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4306More pollution from slower traffic

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  • Andras Toth
    Feb 6, 2002
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      As I am new to the list, I don't know whether this has been already
      discussed here (I searched the archive but did not find anything related).

      In Hungary where I come from there is an argument popping up time and again
      about the harmful effect of slowing down the traffic. In many newspaper
      articles we can read that cars going slower pollute more, and therefore
      enlarging a road and building tunnels is justifiable and blahblah.
      And it is true, as we know that the right speed for optimal fuel
      consumption for a car is way over 50 km/h (not to mention 30 km/h). More
      fuel = more pollution.

      I can imagine a few counterarguments, but they are not entirely convincing
      to me.

      1. "Slower cars mean fewer cars. This counterbalances the increase in
      pollution per car." Has this been proved? Also, even if it is true we have
      to face the much more far-reaching and difficult argument about reducing
      the amount of car traffic, as some people would object that they do not
      want to be restricted in their access to the town.

      2. "Slower cars mean fewer accidents. Breathing in polluted air is not as
      bad as being hit by a car." But with this argument, how can you be an
      environmentalist and a protector of civil rights at the same time?

      3. "You can't live in a town turned into a network of highways." And their
      answer could be: "If that's the price to pay for less pollution, why not?"
      And then you have been dragged again into the tricky grounds of town
      aesthetics and social ethics etc. Isn't there a more straightforward and
      simple answer?

      How do you usually cope with this question?


      Andras Toth
      currently in Paris
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