Electric cars are not the solution to skyrocketing gas prices – Streetsblog California
The recent spike in gasoline prices has made many people aware of how many people depend on cars. Fractured communities, criss-crossed and divided by highways and parking lots, have made cars the only reasonable transportation option in many communities. But the car-dependent culture is having a devastating impact on family budgets, even when gas is cheaper than it is today. It also forces people to endure traffic jams and associated stress, while adding to a devastating pollution crisis for public health. Seven of the ten most polluted cities in the United States are in Californiawith Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles and the Bay Area topping the list.
The first solution that might come to mind to solve our problems of volatile gasoline prices and chronic pollution is the transition to electric vehicles. But even if we achieve the Governor’s goal of selling 100% electric vehicles by 2035, almost a third of cars on California roads in 2045 will still burn gasoline. And electric vehicles won’t solve congestion or safety issues.
The number of people killed by drivers nationwide while walking increased by nearly fifty percent over the past decade. Finished 30,000 people were killed in car accidents in the first nine months of 2021, a increase of more than ten percent compared to the previous year – the biggest increase since crash reports began nearly half a century ago.
Switching to electric cars won’t mend fractured communities, increase safety or save people from arduous commutes. Additionally, owning a car is simply not an option for many people, especially in low-income communities and communities of color that suffer the most from pollution.
We need something different. We need healthier, more affordable communities built for people, not cars.
Fortunately, California policymakers are already considering other ways – more than electric cars – to address mobility. If California can increase community policies and investments that make communities walkable and bikeable, we can solve many of these problems. We can too stop giving away valuables to parking lots and highwaysand stop adding to existing maintenance deficits on miles and miles of land currently dedicated to moving and receiving cars.
The problem is that the policies and plans we already have in place are not being implemented fast enough and are sorely underfunded. the California Transportation Rating identified a huge gap between the state’s vision of climate-friendly transportation and the reality that investments at the state and regional levels continue to be focused on cars.
We have an opportunity to close this gap. the 2022 Climate Change Framework Plan provides a critical window to leverage and align existing efforts and develop new solutions to improve our car-centric communities. But to do that, CARB needs to set bold goals to reduce the number of miles driven in our state. Goals and actions that facilitate sustainable travel will put California on the path to achieving climate, health, equity, and many other community sustainability goals.
Current and new investment opportunities can support these strong goals and implementation actions in the framework plan that reduce the need to lead. the Climate action plan for transport infrastructure establishes a framework to prioritize more than $5 billion for projects that reduce climate pollution and driving addiction. California’s climate investments support programs that do the same. And new federal infrastructure legislation, expected to deliver $550 billion to California transportation and utilities over the next five years, opens up new opportunities to reinvent the way we move and build better communities.
We need policymakers to support all transport options, including walking and cycling, public transport and shared mobility. Now is the time to build a better, healthier California that is about people, not cars.
Roger Dickinson, former state assemblyman, Sacramento County Supervisor and executive director of Transportation California, serves as CivicWell‘s Policy Director, where he provides legislative advice and advocacy at national and local levels.
Josh Meyer, Director of Community Design at CivicWellhas over 25 years of experience helping local leaders create vital places through healthy and sustainable transportation and land use policies, project planning and implementation.