is being implemented. Several million jobs can very easily be created from the service shop plan, and the U.S. government must take this initiative very seriously, or stand to lose their opportunity to rebuild America against nations that will readily see the benefits of non-motorized vehicles.

Technology Integrator
New Venture Associates II
Willingboro, N.J.

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