Grand Avenue over the Kennedy Expressway. Its four lanes look like this – empty – most of the day. But then there are times of the day where people who bike, take the bus, and drive all need to “share the road”. That failed strategy has led to increased road rage, slow transit, and dead bicyclists. Time to put roads like this on a diet.
My friend Brandon sent me an article about the one-page solution to (mitigating) climate change in the United States that NPR posted this summer.
But Henry Jacoby, an economist at MIT’s business school, says there’s really just one thing you need to do to solve the problem: Tax carbon emissions.
“If you let the economists write the legislation,” Jacoby says, “it could be quite simple.” He says he could fit the whole bill on one page.
Basically, Jacoby would tax fossil fuels in proportion to the amount of carbon they release. That would make coal, oil and natural gas more expensive. That’s it; that’s the whole plan.
This new carbon tax would support different infrastructure construction and expanded government agencies with which to manage it. It would support a Department of Road Diets. Road diets are projects that reduce the number of lanes for cars on a roadway, either by reducing the width of the roadway, or converting the general purpose lanes to new uses, like quickly moving buses or giving bicycles dedicated space.
See, in the carbon taxed future, people will want to drive less and use more efficient modes of transportation like transit and bicycles. And those uses will need their own space because the status quo in our cities (except the ones in the Netherlands) of having each mode compete for the same space isn’t working. It results in frustration, delay, and death.
Enter the Department of Road Diets. We have millions of miles of roadways that will need to go on diets so a department dedicated to such transformation would be useful. The agency would be in charge of finding too-wide roads and systematically putting them on diets, I mean, changing their cross section to less carbon-intensive uses.