Alternatives to car use

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Pyongyang Trolleybus.
Bicycle sharing systems in Toluca (Huizi station)

Current technological developments suggest that cars, as used today, will be replaced.[1] Established alternatives to car use include public transit (buses, trolleybuses, trains, subways, monorails, tramways), cycling, walking, rollerblading and skateboarding.

Bicycle-sharing systems have been implemented in over 1000 cities worldwide, and are especially common in many European and Chinese cities of all sizes. Similar programs have been implemented across the United States as well, including large cities like Washington, D.C., and New York City, as well as smaller cities like Buffalo, New York and Fort Collins, Colorado.

Personal rapid transit is a scheme that has been discussed, in which small, automated vehicles would run on special elevated tracks spaced within walking distance throughout a city, and could provide direct service to a chosen station without stops. However, despite several concepts existing for decades personal rapid transit has failed to gain significant ground and several prototypes and experimental systems have been dismantled as failures. Another possibility is new forms of personal transport such as the Segway PT, which could serve as an alternative to cars and bicycles if they prove to be socially accepted.[2]

All of these alternative modes of transport pollute less than the conventional (petroleum-powered) car and contribute to transport sustainability. They also provide other significant benefits such as reduced traffic-related injuries and fatalities, reduced space requirements, both for parking and driving, reduced resource usage and pollution related to both production and driving, increased social inclusion, increased economic and social equity, and more livable streets and cities. Some alternative modes of transportation, especially cycling, also provide regular, low-impact exercise, tailored to the needs of human bodies. Public transport is also linked to increased exercise, because they are combined in a multi-modal transport chain that includes walking or cycling.

According to the MIT Future Car Workshop, the benefits of possible future car technologies not yet in widespread use (such as zero-emissions vehicles) over these alternatives, would be:[3]

  • Increased mobility in rural settings and in some other areas where traffic jams are not severe
  • Possibly higher social status
  • Overall a better provision for privacy
  • Profit for the multinational firms producing cars, and possibly for their employees

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dennis, K., Urry, J. 2009. After the Car. Cambridge: Polity.
  2. ^ Jane Holtz Kay (1998). Asphalt Nation: how the automobile took over America, and how we can take it back. ISBN 0-520-21620-2.
  3. ^ Transology: M.I.T. Future Car Workshop