There are certain images that just spark something in me... and today, it was one that Beca posted on Facebook.
I know that some people may say, "A car can fit four or five people, that's an exaggeration." However! The fact that cars CAN transport 4 or 5 people doesn't mean that they DO. Next time you're commuting to the office in the morning, look to the left and then to the right of you. Cars usually have one passenger in them at any given time. More people are in them when you're on a road trip or when the whole family is going somewhere, but since when do you go to your office with your whole family?!
George provided a useful link to the U.S. Department of Energy's website which states, "The average number of persons occupying a car is 1.59 and has not changed much since 1995. The largest increases from 1995 to 2009 have been in the occupancy rates for vans – from 2.07 to 2.35 – and sport-utility vehicles – from 1.70 to 1.92 persons per vehicle." (For additional data, click here.)
Additionally, the cost for the infrastructure necessary for these different types of transportation is proportional to the "space" needed. Maintaining bike lanes is never going to cost as much as adding lanes to highways and building overpasses. (Not to mention that you'll end up paying $15-50 to fix a bike, but potentially thousands to fix a car... and crash with another bike at full speed, you might have a broken arm, crash with another car at full speed, and good luck to you.) And let's not confuse the REAL issue here: more than a matter of "space", it's a matter of energy efficiency and how using these different types of transportation affects our overall well-being and the future of our planet.
Whether you believe in global warming or not is not even an issue. Fact is, fossil fuels are huge contaminants and in the long run, are not an ENDLESS source of energy. So it doesn't matter if we disagree on climate change or not, I think we can all agree that the contamination caused by emissions and leaks in the air and in the ground adversely affect our health... not to mention the fact that driving makes stress levels rise and reduces human interaction. Public transportation and bikes are not only good for your health, fitness, clean air, but you end up at least saying hello to people you cross paths with more often. And riding bikes more often would lead to developers having to take it into account as a form of transportation when planning cities... Can you imagine the advantages of having to travel shorter distances to take your children to school, to get groceries, and the additional time you would have for leisure if you cut your commute that much shorter? We're talking huge improvements on so many levels, and drastically better quality of life...
I'll keep dreaming and posting. :)