Don't worry, I'm not calling you names...SOV is "Single Occupancy Vehicle" in transportation terms.
You may have noticed that SOV's are taking a lot of flack in the media and have been somewhat villified as the cause of global warming, smog, asthma, traffic congestion and the like. I suppose I wouldn't disagree with the general theme that motor vehicles contribute considerably to these problems but I'm not one to insist that each and everyone of us sell our cars and become permenant pedestrians (though my husband and I are now going on 16 months car-free ourselves).
What I do believe is that there are many opportunities for each of us to seek out more sustainable transportation options - occasionally, part-time, or on a daily basis - to minimize our contribution to the negative impacts attributed to the SOV.
Sustainable transportation aims to balance the social, economic and environmental costs and benefits of transportation. Sustainable modes are those that lessen reliance on automobiles for personal use. For example, sustainable transportation includes:
- Public transportation and transit
- Active transportation options such as walking, cycling, skateboarding, riding a scooter
- Carpools, vanpools, ride-sharing
There are many potential benefits to pursuing more sustainable transportion options and not only do they contribute to the health of our environment but they they have direct benefits for our personal health. The Grey Bruce Health Unit, for example, has recognized this linkage between health and sustainable transportation and in February 2010 issued a Board of Health Resolution , following up on a Backgrounder Report prepared by GBHU Health Promotion staff in December 2009.
The Resolution urged municipalities to incorporate healthy public policy into our Official Plans and land use planning approvals to support an increase in active and alterative transportation while reducing motor vehicle dependancy. It cites a number of very sobering statistics regarding transportation and health in Grey and Bruce and is an interesting read for those wishing to know a little bit more about the benefits of sustainable transportation.
Meaford's Official Plan
As part of our Official Plan review, staff have been working on healthy public policies to support active and alternative transportation. This includes tweaks and clarifications to various existing policies as well as the creation of a new Official Plan section called "Active Transportation" to place specific focus on the provision of active transportation infrastructure (such as sidewalks, benches, trails) through the development review process.
How about You!?
Knowing a little bit more now about sustainable transportation, do you have ideas about how you can reduce your SOV use? Do you already pursue sustainable transportation options in Grey and Bruce, and if not, what barriers do you feel are standing in your way? Are there specific standards or suggestions you might make regarding how we can support sustainable transportation options in Meaford?