Green transport ideas that all cities should implement

By hubert / Updated: 13 May 2021

To create a sustainable living environment, cities must start to adopt green and smart transport and infrastructure policies. Different urban mobility solutions and green infrastructure will improve people’s lifestyles and reduce their negative impact on the environment. Many cities across the globe have already began to implement such ideas, ten of which are discussed here.

1. Encourage the use of personal mobility devices
Personal mobility devices refer to any device that provides individual transport. These include electric scooters, bicycles, unicycles, and hoverboards. These micromobility transport modes have gained popularity, not only for their efficiency and ease of use, but also their positive environmental impact. Unfortunately, some of these, especially electric scooters, are still banned in most countries. If more cities across the globe can legalise and encourage these, cities could reduce their carbon emissions, congestion, and respiratory-related illness.

2. Use solar and pedal hybrid vehicles
Support travel that does not harm the environment, using a solar and pedal hybrid vehicle. It is a cross between a car and a bicycle. It has enough space for a few people and some luggage like a car, but it runs on solar or pedal power. Even though very few manufacturers are currently developing this type of vehicle, it would be a perfect transport alternative for cities and suburbs. It’s not only good for the environment, but also also for one’s physical activity.

3. Promote electric public transport
Public transport authorities should take the initiative to develop, test, and implement electric forms of transport to reduce a city’s carbon emissions. For example, Movia, a public transport agency in Copenhagen, has been testing new technology and green solutions for buses for several years. These include hybrid buses, lightweight buses, eco-driving, using different biofuels, and more. The test results are shared with private operators to create green transport solutions with reasonable prices.

4. Make space for cycle highways
Cycle highways are high quality cycling routes built for long distance cycling. These can be made up of cycle lanes, tracks, or routes that are separated from roads. For example, Denmark’s municipalities and its Capital Region collaborated to build a network of bicycle paths called Cycle Superhighways across the Capital Region. This initiative aims to provide better infrastructure for bike commuters and encourage people to commute using bicycles. Aside from reducing emissions, Cycle Superhighway are expected to deliver a 19% socio-economic return, reduce the number of sick days to 34,000 annually, and reduce car rides during rush hour by 1.4 million.

5. Support carpooling
Carpooling or car ride-sharing is not a new concept - it offers benefits to a city, the environment, and to people. With more people sharing a ride on the same route, it reduces traffic congestion, reduces car emissions, helps the riders save on costs, and saves time on the road. In fact, the state of US Arizona has integrated carpooling into its law by creating lanes exclusively for carpooling. Moreover, ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft make carpooling easier and safer in cities.

6. Provide dedicated bus lanes
Bus rapid transits (BRT) have long been used in South America and Europe, although they are only recently gaining popularity in North America and Asia. This bus system provides a dedicated bus lane, allowing buses to bypass cars and traffic jams on the road. A study of a 14-mile long BRT in Guangzhou, China found that it reduced carbon dioxide by 86,000 tons annually. If more cities in the US and Asia can develop BRT systems, it would relieve traffic congestion in major cities, encourage more people to take public transport, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

7. Improve freight efficiency
It also takes transport to move goods, and using technology will make these systems efficient and less harmful to the environment. For example, encouraging the use of fleet management systems for trucks can make the freight industry more sustainable. Using data, companies and drivers can improve their fuel efficiency, which results in reduced costs and carbon emissions. Of course, combine this with electric trucks, and the freight industry can further reduce their emissions from trucks.

8. Use green road construction
When developing green infrastructure for transport, it is also important to consider the materials that will be used for these projects. Green construction uses recycled or sustainable materials, practices, and design strategies that limit a road’s impact on the environment and help maximise the highway’s lifetime. For example, a company in California is testing a pavement made with recycled post-consumer plastic waste. As a result, these roads can reduce the time for constructing roads, eliminate plastic waste, and produce fewer emissions due to their low heat energy.

10. Build greenways
Greenways connect people and places through land corridors. These spaces are located within rivers, streams, or abandoned railway tracks. Besides acting as a convenient and efficient route, they also helps improve water quality, reduce flooding, and protect natural habitats. Moreover, greenways can help generate economic activity, enhance recreational spaces, encourage physical activity, and improve people’s overall quality of life.

Overall, upgrading and making transport sustainable will improve transport, the environment and benefit a city’s social and economic activities. Implementing the ideas above could help enhance the quality of life in most cities.

Policy and research