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Vehicle Choices

Radiator grille on a Hummer H2, photographed o...I’m in the process of dissecting the Community Energy and Emissions Data for Rossland, and from a short three page summary, it is clear that there are a lot of learning experiences available for public information. The first one that is important is the choice of vehicle. Around the Kootenays, more than half of the vehicles on the road or trucks, vans or SUVs. People cite the snow, the need to carry heavy goods, safety, or comfort as important reasons for their choice of vehicle.But as with most places, these vehicles rarely get used to their capacity, or more ridiculously, in winter, are used to haul snowmobiles around on the back for days on end.

I understand the desire to have a large vehicle, but the reality for most people is that for 90% of how they drive, a small passenger car would be adequate – the majority of people are not going to change their habits until it is demanded of them.

Passenger Vehicle Numbers
Emissions by Source

The above graphs speak of the break-down of passenger vehicles in Rossland, you can click on the pie sections to get some more details. Notices that the emissions from small trucks, vans, and SUVs, not only do they make up a larger percentage of the vehicles on the road, but these are producing more emissions.

There are answers to this problem on a lot of levels, drive less, drive a more efficient car, ride a bike, ride public transport, walk, but more fundamentally, we need to examine the premise behind the transportation system that fuels our addiction to oil. Our lives are built around long distances, from our daily commutes, the holidays we take, our trips to more interesting shopping malls or town centres that hold our attention deficient minds for a little while longer than the local shops. We have limited relationship to the local, we have our few favourite shops or coffee lounges, but almost everything we buy or interact with is primarily made elsewhere, often in a large factory or food processing facility.

Choices

We make choices every day –  we can choose to pack a lunch for work, or we could end up sitting in a drivethrough waiting for a teenager to slap together a burger. One of the choices we make that is being confused as a “right”, is the choice to drive, and in many instances, the choice to drive a large vehicle. There is no easy solution to this problem, the infrastructure required to not drive a vehicle is non-existant, or where it does exist, it is so inefficent or difficult to use that very few can rely on it to meet their transportation needs.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.