Sustainable Transportation and Quality of Life
Ward’s Island, a car-free neighborhood in Toronto
The Sustainable Transportation and Quality of Life article by Linda Steg and Robert Gifford gives a very good description and analysis of the relationship between public transportation and quality of life. The article points out that very little is known about what a sustainable transportation system is and which criteria of quality of life should be used to define whether one transportation system is sustainable.
I think that is correct because of the various factors that may reflect sustainability and its relationship with quality of life, and the different effects the transportation system may have for individuals and the society as a whole. Sustainable transportation in one case may not be sustainable in another case. For example, good public transport may be great for a big city but may not be economically efficient for a small town with a small number of people like Toronto’s neighborhood, Ward’s Island, a car-free neighborhood.
Different factors may be considered and different transportation modes may be used to achieve sustainable transport that has a positive effect on the quality of life. While buses work fine for big cities, small buses or vans may work better for small cities. That may assure frequency of service, which is very important when people make decision to use public transport, and will save time and make public transport more attractive.
Of further concern is that sustainable transportation initiatives may have unforeseen impacts on quality of life. For example, the article also points out that one of the ways to achieve sustainable transportation is to use electric cars to decrease pollution by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in this way improve quality of life. However, using more gas efficient cars may change drivers’ behaviors and they may decide to drive more often because their cars are more efficient. The consequences for quality of life will be an increase in traffic, travel time, increased obesity, etc.