Opinion: To Reduce Emissions, Listen to Those Who Don't Drive

An initiative to promote pedestrian-oriented infrastructure investments in Washington state highlights the lessons that policymakers can learn from people who rely on walking and public transit.

2 minute read

February 12, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


1000 Words / Shutterstock

With transportation emissions accounting for almost half of Washington state's greenhouse gas emissions, making a meaningful impact calls for a reduction in reliance on personal vehicles. What better source for learning about a car-free lifestyle, asks Anna Zivarts, than those who already don't drive? A quarter of Washingtonians don't have driver's licenses, and many more don't own cars due to high maintenance costs, health issues, or personal choice. Yet policymakers consistently fail to design public infrastructure that effectively serves pedestrians and transit-dependent people.

"To get where we need to go in a system not designed for us, those of us who can’t drive have become experts in weaving together bus schedules across counties, in planning our grocery trips and doctor’s appointments days in advance so we can request rides. We have figured out how to patch together accessible ways to get to the local community center, and to cross highways that not only block fish passage, they keep us from visiting our neighbors. And if you ask us, we can tell you exactly what kinds of investments are needed to make it possible for more people to be less dependent on driving."

To bring these issues to light, the Disability Mobility Initiative is creating a storymap that features "interviews with people from across our state who rely on transit, paratransit, walking, rolling or community rides." The initiative aims to highlight how a lack of accessible infrastructure makes more people reliant on cars and suggest investments that can lead to a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable transportation system.

Thursday, February 4, 2021 in The Seattle Times

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Pumping Gas

10 States Where the Gas Tax Is Highest

As the gap between gas tax revenue and transportation funding needs widen across the country, the funding mechanism is drawing increased scrutiny from both public officials and consumers.

June 9, 2024 - The Ascent

Concrete walkway with landscaping, decorative tiles, and picnic tables in a Los Angeles County park.

Wish Granted: Former Brownfield Transformed to New Park

Wishing Tree Park in West Carson, California officially opened last month, replacing a brownfield site with a much-needed green space for recreation and respite.

June 14 - Urbanize LA

"No right turn on red" and "Turning vehicles yield to pedestrians" sign.

The Tide is Turning on Right Turns on Red

The policy, which stems from the gas embargo of the 1970s, makes intersections more dangerous for pedestrians.

June 14 - NPR

Thick green forest on edge of lake in Louisville, Kentucky.

Louisville Begins Process to Clean Superfund Site

A public forest is home to dozens of barrels that have been leaking toxic materials for decades.

June 14 - Inside Climate News

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.