5 Ways to Reduce Vehicle Emissions in Urban Areas

By: Miovision Team | Apr 02, 2024

Image source: Canva


Vehicle emissions remain a problem in urban areas, with a typical passenger vehicle emitting approximately 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. This air pollution is contributing extensively to the ongoing climate crisis—change is needed. 

Many community leaders and policymakers recognize this need, yet get stuck asking how to reduce vehicular emissions in a timeline that’s quick enough. Does everyone need a fuel-efficient vehicle? Is public transit the best way to reduce pollution? 

The purpose of this blog is to highlight five tactics that many municipalities are working to scale up today—the truth is that there is no single magic solution. The path forward will require incremental, but steady, progress on multiple fronts! 


How Does Car Pollution Affect the Environment?

Vehicles produce one-third of all US air pollution, making them a disproportionate driver of climate change worldwide. This climate change, as we know, is slowly making the world less inhabitable for humans and animals alike. 

City planners and leaders wield significant influence in implementing the solutions discussed in this article. However, even if these solutions are beyond your immediate control, understanding the tools available to cities can empower you to advocate for the changes that are needed further down the road. 

Let’s now look at some ways cities can start reducing the environmental impact of their vehicles! 


1. Promote Public Transportation

Growing transit ridership should be a priority, as it removes vehicles from the road and as such can contribute to significantly reducing congestion. There is no need for 50 people to emit pollutants from 50 different cars if one bus can take them all to their destination. 

However, if you want more people to use your city’s public transportation, you need to make sure it is a functional and attractive option. It should feel like a quality alternative to driving rather than a subpar inconvenience. 

One way to improve the quality of your public transportation experience is by developing its infrastructure. For example, investing in Transit Signal Priority (TSP) will help lower emissions by reducing idling while keeping routes on schedule for riders. Giving agencies access to near real-time location feeds also helps streamline routes for improved efficiency. 


2. Encourage Walking and Cycling

Promoting public transit is great, but promoting zero-emission modes of transportation such as walking and cycling is even better for reducing our fuel consumption and emissions production. 

With that being said, cities can only ask their citizens to walk and cycle more if the infrastructure in place is conducive to this kind of travel. The Netherlands’ bike infrastructure is a popular example of what’s possible when this is the case. 

Even if such a transformation seems daunting, developing pedestrian and cycle-only areas that connect to other forms of public transit is a great start. People will be more willing to give up commuting by car if they believe doing so won’t be an inconvenience. 

Traffic studies and mobility reports can help inform where these changes are most needed by measuring the volume of multi-modal road users. Furthermore, they can also help measure the success of changes to inform future investments. 

a yellow bike helmet hanging from a bike’s handlebars

Image source: Canva


3. Enact Low Emissions Zones

Returning to the question of “What do cars release into the air?”, it may also be worth considering penalizing pollution-emitting vehicles. One way to do this is through enacting zero or low emissions zones in certain areas of your city. 

Amsterdam, Barcelona, Londa, and Seoul are among the major cities worldwide that are working to implement these zones. By barring vehicles that don’t meet a certain emission standard from entering certain zones in your city (or fining them for entry), they will incentivize the drivers of those non-eco-friendly vehicles to consider other avenues of travel. 

However, you’re likely to experience severe pushback if you implement a zero-emission zone overnight. Instead, you could implement a low-emissions zone with plans of making it zero by a specified year. This gradual rollout will allow people time to adapt. 


4. Shift Toward Electric Vehicles 

Part of learning how to reduce car emissions as a municipality also involves making an intentional shift toward electric vehicles. This applies to both the vehicles that citizens drive as well as public vehicles for transportation. 

As a city, you could look to replace standard municipal transit vehicles with zero-emission electric buses as soon as possible. When combined with the previously discussed infrastructure improvements, this can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Many municipalities are looking for ways to make electric vehicles more accessible to their citizens. This could involve developing convenient charging infrastructure as well as offering financial incentives such as tax credits for electric vehicles to help make it a financially sound initiative for people who want to switch to electric vehicles. 


5. Invest in Transit-Oriented Development

Another way to reduce car emissions is by investing in transit-oriented development (TOD). This approach to urban planning involves clustering jobs, housing, and amenities around transport hubs to reduce the need for long travel. 

This design approach supports the “15-minute city” philosophy, which posits that no one should need to drive longer than 15 minutes to get what they need. The less time people spend in their cars, the less time they will spend polluting.

TOD is not something that can happen overnight. However, as relevant stakeholders make decisions on future developments, consider encouraging them to use space efficiently and to remember the value of creating complete neighborhoods. 

a red Toronto streetcar coming to a stop at the side of the road

Image source: Canva


Reduce Car Emissions With Miovision Technology

In asking how to reduce car emissions, you’ve now learned that there are several steps municipalities can take to make meaningful changes. From enacting low-emission zones to making electric vehicles more accessible, there are plenty of avenues. 

Miovision is here to support these changes. Our products help municipalities better identify inefficiencies in their road networks that cause increased pollution and provide solutions to improve them. Whether you’re looking to collect data or streamline your transit infrastructure through priority control, our platform is ready to help. 

Contact us today to learn more about our ITS solutions!