Green transport is not only good for the environment – it's good for the economy, too. And the place where the greatest advances in this development have been made is Copenhagen!
For a long time, the car was seen as the great symbol of the future, carrying us and our society forwards. Most American towns were even built without pavements and cycle paths. But now, research reports have established that we have literally come to the end of the road, and it's time to think about parking the car for good. This will be better both for the planet and for the wallet.
A spectacular example of this is Copenhagen, where 55 per cent of the population use a bicycle on a daily basis on their way to work or leisure activities. As well as having reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 90,000 tonnes annually, calculations show that every kilometre cycled saves society around two kronor. There are a number of reasons for this: it is cheaper to build and maintain cycle paths than roads, there are fewer traffic accidents, and the general state of health of the inhabitants is improved at the same time as there are large-scale positive effects on the environment. When people abstain from car ownership, they choose to invest instead in better accommodation, which also benefits social economics. There has been a similar development in a number of other cities around the world, including metropolises such as London, Istanbul and Mexico City, all of which have invested in car-free zones, with good results. But if the car is going to stay in the garage, public transport will need to be developed. Perhaps the most innovative scheme of all has been in Medellin in Colombia, where a gigantic lift system – the Metro de Medellin – carries people back and forth in huge airborne cable cars high above the city. It is estimated that the reduction in motor traffic saves around SEK 12 billion annually in hospital costs alone.
We are still a long way from a car-free society, but by raising awareness of the fact that everyone can contribute to making a change, we have at least embarked on a slightly greener road.