Urban and Regional Planning has a large role to play in creating sustainable communities that reduce our environmental impact. We cannot save our wild lands and endangered species if we do not address climate change. Studies show that 20% of all U.S. emissions are directly attributed to household consumption(1). Transportation and housing account for more than half of all U.S. household emissions, both at home and overseas.
Each of us has a role to play as we consider how we can reduce our role in contributing to the climate crisis. Nearly 30% of our household emissions are from transportation. One thing my household has done is to choose where we live so as to reduce our dependence on the automobile. The majority of our daily trips are done via bike. We try to make long distance trips via transit whenever possible, but this can be challenge.
Speaking of planning for the future, I recently had the opportunity to make a trip to Chicago to meet the new Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Ben Jealous, at the offices of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club. The State of Illinois supports the operation of passenger rail so that it is a viable option for trips. So, I took the train to Chicago with my trusty bike to join the fun. Many people think that biking in winter is too cold or too difficult. However, with the right gear it is still a great way to travel.
What does it take to enable multimodal travel? It takes good leadership, planning, and investment by a community. As a planner and environmentalist I will keep working to reduce my household environmental footprint as I work on public policy to support an equitable and just transition to a fossil-fuel-free future.
(1) PBS NewsHour https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/5-charts-show-how-your-household-drives-up-global-greenhouse-gas-emissions