Over half of the energy used to power our community is in the transportation sector. It’s expensive, it’s not good for the environment, we’re dependent on a finite, and at times politically volatile resource. What are the key transportation issues in Naples? How much do you spend on diesel and gasoline? How do you compare with others? Understanding is the first step, so please check out these key facts, and get involved with our campaign toward a conservative approach to energy use in Naples, Florida.
The NPower campaign helps you save energy and money. We want to help you learn and apply current techniques in energy efficiency and conservation to make smart choices for your community and your kids and grandkids.
The United States with just 4% of the world’s population is the world’s largest petroleum consumer; using 19.1 million barrels of petroleum products per day in 2010, amounting to 22% of the world total. We import about half of this (25% from Canada, also from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Mexico). About two-thirds of our oil needs are for transportation.
US and Canadian citizens use about three gallons of oil per person per day, essentially because we rely on oil for transportation, over relatively long distances, in private vehicles. Average use for the rest of the world is a little over 0.5 gallon per person per day.
Florida, in general, despite our flat, walkable terrain and pleasant weather, shows more reliance on automobiles than most of the US.
- 80% of Floridians drive alone to work compared to 76% nationally.
- 2% of Floridians use public transit to get to work, compared to nearly 5% nationally.
- Only 39% of Florida’s population lives within walking distance of a transit route.
- 6% of Florida households do not have access to a car at home, while just under 4% have a choice of four.
What are the costs?
Across the US, the cost of gasoline is a critical budget issue for all of us. If you drive 12,000 miles in a year in a 20 MPG vehicle, your fuel costs in 2011 were over $2,000. Part of the pain involved with this aspect of the household budget is the insecurity. This chart shows spikes and lows from 2008-2010. At the municipal level, consider for a moment how it feels for staff with set budgets watching fuel prices double in as many months.
The cost of traffic congestion is not only in your wallet. Florida kills more pedestrians and cyclists than any other state; minorities are the highest group of casualties. Reasons include a lack of safety education, aggressive drivers, poor road marking and lighting. Air quality has not historically been an issue for the Naples region – indeed recent results from the American Lung Association gave southwest Florida good marks. But nationwide we’re seeing far more kids diagnosed with asthma than ever before. Smog and particulates from vehicle exhaust are part of the reason.
Where does our gas come from?
It is difficult to tell precisely where the gasoline you choose at the pump is from, but in south Florida there is a strong chance it came here via Port Everglades, across the state in Fort Lauderdale. About 9 million gallons a day of refined gasoline arrives on ships having traveled around the peninsula from US refineries in Gulf States. A further 3 million gallons is from other countries such as Venezuela. From Port Everglades, gasoline is trucked all over south Florida including to stations in Collier County.
Does anyone else care about the traffic?
The short answer is yes! While those from larger urban centers find the suburban feel and tree-lined streets comparatively peaceful, many residents, maybe you, feel that fewer cars clogging the streets of our small, beachy town would be a positive. In a 2007 study (“Preserving Naples: A vision plan to keep the best of the past while building a better community for the future”), 80% of residents surveyed considered traffic congestion to be a serious problem (Arrington-Marlowe, 2007). A transportation study, also in 2007, showed that 25% of all traffic on US 41 is through-traffic; diverting these non-critical miles driven is a focus area for city leaders.
Further studies provide evidence that transportation is an important issue here. A study of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for calendar year 2006 showed that over 50% of all energy used in Naples was in the transportation sector. The vast majority of which (96%) was on our roads. Similar proportions were found in places like Orange County, California.
But there are no buses! How else can we get around?
Alternatives to the car include walking or biking, taking public transportation and sharing rides with friends and family. We do have a bus – they’re large and green (two are literally, they are hybrid vehicles) and three routes serve the City. While Naples provides private trolley tours to visitors, our public transportation is a service of Collier Area Transit (CAT). A station map is here. A full fare ride costs $1.50 and it’s half price for seniors over 65 and kids under 17. CAT is improving and expanding all the time and well worth checking out.
Plans to improve the walkability of Naples have been spelled out in the form of the Naples Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan (2007). This presented a detailed analysis of the City’s needs and the costs to promote safe walking and biking. Projects included sidewalk construction, new bike lanes, signage improvements and education and awareness, totaling around $6 million.
In addition to saving money and protecting the environment there are many other positives associated with reducing car trips and using the alternatives, including:
- Spending more time in your community, perhaps even getting to know your neighbors!
- Improving your health.
- Buoying up our local economy (studies show that communities that expand walk/bike programs help local businesses prosper because residents spend more time close to home).
- Increasing your own property value.
- Making Naples a better place to live!