Climate Change Strategy: Walk to Work

Walk to work, ride a bike, take a bus - these options of transportation hope to help mitigate climate change. Also, there are people eager to do what they can and make life changes in order to help lower their carbon footprint. Unfortunately, there are many problems with the current infrastructure of America.

Infrastructure. In the United States there simply is little support for green modes of transportation. From street design to public policy, so much goes against people wishing to lose their cars. In other parts of the world it is not even a problem. I remember when I visited the United Kingdom, buses rolled by nearly every five minutes. In Brighton there were electronic signs that told you when the next bus was coming in bright LEDs. You could purchase any sort of bus pass with the bus driver, from a one day pass to a month pass, no problem. The rail system to London was incredibly  efficient; after a twenty minute wait you were able to view the whole countryside as you smoothly ride to the city. "Mind the gap" was the most difficult part of the day. I never got in a car, not once while I was there.

Reconsidering the car-free route in America and a different picture is painted. Recently, as of Monday May 10, 2010, I decided to embark on a five mile journey from my new residence to the university. Think globally, act locally, right? Absolutely. So I woke up, two hours before my class and within five minutes I realized there was so much danger in my decision to go green.

For one, many parts of my journey did not have a safe sidewalk to walk on. Walking through the landscape, xeriscape, lawns, and occasional boulder did not concern me so much as the 60 mph cars (97 kilometers per hour ). I did use a skateboard for parts of the journey with concrete; however, just the thought of hitting a bad bump, veering into the roadway, and being struck by a vehicle created images of pain and suffering I rather leave to the imagination.

Secondly, there were no bike lanes; what I mistook as a bike lane was in reality the restricted lane for the large double decker buses. Several times, cars would just take a right turn just a short distance in front of me without signaling or slowing down for safety.

My last concern was the poor bus system. When I found a bus stop there was no bus schedule! Luckily one came fairly quickly. Trouble came when I was told that the onboard ticket vending machine would not give me change for a $20 bill- I either had to find a different vending machine (in a distant, unheard of store) or pay $20 for a $2 fare.

The verdict: green transportation in America is severely crippled. Walking so close to five tons of metal moving at high speeds is so dangerous. Biking is equally as dangerous with the added fact that not only are you next to these autos driven by maniacs, but you have to be right in front of them. I've only seen five bikers on these streets and little did I know those were the five bravest people I've seen in the area. Finally, the logistics of riding the bus were illogical. Why couldn't the machine offer up change? Why couldn't the bus driver just manage the tickets if need arise? Why weren't there any bus schedules at the bus stops? Walk to work, ride a bike, take the bus -sure-just don't endanger yourself or your sanity while trying to mitigate climate change.

Photo Credit: Flickr