Why electric cars aren’t a silver bullet

“It’s staggering really, how much of a city is set aside for cars, and how unwilling we often are to even share that space with other uses and users,” Brent Toderian writes on his blog at Planetizen. “Electric cars do nothing to address this space issue.”

Another great example of these comparison photos. I love Transport for London.

The world seems to be anxiously awaiting the advent of affordable, viable electric-powered cars as the solution to all the woes caused by overdependence on personal automobiles. While we should continue to research and develop technology that will make cars more energy efficient, the fact is that what comes out of the tailpipe isn’t the only issue. In fact, it’s probably not the most important issue.

Even if all vehicles became electric tomorrow (which they won’t), and even if your local electric energy sources are on the renewable side, like BC’s hydro-electric power (which they’re likely not – it’s just as likely they’re on the especially dirty side, like coal), the truth is there’s no totally “clean” energy source, no energy without impacts.

But what, then, is the solution? Or is all hope lost? As it turns out, the solution has been right in front of us all along:

The only real energy solutions are urban densities, use-mixes and patterns, and personal choices, that depend on much less energy. That means efforts like making walking, biking and public transit truly inviting options in our cities and communities.

Perhaps the best part of this post is the gallery of images, like the one at the top of this page, comparing the space taken up by transit users, bicyclists, and drivers. Though I was also really impressed by the graphs that quantified that space. As Mr. Toderian points out, what pictures of pedestrians, bikes, or cars lined up on a street show is how much space they take up when they’re parked; what they can’t show is the even greater amount of space they take up when they’re actually moving. But these charts include that, too.

Last of all, I’ll point out that the same arguments could be made when it comes to self-driving vehicles. Single passengers in autonomous cars will still need just as much parking, and even if they can drive closer together, they’ll still take up more space while traveling than people using other modes.

Read more
Mobility in Cities is About Space – Proven Powerfully in Pictures!
by Brent Toderian
Planetizen, 29 April 2014

3 thoughts on “Why electric cars aren’t a silver bullet

  1. Reblogged this on Courtneycommercial's Blog and commented:
    As a car man you would think I would avoid something like this. But no it makes a great point, and shows no one thing is the answer to transportation woes in and around big cities and little towns. Vehicles of all kinds will have their fit in society but we need to work harder at balancing this out. Especially in cities like NYC, LONDON, HONG KONG, SINGAPORE, SHANGHAI just to mention a few.

    We need to get the people to understand there freedom to rome and go when they want will not be lost. Just because they are not driving themselves some kind of way. We need to understand that public methods can be just as liberating and fun given the chance. Okay we get the knuckle heads making too much noise being rude and sometimes belligerent but hey you got the road rage idiots and those who haven’t a clue behind the wheel as well.

    Check it out this blog and the one mentioned in it. Maybe you might be the one to bring it all together.

    Liked by 1 person

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