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Sustainable transport is the movement of people and goods from one location to another. Within urban areas, it is a key aspect of creating more sustainable cities. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. Transport can be public, where operators provide scheduled services, or private.

Isolation is one of the key elements of poverty; isolated communities have little or no access to goods and services, and few opportunities to travel beyond their immediate surroundings. This restricts agricultural productivity, reduces health and educational and limits opportunities for employment and political opportunity. Limited financial resources prevents investment in transport maintaining the position of poverty and isolation. Consequently, there is a need to develop alternative, more affordable means of transport.

Developing such systems requires consideration of four key elements:

  • the improvement of village level infrastructure such as paths, tracks, and footbridges.
  • the provision of adequate and affordable rural transport services.
  • the siting of services closer to the communities, thereby removing or reducing the need for lengthy travel.
  • the promotion and use of intermediate means of transport including: pack animals, sledges, animal carts, cycle based transport and some low cost motorised devices. One of the more common types of intermediate transport is the bicycle.


In general, following vehicles types can be distinguished:

  • water vehicle (includes supersurface water vehicles (regular or hydrofoiling), subsurface vehicles (regular or supercavitating))
  • ground vehicle (includes supersurface ground vehicles, subsurface ground vehicles)
  • air vehicle (includes lighter-than-air air vehicles and heavier-than-air air vehicles)

Most vehicles above can be either

Sustainable transportation

According to the Appropriate transport manual, sustainable transportation is a strategy for the flow of people and goods across the Earth that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Transportation accounted for 32.6% of US green house gas emissions in 2005. [1]. In addition to the widely publicized environmental consequences of driving automobiles, it is also socially and economically costly:

  • Land use: Parking and roads use valuable land resources.
  • Transportation equity: Driving, with all of its expenses, costs the average U.S. household $7,000 per year per vehicle [2].
  • Economics: Most of the money spent on driving leaves a local economy, weakening it.
  • Community: Travelers outside of their cars interact more with their physical environment and each other.
  • Safety: The presence of pedestrians and cyclists make our neighborhoods safer from crime. Conversely, 42,000 Americans are killed in car accidents every year.
  • Health: Increasingly, Americans are suffering from weight-related illnesses. This is partly attributable to the decline in active transportation use and availability.

Building and encouraging alternatives to the single-occupant vehicle, or, for short "alternative transportation," is imperative. Some alternative transportation advocates have taken to using the term Sustainable Transportation instead of the previous, widely-used "alternative transportation" term to avoid sidelining their interest from the mainstream.

One way of encouraging such reform is changing the technical practice of transport planning to reflect these concerns - see the transport modeling reform page.

Many efficient, practical, and inexpensive sustainable transportation technologies already exist, meaning activism, policy work, and planning research is most often more crucial to developing sustainable transportation than technology development.


Globally Oriented Transport Policy, Advocacy & Project Organizations

U.S. Regional Transport Advocacy & Alternatives

U.K. Sustainable Transport Advocacy Organizations

Humboldt County, CA


Transportation and Sustainable Campus Communities by Will Toor and Spenser W. Havlick.

Policy Tools

Transportation Category at

See also

Notes and references

External links

Page data
Authors KVDP, Patrick Sunter
Published 2006
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
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