Did you know that evidence suggests the wheel was first invented to create pottery in 3500 BC? And researchers believe it wasn’t until about three centuries later that humans thought to use wheels to make chariots? Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and it’s clear we’ve made a lot of changes to our transportation systems since then. But we’re not done finding better ways to move around. These three cities are making big improvements – making transportation better for all of us and for our planet.
Transport Policy Curbs Air Pollution
Paris is instituting a suite of initiatives to combat air pollution and promote mobility, with a focus on eliminating diesel vehicles and promoting bike- and car-sharing services.
Paris’ ambitious mix of public policy initiatives and investment in alternative modes of mobility is tackling the city’s air quality problems. Specific measures include improving the pedestrian network, promoting the use of electric vehicles, and banning the use of polluting diesel vehicles by 2020. By gradually implementing these policies over the coming years, Paris hopes to achieve its ultimate goal of reducing transportation emissions by 60 percent by 2020.
Other key measures of Paris’ plan to combat traffic-related air pollution are improvements to the city’s flagship self-service bike- and electric car-sharing programs, Velib’ and Autolib’. To support these services, Paris added 1,279 bicycle parking spots in 2014 and will install 1,400 km of cycle lanes by 2020, with the goal of increasing the share of trips made by bikes to 15 percent by that year. In addition, citizens who give up their car can receive financial help to subscribe to Velib’ or Autolib’ or to Navigo, the city-wide public transport pass.
The Result: 48.6 million km (more than 30 million miles) were traveled using Autolib's silent, zero emission cars in 2015.
World’s Fastest Electric Taxi Fleet Overhaul
Taiyuan, the largest city in Northern China’s Shanxi province, is one of the first cities in the world to replace its entire taxi fleet with electric vehicles.
Since January 2016, Taiyuan has undertaken one of the world’s most extensive electric vehicle overhaul projects. In just eight months, the city replaced all of its 8,292 taxis with electric vehicles, making it the fastest city to have replaced its entire taxi fleet with electric vehicles. The taxis currently rely on more than 2,000 units of 40-kW high-power charging outlets, and the city will also install 18 towers capable of providing power to 7,200 taxis simultaneously. By June 2016, 8,000 tons of CO2 emissions were saved thanks to the fleet.
According to national regulations, the city’s conventional taxis have to be replaced with new vehicles in the years 2015 and 2016. Taiyuan took advantage of the deadline to usher in the new electric vehicle fleet. By replacing the internal combustion taxis for their electric counterparts, the city will significantly improve air quality; the municipality estimates reductions of 21,176 tons of CO, 2,451 tons of HC, and 3,478 tons of NOx per year.
The Result: 222,000 tons of CO2 will be reduced per year due to the taxi replacement scheme.
Getting Ready for Mass Electrification of Transport
Seattle has a vision to transform how its transportation systems are fueled and is preparing to overhaul all city-owned transport fleets with electric vehicles.
In order to help reach its ambitious goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions attributable to transport by 2050, Seattle is spurring the mass electrification of many modes of transport, including passenger cars, trucks, transit, off-road vehicles, and maritime transportation through its Drive Clean Initiative. The measure includes a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the city’s municipal fleet through significant investment in energy-efficient vehicles and cleaner fuels and deployment of 15,000 electric vehicles by 2025.
The initiative includes not only the municipal fleet electrification strategy but also infrastructure investment by Seattle City Light, opportunities for public-private partnerships, and use of regulations to accelerate the process. The city’s commitment to low-carbon transportation modes has already attracted investments, as BMW relocated the North American headquarters of its carsharing service – ReachNow – to Seattle.
The Result: 50 percent reduction in the municipal fleet's greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
These aren’t the only three cities making a difference for the future of our planet. Learn more about cities taking action to fight the climate crisis. Download the Cities100 guide now.
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