The Importance of Sustainable Transportation

Sustainable Transportation
Faculty and Staff

Though you may not spend time considering it, transportation is an integral part of your life. You may drive, bike or walk. Maybe you take buses or metro or carpool. You may be teleworking, cutting your commute to zero. However you look at it, transportation is important–and sustainable transportation most of all.

Why? Well, last October, our Acting Assistant Director for Sustainable Transportation, Marta Woldu, sat down with Green Terps to answer that question.

The emissions flip

In 2016, transportation surpassed electricity as the biggest source of emissions in the United States. Most of these emissions come from lightweight vehicles, like your average car. This is surprising until you learn that 80 percent of Americans habitually drive alone. The challenge with reducing transportation emissions comes from the amount of buy-in needed from different groups. Federal, state and local governments must invest in infrastructure; companies must help promote sustainable options; and individuals must be willing to change their behavior.

You are traffic, they are traffic, we are traffic

Everyone hates traffic. It slows us down. It frustrates us. But, we cause traffic. Take a look at this graphic, which illustrates how much space it takes to transport 40 people individually by car, in a bus and on bikes.

We see the most gain when collective action is taken and all 40 people use transit or bike. But don’t let the idea of collective action stop you from making changes on your own—your individual choice is just as important. If 10 of these people used an alternate mode instead of driving alone, the roadway would open up, we’d see less congestion and less emissions.

Shifting pandemic trends

The pandemic’s impact on transportation has created interesting commute trends.

  • Biking is increasingly popular and the cold weather won’t slow it down. More people are buying bikes and area bike trail usage has increased. We’ve also seen an increase in the use of shared micro-mobility systems for rented bikes and e-scooters.
  • Initially, in New York City, there was an increase in pedestrian-vehicle crashes as emptier roads increased incidents of speeding.
  • Public transportation usage decreased as people feel safer driving on their own, are staying home more or are finding other alternatives.

The pandemic changed routines for us all. Whether you telework full or part time or commute to campus regularly, it’s the perfect time to switch to a sustainable commute. Transitioning to a smart commute can save you time, money and stress. Learn more and read how others made the change.