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As state and national policymakers seek solutions to improve infrastructure, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group’s new report, Transform Transportation, provides a roadmap the organizations say will “steer Arizona towards transportation options to save consumers money and protect public health”.
Transform Transportation documents numerous harmful health impacts caused by the car-centric transportation system including:
● Pollution: Traffic-related air pollution cuts short an estimated 58,000 American lives every year and causes or exacerbates serious illnesses ranging from childhood asthma to lung cancer, strokes, heart disease and dementia.
● Traffic-related fatalities: Motor vehicle crashes each year kill an estimated 40,000 Americans and seriously injure 4.5 million.
● Poor quality of life: People with long car commutes are at increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and experience substantially higher levels of stress.
● Carbon emissions: Transportation is now America’s number one source of carbon pollution, with greenhouse emissions from cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles surpassing every other source.
According to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group, although the problems of our car-dependent transportation system are prevalent, so are the solutions. The organizations noted that as lockdowns kicked in across the country, a record decline in driving was accompanied by an increase in people walking, cycling, and choosing other active modes of transportation.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we have choices to make. With the right policies, we can deliver huge benefits for public health and the environment by making it easier and safer for Americans to drive less and live more,” said report co-author James Horrox of Frontier Group.
Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, added, “From rural communities to urban centers, transportation options and clean transportation technologies have been tried and tested and are well on their way to becoming mainstream.”
Brown noted that bike lanes, e-bikes and e-scooters are increasingly common sights in various municipalities; streets designed for pedestrians and cyclists to coexist safely no longer seems outlandish; public transit including vanpool service remains a critical transportation option; and zero-emission electric vehicles have proven themselves as viable alternatives to internal combustion engines with EV ownership rising rapidly as more car manufacturers produce diverse models. Additionally, she said that municipalities and school districts that have added electric buses to their transit fleets have found them to be less expensive, cleaner, and more efficient than their old, polluting diesel counterparts.
The report provides recommendations designed to transform Arizona and America’s transportation system including:
● Double the number of people who travel by foot, bike, or transit by 2030 through expanding transit networks and creating “complete streets” that are safe, accessible and support micro-mobility.
● Electrify all transit and school buses by 2030 by adopting commitments for zero-emission electric buses from municipalities, transit agencies, and school districts.
● Make all new light-duty cars and trucks sold after 2035 electric and all new medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold by 2040 electric by incentivizing the adoption of electric vehicles through expanded charging infrastructure and by reducing financial hurdles.
Brown concluded, “If our travel patterns could change so quickly and dramatically as a result of a pandemic, imagine what could happen if policymakers made a deliberate effort to provide us with viable transportation options – options for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as vanpools, buses, rail, and electric vehicles. The path has been laid. Federal, state, and local leadership can and should prioritize policy changes to transform transportation.”
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