The future of transportation is connected to the future of global warming. As cities encourage residents to shift away from driving, they must also keep in mind: what if it’s just too darn hot or cold to walk or bike?

Bus and bus stop graphic

Alex Karner is an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Karner: “Our goals for a sustainable transportation system are typically to reduce automobile dependence, and to do that we need to create cities that are conducive to walking, bicycling and public transport use.”

Non-motorized transit provides an opportunity for healthy exercise. But extreme weather and hot sidewalks, major deterrents to these commuting options, will occur more frequently as our climate warms. And commuting in harsh conditions can be a public health hazard, especially for low-income residents who often have no choice.

Creating refuges for commuters, such as heated bus shelters or cooling stations, will be crucial, as will shelters in areas with more spread-out populations. Karner says cities that find ways to improve public transit will likely save money.

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Karner: “It’s often cheaper to provide cycling and pedestrian friendly facilities than it is to continue to maintain highways.”

And that makes them a sound investment in our future.

Reporting credit: Andrew Lapin/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Heat exposure during non-motorized travel: Implications for transportation policy under climate change
The consequences of global warming
on health

Heat vulnerable groups

Lisa Palmer is a freelance journalist and a fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC, in Annapolis, Md. Her writing covers the environment, energy, food security, agriculture,...