Beginning today, the fair city of Albuquerque, N.M. is holding a "Strive Not To Drive" week, during which residents are encouraged to relinquish their cars for more efficient, eco-friendly forms of transportation. The city is also urging habitual drivers to try alternative forms of transport, and is spotlighting a different form of car-free travel each day of the week.
The city rebuffs committed drivers with these stats from the American Public Transportation Association website:
Public transportation reduces pollution and promotes cleaner air. It produces 95% less carbon monoxide (CO), 90 percent less in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and about half as much carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), per passenger mile, as private vehicles. -Each year, public transportation households save over $1,399 worth of gas and transit availability can reduce the need for an additional car, a yearly expense of $6,251 in a household budget. -The average American household spends 18 cents for every dollar earned on transportation, and cars are the largest source of household debt after mortgages.
I’m glad to see Albuquerque, a city of sprawl, encouraging alternative modes of transport, but the city itself (and others like it) needs to change before people change their car-loving ways. In Albuquerque, where transit is slow, unreliable, and inefficient; where cars rule the roads and run cyclists to the wayside the frightened rabbits; where getting to your destination often requires taking the highway or a busy road with no sidewalks or bike lane, people aren’t eager to leap out of their cars. Cities have to change as much as we do; they must be as willing to ditch cars as the people who drive them. Without improvements to public transit and more ped-friendly advancements (i.e. bike lanes, public sidewalks, traffic enforcement), events like Strive Not to Drive seem little more than an empty, impractical gesture to prettify the city in the eyes of politicians.