Do Sustainable Transport Co-ordinators dream of electric cars?

A major part of any Environmental Policy is the measuring of, and targets to reduce, the carbon footprint of the organisation and as motorised commuters represent a significant source of those carbon emissions, the travel plan is often used as a tool for helping to make those reductions.

So, as carbon emissions come from petrol and diesel powered vehicles, should we be focussing on encouraging commuters to switch to electric cars? I don’t think so.

Aside from the fact that the electricity has to come from somewhere and that ‘somewhere’ more often than not has a carbon footprint of its own, there are more reasons than just carbon reduction for encouraging drivers out of their cars.

Firstly, motorised vehicles are an inactive form of transport and inactivity is associated with a whole host of health problems including obesity and heart disease.

Secondly, cars are responsible for the deaths of around 3000 people every year, including other car users, cyclists and pedestrians.

Additionally, they contribute to the decline in local shops and the loss of community cohesion as people drive to out of town shopping centres or use their cars to take the children to school rather than walking with neighbours.

That’s not to mention that driving is stressful, expensive, time-consuming and road building is detrimental to the countryside and our physical environment.

My approach to travel planning is to offer people opportunities to get out of their cars and vans; to encourage the use of walking and cycling wherever possible and public transport when not. I’m not anti-car I’m pro-choice: I don’t think people should give up their cars altogether but I do think that they should consider when it is appropriate to use an alternative.

So no, I don’t dream of electric cars, I dream of a time when people make flexible choices; decide on the most suitable transport type for the next journey and only drive when they need to.

 Dr Ian Murdey

Ian Murdey is the Transport Co-ordinator at DMU. He usually runs or cycles to work but will occasionally use the bus.

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4 thoughts on “Do Sustainable Transport Co-ordinators dream of electric cars?

  1. Interesting blog post Ian. However I think there is a place for electric vehicles. Cars do have draw backs, as you clearly point out, but we find ourselves in a situation with very poorly co-ordinated and accessible public transport systems and until that provide a useable alternative for the majority, a more environmentally friendly form of transport like electric vehicles is a welcome in my view.

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    • Hi Karl; sorry if it came across as anti-electric cars; it wasn’t meant to. Rather, I was trying to convey the idea that switching from petrol/diesel power to electric power is not the primary way to solve our transport problem or our carbon footprint problem. Of course an electric vehicle may be a good substitute but ONLY when other more sustainable transport means have been considered and discarded for good reason.

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  2. Thanks Ian. Electric vehicles will improve environmental conditions at point of use but consideration must be given to where the juice to power the vehicle comes from. DMU is doing some interesting work around monitoring electric vehicles to see if there is a way of connecting them to smart grid and using them as a store with renewable energy generation

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