The federal government spends more than $45 billion on automotive transportation annually. Add in state and local spending, and costs top $175 billion every year. At the same time, the public health costs of deaths connected to automobile-related crashes and emissions amount to an additional $900 billion. And that excludes the costs related to the 4.5 million people injured in automobile crashes every year.
All in all, the social costs of cars are more than $1 trillion every year for a transportation system struggling with increasing congestion, lengthening commute times, harmful emissions comprising the largest share of greenhouse gases of any sector in the United States and rising pedestrian fatalities from car crashes. We can spend this money better to make our cities more efficient, equitable, and safe.
Every resident of a city should be afforded the right to get where they need to go safely and in the most efficient, convenient way possible. This means prioritizing modes of transportation that enable density, move the most people most efficiently, and do not contribute to harmful emissions. Reallocating street space to prioritize the most efficient modes, whether that’s increasing dedicated bus lanes, more protected bike lanes, or dedicated street parking for light electric vehicles such as electric bikes and scooters, will lead to improved mobility, lower stress, better health outcomes, more productivity and help to improve the environment.
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