Analysis ranks transportation climate impact for 100 largest U.S. metro areas

The top metro areas generally have low VMT, significant bike and pedestrian activity, high per-capita transit use

January 22, 2021 / 1 minute read
climate transportation impacts metro areas

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on greenhouse gas emissions, including those from transportation.

To reveal some of those effects, StreetLight Data Inc. recently unveiled its second annual U.S. Transportation Climate Impact Index, which ranks the country’s 100 most populous metro areas based on several carbon-related transportation factors, including Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), bicycle and pedestrian metrics, transit, population density, and circuity.

Streetlight Data notes that in 2020, unemployment increased, as did working-from-home, along with e-commerce, and restaurant delivery. Transit and airplane travel plummeted, while more people rode bikes and walked outdoors. Some city dwellers fled to more spacious locations and college students left campus and adopted remote learning.

Travel shutdowns in the U.S. gave a peek at what might be possible: A healthy economy and population, but with less driving and more bicycle and pedestrian travel.

The top metro areas generally have low VMT, significant bike and pedestrian activity, high per-capita transit use (mainly in the pre-COVID months of 2020), high population density, and low circuity (people drive directly to their destination, instead of burning extra miles using ring roads and other indirect routes).

StreetLight Data’s 2020 U.S. Transportation Climate Impact Index Best Performing Top 10 U.S. Metro Areas:

1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey

2. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida

3. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington

4. Cape Coral-Ft Myers, Florida

5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida

7. Colorado Springs, Colorado

8. San Diego-Carlsbad, California

9. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin

10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington

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SOURCE: StreetLight Data Inc.

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