Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Traffic affects more than those caught in it

I-75 headed towards Detroit

I cannot tell you how much I love my commute to and from work every day - no, I am serious: I love it. It is so great to know that I am driving 8 miles and it is only going to take me about 13 minutes. No congested traffic to worry about; no stop-and-go, stop-and-go; and absolutely, positively, no stress or pounding my fists against the dashboard when I have only moved a quarter-mile in 20 minutes.

I know all of you out there that live in the second and third ring suburbs know exactly the type of traffic congestion I am talking about. I knew it firsthand when I used to live in Shelby Township and had to drive to work in Royal Oak every day. Even though it was only a 20-mile drive, it would take me 45 minutes or more to get to work everyday! It was nuts. After a year of wasting precious hours behind the wheel, I finally decided I had had enough - I moved.

Along with the stress and wasted time that comes with living so far away from your job, though, there are numerous other negative effects that urban sprawl, or the act of moving further and further away from urban centers, cause. For example, did you know that air pollution, one result of the dangerous fumes emitted from vehicles, are a contributing cause of nearly 100,00 premature deaths each year? According to "Highway Health", a report done by Sierra Club International, this is double the number of people that die in car accidents each year. Also mentioned in the report are the effects sprawl has on the average worker's commute time - which increased by 1/3 from 1983 to 1995 - and the increased reliance we have on automobiles, which are now necessary in order to get from one store to another in the same shopping mall, resulting in less natural exercise.

Have a comment or question for me on this post?
Feel free to e-mail me at jaime.halaas@gmail.com