Solving Cities

Car sharing improves accessibility in cities, without ownership

Posting in Cities

Find out what cities like Washington D.C. and Portland are doing to help car sharing become more popular.

Let's face it, no matter how good the public transit is in your city, sometimes you just need a car to go places the bus or rail can't go, and you need to go now. Fortunately, some U.S. cities are giving people the option to access a car without having to bother their car-owning friends.

The latest video from Streetsfilms' "Moving Beyond the Automobile" -- at least moving beyond automobile ownership -- series explains how cities, like Washington D.C. and Portland, are making car sharing more popular.

The video features one of the most popular car-sharing programs, Zipcar, which let's you join by providing a driver's license and credit card. After you sign up you just pay a small annual fee and pay each time you use a car -- gas and insurance is included.

Gabe Klein, former Director of the District Department of Transportation, says that D.C. is making car sharing more visible by giving public parking spaces to car sharing companies, because "now when people visit ... and they think about moving here, they realize they don't need to have a car. Car sharing has become an extension of the public transportation system."

Highlights:

  • Zipcar members save $600 a month compared with what they would normally spend as a car owner.
  • Walking and biking increases for Zipcar members by 10-15%.
  • 40% of Zipcar members avoided buying a car or were able to sell a car because of car sharing.
  • Between 2005-2008, there was a 5.6% decline in car registrations in D.C.
  • In Portland, after joining Zipcar, the number of people that drove less than 1,000 miles per year rose from 28% to 48%.

Photo: reinvented/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure