Traveling sustainably is an important action we can take to achieve the carbons emissions reductions goals. In 2022, transportation emissions made up 26% of Columbia’s GHG (greenhouse gas) inventory, with local, on-road transportation of passengers in privately-owned vehicles (AKA cars!) accounting for a majority of these emissions. The city has set targets to reduce GHG emissions by 42% by 2035 and 50% by 2050, and choosing to walk, bike, or bus before driving is a key strategy to reaching those goals.
How we get around isn’t only related to climate through GHG emissions. Climate change also has unique impacts on our transportation system, as more intense rain events and flooding can block roadways and trails, and extreme heat can weaken pavement and cause more damage to roads. In order to keep our city safe, beautiful, and easy to get around, we need to take steps to make our transportation more sustainable.
Columbia’s Climate Action and Adaptation plan has set ambitious mode shift goals: goals to help residents use modes of transportation like biking, walking, or buses to get around town. By 2035, we are aiming to decrease use of single occupancy vehicles from 78% to 40% of transportation used in our city by making alternative modes of transportation easier, safer, and more efficient to use.
Columbia’s mode shift goals
Beyond the positive environmental impacts, adopting more active transportation options also provides serious benefits to public health in Columbia. Increased walking, biking, and hiking supports the hearts and lungs, and strengthens bones and muscles, which can lower the risk of cardiac arrest and other illness and even help with quality of sleep.
Active forms of transportation can also improve mental health by encouraging socialization, helping community members connect with their environment, and increasing self-confidence. All of these things can increase energy and decrease stress, enhancing overall well-being. In this way, choosing cleaner transportation doesn’t just keep our environment happy and healthy – it does the same for our community members.
If you’re ready to being trying out more active modes of transportation, you’re in luck. Columbia boasts a wealth of scenic biking, hiking, and walking trails that connect our beautiful parks, natural areas, and neighborhoods. Check out our complete list of the Columbia Trail System to find a variety of trails with different settings, trail surfaces, and backgrounds. Amenities along the trails like water fountains, restrooms, and bike repair stations will make your journey easier. To locate those amenities, check out the Columbia trails map.
If you are interested in the benefits of biking as transportation, but unsure where to start, look to the CoMo Bike Co-op, which is committed to increasing transportation independence and recreational opportunities through bicycle ridership. The Co-op includes a free Walk-In Bicycle Repair program, used bicycles available for suggested donation amounts, and information about bicycle use in our City.
Finally, when biking or walking isn’t an option, check out the GoCoMo transit website to see what public transit options are available near you – with free, direct routes to dining, shopping and other locations in the city.
As Columbia residents embrace sustainable transportation, they actively contribute to a healthier community. The cumulative effect of these individual choices will create a positive and lasting impact on public and environmental health, leading to a more vibrant and resilient city in the present and the future.