Sustainable Transportation – All You Need to Know

Anyone can help lessen the negative effects of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by choosing sustainable transportation over driving. Transportation is the single largest source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Despite the rising use of green energy,  over 90% of fuel used for transportation is still petroleum-based, accounting for around 25% of all emissions.

Equal accessibility is necessary for sustainable mobility, with a special focus on groups that are more at risk and geographical areas that experience social exclusion. It will be much harder to end poverty and achieve Sustainable Development Goals without access to sustainable transportation (SDGs).

A bicyclist with a protective mask waits at an intersection along Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, July 24, 2020. Chicago is reinstating restrictions in certain high-risk environments for the first time since reopening its economy last month to prevent an uptick in Covid-19 cases from turning into a resurgence. Photographer: Olivia Obineme/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Table of Contents

What is Sustainable Transportation?

Any form of transportation that is “green” and has no influence on the environment is referred to as sustainable transportation. Sustainable transportation is also about balancing our current and future needs.

Why is Sustainable Transport Important?

These three cardinal regions are impacted by sustainable transportation, which is why it is crucial. They include

  • Environment
  • Economy
  • Society

1. Environment

A potential tactic for sustainability is to lessen the effects of transportation on the environment. Noise pollution, hazardous pollutants, and climate change are all caused by transportation.

Another strategic objective is to reduce the environmental impact of transportation, particularly the effects of infrastructure upkeep and construction. Vehicles, components, packaging, and other waste-producing elements of transportation systems must be reduced, reused, and recycle

2. Economy

Transportation affects employment, economic development, and growth. It needs resources for modes, infrastructure, and operations, all of which can be used more effectively. Price distortions and improper capital allocation can develop in a system where transportation is a public or private monopoly, which in the long term would be detrimental.

3. Society

Sustainable transportation should benefit society, be safe, not harm people’s health, and cause the least amount of disruption to local communities. Since transportation should facilitate the access of as many people as possible to products and services, access and equity are also two essential principles.

The following Objectives are fundamental to sustainable transportation:

  • (3) Good health and happiness. ensuring the security of transportation and offering opportunities through increased mobility.
  • (9) Infrastructures and industry. Transportation systems and the mobility of people and goods.
  • (11) Sustainable urban areas. Urban logistics and mobility.

In relation to sustainable transportation, other SDGs such as

(7) systems for energy, (8) Work and economic development, (12) Production and consumption, (13) Global warming, (14) Ecosystems in water (15) Ecosystems on land.

The problem is that balancing all of these objectives, which on their own seem reasonable and simple, may frequently result in transportation systems that are costly, rigid, and regulated.

History of sustainable transportation

There have been many quiet inventions and fearless thinkers whose names we have forgotten throughout the history of sustainable road transportation. Here, we map the historical innovations that have made it possible for future zero-emission road transportation.

  • Automobiles powered by electricity in the nineteenth century
  • Bringing back unleaded fuel
  • The catalytic converter
  • Renewable diesel
  • The turbocharger
  • The cycle lane
  • Power-to-X

1. Automobiles powered by electricity in the nineteenth century

Colin Divall, a transport historian at the University of York, claims that it is simple to write the history of the automobile as the history of ineluctable technological advancement. Yet, it’s not that easy:

If you turn the clock back 120 years, steam, electric, and internal combustion were all competing to be the automobile’s driving force. “The gasoline car’s ability to grow as powerful as it did was by no means inevitable.”

For instance, Porsche and Ford produced electric vehicles in the early 1900s. Electric buses were available in London before to the First World War, and the first electric tram was constructed in the Berlin district of Lichterfelde in 1881.

The same issues that prevent EV deployment today—poorer range and greater costs than cars with internal combustion engines—made EVs extinct by 1935.

2. Bringing back unleaded fuel

America in the 1950s was a country where muscle automobiles and gas-guzzling monstrosities. Gasoline wasn’t enough to power these ultra-high-performance automobiles, so the lead was added to gasoline to boost engine efficiency.

Since the early 20th century, when automakers insisted it was secure, the concept has been around.

It turns out that it wasn’t. Despite the fact that lead may be hazardous to human organs, the United States had used 200,000 tonnes of it in gasoline by the 1970s. Authorities discouraged its usage and promoted unleaded gasoline in its place; by 1996, it had been completely outlawed in the United States.

Leaded gasoline sales were outlawed in the entire EU only in 2000, seven years after they were in the US. Finland was a pioneer in this regard, with Neste becoming the first fuel supplier to begin offering unleaded gasoline there as early as 1989. 

3. The catalytic converter

The catalytic converter, which drives a chemical reaction in a vehicle’s exhaust to minimize hazardous gases and pollutants, is a prime illustration of how necessity leads to creativity. According to Divall, it was essentially created and widely adopted in California due to the state’s severe smog and street-level pollution issues.

The converter was given a patent in 1952 by Eugene Houdry, a French mechanical engineer whose eyes widened at the sight of the volume of smog created by vehicles weaving through the streets of Los Angeles. It was used in millions of cars within 20 years and is still in use today. 

4. Renewable diesel

Humanity entered the advanced biofuel age in the 2010s when we discovered how to make low-emission fuels from renewable feedstock that complement rather than replace food production.

Renewable diesel has emerged as a crucial strategy to decarbonize road transportation with only ten years left to prevent irreversible harm from climate change. For instance, Neste MY Renewable Diesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to ninety percent over the fuel’s lifetime.

The key to Neste’s success as the largest producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel derived from waste and residues is its NEXBTL technology, which allows for the conversion of filthy and difficult-to-process raw materials into pure hydrocarbons that can be used as drop-in replacements for current engine technology. 

The sector is now dominated by NEXBTL, which was initially created in the 1990s and implemented in early 2000.

5. The turbocharger

Without the turbocharger, a component is installed in internal combustion engines to boost efficiency by introducing more air into the combustion chamber.

Although internal combustion engines are almost as old as turbochargers, it took decades for this technology to be developed before it was used in automobiles.

Although the Swiss inventor Alfred Büchi, who utilized the concept in a marine engine, received the first patent for turbocharging in 1905, both Gottlieb Daimler and Rudolf Diesel began exploring the possibility of utilizing it in aircraft as early as the late 19th century.

The gadgets didn’t, however, get tiny enough for widespread usage until the 1970s. Since then, the car industry has not turned back.

6. The cycle lane

The Maliebaan, a major thoroughfare slicing through Utrecht, became the site of the first bicycle route in history in 1885. Since then, cycling has taken off. It made it possible for people to safely travel alongside the increasing number of automobiles. Between 1990 and 2015, bike usage in major cities throughout the world increased by three or four times.

7. Power-to-X

Even if it’s not quite there yet, scientists already see Power-to-X as having the potential to revolutionize sustainable transportation. It’s a device that aids in resolving one of the major problems fleets of electric vehicles in the early 1900s faced: how to store renewable energy.

Power-to-X has the potential to alter how we travel sustainably in the future.

With the use of electrolysis, driven by renewable energy, Neste is able to turn CO2 into fuels with zero emissions that can be utilized in internal combustion engines.

The conversion of carbon dioxide into chemicals and other materials is another area of research for Neste. Power-to-X is an energy source of the future with almost unimaginable potential. It has the potential to fundamentally alter the course of sustainable transportation in the future.

Sustainable Transportation Ideas

Here are some suggestions for eco-friendly transportation:

  • Promote the use of personal transportation devices
  • Use solar and pedal hybrid vehicles
  • Promote electric public transport
  • Provide room for bicycle highways
  • Advocate for carpooling
  • Provide dedicated bus lanes
  • Increased freight effectiveness
  • Build roads sustainably
  • Construct greenways

1. Promote the use of personal transportation devices

Devices that offer individual transportation are referred to as personal mobility devices. They include hoverboards, bicycles, unicycles, and electric scooters. These micro-mobility forms of transportation have grown in popularity due to their effectiveness and usability as well as their favorable environmental effects.

Sadly, most nations still forbid some of these, notably electric scooters. Cities might decrease their carbon emissions, traffic, and respiratory illnesses if more cities throughout the world could legalize and promote these.

2. Use solar and pedal hybrid vehicles

Support eco-friendly transportation by driving a hybrid car with solar power and pedal power. It resembles a hybrid of a car and a bicycle. Like a car, it has adequate room for a few passengers and some luggage, but it is powered by solar or human power.

Although just a small number of manufacturers are currently working on this kind of car, it would be a fantastic transportation option for cities and suburbs. It’s advantageous for one’s physical activities as well as the environment.

3. Promote electric public transport

To lower a city’s carbon emissions, public transportation authorities should take the initiative to create, test, and implement electric modes of transportation.

For instance, Movia, a public transportation company in Copenhagen, has been exploring cutting-edge technology and environmentally friendly bus solutions for many years.

They include eco-driving, using various biofuels, lightweight and hybrid buses, hybrid buses, and more. Private operators are given access to the test results in order to develop affordable, environmentally friendly transportation options.

4. Provide room for bicycle highways

Cycle highways are long-distance cycling routes with high-quality infrastructure. They can consist of tracks, cycle lanes, or paths that are set apart from roads. The purpose of this effort is to improve the infrastructure for bike commuters and to promote bicycle commuting.

In addition to lowering emissions, Cycle Superhighway is anticipated to produce a socioeconomic return of 19%, cut the number of sick days to 34,000 annually, and eliminate 1.4 million car trips during rush hour.

5. Advocate for carpooling

The idea of carpooling or ride-sharing is not new; it has advantages for people, the environment, and cities. More people riding together on the same route results in less traffic, fewer vehicle emissions, financial savings for the passengers, and more time on the road.

In reality, Arizona in the US has made carpooling legal by designating lanes just for the purpose. Additionally, carpooling in cities is made simpler and safer by ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.

6. Provide dedicated bus lanes

Bus rapid transits (BRT) have been in use for a long time in South America and Europe, but North America and Asia are just starting to catch on. With the dedicated bus lane offered by this bus system, buses can avoid oncoming traffic and stop-and-go conditions.

According to a study of a 14-mile-long BRT in Guangzhou, China, it annually cut carbon dioxide emissions by 86,000 tons. BRT systems would ease traffic congestion in large cities, encourage more people to use public transportation, and lower carbon dioxide emissions if more cities in the US and Asia were able to implement them.

7. Increased freight effectiveness

Moving commodities need transportation as well, and utilizing technology will make these systems effective and environmentally friendly. For instance, promoting the adoption of fleet management systems for trucks can increase the sustainability of the freight sector.

Companies and drivers may increase their fuel efficiency by using data, which lowers costs and reduces carbon emissions. Of course, the freight sector may reduce truck emissions even more by combining this with electric trucks.

8. Build roads sustainably

It’s crucial to think about the materials that will be employed when creating green transportation infrastructure. Green construction makes use of recycled or sustainable materials, techniques, and design principles to reduce the environmental effect of a road and increase the lifespan of the highway.

A Californian company is trying a pavement built from recycled post-consumer plastic garbage, for instance. Because of their low heat energy, these roads can speed up road construction, eliminate plastic waste, and emit fewer emissions.

9. Construct greenways

Via natural corridors, greenways link people and locations. These areas are found within rivers, streams, or disused railroad tracks. They not only serve as a practical and effective route but also help to enhance water quality, lessen flooding, and safeguard natural habitats.

Moreover, greenways can increase recreational areas, promote physical exercise, and boost the general quality of life for individuals.

Ultimately, sustainable transportation improvements will help a city’s social and economic activities while also enhancing transportation and the environment. The quality of life in most cities might be improved by putting the aforementioned concepts into practice.

Sustainable Transportation Examples

  • Use of Public Transport
  • Walking
  • Electric cars
  • Personal Mobility Device Use
  • Railway Transportation
  • Smart Driving
  • Use of Solar and Pedal Hybrid Vehicles
  • Digital technology usage
  • Sharing of Vehicles

1. Use of Public Transport

Public transit is another excellent substitute for people who are attempting to reduce their use of their personal vehicles. This medium also helps to lessen traffic and the pollution it causes in large cities.

2. Walking

Increased walking promotes healthy aging, focus, stress reduction, and many other benefits in addition to being sustainable.

3. Electric cars

Sustainable mobility is paved by electric vehicles or electric mobility. It utilizes electricity as a power source and displaces fossil fuels. These days, renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy are utilized. It should be noted that they are not only economical but also environmentally good because they reduce emissions.

4. Personal Mobility Device Use

Devices that offer individual transportation are referred to as personal mobility devices. They include bicycles, unicycles, and electric scooters. These transport methods for micro-mobility have grown in popularity due to their effectiveness and usability as well as their favorable environmental effects.

Sadly, most nations still forbid some of these, notably electric scooters. Cities might decrease their carbon emissions, traffic, and respiratory illnesses if more cities throughout the world could legalize and promote these.

5. Railway Transportation

Train or rail transportation is the most efficient, making it the preferred option for all daily commuters since it emits the fewest gas emissions per passenger.

6. Smart Driving

Staying within the posted speed limits or just maintaining a constant speed without braking or accelerating are other good tactics because driving safely and cheaply reduces fuel consumption.

7. Use of Solar and Pedal Hybrid Vehicles

A solar hybrid vehicle that uses pedal power and solar power is similar to a car and a bicycle. Like a car, it has adequate room for a few passengers and some luggage, but it is powered by solar or human power.

Although just a small number of manufacturers are currently working on this kind of car, it would be a fantastic transportation option for cities and suburbs. It’s advantageous for one’s physical activities as well as the environment.

8. Digital technology usage

Digital technologies provide automated mobility and intelligent traffic management, increasing transportation effectiveness and reducing pollution. For example, a vehicle-to-user connection via digital technology can promote environmentally friendly travel choices, facilitate multimodal transportation, boost access to public transportation, reduce traffic, and regulate fuel use.

9. Sharing of Vehicles

Traffic and emissions might both be considerably reduced by shared mobility. By sharing various modes of transportation (cars, scooters, and e-bikes), we can avoid having owned vehicles sit idle for the majority of the day. We can also maximize vehicle use by getting more done with fewer resources. This aids in expanding the parking lots’ available space.

Sustainable Transportation Benefits

Together with sustainable development, sustainable mobility contributes to the accomplishment of the following:

  • Sustainable mobility has an impact on economic development
  • Beneficial to lead a healthy lifestyle.
  • Preserving more land
  • Reduces traffic jams
  • Safety becomes more of a prioritized
  • Saves energy
  • More employment options
  • Cuts pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Aids in money-saving
  • Decreased Use of Negative Chemicals
  • Fewer Cars Equal Fewer Roads 
  • Noise Pollution

1. Sustainable mobility has an impact on economic development

Sustainable transportation offers a sizable and well-documented economic advantage. Even while proper planning and the use of public transportation can save money for the government and its citizens, all types of green mobility are beneficial for economic growth.

Research demonstrates that in areas where motorized traffic is prohibited and only walkers and bicycles are permitted, commercial activity and related profits considerably increase.

2. Beneficial to lead a healthy lifestyle.

For people who commute to work on foot or by bicycle, living a healthier lifestyle, lowering obesity rates, and maintaining a healthy weight are all goals. Leaving the car in the garage will even help your mental health. Bicyclists are less anxious on their commutes, and those who take public transportation are more relaxed and have more time to read or socialize.

By reducing the number of cars on the road, more people using public transportation results in less traffic congestion and a reduction in GHG emissions. Moreover, a variety of chronic diseases may be brought on by the contaminants from automotive exhaust.

3. Preserving more land

Sustainable transportation, which reduces the distance between destinations, supports compact growth. Despite the possibility that urban centers have more paved areas and roads, the countryside and outlying parts of cities have fewer of them.

Parks, farms, and other green spaces can now be built on more land as a result. In rural areas, fewer roads result in less runoff, protecting the land and the animals it sustains.

4. Reduces traffic jams

When people choose sustainable transportation over operating their personal vehicles, congestion naturally decreases. This cuts down on commute times and driving stress for those who continue to use city streets and highways.

Those who frequently utilize public transit also had shorter journey times. As trains don’t have to stop and start at traffic lights and crossings, commuting workers may reach their destinations more quickly.

5. Safety becomes more of a prioritized

In actuality, driving your own automobile into the city is ten times safe per mile than using sustainable public transportation. By using public transit, commuters can also reduce their risk of getting into an accident by more than 90%.

It accounts for 1.35 million fatalities per year and is the leading cause of mortality for kids and young adults between the ages of 5 and 29.

Road accidents cause millions of injuries and disabilities each year. Sustainable mobility is largely dependent on safe mobility.  Using modern technologies and implementing the necessary safety precautions will help reduce the number of accidents and fatalities related to transportation.

6. Saves energy

A significant energy user is the transportation industry. The primary non-renewable energy sources used today to create the energy that is consumed are oil and gas.

Ninety percent of these environmentally dangerous contaminants are caused by road traffic, compared to only ten percent by rail and marine travel. This issue can be resolved by switching to renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and others.

Hence, decreasing traffic can lead to overall energy savings. Vehicles stuck in traffic frequently start and stop, wasting fuel and adding to pollution. Yet, fewer resources are used per passenger in a single transit vehicle than in a personal one. Walking, biking, and using public transportation all encourage energy conservation.

7. More employment options

If transportation can be made more affordable, environmentally friendly, and efficient while simultaneously freeing up resources for other uses, people will have an easier time finding employment and will be more productive.

Developing sustainable transportation is also very equitable because it calls for the skills of designers, innovators, construction professionals, maintenance workers, drivers, safety officials, and many more individuals with a variety of capabilities.

Employment possibilities are created for those who need them by building the infrastructure required to support public transit, developing environmentally friendly alternatives to diesel-powered automobiles, and running these new modes of transportation.

8. Cuts pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions

The main cause of pollution is personal vehicles. Buses and railways, in contrast, emit substantially fewer emissions than private vehicles, making them significantly more environmentally benign.

In addition, a lot of public transit systems are making the switch to electric cars, significantly reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Clean diesel may be an option for transporters who are unable to switch to electric or low-emission vehicles.

9. Aids in money-saving

Due to the cost of ownership, gasoline prices, and other factors, maintaining a personal vehicle is significantly more expensive. As a result, taking public transportation significantly reduces a commuter’s transportation costs.

For the less well-off members of society, this is more affordable. The adoption of electric vehicles also offers numerous tax advantages, low-interest loans, subsidies, and other advantages.

Investing in sustainable transportation can be expensive in the early stages of development, especially when it involves building roads, purchasing buses, and setting up the essential infrastructure for transportation networks.

Nonetheless, there is a positive return on investment in terms of money and personal savings. In addition, maintaining public transportation systems is less expensive than maintaining roads.

10. Decreased Use of Negative Chemicals

When it comes to cars, we typically only consider gas as pollution, but they also consume antifreeze and other harmful substances. All of them are reduced when using sustainable transportation instead of a car.

11. Fewer Cars Equal Fewer Roads 

When more roads are required to accommodate more vehicles, water runoff results, which worsens ground- and water-level contamination. There will be more bike paths and lanes, which is more sustainable, as fewer cars are used in favor of active transportation, like bicycles.

12. Noise Pollution

Unless you live close to a busy street, we almost never consider noise pollution when it comes to cars. Your area will become more peaceful and calm as a result of less traffic. 

Sustainable Transportation Challenges

  1. Poor connectivity is a common problem with existing systems, and developing “ad hock on-legacy networks” rather than making plans for long-term future use
  2. Road networks are not properly maintained, with two examples being a general lack of visible signage and a “patch-up” approach to managing resurfacing and repairs since there is not enough money invested in infrastructure projects.
  3. Lack of preparation for parking and the availability of “hybrid” travel options, such as “park and ride” programs
  4. Slow adoption of sustainable fuel technologies for buses and coaches; two examples are the usage of biofuels and hybrid electric buses.


We would be wise to embrace this form of public transportation as there are numerous advantages to using it. Eco-friendly commuting is the way of the future since it reduces traffic on congested roads, helps people save money, and lowers pollution levels. It’s time to board the ship.

Sustainable TransportationFAQs

What is the most sustainable way of transport?

Walking and Cycling

It should come as no surprise that walking and riding a bicycle are the most environmentally friendly modes of transportation. In addition to having zero carbon emissions at every level, they are also fun and healthy.

How can we create sustainable transportation?

The following five should be given top priority as cities work to prevent upcoming disasters:

  1. Restore public transportation and promote multimodality.
  2. Electrify all modes of transportation.
  3. Allow cycling and walking.
  4. Infrastructure should be built to resist the effects of climate change.
  5. Invest in cutting-edge emission-reduction technologies.


Editor at EnvironmentGo! | | + posts

A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.