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Traffic and travel habits

Traveling and traffic jams

The amount of time that people spend on travel has been consistent at 1,1 hours per person per day in all societies. The average distance traveled is 12 000 km (7,400 miles) per year. In total, the world population travels more than 23 trillion km (16.6 trillion miles) per year, 53% of which is by car, 26% by bus, 9% by rail, 9% by high-speed transport such as airplanes, and 3% by bicycle, boat and other means.

It is estimated that, due to developments in high-speed public transport, travel time will drop to only 12 minutes per person per day by 2050. Of the world traffic volume, 35% will be by car, 20% by bus, 41% by high-speed transport, and 4% by rail.

Which is good news. Currently, traffic congestion leads to huge negative economic and environmental impact across the world. Road congestion in the UK costs the UK economy 15 billion a year. It costs the US $100 billion a year. In Seattle, Washington for instance, a driver spends an average of 59 hours stuck in traffic each year. In the greater Seattle area there are more cars than people; each household makes an average of 10 motorcar trips a day. According to Sierra Club, “American cars and trucks account for 20 percent of the world’s petroleum consumption.”

The incentive of the automobile is convenience, but the ultimate price is air pollution and higher taxes. Various studies have shown that higher population density result in higher cost per person. The health and environmental impact of modern transport is tremendous. Carbon-based petrochemical particles are drawn deep into our lungs, causing stress to our cardiopulmonary system, and starving the body of oxygen.

Cars are the largest single source of air pollution and ozone depletion. On a global basis, today’s transport sources are estimated to be responsible for 40 to 60% of the ozone precursor emissions of NOx and hydrocarbons; 70 to 80% of CO emissions; 85% of benzene pollution; 4% of SOx and about one third of all CO2 emissions, in the process wiping out forests, lakes, waterways and crops, affecting animals and humans alike.

The world’s worst traffic jam occurs during the summer on the road from Paris to Toulouse, France. The 2000 record of 604km was well beaten in 2001 when holiday makers jammed up for 661km.

On average, a person takes about 2 million steps in a year.

It is estimated that by 2050, on average North Americans will travel 14000 km (8,750 miles) per year by car, which means they’ll be driving as much as now.

The US has the most highways, but European roads are busier. In Europe, cars travel more than 1000km (600 miles) per road per year, compared to an average 500km per road in the US. Belgium has the most roads per square kilometre in the world.

So, (no pun intended) take a hike.