#1 – Cars are relentlessly expensive
The average annual cost of car ownership per vehicle is $9,282 per year, or $773 monthly including car payments, fuel, maintenance, liability and collision insurance, licenses, registration fees, taxes and depreciation.
Once they’ve paid for their cars, downtown drivers need a place to store them and parking contracts are not cheap. If your organization subsidizes employee parking you know how it drains your budget. You didn’t sign up to be in the parking business.
Developers also feel the pinch. Enclosed parking in new construction typically costs between $20,000 and $30,000 per space. Ongoing maintenance and management payments are extra. These costs are reflected in lease costs and tenants notice.
If that’s not enough, don’t forget the money we all spend on road design, right-of-way purchases, concrete and construction materials, safety and enforcement and eternal summer maintenance. Finally, add the medical, life, and disability insurance premiums paid to cover the 40,000 Americans killed and millions more maimed by drivers every year.
Embracing sustainable transportation means big savings for commuters, employers and property owners/managers.
#2 – Cars, trucks, and SUVs are choking us
The air pollution we produce when driving is astonishing. When we drive less, we save lives.
According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, air pollution in Minnesota plays a role in 4,000 deaths, 500 hospitalizations and 800 emergency room visits every year. In the Twin Cities, the majority of air pollution comes from tailpipe emissions and has particularly insidious impacts on low-income communities of color. Less driving means a healthier community for all of us.
#3 – Driving destroys the climate that sustains us
Transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota and the threat of climate change is immediate, growing and wide-reaching. Unchecked climate impacts will be disastrous for our economy and tragic for humanity.
The City of Minneapolis aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and shifting mode choice away from passenger cars and trucks is essential to this outcome. According to the Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan, “even with the mass adoption of electric cars, Minneapolis will need to reduce automobile passenger miles by 38% to reach this goal.”
Electric vehicles alone won’t save the planet. We need to drive less.
#4 – Highways harm critical habitat
The environmental impact of cars isn’t limited to the what spills out of tailpipes. The infrastructure needed to support widespread driving has its own set of implications. Over 20% of the land area in Minneapolis is roadway. Highway and road construction and expansion fragments wildlife habitat, spreads invasive species and forces the conversion of green space into sprawling human development.
Our plants and animals, lakes and leafy areas are a big part of what makes living in Minnesota so delightful. We can preserve what matters to us by choosing sustainable modes of transportation.