Folks in other parts of the world may criticise the USA’s car culture, but it seems my home state of South Australia is no better.
The number of registered vehicles in South Australia (cars, vans, trucks, motorcycles and buses) looks set to overtake the state’s 1.654 million population.
Ours is a large state (983,482 square kilometres), but most of South Australia’s population is crammed into a very small percentage of it; Adelaide, which has a population of around 1.3 million in an area of just 1,827 km².
Our love affair with the combustion engine of course has all sorts of environmental implications.
One of the reasons for such high vehicle registrations is probably due to the fact you don’t need to pass a vehicle inspection each year here; something that is mandatory in other states.
I remember those inspections being an absolute pain in the butt when living in another state; but I also remember many years ago one of my vehicles that was belching oil smoke being knocked back; something I may have gotten away with (for a while) in South Australia – so in some ways it’s not such a bad thing.
The other issue here, like in so many other places, is the public transport system is a little on the sucky side.
South Australia has so much going for it in terms of green initiatives – such as our can and bottle recycling and we also have the most wind power capacity in Australia.
It seems like the government’s attention may need to be turned more towards this issue as it’s becoming increasingly urgent.
While congestion charges are regrettable, they may be necessary – but they’ll only be of benefit if the alternative transportation side of things is sorted.
In fact, that is where any revenue from congestion charges should go – to create a truly bike-friendly city with world class public transport and programs that support people who car pool, or employers who allow employees to telecommute.