The most crucial sustainable mobility etiquette rules. How to choose the most sustainable modes of transportation and limit our footprint.

What sustainable mobility etiquette is

Sustainability has a crucial role in our modern social etiquette. On many occasions, behaviors that can harm the environment are no longer accepted.

Sustainable mobility etiquette is the set of rules to limit our mobility and transportation footprint to a minimum. Such rules help us avoid behaviors that may lead to a negative environmental impact. They include:

  • The modes of transport that are sustainable.
  • How to limit our mobility pollution and footprint.
  • The behaviors to avoid.

Everyone should follow sustainable mobility etiquette to limit their environmental footprint and avoid behaviors or modes of transport that may be unsustainable.

sustainable mobility rules to limit footprint

Sustainable mobility etiquette rules

1) Walk as much as possible

It is not a surprise: our feet and legs are the most sustainable modes of transportation. Not only walking does not pollute, but it helps us stay healthy and in shape.

Now, of course, we cannot walk anywhere. Our daily lives would be completely different without any other modes of transport. However, we can significantly limit our footprint by walking as often as possible. As a general rule, we should walk to get anywhere that is within 20 minutes of walking distance. While to get anywhere that is farther than 20 minutes of walking, it is perfectly appropriate to use another mode of transport.

When you can, use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.

2) Cycling is the most sustainable mobility

Bicycles are the most sustainable modes of transport. They are equivalent to walking, as they depend on our body’s energy and thus do not pollute.

Electric bicycles are less sustainable, as they do require electricity. However, their footprint is comparably low. Thus, they are still considered sustainable mobility.

3) Public transportation is usually sustainable mobility

Public modes of transport are sustainable mobility as they move a large number of people. In other words, even if a bus or train pollutes, its footprint is divided among everyone who shares the same ride. Thus, our individual footprint from a bus or train is limited.

Thus, buses or trains are less sustainable than walking or cycling, but they have a much lower footprint compared to individual modes of transport, such as cars or motorbikes.

4) Cars pollute, consider carpooling if you need to drive

Cars and motorbikes are among the less sustainable modes of transport. Even if they consume less gasoline compared to a bus or a train, they can transport a much smaller number of passengers. Thus, their individual footprint is much higher compared to public transport. If you need to drive, consider carpooling. Sharing the ride with other passengers reduces our individual footprint.

Electric cars have a smaller footprint compared to traditional gasoline or diesel cars. However, they still carry 1 to 5 passengers at maximum. Thus, the individual footprint of electric cars is still much larger than the bus or subway footprint.

If you or your family need a car, consider a model that has a limited footprint. Look at how many kilometers (or miles) your car can go with one liter (or gallon) of gas to identify the most sustainable models.

Nowadays, sports cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are seen as unsustainable and highly polluting modes of transport. An increasing number of people consider them as a sign of carelessness, lack of manners, and poor education. Thus, even if you like such models, it may be appropriate to avoid buying one. Otherwise, you risk looking unsophisticated.

5) Limit travel by plane to a minimum

Planes are the least sustainable mode of transport. Whenever you can, choose the train or bus.

6) Avoid motorboats or jet ski

Motorboats, yachts, and jet skis have not gotten much attention yet. However, they are modes of transportation with a large footprint. Not only do they consume gasoline, but they also directly pollute water. Consider avoiding them altogether. Instead, opt for wind-powered modes of navigation. Such as sailboats or kitesurf.

sustainable mobility worst mistakes

Sustainable mobility etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst sustainable mobility etiquette mistakes. 

  • 8/10. Going anywhere by car or motorbike.
  • 8/10. Using unnecessarily polluting modes of transport, such as SUVs or jet skis.
  • 7/10. Not using public transportation at all.
  • 7/10. Not walking or cycling at all.


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