It definitely is a complex task to write about alternative transportation. Collins Canadian Dictionary defines ‘alternative’ as “a possibility of choice” or as something “that is regarded as preferable to that of contemporary society because it is less conventional.”
That covers a lot of ground.
Alternative transportation (AT) is the new buzz word. Does that only mean the change —actually the return— from crude-powered cars to high-tech electric vehicles?
If those two words were a two-wheeler, they ought to have “sustainable” as the rider to guide them on their ‘green’ journey, because that is the underlying reason for the changes taking place at this time in automotive history.
Alternative transportation can, and has happened, for multiple reasons with anything imaginable — in the literal sense of the word.
AT has been the preferred method of motion throughout time. Before Fred Flintstone used his rock-mobile to get to the next valley, his ancestors used a donkey or perhaps a ‘dino’ to explore the next cave. (Dino is also a Ferrari model) George Jetson’s family will surely use alternative transportation and propulsion to voyage to the next planet.
It is a human quality to explore and invent; — to seek improvement is in our DNA.
At the onset of the automotive age three methods of getting from point A to point B existed in almost equal proportions: steam, electricity and petroleum. Henry Ford and his friend Thomas Edison planned to electrify the automobile; Ferdinand Porsche won his first race in a hybrid with hub motors. As the wheels of history are turning, we know how things got pumped up and spilled out, how one industry dominated another, but now we must advance beyond petroleum. The first oil crisis of the 1970’s changed the shape of automobiles, and the ‘great gush n’ spill’ of 2010 will accelerate the return to electric vehicles (EV), and again change the automobile’s shape.
Perhaps for another generation the internal combustion engine (ICE) will co-exist with hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) or various other electrified versions. One of the world’s largest industries is on the verge of transformation, and that will take time.
Long distance, overland travel from point X to point Y has experienced alternative transportation methods and has progressed from steam trains to jet planes. They co-exist in a state of change, and short distance commuting will develop similarly in various ways.
Now, since the majority of the world’s population lives in densely laid out urban areas their daily transport needs to be dealt with. ETA – the estimated time of arrival depends on two things — room on the road and time in traffic. The product of that determines tail-pipe emission and that ‘drives’ global warming.
Think of grid-lock, road closings or stop-and-go traffic giving motorists nightmares. It happens everywhere in Canada — during the Olympics in Vancouver, in a blizzard in Whitehorse, the G20 Summit in Toronto, the ice storm in Quebec or in a ‘pea-soup’ fog in Halifax.
How can alternative transportation improve our lives?
Let’s explore that together by building the big picture – one puzzle piece at a time.