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Air Quality

Published on January 3rd, 2017 | by Cynthia Shahan


The Interrelationship Of Transit & Air Is Immense, Fantastic, Inordinate

January 3rd, 2017 by  

(This is a submission for the 2017 Masdar Engage Blogging Contest, which asks the question: “In your view, what will be the most important technological development over the next 10 years that will have the greatest impact in reducing climate change risks?”)

To create lighter footprints for millions of people — necessary for life-supporting air, water, and climate balance — more and better transit is critical.

How much are we exposed to diesel and gasoline/petrol pollution? How much does that directly damage DNA in the cells of our lungs. One person’s experience in London:

The possibility from transformation in our transit industry is immense.

Photo by Anne Hidalgo

Consider each action of the day. What would protect water and air the most?

Oil-covered baby from oil pipeline spill. Mila Zinkova / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Technology that protects air will engender clear thinking. EVs do not spew particulates and fumes out of their tailpipes — they don’t’ even have tailpipes. Walking outdoors one should not have to breathe bad air. Inevitably, though, there are often those trucks or cars that make me pull a mask of my shirt over my face.

To change the landscape of dirty air laden with heavy oil particulates is a significant challenge for billions of people. China and other countries now have people going outdoors with real masks on due to rampant air pollution. How do we solve the problem?

The past month, I traveled by Lyft and Uber. It was a relaxing visit to Miami — a 100% change from driving myself while there. Not having to drive takes away the need for parking, and the stress of navigating urban traffic. When EVs become the sole transport for such services, the breath of clean air will come alive again. Do we remember air without fumes, air that is pure?

But small electric cars for each individual still clog urban streets and cause trillions of hours of traffic congestion.

Photo by me (Cynthia Shahan)

Image by Jason Torchinski /Jalopnik

Next Step: Electric Buses & Minibuses

Safety is another consideration. One driver picked us up in a car smashed in the side. He explained how someone drove into his car at an intersection. Autonomous features on EVs are another life-saving measure. Compare how much safer mass transit already is to automobile traffic. How about autonomous and electric mass transit?

Clean transit with a light-speed, full-scale transition could be here. Electric minibuses or vans as well as large electric buses, trams, and trains. Enforced car-free zones could further help us get there.

A startup carpooling idea came upon one of our core team members. Then we rode in Matt Pressman’s Model X — first, second, and third rows. Motion sickness is a huge issue for me. I found no sense of claustrophobia and no car sickness in any of the rows. This is a vehicle for moving several passengers at once, to supplement clean vehicles moving dozens or hundreds of passengers at once, and to help remove single-occupancy vehicles from the road.

Electric buses and minibuses will prevent air pollution, lessen climate change, and offset degeneration of the planet. Electric minibuses — zero emissions and with self-driving features to lessen traffic accidents — offer a mighty possibility for transportation transformation. Tesla is there with the plan, and it seems like Volkswagen, Google, Honda, and even Chrysler are as well.

Following in the style of the Model X, Tesla could use the coming Model Y to offer such a service more cheaply. With room for co-travelers, there’s another plus: The experience of diversity is a key to social tolerance and acceptance. I’ve already heard of a “love story” from such an experience — a romantic coupling of two young people who met in an Uber while sharing a ride.

Using solar charging stations is a key too. My daughter and I saved cash in Miami by sharing a ride with others in a Lyft vehicle (we paid $3.50). From our door to our destination, others came and went. The only missing options to make it totally efficient were that the car be electric and solar powered. Lyft, Uber, and everyone else need this — ASAP.

Solar-powered electric rides shared in an Uber/Lyft, in a minibus, a normal bus, or a train — this could be the biggest cleantech development of the coming decade. 

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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. (Several unrelated publications) She is a licensed health care provider. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education, mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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