Your Car Is Killing Me. Seriously.

A new report released recently states that over 400 premature deaths occur each year, and these untimely deaths are caused by one of our favourite things in the entire world - the automobile.

In addition, the report estimates that pollution caused by car emissions puts 1700 Torontonians in the hospital per year, causes 1200 of our kids to experience acute bronchitis, results in 67 000 reports of laboured breathing, causes 68 000 asthma symptom days, and makes for 200 000 instances where people have to stay in bed/inside, instead of enjoying the summer months in this beautiful, supposedly temperate, city of ours.

Add to that the $2.2 billion that tax-payers are doling out to take care of "mortality related costs", and you've got a hefty argument to make the switch from gas-guzzler to pedal/foot/TTC power.

Here are some of the measures that could be taken to alleviate this sad, sad burden:

  • tolls for cars entering the downtown core
  • higher taxes for automobile owners (thank you Mr. Miller!)
  • higher tarriffs on gas purchases
  • rebates for owners of the more fuel efficient/hybrid/electric car owners
  • higher tax deductions for cyclists/TTC takers/walkers
  • lower fares for public transit
  • a complete network of bicycle lanes/paths
  • more car-free events, and maybe even designated car-free time periods/areas
  • widely accessible education on the disadvantages of driving a car, and the benefits of active transportation

In short, making the alternatives to driving a car not only accessible, but also desirable and safe. And emphasizing the absolute necessity of decreasing our dependence on the gas-fueled vehicle. It's a state of mind; a lifestyle change. Having a Hummer H2 does not make you look cool, it makes you look stupid, and ignorant of today's environmental and health concerns. With every single decision we make (ourselves as individuals and the various governing bodies in this country), the first consideration should be how it will affect our environment.

End rant.

What else can be done to help reduce emissions, and in turn, decrease the number of detrimental health affects? Brainstorming session begins... NOW. (That means post a comment with your suggestions!)

Photo by Ryan C.

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