Assembling Our Transportation Future:
How could policies in the early 20th century have shaped more sustainable transportation systems?
As the Model T grows in popularity, an environmental advocacy organization must devise a lobbying strategy that will guide transportation systems toward a more sustainable future.
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Most Americans could not imagine their lives without a personal vehicle. The freedom to travel wherever, whenever, has become essential in the United States and ingrained in society. Since the introduction of the automobile in the late 19th century, the lifestyle of the average American has drastically changed. People are able to travel farther in a single day than ever before, setting the stage for urban sprawl and the growth of suburbs. The rapid growth of the automotive industry yielded numerous unintended consequences, including significant contributions to climate change and harmful impacts on human health.
This case takes the perspective of a senior policy analyst at an environmental advocacy organization in the infancy of the automotive era. The organization has the resources to lobby for only a single position to mitigate negative environmental impacts realized as a result of the development of the nation’s transportation systems. Possible solutions include a comprehensive energy policy, alternative fuel types, efficient vehicle design, limitations to urban sprawl, increased investment in public transportation, and restricting vehicle access in city centers. The organization must decide which of these policy interventions make the most sense to promote, taking into account what will have the greatest potential impact, as well as what will be acceptable to the general public.