If changing a city so it has zero carbon emissions is hard, getting rid of the bad habit of car overuse is a great start.
Today, people are so used to taking their car everywhere that they overuse it all the time, even when it means losing time.Getting from one place to another in the same town in car has so many negative effects that it's often close to being masochist to choose to take the car :
- High CO2 emissions
- Traffic, which means loss of time
- Costs a lot adding every time it's overused
Getting rid of car overuse is a big issue. Some organizations try to reduce CO2 emissions with carpooling, an idea highly used in some countries like France. If that reduces CO2 emissions, it's only a first step which we need to build upon.
There are two ways for transportation that need to be combined and improved to overcome that problem: public transports and bikes.Today we can distinguish three types of cities :
- European cities that have already migrated from a high to a low rate of car overuse by adapting themselves to support the use of bikes or public transports. That's the case in countries like Denmark, Norway or Germany.
- European cities which are currently in transition, such as Paris.
- American cities that haven't yet started their transition.
There's a very simple explanation as for why most American cities haven't started their transition: they're not structured to do so, they're structured based on the idea that you always want to use cars. So what can we do about that ?
Well what we propose isn't one action that will suddenly clear everything up, but rather a set of measures to help cities get started with their transition.
We'll detail these actions in the section "What actions do you propose", but here's a list of the main points :
- More bicycle parkings
- Bike sharing system (like vélibs in Paris)
- Dynamo + USB port to charge your phone or others electronic devices while riding your bike or/and share the electric energy once done riding
- Information campaigns in cities
- More bike paths
- Make easier to bring your bike in public transport
- More public transports
- Solar panels on public transports
The non-profit organization would be required to make such a transition. The non-profits would need people to communicate with the cities to help them implement our ideas in their town to get down to very low carbon emissions. It would also need help from engineers to help adding solar panels to public transports in an efficient way and to develop systems such as the dynamo + USB port that would be added to all shared bikes and sold to companies that sell bikes.
What actions do you propose?
A quarter of carbon emissions come from transports, which is tremendous. We want to reduce that fraction by mixing public transport and bikes to get to a low-carbon city.
The first step is to get rid of car overuse. We know it's difficult to ride bikes for long trips, especially if it rains, but if we provided an easier way to get bikes in transports to be able to change easily it could be a significant improvement. The use of bikes would increase by building more bike paths and parkings with easy access.
To do that we'll help cities officials create a strong plan for smarter transports which will include more bike paths and electric transports designed to have a bike with you.
Then, as we live in cities which promote technology, we can create electric energy while people travel: for bikes, a dynamo system with usb ports which distribute this energy could be available, and for public transports, make more solar panels on roofs to replace old public transports which use diesel.
Finally, to foster people to change their habits to be smarter about transport, the non-profit would create information campaigns.
Our idea for electric bike is simple and is able to distribute the electric energy.
Suppose we have 12V 6W dynamos on each wheel. Once the ride started, the wheel movement is converted into electric energy. The energy is stocked in a battery and distributed on one hand to the biker via the USB port and on the other, if it's a city bike, to the bike terminal.
Who will take these actions?
The non-profit organization will help set up our proposals by helping cities make a plan for their "smart transport" transition. It will also develop the aforementioned systems and make our ideas a reality.
Using these systems, every citizen can participate to create a low-carbon city.
Where will these actions be taken?
These actions can be taken in any city where car overuse is a big issue, which is the case in many American cities.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
Hopefully a smart use of cars would be able to reduce significantly the emissions. The idea is to get as many people as possible to take their bike or public transports to go to work for example. For every person, that would save two trips a day, reducing traffic and carbon emissions.
What are other key benefits?
Well people do get to exercise by riding a bike everyday, that's also something good.
The bike's system could be improved by adding a screen with an arduino or another microcontroller. In addition to charging phones, the bike could localize the tourist and help him during his travel.
What are the proposal’s costs?
The cost for this proposal would be hiring a few people to make and sell our bike phone-charging system as well as advisers to go and help town get their transition going based on our ideas and previous experiences.
0-3 months: creating and recruiting for the non-profit. Selection of target cities where the organization will help start the transition.
3-6 months: developping the dynamo + usb and meeting with city officials to tell them about the importance of the transport transition while proposing them solutions
6-18 months: help cities transit. each city transition should take from 6 to 16 months depending on the size.
How can smart technologies drive a rapid transition to zero-carbon cities?