Mobility: A Time For Change – Part 2
Starting on foot our resourceful imaginations have automated transport taking us from horse drawn journeys to wheeled and winged adventures across the globe. Building ports and laying railway tracks and highways, we’ve expanded a network of connection across towns, cities and countries.
As the world becomes increasingly urban, densely populated areas will face dramatic and seemingly intractable transportation issues. 50% of the global population already lives in cities and, according to the United Nations, that number will approach 70% in the next 40 years.
If current trends continue, people’s reliance on cars will only increase, particularly in emerging markets. As the growing population becomes more affluent, the number of vehicles on the road worldwide is projected to triple, to as much as 3 billion by 2035, according to economic forecasters Global Insight. It is in developing countries that the greatest growth rates in motor vehicles have been seen in the past few years and are expected in the future, primarily in urban areas.
And as the traffic jams worsen, much more than time will be lost. Vehicle congestion typically erodes a country’s GDP by 1-3%. And the pollution, noise, accidents, and altering of the landscape attributable to cars and roads may leave long-term health and psychological scars on local communities.
Sadly, in our hunger for newer and faster we have not always considered the environmental impact of our transit choices and what once seemed so smart is having an increasingly negative impact on our health and the health of our planet. Instead of moving us faster our transport systems are slowing us down and sometimes even reversing our progress. The streets that once connected us are now congested sites of anger and frustration. Our cool wheeled inventions no longer providing us with safe, cost-effective, efficient means to get
from A to B.
Congestion is perhaps the most visible manifestation of the failures in urban transportation planning, and its costs are significant. For example, in Bangkok alone, yearly congestion cost estimates vary from $272m to more than $1b according to the Road Management & Engineering Journal of TranSafety, Inc.