Every year, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the environment through transport emissions. In addition to carbon dioxide emissions, burning petrol or diesel in an internal combustion engine such as those used in the majority of cars also releases a wide range of other harmful chemicals and particles into the environment. This has led to hotspots of air pollution in the United Kingdom, where the air quality is far below the recommended minimum standard.
These hotspots tend to be centred on large motorways and busy cities where there is a lot of vehicular activity. In order to reduce air pollution across the country, it is important for the government to continue to make funds available to improve the green transport infrastructure. Building the green transport industry should also help to reduce the amount of sole occupant transport vehicles that are seen on the roads today.
Improve Footpaths and Cycle Routes
Travelling by foot or by bike are two of the greenest form of transport, because they only really produce as much carbon dioxide as is breathed out by the “users”. Hundreds of thousands of journeys that are taken each day are shorter than 2 miles, which would be easy for most adults to walk or cycle.
In order to encourage more people to go by foot or travel by bike, it is important for authorities to make these methods as safe and appealing as possible. Footpaths and cycle lanes should be separate from each other and clearly identifiable. They should also be well-lit so that users feel as safe as possible when they are using them.
Harsh penalties should be given to motorists who endanger cyclists by failing to adhere to the rules of the road, although that is not to say that cyclists don’t have any responsibilities to other road users themselves as they most certainly do.
Children may be offered lessons to help them to learn how to cycle safely around traffic. This will encourage a greater uptake of cycling.
The vast majority of taxi journeys which are taken in the United Kingdom are taken over short distances within towns or cities. Stopping and starting at traffic lights and road junctions is a very inefficient way to drive if the vehicle is running on petrol or diesel. However; electric vehicles are actually more energy efficient when they are operating in the city than they are when they are being driven on the motorway.
Because hybrid vehicles are designed to recapture some of the energy which is wasted when normal vehicles slow down, they are able to move more efficiently in a stop-go environment. For example, regenerative braking systems capture the heat energy that is given off when a vehicle brakes, and then they feed this power back into the system. If city councils were to invest in more special charging points and incentive schemes to allow taxi companies to use electric vehicles, it would make these vehicles a more feasible alternative for moving around the city.
Large companies, schools and universities in the United Kingdom could do more to help to foster lift-share schemes amongst employees or service users. For example, favourable parking spaces or parking permits could be given to people who lift-share with others. Companies are able to benefit from this as it builds social capital amongst employees and helps to promote punctuality. Not only is this good for the company themselves, but it can also help to reduce the amount of traffic which is on the roads at rush hour.
Improve the image of public transport
Public transport has a very negative image at the moment, because some major providers have not been running services regularly or on time. Other people view public transport as something that is only used by those who are less well off.
Companies need to work hard to improve their image, so that public transport regains public trust and builds its appeal to a wider audience. Increased use of public transport could help to take thousands of cars off of the road every single day.
Alternative types of public transport
Britain needs to continue to invest in alternative types of public transport which offer greener services to users. In recent years, London has started to invest in greener forms of transport, including buses with energy capture technology which are designed to operate more efficiently. Other cities have started to experiment with vehicles that are powered by alternative fuel sources.
The government is continuing to work with rail and bus franchise owners to incentivise cleaner fuel sources. Diesel-powered trains, which are noisier and pollute more than electric trains, are gradually being phased out. A widespread electrification process is being introduced by National Rail to help to turn any remaining diesel routes into electrified tracks. Bus service operators have been offered grants to help them to make changes to their fleet which will make them more fuel efficient and should reduce vehicle emissions levels.