Does carsharing really reduce overall driving?

: sfbg – excerpt

At the Share conference that I covered for this week’s Guardian, there were wildly divergent claims for how many vehicles carsharing companies such as City Car Share, Zipcar, and Getaround take off the road. I was also a little skeptical of claims that carsharing dramatically reduces overall driving and greenhouse gas emissions, so I decided to take a deeper look at the issue.

“For every car that is shared, we take seven cars off the road,” Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said during his presentation. The next day Getaround founder and spokesperson Jessica Scorpio cited a study claiming that 32 cars get taken off the road for every shared vehicle.

Luckily, one of the country’s top researchers in this area is right in our backyard. UC Berkeley civil and environmental engineering professor Susan Shaheen heads the school’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center and has been doing peer-reviewed studies on car-sharing for almost 20 years.

Her research, which is consistent with the body of academic research on carsharing from around the world, has found that each shared car takes between nine and 13 other cars off the road, figures that she says are amazingly consistent around the world. That big reduction is because households that have cars tend to get rid of at least one of them when they sign up for carsharing, while car-free households that want access to a car will choose (as Shaheen says is the case for about 25 percent of the people in each group, which adds up to 90,000-130,000 fewer cars on the road nationwide)… 

So as carsharing and ridesharing companies seeks to bolster their claims to being an unqualified benefit for society, those companies should be willing to share detailed usage data with Shaheen and other independent researchers, which will help us all move beyond the hype to make informed public policy decisions.

“This is important,” Shaheen told us. “I take this very seriously because I want these to be numbers that policymakers can use.” … (more)

Renting isn’t sharing

Share conference outlines the possibilities and pitfalls for a new economy at the crossroads.

Last week’s two-day Share conference in San Francisco came at an auspicious moment for companies that define themselves as part of the new “sharing economy,” which ranges from peer-to-peer services and products brokered online to various cooperative ventures designed to minimize resource consumption…

Most of these growing companies are part of San Francisco’s technology industry, using web-based interfaces to conduct their economic transactions. And some have been making local enemies and headlines recently by disrupting key aspects of urban life, from Airbnb impacting the housing and hotel markets to Lyft and Uber upending the taxi industry.

In fact, the biggest battle brewing at City Hall these days is over widely watched legislation by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to regulate and legalize the short-term rentals facilitated by Airbnb and similar companies. And state agencies based in San Francisco are now working on regulations that would affect Lyft and its ilk…

CHIU DECLARES WAR…

“I believe we are becoming the capital of the sharing economy,” Chiu said, citing examples of San Francisco’s “ethos of sharing” that include the Summer of Love, Burning Man, and the fact that “we are a community that wants to foster trust among strangers to build what I think is one of the most amazing cities in the entire world. But we’re also a city that is expensive. The rent is too damn high.”…

“Shareable housing has both helped and exacerbated our housing crisis,” Chiu said, describing how he spent more than a year working on legislation that would regulate and legalize short-term housing rentals in San Francisco, where they are now considered illegal “hotel conversions” (see “Into thin air,” 8/6/13, and dozens of other Guardian stories and blog posts on the issue).

Chiu’s legislation would require Airbnb hosts to register with the city, rent out only their primary residence, and occupy that space for at least 275 days per year (which Chiu has said limits Airbnb hosts to just 90 rental nights per year, although critics dispute that interpretation)… (more)

We applaud this article covering a subject that needs a lot more discussion, but why were the SFMTA and their vehicle sharing ventures omitted from the discussion. The SFMTA is setting up public private partnerships with BMW and others, that include  plans to “take” public parking from public use and hand it over to “selected” private partners.

Privatization and commercialization of public property has not gone unnoticed.

There are a number of voter efforts gearing up to strip the autonomous  powers from the SFMTA, but so far only one has gotten to the critical stage of gathering signatures for the November ballot. If you are one of many who feel that all car shares are rentals and the public streets belong to everyone, you may want to let the Supervisors know and sign the Restore Transformation Balance Initiative to put the matter to the voters in November.
Details are here: http://www.restorebalance14.org/

CalBike Pushes for Protected Bike Lanes, Vulnerable User Laws in Sac

by Melanie Curry : streetsblog.la – excerpt

The California Bicycle Coalition held its Advocacy Day this week in the state capitol to lobby legislators on several key policy reforms to promote bicycling.

Joined by local bicycle groups from around the state and participants who finished the California Climate Ride in Sacramento, CalBike met with state legislators and staffers and urged them to support two bills currently in play: one that would codify “separated bikeways,” or protected bike lanes, into state law and another that would increase penalties for drivers who injure vulnerable road users, primarily bicyclists and pedestrians. Advocates also urged lawmakers to support increased funding for projects that promote “active transportation,” a.k.a. walking and bicycling.

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) showed up to stump for his bill, A.B. 1193, which would require Caltrans to develop standards for protected bike lanes, also known as “cycle tracks” or “separated bikeways,” which are not currently defined by statute in California. The state’s Streets and Highways Code defines three types of bike facilities: “paths,” “lanes,” and “routes,” each of which provide bicyclists with a different level of physical separation from motor traffic, and thus a different level of comfort and safety. “Cycle tracks,” which are on-street bike lanes separated from traffic by landscaping, parking, or a wide painted divider, don’t fit easily into any of the existing categories.

Although Caltrans recently endorsed the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Urban Street Design Guide, which does include guidelines for creating cycle tracks, no standard for them currently exists in California law….

Advocates also sought support for A.B. 2398, the Vulnerable Road Users Protection Act, from Marc Levine (D-San Rafael). The bill would raise the penalties when a driver is convicted of causing injury to vulnerable road users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. The idea is not only to deter reckless driving, but to spark a cultural shift away from assumption that drivers have more of a right to the road than other users… (more)

It is time to let our State Representatives know how we feel about all the new laws they are pushing. Let them know how you feel about the Restore Transportation Balance Initiative and how you feel about A.B. 1193 and A.B. 2398.