J500 Media and the Environment

Using your head and your feet by bobbygrace
January 20, 2008, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Society + Media | Tags:

The most striking score I received in the Ecological Footprint Quiz was on the section of mobility, a score of 0.

I chose to live in a house that is equally distant from downtown and campus. In a city the size of Lawrence, this makes riding a bike to either destination fairly short and manageable (unfortunately, riding up Mount Oread doesn’t get any easier). Working on campus helps reduce travel distances as well. Some destinations are simply out of the bounds of a normal bike ride, but reducing the ecological impact of these trips is still possible. My trips to the grocery store, for instance, are usually in the company of another who owns a fuel efficient Prius.

I also have the bizarre condition of never having flown on a plane, which helped my score. At some point, this condition will be resolved and I will get on a plane, a plane that will take me to a much larger city. In these cities, transportation will be much different. I will still want to reduce my ecological footprint, but I probably won’t be riding a bike or walking across the city. That will be done by means of public transportation, an ecologically sensible solution for places of dense population. In suburban areas, areas built with the mobility of the car in mind, it is the most difficult to reduce our ecological footprint. This is and will be the challenge of urban developers.

All said, it really is easy, in a city this size, to reduce our ecological footprint in regards to mobility.

Bobby Grace


5 Comments so far
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Great point. Lawrence is very easy to get around on bicycle, by walking or taking the T. I hope you’ll also consider how easy and accessible locally grown food items are here, considering we’re virtually surrounded by farming communities in all directions. From mid-April to mid-November, the Lawrence Farmers’ Markets are in full swing four days a week. Off-season, your best bet is the Merc!

Sarah Hemme

Comment by shemme

I think you make a good point about Lawrence being tailor-made for sensible transportation that doesn’t have to be an inconvenience. From my location (23rd & Naismith approx.) I am able to walk across the street to catch the bus to campus and am within very short walking distance of both the KU bookstore and Dillon’s (and technically Priscilla’s too). I can literally go days without needing a car, and given Lawrence’s choking traffic walking and using public transportation is actually a more peaceful way to travel. Back home in Overland Park there are few public transportation options and as the suburb continues its unabated sprawl, the problem is likely to only be exacerbated. There’s actually been significant upheavel by local farmers in the Stilwell community who see Overland Park’s proposed development expansion into their community as extremely detrimental. I’m sure Lawrence could do much better, but they certainly aren’t as bad as this in terms of carbon footprint reduction.

Vince Meserko

Comment by vincemeserko

Yes but even in a Lawrence, someone has to live on the fringe. I am a fringe person. It is about six miles to school, and seven to Downtown. I ride my bike when I can. But when it is a windy 5 degrees, there have to be other options.
What’s that… the bus you say? As you live close to downtown and school, the bus may seem a convenient mode of transportation. For the fringe, it is not.
On Tuesday and Thursday, classes begin at 8 in the morning. I am not done until 5 in the evening. To get to school by 8. I have to leave my house at 6:30 in the morning if I am taking the bus. This means getting up at 5:30 to take care of the dogs, have a cup of coffee (badly needed at this time) and get bundled up to brave the cold walk to the bus stop. This also means using more lights at that time of day to see what I am putting on and where I am pouring my coffee.
Then to get home, it would probably take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to walk to the bus stop from class, wait for the bus, and then walk from the bus stop on Wakarusa to my house.
So in all I am wasting 2 to 3 hours a day traveling 12 miles. That is waste.
Campaigning for better public transportation infrastructure seems to be a solution, but that is in the future. How do I get around now?

Adam Bowman

Comment by acbowman

Carpooling is one solution. But really the bigger issue is better and increased access to public transport. The City Commission address this very issue last year. Another way to work it is to be strategic about where you live. Bobby you have the ultimate live/ work situation – until you gets on a plane. . .or graduate!

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

Vince, I am from Prairie Village, between Overland Park and KCMO, and if there is a form of public transportation in the area, nobody would know about it. Like I said, suburbs were built ground up with cars in mind. The last time I walked anywhere in my old town was to my friend’s house when I was 10. Friends all over the city meant I could drive over an hour from one friend’s house to another.

Lawrence is totally the opposite of that for me.

Bobby Grace

Comment by bobbygrace

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