Roads are meant to facilitate mobility, the movement of people and goods. But many roads have become too congested with traffic and no longer meet their main purpose of improving accessibility. Moreover, most roads have been developed with the motor vehicle as the principal user. The results are sobering. Road transport accounts for 17% of the world’s energyrelated carbon dioxide emissions and 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It is also responsible for up to 90% of urban air pollution. More than 1.3 million people are killed every year and more than 50 million are seriously injured; 90% of which is in the developing world. And our cities are losing the vitality and ease of travel preferred by citizens, visitors and investors alike.
To take a more sustainable mobility path, the critical role of non-motorised transport (NMT) needs to be recognized and factored into road infrastructure investments. The most natural and energy-efficient ways to travel shorter distances– walking and cycling – have been sidelined by politicians and planners in many places over the last century in favour of transport systems designed for the motor vehicle. Innovations and new technologies in fuels and vehicles, as well as measures in traffic demand management, need to not only be encouraged but accelerated. It is clear that we need to diversify the options by building integrated, multi-modal transport systems that can propel a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient, job-generating Green Economy.
It is a vision that brings together the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society (FIA Foundation) through a new campaign–Share the Road. In partnership with governments and donors, Share the Road aims to catalyse decision-making to systematically allocate investments in NMT road infrastructure. A good start would be a set percentage of the project costs set aside for NMT road infrastructure. The core rationale is that such investments are a triple win opportunity in improve environment, safety and accessibility which can contribute to sustainable development.