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Reducing Dependence on the Motor Vehicle

Reducing dependence on the motor vehicle is an essential strategy for reducing air pollution from personal transportation. This strategy requires a rethinking of the way our communities are designed, and will result in countless benefits for our communities, and for our environment.

Major themes to be addressed are:

1. The land use - transportation connection

Land use and transportation decisions are intimately connected; improvements in one will promote more effective decision making in the other.

Land use decisions, such as the expansion of low-density suburban areas, profoundly affect transportation choices and consequently, our air quality as well. Similarly, wiser policy choices concerning the role of the transit service, municipal zoning laws, and how transportation dollars are invested will encourage more sustainable land use options.

2. Creating complete communities and reduced car dependency

There are several steps that governments can take to improve transportation choices, reduce reliance on the car, and encourage more complete urban developments.

These options include:

  • Improved planning - transportation infrastructure development and land use must be guided by a plan that considers long term goals and benefits for the region and long term costs of different transportation and land use choices

  • Changing land use regulation - municipalities and regional governments can dramatically enhance air quality by passing zoning bylaws that encourage compact growth patterns and that are amenable to transit

  • Parking management - the price and availability of parking spaces directly correlates with single occupancy vehicle use. Governments and employers must take steps to expose the true costs of parking spaces and reduce car use

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Kilometres traveled by urban automobiles increased five-fold while urban transit rides per person per year declined from 250 to under 100