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Sep 20

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Opportunity to Improve Island Infrastructure

Time to Look at New Island Transportation Ideas

infographic for island transportation infrastructure

Island Transportation Infrastructure Options

Out of adversity comes opportunity. The damage suffered by island communities and entire islands as a result of recent hurricanes has been devastating. As always, our thoughts go out to those island residents who have suffered great losses. However, our thoughts are not enough. The entire world has an opportunity to help these islands rebuild even better than before. The old paradigms just won’t work anymore. One island at a time, we can make changes that will help not only the demolished islands, but the entire world.

Out With the Old Island Infrastructure…

It is time for action, not words. When it comes to rebuilding the destroyed islands, we should not waste time discussing the causes of climate change. No matter what the cause, it is a stark reality, and we must do something to protect our most vulnerable citizens. We need to help them pick up the pieces and build an infrastructure that is based on reality. The old system of petroleum based transportation is not appropriate for most islands. Cars are not the answer. Alternative, environmentally sound, economically feasible transportation is the only answer. To ignore that is folly. The residents cannot ignore it, local leaders should not ignore it, and the rest of the world must not ignore it. The most impacted islands now have an opportunity to rebuild from the ground up. They cannot squander this opportunity. It will likely be their last.

Avoid Making the Same Old Infrastructure Mistakes

There are plenty of arguments for phasing out the harmful petroleum-based transportation anywhere, but it makes even more sense on islands, big or small. Here are some of the reasons why it would be foolhardy to rebuild the islands using the same old model dominated by polluting vehicles:

  • Islands are compact and much better suited to alternative transportation.
  • Getting large vehicles to islands is expensive.
  • Getting adequate fuel to the islands is expensive.
  • Islands are not suited for heavy automobile traffic.
  • petroleum vehicles cause pollution which is part of the problem, not the solution.
  • Active transportation is much more healthy than petroleum transportation.
  • Alternative & active transportation promotes more resident/tourist interaction. island bike path near ocean
  • Active transportation infrastructure is much cheaper to build and maintain than roads.
  • Car-free islands are attractive to tourists in general and desirable/responsible tourists specifically.
  • Alternative transportation is MUCH safer than automobile transportation.

Unique Infrastructure Options For Unique Islands

There is no one right infrastructure option for all islands. As the chart above shows, there are numerous transportation solution possibilities. Depending on the island size, industry and resources, each island has the option to build an infrastructure that will suit their needs. However, the further you Bermuda island bike trail move down the chart above, the more expensive it is to build your infrastructure, the less environmentally friendly your infrastructure is and the less healthy your infrastructure is. If your island just utilizes the top two tiers from the chart above, you are an incredibly green, healthy, tourist-friendly and economically sound island. Moving on to level 3 (cargo trucks) allows for more movement of goods and can be fine if extreme limits (time, roads, destinations) are placed on the cargo vehicles. The next step down allows for mass transit. Once again, this could be a sound option, as long as infrastructure is designed to strictly limit where the buses/trains go and to allow for safe pedestrian/bicycle crossings. Below this level, the infrastructure becomes less environmentally friendly and less safe. Yes, even scooters are a big problem, especially when compared to pedelec bicycles.

Benefits of Car-Free Islands bicycle trail on island

Car-free islands have numerous benefits. In most cases islands are the perfect geographic locations for alternative transportation. Some of the benefits of car-free islands include:

  • Safety (Automobile accidents are one of leading cause of death & injury on islands & throughout the world.)
  • Less traffic (Islands are much more susceptible to traffic jams due to limited space & resources.)
  • Much less infrastructure costs (Building & maintaining trails is exponentially less expensive than roads.)
  • More healthy (Active transportation provides beneficial exercise for residents & visitors.)
  • Tourist attraction (Being car-free sets an island apart. It attracts tourists for all the reasons in this list.)
  • Less stressful (traffic jams = stress… nuff said)
  • Environmentally friendly (Bikes and electric bikes create almost no pollution.) Bermuda Railway Trail
  • Friendlier (Spend time on a road, then on a bike trail. See which one has happier, healthier & friendlier people.)
  • Better for wildlife (Cars kill!! Not only people but birds & other animals.)
  • Space saving (Cars & trucks take up lots of space. Not only on the roads, but also at homes, in towns & near businesses. Storing bikes is much more space-efficient than storing cars.)

Successful Car-free or Car-limited Islands

The idea of limiting automobiles on islands isn’t a new one. It has been successfully implemented on islands already. And these islands are often featured as best islands for visiting or living in major publications and lists. Some of these islands include:

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