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The Effect of Transportation in Everyday Life & Surroundings: New Ways of Thinking

Leonte Alexandru

Cultural Geography Professor Pralea January 26, 2014

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In a world as modernized as the one we live in now one of the most important industries out there is transport industry. In order to progress it is necessary to know that without ways of transportation almost nothing can be achieved. We also must focus, beside the need of progress, on the ways in which transportation affects our life and surroundings. Transportation shapes our society in ways that you could not imagine, from direct, indirect to cumulative impacts. To start with I will talk about the course in which transportation affects the mise en scene. The direct impact which manifests itself through acid rain and holes in the ozone layer is the most immediate threat. Those two are the most noticeable ones and their cause is the overuse of transportation. As Jean-Paul Rodriguez, author of The Geography of Transport Systems says, transport activities may be in some cases a dominant factor, while in others their role is more difficult to clarify. The indirect impact is felt globally because even if the authorities impose certain rules upon those who are directly implicated in the production of materials and fuel for the ways of transportation, they cannot control the global impact of it. According to Rodriguez in addition to the environmental impacts of the network, traffic, and modes, economic/industrial processes sustaining the transport system must be considered.1 If a community has a sturdy public transportation system a lot of problems can avoided. It brings

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a bunch of benefits as saving fuel, creating jobs, saving money, reducing carbon footprint, reducing congestion and much more. A recent study made in the transportation system says: Americans living in areas served by public transportation save 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel annually in congestion reduction alone. Without public transportation, congestion costs would have been an additional $21 billion.2 Just out of commodity people choose their car for going to work or at the grocery store, not realizing the consequences what this commodity brings along. One of the consequences being the CO2 emissions. Those emissions destroy the ozone layer and produce smog. According to Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality The term "smog" was first used in London during the early 1900's to describe the combination of smoke and fog. What we typically call "smog" today is a mixture of pollutants but is primarily made up of ground-level ozone.3 We all know that jogging and training in the outdoors is benefic for our health but due to air pollution it can be harmful, lets see how. Smog is the concentrated air pollution where the tiniest air pollution particles called PM2.5 play leading roles.4 These particles come directly from the car exhaust.5 With that in mind more studies show how smog creates sunburn-like effects on the lungs. It does that by making the cholesterol in our blood stickier, leading up to cholesterol blockages that cause heart attacks.

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By choosing public transportation in America instead of your personal automobile, the average American could save more than $9,700 every year.6 This amount would otherwise have been invested in buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest expenditure after housing.7 The biggest polluters are the big consumers, in other words, big engine: from excavators, diesel-powered trains, SUVs and many more. The most common one in the states are sport utility vehicles, or SUVs. SUVs became more popular after the introduction of the Jeep Cherokee during World War II. Jeep Cherokee is considered to be the original SUV.8 David Goewey, writer of Careful, You May Run Out of Planet deepens the idea of social influence and environmental impact that SUVs have. The first idea that we encounter is if you cant see the difference between a car and a sport utility vehicle, and you treat them both as like they are the same, then David Goeweys essay will clear that for you. The pursuit of humanity for independent travelling have started soon with the apparition of steam powered automobiles. Since 1872 when Amedee Bolle invented steam powered demonstration models, the pursuit had continued and for the next 35 years USA dominated the gasoline powered market.9 The automobile entered American popular culture mainly because of low popular density. It was pretty popular and more efficient to drive a car than to ride a bike. After the automobile gained popularity it created the American car culture, the way in which Americans could express their individuality and personality.10

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Now in the 21st century the vehicle that gives the same possibility to the common American citizen is the SUV. This is due to clever marketing, for example the names chosen for the majority of SUVs are strongly related to the average American person conceptions: The Jeep Cherokee manufacturer also mines the symbol of the quintessential American hero, the cowboy pitted against the frontier, the cowboy was directly descended from the backwoodsmen and pathfinders who pioneered west to the Ohio River Valley and beyond to the Northwest Passage.11 SUV manufacturers also resort in their commercials to associating their product with nature and the way in which it conquers the frontier. Its a huge hypocrisy because those cars are adapted to rough terrain but are anything but nature-friendly. The SUV also gives you a higher social status, it makes you act and feel special, but with that thirsty tank of fuel they will lose their popularity soon. Then new and more efficient ways of transportation will arise, such as electric cars, improved public transportation, even smarter bikes. Some researchers are seeing that car culture will slowly appease and they took initiative. The researchers whereof I am talking about founded Superpedestrian Inc. which is a company developing lightweight electric vehicles with integrated online platforms. The most brilliant idea they had so far is called The Copenhagen Wheel.12 This wheel is practically a device which allows you to bring your bike to the 21st century. Its main features according to Superpedestrian Inc. are the power assist, which permits you to enjoy a more efficient ride without using any sort of throttle; regenerative breaking, the device can store energy from your activity on the bike; smart control, the

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device knows when to help you with your pedaling, it also includes an adjoining smartphone application. With that app you control the amount of power the wheel releases when youre in need.13 For example if half the population of a big city commutes to travelling by bike the feeling of alienation will gradually perish due to social interaction which occurs when you ride a bike along with others through the city in your way to work for example. Youre more exposed to the world in that way. If a movement like that will happen the landscape of cities will become more bikefriendly and social-life will bloom. This can be a great step forward for helping our environment. If we continue to be comfortable and isolate us from others by driving cars every day we will lead to a complete alienation and put money into the pockets of those who destroy our planet. What Im trying to say is not that cars arent important, but they must be used wisely and at urgent need in order to preserve our way of living and our surroundings. By encouraging citizens to commute from cars to non-polluting ways of transportation we can reduce the dangers of pollution like smog and ozone depletion. By doing so, more people will interact and hopefully society will change for the better. The love affair with strong, muscular automobiles must be forgotten in the favor of nature-friendly ways of transportation because if we dont, the future will not be as bright as we would like it to be.

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Notes 1. Jean-Paul Rodriguez, Routledge, The environmental impacts of transportation, The geography of transport systems, 2013 2. http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/pages/default.aspx Last accessed: 29.01.2014 3. http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/PROGRAMS/OzoneActionProgram/OzoneF actsandExperiments/WhatisSmog.aspx Last accessed: 29.01.2014 4. http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/08/smog-affects-human-body.html Last accessed: 30.01.2014 5. http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/08/smog-affects-human-body.html Last accessed: 30.01.2014 6. http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/pages/default.aspx Last accessed: 29.01.2014 7. http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/pages/default.aspx Last accessed: 29.01.2014 8. David Goewey, Careful, You May Run Out of Planet, 123 9. Goewey, 119 10. Goewey, 120 11. Goewey, 124 12. https://www.superpedestrian.com/ ( About us section ) Last accessed: 31.01.2014 13. https://www.superpedestrian.com/ ( The Copenhagen Wheel Section) Last accessed: 31.01.2014

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