Some of us would like to be able to live on Long Island without relying on a car ...
As a project of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, Car-less Long Island was formed to advocate for a Long Island where it is safer and more convenient to live without a car and to encourage other Long Islanders to go car-less, or at least car-lite, to the degree that they feel safe doing so and that the time constraints of their lives will allow.
There are a number of reasons we believe this mission is worth our time and energy. In particular, we were inspired into action by the following concerns.
1. Environmental: According to a 2013 report by the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)’s Long Island Carbon Footprint Project on Long Island’s greenhouse gas emissions during the years 2005-2010, 75% of Long Islanders drive to work alone. The average Nassau County resident travels 35 miles per day and the average Suffolk County resident travels 40 miles per day. On-road transportation was the second-highest sector contributing to greenhouse gas emissions on Long Island in 2010, at 30.8%.
A breakdown of on-road greenhouse gas emissions by vehicle type shows that private passenger cars and light trucks are by-far the largest emission contributors. With the possibility of devastating climate change looming, it is imperative that we make cutting greenhouse gas emissions a top priority. To that end, we need wean ourselves from using the individual automobile as our sole form of transportation.
2. Social justice: Regardless of environmental issues, many of the poor, elderly and disabled are completely dependent on alternative forms of transportation. We believe that all of us need an affordable, comfortable and reliable means of transportation. Although we love and encourage recreational outings, we need to make it safe and convenient to get to work and commercial districts, as well.
3. Quality of life: Engaging in active forms of commuting, such as cycling and pedestrianism, is both physically and psychologically healthier than commuting by automobile, if one ignores the present dangers with respect to traffic crashes. It is a way to incorporate exercise and outdoor time into our standard routine. Many Long Islanders want to be in a world where we do not have to depend on our automobiles, but find it too dangerous or inconvenient to do so.
A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors on the views of Americans who live in metropolitan areas regarding transportation and livable community issues was released August, 2015. It found that over 80 percent of every age-demographic surveyed like to walk, over 60 percent of Millennials and Generation Xers like to bike, and over 40 percent of Millennials and Generation Xers would like public transportation options as well. When looking for houses to buy, 85 percent of all demographics surveyed said availability of sidewalks and places to walk is very or somewhat important, 64 percent said having public transportation nearby was very or somewhat important, and 57 percent said that having bike lanes or paths nearby was very or somewhat important.
People in general want to be out of their cars sometimes and they want communities that allow this. Young people, who have been leaving Long Island in droves, especially want these options.
4. Economic development: Walkable and bike-friendly communities promote economic development by encouraging the development small businesses and by increasing property values of residential and commercial properties. There have been a number of studies, including this one by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, that link walkability to positive economic development.
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Photo credit: Barry Germond.