RE: [NewMobilityCafe] Shared ambition - piecing together the New Mobility puzzle
MessageIt is worth pointing out that the reason why London now has 75% of all car club members in the country is that we increased the Transport for London budget for promotion and buying additional car parking spaces. The key thing with car clubs is to have vehicles within a short distance of where people live, or work. The new London strategy is to aim for half of all Londoners (about 3.5m people) to have a vehicle within a 5 minute walk and three quarters of Londoners (roughly 5m people) to have one within 10 minute walk - by 2012.-----Original Message-----
From: NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com [mailto:NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Eric Britton
Sent: 02 April 2008 07:01
To: NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com; WorldCarShare@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [NewMobilityCafe] Shared ambition - piecing together the New Mobility puzzle
Too many vehicles on the road isn't just an inner-city problem. Terry Slavin reports on the clubs that could help cut car use both in rural and urban areas - and make a big contribution to reducing carbon emissions
Suburban Yorkshire seems an unlikely location for a car club to help tackle traffic congestion and climate change. Yet expanding that trendy totem of green living out of inner London, where 75% of the country's car clubs are based, beyond even suburbia and into villages is Philip Igoe's aim.
Igoe started up a car club cooperative 10 years ago in Harehills, on the outskirts of Leeds, and is now co-director of Carplus, a charity that promotes "responsible car use". As a value-for-money strategy for cutting carbon emissions, such clubs take some beating, Igoe argues. "Every club car we put on the road saves the equivalent in carbon of 10-14 transatlantic flights a year," he says. That means 14 tonnes of avoided CO2 a year for each car.
It costs only about £1,000 to install the computerised system to turn a private car into a car club vehicle, and research in London showed that each car replaces up to 10 private vehicles on the roads and cuts by a third car use among car club members.
Car clubs allow members access to a car when they need one, for an hourly rate - normally £5. Cars can be booked by internet or by mobile phone, and then driven away from the nearest parking bay.
But despite their rapid growth in the last few years - from 20 vehicles to 1,400 in the space of four years - car clubs remain an urban, mainly inner London, phenomenon. And that is something that Carplus, and many of the local authorities that are increasingly requiring car clubs to be established in new housing developments, want to change.
London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, last month announced plans to double car club parking bays and vehicles in the capital by 2012 - dependent on whether he remains as mayor, of course. Asked where this growth would be, a Greater London authority spokesman said the majority would be outside central London.
But a car club strategy released by Transport for London (TfL) last month was more cautious about their prospects outside the centre, saying only that pilot schemes would be supported in a "small number" of outer London boroughs.
Ben Plowden, director of TfL's Smarter Travel programme, is a car club member himself. Living in a built-up area of Clapham, south London, his young family is well served by public transport, and both he and his partner are cyclists. Being able to book a car for a night out with friends across town, or to do a run to Ikea, means he doesn't miss owning one himself - particularly when it costs him about £700 a year in car club charges, compared to the average cost of £2,700 to keep a car in London. "I can have a car whenever I want, and it's within a five to 10 minute walk from my house," he says.
However, Plowden warns that car clubs will have to work harder to succeed in outer London, focusing on areas of higher population density that have good commuter links.
BedZed, the eco-village in the outer London borough of Sutton, is an example of one suburban car club that has been successful, but James Finlayson, director of City Car Club, which runs the BedZed fleet, doesn't think local authorities should rush to bring them to the suburbs. BedZed's car club has succeeded because of its green-minded residents and the fact that local businesses are using it, he says. But less popular has been a fleet that City Car Club runs on a 1,000-home scheme, Grand Union Village in Northolt, west London. The club was set up by the developer as a condition of getting planning permission, yet despite significant marketing of the scheme, take-up has been disappointing. "It's enough to keep three cars busy, but utilisation isn't as high as we'd like it," Finlayson admits.
City Car Club declined a request to set up a car club at a development at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and last year bowed out of running the car club fleet for Sutton because it felt the south London borough was trying to push it to un-sustainable levels - from 10 cars to 40.
"We have to be aware, as much as we want to get as many [car club] cars out there and for people to reduce the miles they drive, that if commercial operators don't find it viable the whole thing could come crashing down," Finlayson says.
Sally Tagg, a town planning consultant with Foxley Tagg, has been working with TfL to educate local authorities about car clubs. She says the problem with getting people outside city centres to accept the idea is that car clubs are new to the areas, and there are few of them operating. Developers may be asked by local authorities to put them in, but most car club operators want to focus on the inner city, where they can make money.
"The difficulty is that it requires a leap of faith," Tagg says. "More and more momentum is gathering, but you need someone to pump-prime and push them."
In Yorkshire and Humber, that has happened. A campaign by the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward has turned the region into the largest concentration of car clubs outside London. Jonathan Brown, senior transport manager at Yorkshire Forward, says it was in response to the region being faced with the highest level of traffic growth in the country - 14% over the five years to 2006, seven times higher than the UK average.
The agency has been working with Carplus over the last couple of years, and EU funding has enabled the region to put car clubs into all but one of its main population centres. Only Hull - parliamentary constituency of John "Two Jags" Prescott - has not yet entered the fold.
One of the biggest barriers to coaxing people out of their own cars is lack of decent public transport, Brown says. The other is attitudinal. "There has been a British mentality that you have to have a car, and that you have to use it to justify it," Brown says. In contrast to central London, where only 10% of people drive to work, "driving to work in the north of England is what people do".
To succeed, car clubs can't be seen as a replacement for public transport, Brown argues. "It's important that car clubs are seen as part of the transport offer."
The Whizz Go car club negotiated free advertising space on buses across Leeds, and offered its members a free monthly season ticket for buses when they join.
Learning from Germany, where the national railway operates car clubs at all major stations, Whizz Go recently announced a deal with train operator Virgin that gives rail customers discounted car club membership. Virgin customers heading to Birmingham, London, Liverpool and Manchester will be able to hop off a train and into a car club car outside the station. Other car club operators are keen to tie up similar deals.
But Igoe believes that car clubs are too important a tool for combating CO2 emissions to be left to the market place. He has applied to the Department for Transport for £12.8m for a social enterprise project that would turn 8,000 private cars across the country into car club vehicles. Carplus would put up the £1,000 to buy the on-board computer that enables users to gain access to a car, and which tracks usage for monthly billing. The private owners would then share in the profits.
Igoe believes this could work even at village level. He says: "If I had the money I'd put 30 cars on the road in five different locations straight away." And, unlike other options to cut transport emissions, his project would be self-sustaining, after the initial investment.
"Left to the commercial operators, the market will grow massively in London and the other core cities, because that's where people will make a return on their investment," Igoe says. "But the rest of the country will be left out, and we'll lose the carbon benefits. For me, it's an environmental issue."
Wheels of progress
Expanding car clubs is only one of London's strategies to free up its congested centre. Mayor Ken Livingstone recently announced a £75m plan over the next decade to get Londoners on their bikes with a cycle hire scheme modelled on Paris's new Vélib system.
Vélib is a contraction of "vélo" (bike) and "libération" (freedom), and it allows Parisians and tourists alike to pick up one of 10,000 bikes at docking stations strategically located throughout the city, and to deposit them at their destination.
There is a small daily charge of €1, and the first half-hour on the bike is free, but after that there is a half-hourly rate of €1 to discourage people from hanging on to the bikes all day.
Tom Bogdanowicz, campaigns and development director of the London Cycling Campaign, who tried out the Paris scheme when he visited the city in January, says that Parisians have taken to Vélib in a big way, even though it was introduced only last summer. "Roughly half the bikes you see in central Paris are Vélib," he says.
It is too early to judge how successful Vélib has been in cutting car use, but Bogdanowicz says that free cycle hire schemes in cities in Holland and Denmark - some of which have been going since the 1960s - have helped to raise the proportion of journeys made by bicycle to between 25% and 30%. Compare that with the UK, where cycling accounts for 2% of journeys.
Livingstone' s target is for 5% of all London journeys to be made by bike, which would add up to 1.7m a day, compared to 480,000 at the moment.
In the first phase of the London scheme, which will begin in 2010, there will be 6,000 bikes parked at docking stations at key destinations such as railway stations, as well as positioned every 300 metres throughout the city centre. Bogdanowicz, who believes that such ubiquity will be critical to the scheme's success, says: "You don't want to be cycling two or five miles, then have to leave your bike and walk a mile."
This won't be the first community cycling scheme in the UK. Oybike, which was launched in Hammersmith and Fulham in 2004, has bikes in several London boroughs, on university campuses and in cities such as Reading and Southampton. It uses mobile phone technology to lock and unlock docking stations, and runs on the basis of the first half-hour being free.
In central London, the cycle hire scheme will be supported by easily navigable routes within the city centre, cycle priority streets, and 20mph speed limits. And to get commuters from outer London on their bikes as well, the mayor has promised a dozen high-profile cycle corridors.
But what if Livingstone isn't re-elected for another term as mayor? All may not be lost, as his main challengers - the Tories' Boris Johnson and Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick - have both promised they would pursue a Vélib-like scheme.
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- The article on UK municipalities embracing car clubs suggested that there is a minimum urban density and perhaps minimum level of local transit service that serves as a go/no-go threshold.It is true that what I call first-generation carsharing does seem to have that difficulty in serving suburbs. However, I am developing a model for a second-generation carsharing that would work in the suburbs. It is a combining of carsharing and ridesharing, in which a vehicle is stationed in a neighbourhood in the evenings and weekend, and in a particular business park (or city centre) during workdays, and is driven between the two during rush-hours by members operating as a co-commuting group.This ensures the vehicle is located where the demand is, especially isolated workplaces where services are usually far away (workers justify driving there because of that isolation). The booking system needs to be a bit more flexible, and it needs to prevent short-notice reservations that interfere with the daily commute trip. It means that all workers at that business park would have access, not just those using the vehicles for the daily commute.Since two-car households are common in the suburbs, this scheme would aim to replace just one of them. And, with the need to use it for transporting a group of adults each day, it would be best if it were a mini-van with seating for seven or eight. Such a vehicle would allow participating families to sell their _larger_ vehicle (and it be best to meet the demands of the few households that would be attempting to live with no private vehicle).Chris BradshawOttawa