About this series: As a BTG supporter, you understand that our transportation choices have tremendous ecological impacts, but you may not be aware of the latest innovations and improvements in your options. With this series, we hope to help you find new ways to both lower your individual impact now and move us all toward a sustainable transportation system as soon as possible. Please send us your suggestions.
In Part 1, we look at options for getting around without a car at least some of the time as well as how some of us may even be able to avoid owning a car entirely.
Walking & Biking
We all know by now that the greenest way to get around is to simply walk, and to bike if it’s too far to walk. Of course, there are legitimate safety concerns to walking and biking and we could do a lot to improve things. If you’d like to get involved with that work, BikeWalkKC is the go-to organization.
Sometimes you need to go too far for it to be feasible to walk or even bike and the weather isn’t always favorable either. In those instances taking the bus (or streetcar) is the greenest option. If you’re not using transit now and you haven’t checked lately, you may find that recent improvements to our regional transit system have made it feasible for you to get around easier, even if it is only some of the places you go or only some of the time. Every car-trip avoided helps reduce fuel use, keeps smog and particulate pollution out of the air, and lowers your carbon footprint. Go to the regional RideKC.org to explore.
Kansas City also has an innovative new private transit service called Bridj that can be scheduled using a smartphone app and operates using flexible vehicle routing rather than fixed routes. It has some limitations but it is a new way to think about getting around two busy areas of the city.
For those who decide to save the expenses of owning a car entirely despite the challenges that entails but still occasionally need to get to places that aren’t walkable, bikeable, or accessible by transit, there are more options than ever. Zipcar (a car-sharing service in which you reserve a car and drive yourself) and both Uber and zTrip (services through which you schedule a ride via a smartphone app and are picked up and driven to your destination) now operate in KC in addition to the traditional rental and taxi businesses.
Make an Impact
In Kansas City, we all know there are places we simply cannot get to by public transportation or can’t get to quickly, which makes it hard to manage a busy schedule. Decades of cheap gasoline and no geographic barriers have allowed Kansas City to sprawl far and wide in a low-density development pattern that makes it difficult to have excellent transit service. Consequently, most Kansas Citians still choose to drive most of the time. It is absolutely essential that we continue to improve our metro transit system until most of us are able to get around without a car. If you’re interested in working on that, the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance is the go-to organization.
Next: In Part 2, we’ll explore how to drive efficiently and when it makes sense to buy a new car rather than keep driving your old one.