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Re: [NewMobilityCafe] carsharing

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  • Richard Layman
    I write about this issue from time to time myself.  I take a kind of cultural studies approach to the issue, asking whether or not we should privilege car
    Message 1 of 13 , Oct 25, 2012
      I write about this issue from time to time myself.  I take a kind of "cultural studies" approach to the issue, asking whether or not we should privilege car owners over car users.  Car users are supported by carsharing schemes.  In 2005, I came to realize when DC decided to charge car sharing firms for space use at commercial rates, that really we are dealing with questions of privilege for the use of scarce public space, and that current policy typically privileges car owners with maximal "right" to the use of public space (parking lanes on roads) for car storage.   

      - http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2005/10/high-cost-of-free-parking-revisited.html

      I am impressed that Cambridge charges 52 pounds for a residential permit.  In DC, until recently the cost was $15/year (some places, including my block, don't have permit requirements depending on demand, but this would make it harder for me to park if I had a car, in other areas of the ward), now it's $30/year.  In North America, the only example of a significantly higher pricing for residential parking is in Toronto, where it can be as high as $50/mo. (Canadian) depending on various factors.  San Francisco charges $96/year and limits the number of permits that can be obtained by address.

      - http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2010/11/residential-parking-permit-pricing.html
      - http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2010/01/toronto-rules-or-charging-higher-rates.html

      Lately DC has upped the rates significantly for carsharing firms, which comes back to the users in terms of higher rates by $2-$3/hour.  This pisses me off.  It means that in using a carshare 1-3 times/month, I pay far more for the use of public space for car storage than residents who own cars.

      While I still don't think they do it perfectly, Arlington County Virginia's master transportation plan element on "parking and curbside management" does get into this issue somewhat.  It could be better, but it is a start.


      Goal #2 of the Arlington County Master Transportation Plan is stated as “Move More People Without More Traffic” and it specifically calls for the reduction of the proportion of single-occupant-vehicle travel and shifts from motor vehicles to other modes.

      Because the plan's goals include limiting single occupancy vehicle trips, the P&CM element prioritizes use of curbspace accordingly, so theoretically carsharing spots are prioritized over spots for single vehicle owners, and compared to DC, ArCo does not look at carsharing's use of this space as mostly an opportunity for income, but as a way to manage the demand for scarce parking space inventory.

      - http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2012/05/missing-point-about-performance-parking.html

      ANYWAY, my biggest point on this general issue is that transportation plans are supposed to provide comparative examples and better practice guidance and they most often DO NOT DO SO.  By doing so they create a context where these conflicts can be identified and addressed and argued about even if policy remains the same.  It also provides cover for elected officials on these issues, which tend to be very volatile.

      DC is engaged in a parking planning initiative right now in the context of developing a transpo vision plan but they are mostly doing this aspect in house and the people involved, other than the top planners, don't seem to know very much about parking.  Plus they aren't introducing into the mix comparative examples from other jurisdictions, so as a result the ideaspace ends up being pretty dull and static.

      Even when participants say good things or make points that indicate that change is possible, most of the facilitators don't know enough about the subject to pick up on their points and the opportunity is lost.

      After participating in one meeting, I offered to facilitate (at no charge) but they blew me off.

      Richard Layman
      transportation planner (bicycle facilities, www.bicyclepass.com)
      Washington, DC

      From: Simon Norton <S.Norton@...>
      To: newmobilitycafe@yahoogroups.com; worldtransport@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 1:11 PM
      Subject: [NewMobilityCafe] carsharing

      Regarding Dave Holladay's post, I think it is important to distinguish the
      individual and social benefits of carsharing as against car ownership.

      I believe that there are key benefits that can't be captured as long as
      carsharing remains a niche market.

      In many residential areas every available inch of roadspace is used for parking.
      This means that when people need to have work done on their houses it's
      difficult to find parking space for builders or whoever. It also means less
      space for cyclists and pedestrians. When the road is used by buses, it can
      sometimes mean significant delay for them as they have to move aside every time
      they encounter a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction -- and if one
      suggests that for that reason parking shouldn't be allowed (at least on both
      sides of the road) one will be asked where else people can keep their cars.

      New developments could be much more compact if less space was needed for parking
      and garaging. This would benefit walkers and cyclists, and also lead to less
      loss of land.

      One problem is that charges for residential parking are far too low. In my area
      of Cambridge, for example, an annual permit costs 52 pounds, or less than 17p a
      day based on a 6 day week. By contrast a visitor's permit (which can be used by
      builders etc.) costs 8 pounds for 5 days, i.e. nearly 10 times as much per day.

      For new developments, of course, residential parking has to be designed out from
      the beginning of we want people to rely on carsharing for those mobility needs
      that are unsuited to other modes of transport (which for properly planned
      developments in countries with integrated transport networks would be virtually
      nil anyway).

      Incidentally in response to Chris Bradshaw's posting I agree that the system of
      specialised groups is leading to duplication in what we are receiving.

      Simon Norton

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