January 31, 2018 – KPBS – Andrew Bowen reports – San Diego officials began conducting an online survey this week that aims to measure the city’s commute habits, which are central to its ambitious plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Transportation is San Diego’s largest contributor to climate change, accounting for about 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The city’s landmark Climate Action Plan expects huge numbers of city residents to start living closer to where they work, and to bike, walk and ride public transit to their jobs in much greater numbers.
Those numbers have been difficult to measure, however, and officials have struggled to find reliable and consistent data that can demonstrate whether they are doing enough to reduce the city’s chronic dependence on the automobile.
Cody Hooven, San Diego’s chief sustainability officer, said the survey would be conducted annually, and the data would be incorporated into the city’s annual report tracking progress on the city’s climate plan.
“As we get better and we become a smart city and have new technologies and data, we’re going to combine all of those sources of information together,” Hooven said. “This data will get better and better over time.”
The survey asks how many days a person commutes to work, and how often they get there by driving alone. It also asks what factors — such as distance, safety and time — may prevent a person from biking, walking or riding transit to work.
Nicole Capretz, executive director of the nonprofit watchdog Climate Action Campaign, said she was pleased the city was conducting the survey and that she hoped it would spur more action from city officials.
“Not much has shifted, and I think the city would probably acknowledge that,” she said. “And one of the reasons is because the city just has not prioritized and has not invested the necessary resources to make our communities bikeable, to make our communities walkable, to make public transit accessible to more numbers of people.”
Hooven said the city would start by sending the survey to major employers in the city to pass on to their employees, and that it would remain open until the number of responses reaches the threshold of statistical significance. The survey will soon be available in Spanish, she said, and respondents can enter to win a free one-year membership in the city’s bike sharing program.
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