Environmental impact of road traffic
Road traffic causes environmental hazards
Transport and traffic, especially motor vehicles, cause many kinds of detrimental impacts on the environment and health. The main hazards are climate change, deterioration of air quality and noise.
Roads and parking take a great deal of space. Road construction and the manufacture of transport equipment require materials and produce waste.
Other significant hazards caused by transport and traffic include use of natural resources, reduction of biodiversity and spoiled ground water.
Automotive transport on the rise
The number of vehicles on the roads in Helsinki is about 235,000. Traffic volumes in the region have grown somewhat in most years.
Growth in traffic is most notable at the city borders. Traffic at the borders has more than doubled since 1980. However, traffic volumes at the borders of the Helsinki peninsula and the inner city have been on a modest decline. As new housing areas are developed, traffic volumes are estimated to grow in the city centre as well.
The breakdown of vehicles in Helsinki in 2014 was as follows: cars 82%, vans 11%, trucks 2% and buses 3%.
Public transport, walking and cycling are in key roles in hazard control
Developments in the automotive technology and new fuels can effectively reduce emissions, but vehicle fleets are replaced quite slowly.
Emissions from transport and traffic can be reduced by improvements in community structures and the conditions for public transport, walking and cycling. Emissions can also be cut with pricing and taxation policies that curtail driving.
Each and everyone can help to cut emissions and improve air quality by using public transport, cycling and walking. Car pools, car sharing, combined transport, economical driving and use of low-emission vehicles are other means to reduce hazards caused by transport and traffic.