How much impact can the 1-mile Solution really have? Check out the transportation statistics cited by Professor Chandra Bhat in his recent survey of for the Center for Transportation Research at The University of Texas at Austin:
Bhat said the transportation sector accounts for about one-third of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Within that sector, travel by personal vehicles accounts for nearly two-thirds of those emissions. And only 0.9 percent of all trips in the United States are made by bicycle, and the number drops to 0.4 percent for commute trips — despite the fact that a significant amount of trips are deemed short-distance and can be made using a bike. A 2001 National Household Travel Survey revealed that 41 percent of all trips in 2001 were shorter than two miles and 28 percent were shorter than one mile.
So you start out small. You commit to one trip per week by foot or on a bicycle within a 1-mile radius of home. One mile is not far. At a modest pace it’s a 20-minute walk (great exercise!) or a 6-minute bicycle ride.
The idea, of course, is that we’ll all see how easy one mile is and then begin replacing two trips per week. Then three. And soon enough, we’re routinely walking and riding within the circle.
(Granted, living conditions and physical ability will make this idea difficult to impossible for some Americans. I’m concerned right now for those who can but don’t.)
The benefits are huge. And not just for the environment. The benefits are huge for our pocketbooks and our well-being.
As most Carbon Trace readers know by now, I’m working on a new utility cycling booklet for Springfield. How mine will be different from the rest: I’ll be focusing (although not exclusively) on the 1-mile Solution rather than heroic commuting of the kind only a few can actually accomplish (at this time). No scary talk of special clothing and strenuous ablutions. Just normal people wearing normal clothes using their normal bicycles (or their normal shoes) to travel within a mile of their homes. This is do-able.
I’ll soon compile and expand much of what I’ve written so far about the 1-mile Soultion into a stand-alone page on Carbon Trace. For now, check out: