Monday, August 22, 2016

How to really combat climate change

Automobiles account for approximately one fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US. While there are other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the automobile is the most challenging.  People want mobility with quick refueling times. At this point, the gasoline-powered engine still seems to be the popular choice.

In Vail we have an even greater challenge in that all jobs, and retail is miles and miles away.  It's pretty horrible when the closest bank is a fourteen mile round trip or more.

What is needed in Vail is local commerce and local jobs.  It would be even better if those jobs were within walking distance.

One might argue that a short vehicle trip doesn't really use that much fuel, but cold start extra emissions on a percentage basis are incredible high for short trips.

Overall, wouldn't it be great if the closest store was within walking distance?

Of course, for the last 50 to 70 years we have built our communities in exactly the wrong way to encourage walking for short trips.  Many years ago there was a small grocery store within walking distance of every community.  But now, we build huge grocery stores and place them in such a way that one must drive a car to reach them.  Take a look at the new retail at the intersection of Houghton and Old Vail.  How would a person in Rita Ranch even walk to this location?  There is no pedestrian route anywhere.  What a mess.

When the Safeway is built, most people will drive to it.  But what if there was a pedestrian path from Rancho del Lago through Pantano Wash such that people could walk if they chose?  There are many homes in Rancho del Lago that are less than a half mile, or a 10 minute walk, to Safeway as the crow flies. The problem is we don't have any pedestrian paths.

Additionally, Pima County has zoned almost everything in Vail as residential.  This means that when businesses want to relocate, they can't.  So they'll locate somewhere else, and we'll drive a long distance to reach them.  But what if businesses and industries were created right here in our community?  What impact would that have?

The real way to combat climate change is to make our communities more walkable and to locate some highly-frequented businesses right in our own neighborhood.

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