Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Colour enhanced aerial maps of many American cities reveal starkly just how much space is presently allocated to parking. An innovative American design team, Alloybuild, has asked itself:

‘Is there a new model for American cities, where the impact of the private car and its needs can be reduced whilst still allowing the positive benefits of personal transport for residents and the economy?’

The answer they have come up with is ‘Shuffle City’

The project designers argue that if people didn’t own vehicles, there would be no need for either the extensive flat car parks or the multi-storeys that serve as a parking infrastructure in the urban landscapes of car-centric cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles. The share of city space taken up for parking would shrink, making way for more green space, as well as denser planning for workspace, housing, and retail. With buildings that people use closer together, there would be more potential for designing safe and green pedestrian routes between them.

RAC Foundation research has shown that privately owned cars are actually parked at home for 80% of the time, parked elsewhere for 16% of the time and are only on the move for 4% of the time.

Alloybuild has focused on people using their cars for relatively short periods and has come up with the idea of a modern city where people depend less on personally owned vehicles that need parking space when not in use, and more on a publicly available fleet of continuously moving automated vehicles to serve urban mobility needs. The new style fleet of individual transport units would also replace dependence on the more traditional public transport systems like bus and light rail.


Within a city, the new style vehicles would make up part of a live, self-regulating system. Software would manage the ‘driving’ including: giving way at junctions, routing, and speed, so there would be no need to stop between the origin and destination of a journey. The ultra-lightweight vehicle units don’t need drivers – and, importantly, will not need city-centre parking.


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We might not be there yet but the two charts below illustrate how the greening of the car fleet is happening. Even over the relatively short period of a decade the fall in average CO2 emissions is marked (the numbers come from the DfT’s vehicle licensing stats table VEH0206). The first graph looks at emissions in relative terms…

New car sales by CO2 emissions (in relative terms)

And now in absolute terms…

New car sale by CO2 emissions in absolute terms








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So buses are the green way to travel are they? Well it clearly depends on how you measure their environmental credentials. The latest figures from the DfT show that fleet average CO2 emissions for buses have risen by about 25% over the past decade (the figures are plotted below alongside similar data for rigid and articulated HGVs). The numbers tell you what is happening but not why. Perhaps buses are getting bigger and heavier because they can carry more people.

Of course what is more important here is the average load factor per bus and the subsequent CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre – rather than vehicle kilometre. Even so it would be interesting to hear what the ‘official’ reason is for the steady increase in bus emissions compared with the steady decline in those for cars.

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