With global warming and all the issues concerning a cleaner planet, it is of critical importance how we select to travel around. Whether it is the daily commute to work, or choosing how you go on holiday, your carbon footprint has never been so important.

So, what are the most efficient ways of getting about? Well transportation is usually measured using three metrics:

  • Energy
  • Space
  • Time

These three metrics are the most precious resources in urban travel today. So, we look at modes of transportation that are better for the environment, and us.

Traffic Planners

Traffic planners have finally come around to the idea that effective transportation does not necessarily mean efficient transport. More people are now living in cities than ever before, and this means the average journeys are shorter.

We realize that resources are of short supply, therefore they should only be used with great care, and selecting the right kind of transportation is not just on the traffic planners’ agendas. It concerns every one of us how quickly we go from A to B.

Using Space Correctly

Looking at urban roads in any city of the world it is easy to see cars are not efficient when it comes to space. They take up a lot of room and transport relatively few passengers. Research tells us that the average car carries 1.4 person, and the space requirements for the average vehicle is 65.2 m2.

If you compare this data to say a tram, that is only using 20% of its capacity, the space utilized is only 5.5 m2, and a bus is even less at 4.5 m2. Transport executives in Vienna have calculated that one tram operating at full capacity saves one hundred and twenty-four cars on the roads.

Of course, walking is the greatest space saver, as if you travel by foot you are only using 0.95 m2 of urban space. And if you ride a bike then the figures are still significant at 1.2 m2.

Energy Consumption

Obviously, space is very important when it comes to traffic flow in an urban environment, but energy consumption is another important factor. Even when you walk there is energy consumption, and in fact walking is only the second most efficient mode of transport.

Cycling is the most efficient way of getting from A to B, it has the best space, energy, speed relation to any other mode of transport. The car is the worst, with airplanes coming in a close second.  The most efficient form of public transports happens to be the tram or the underground train.

Time from A to B

A study was conducted by the German Traffic Club to find the fastest mode of transport across Berlin. And surprise, surprise the cycle was the fastest! The journey was completed by the bike in fourteen minutes, where the car took twenty three minutes and the fastest public transport was an added three minutes to the car. It is interesting that the route was actually shorter if you walked or cycled due to cycle and pedestrian paths, cutting through the roads. This makes the bike the overall winner in the most efficient form of transport.