A big week ahead for transforming transportation

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Biden speech on EVs, ‘Bike to Work Week’ show U.S. can have a cleaner, safer future


WASHINGTON — A big week that bodes well for a cleaner, safer future is under way. It began last Friday, May 14, when California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed spending $3.2 billion over the next two years on zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure, including 1,000 all-electric school buses for districts across the Golden State. Up next, Bike to Work Week, which starts Monday and culminates in Bike to Work Day on Friday. Most prominently, President Joe Biden will speak in Michigan Tuesday about his plan to invest $174 billion in electric vehicles and a national network of charging stations to make a growing fleet of EVs possible.

“Whether you’re the president, a state governor, or ‘just’ someone who cares about our future, we can all do something to mitigate climate change and improve our environment ” said Lisa Frank, the executive director of Environment America’s Washington, DC, legislative office. “Given the disproportionate amount of damage transportation pollution does, it’s time for us to transform the status quo and elevate ways to travel without harming everything around us.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the darkest times in modern history, one silver lining emerged: a precipitous drop in vehicles on the road led to clearer skies and cleaner air in regions where traffic is the main pollution source.

Many authors have written articles about the topic — and wondering what comes next — over the past year. We’re about to find out now that more than a third of all Americans are fully vaccinated, many businesses and offices are expanding their operations, and more people are willing to travel near and far.

“As many of us emerge from 14 months of pandemic-induced seclusion, we have an unprecedented opportunity to shape the future and not repeat the mistakes of the past,” said Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG’s environmental campaigns director. “Too many of our transportation methods made sense decades ago, but now, just make us sick and pollute the world around us. We need to seize the moment, leave fossil fuel-powered vehicles behind, and invest in the electric cars, electric buses and bike-friendly infrastructure that will drive us toward a cleaner, safer future.”

Casale co-authored the report Transforming Transportation that U.S. PIRG Education Fund released earlier this spring, just before President Biden unveiled his infrastructure plan. The report called for, among other things: 

  • Ensuring that walking, biking and transit are safe, affordable, accessible and enjoyable through infrastructure expansion and improvements.

  • Creating policies to expedite the nationwide transition to electric vehicles, such that all new light-duty cars and trucks sold after 2035 are electric

  • Electrifying both school and transit buses to significantly improve the health of bus-riding children and commuters

“Many people will take cleaner, healthier ways to get around like walking and biking when it’s easy to do so. Policymakers can help. More biking, more electric vehicles and less fossil fuel consumption are a winning trifecta in our race against global warming,” concluded Frank.

Casale is available for interviews all week and Frank is available Wednesday through Friday. Please email media requests to [email protected].

staff | TPIN

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