Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)
Suggested Citation: Sperling, Daniel and Richard T. Forman (2011) The Future of Roads: No Driving, No Emissions, Nature Reconnected. Solutions 2011 (September-October), 10 - 23
Suppose we could move gloriously and quietly along in our own comfortable car compartment some 20 feet high between the trees, yet with no engine running, no fossil fuel use, no greenhouse gas emissions, and no need to watch the road. Or, we could zip along in channels dug just below ground level and topped with translucent covers. No unpredictable drivers to worry about or vehicles to crash into. No driver fatigue, indeed, no driving. Barely any traffic noise. We watch nature around us, remember the bad old days of polluting traffic, play family games, work on the computer, or read. When ready to return to ground level, we simply take manual control of our fully charged battery “pod” car and drive off on local roads to our destination.Why is this vision of travel, perhaps a generation ahead, so appealing and so important? In it, not only is nature restored and reconnected on a massive scale, but both fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated, mobility for people and goods is safer and more efficient, and there are significant benefits for food production and recreation near towns and cities.