To get to clean air we need to make fewer trips by car.
Rep. John Curtis recently held a clean air tour in Utah. He started at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City and ended in Moab, using the bus, TRAX, FrontRunner, electric car, and even his bike to cover the 230 miles of his tour. Along the way, he met with residents, community leaders and elected officials to talk about what each of us can do to help clear Utah’s air.
His chosen means of travel highlighted a significant fact: since our cars and trucks are the largest single source of harmful emissions, adding nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds into our air, we need to think about new and different transportation choices if we are to clear our air.
At a meeting with transportation agencies, Rep. Curtis asked for ideas of how we can encourage people to leave their cars at home, or drive shorter distances, and thereby lower emissions. The Wasatch Front Regional Council offered five key ideas to help reduce the number of vehicle miles being travelled on Utah roads, some of which succeed by making it easier for people to change their behavior. These five ideas include:
Implement the Wasatch Choice Vision
As we grow and develop, we should have more mixed-use centers where transportation, homes, jobs, and other opportunities are located together, minimizing or even eliminating the need to use a car at all.
Expand and enhance transit
We must make transit a more convenient and cost-effective transportation choice.
Create family-friendly bicycle infrastructure
We need to provide ways for more Utahns to comfortably ride a bike to make a trip.
Connect Utah's street network
It seems simple, but together we should make sure our neighborhood and local streets connect, providing convenient and direct routes from point A to point B.
All Utahns can begin reducing trips now, choosing to telework, carpool, use transit or active transportation or simply skip the trip altogether.
This is not about forcing people to not drive. It’s about giving people viable choices. If someone leaves their car at home and rides their bike or takes the train, that helps to clear our air. And removing a car from the road also helps those who choose to drive by reducing traffic congestion, thereby reducing emissions as well.
There’s no one “magic bullet” to solve our air quality challenges, given that the majority of Utahns live in a geographic bowl. But if we can give Utahns more transportation choices — and make those transportation choices easier to use — we’ll reduce traffic congestion and clear our air at the same time.