Currently viewing the tag: "Car Share"

The esteemed people of Planetizen.com are just some of the people talking about car parking challenges this week -

A Very Tight Hoboken Street (Planetizen.com)

Ian Sacs, Hoboken’s own Department of Transportation and Parking Director, writes an engaging and informative piece on how the exceptionally dense but car-enamored city is anticipating its urban parking problems and introducing Flexcar, bicycle infrastructure, and connectivity improvements to reduce the immense waste that car parking lots can be. You can read the whole article here.

Parking is an incredibly challenging issue for any architect, planner or transportation engineer. Parking spaces can cost upwards of $50,000 and other than hold a car for a bit, consume an incredible amount of wasted space. Interestingly, it is precisely these costs that are driving developers and politicians towards active transportation (rather than health or fun).

Portland State University (like Miami-Dade College, one of its downtown’s largest land holders) has been struggling with this issue. In a recent article in the Portland Daily Vanguard, writer Vinh Tran points out that PSU’s newest bicycle parking facility will provide parking for 75 students at the same cost of just adding 4 car spaces.

Here in Miami, some residents of Miami Beach are getting vocal about the increasing costs of parking. An article in The Miami Herald has spurred comments from residents who can’t believe they will have to pay $15 to park ON Lincoln Road. (That’s it!?) This writer wonders why anyone would choose to live in the densest, most pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in our county and then want to drive anywhere-

Parking is a global problem. In countries as (seemingly) different as Italy and Japan, vertical parking is popular:

Not everyone will drive a smart car…

…so transportation engineers who can think out of the box and design successful parking alternatives are in demand. Naturally, so are those of us who advocate for even less consumption of space - by traveling by bicycle, on foot or mass transit.

UPDATE: This afternoon, we received a link to a great image that shows Chicago’s proactive work on increasing bicycle parking in the last year alone. Our hats off to the people at Active Transportation Alliance, who largely deserve the credit for these successes. Wouldn’t it be great if the BPAC or City of Miami Bicycle Action Committee delivered work like this?

Click on the image for the full size image and more information.

What are your ideas for addressing an ever increasing need for car parking in an ever shrinking urban environment?

A few months ago we realized Miami was missing out on the benefits of car sharing and asked, “Dude where’s my Zipcar?” As proponents of this easy car sharing program we were disappointed to see that it wasn’t more widely used in our region, although Miami Beach and the University of Miami recently became proponents of this useful transit tool. Students are a great place to start introducing the benefits of car sharing, as Zipcar is inexpensive and accessible to people on limited budgets. I wonder when our other local universities, self-proclaimed centers of research and academic excellence, will adopt similar programs.

Zipcar, and other similar car sharing programs are seeking to expand their efficiency in urban settings with a new wave of vehicles called the CityCar. A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab has recently experimented with small electric motors located in the wheels of this tiny, nimble and practically silent vehicle. The CityCar has wheels that turn 360 degrees, enabling it to slip neatly into tight urban parking spaces. A Smartcar that is designed to stack like a supermarket cart when not in use, the CityCar is aptly named because its unique maneuvering ability will allow parking in front of subway stations and office buildings, where people could squeeze in as needed for short-term use.

So, dude where’s my CityCar?

When it comes to car companies, you won’t find me singing the praise of many, or any for that matter. However, Zipcar the largest and most efficient car sharing service in the world deserves our respect, if not our courtship, because they value automobiles as they should be: A modern utilitarian device, not a modern necessity.

In a time where everyone is concerned about high gas prices and carbon emissions, Zipcar has some remarkable secondary environmental and urban benefits. See the short list from their website below.

  • Each Zipcar is capable of replacing over 15 privately-owned vehicles
  • Zipcar replaces older cars with new ones that have more stringent pollution controls
  • Green space and urbanity is preserved as fewer parking spaces are required to meet the driving needs of the same number of people.
  • Less strain on urban parking infrastructure - saving businesses, governments, and universities money.
  • Lower fuel consumption means fewer greenhouse gas emissions and particulates.
  • And yes, less congestion on the roads

However saintly Zipcar may be environmentally, their real success comes in convenience. They make car ownership unneccessary by making car-sharing so easy and affordable. After paying a low annual membership fee, one never has to pay for insurance, maintenance or gasoline ever again.

While living in Boston I found it impractical to keep my car in the city. Boston is inherently walkable, well-served by transit and parking is an expensive, time-consuming nightmare. Fortunately, Zipcar was expanding at a rapid rate within the city. I obtained a membership through work and promptly abandoned my car at my sister’s suburban house. On the rare day that I needed a car, I had a choice of vehicles conveniently located down the street in designated Zipcar parking spaces. All I had to do was wave my keypass in front of the windshield and off I went. Upon returning, I just left the car right where I found it. A stark contrast to the days where I would drive around in circles for upwards of an hour just to find a parking space within a mile of my apartment.

After leaving Boston, I ended up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Another great city, albeit much smaller, which shares the same urban attributes car-sharing services find appealing. Just as I left that city, they too received Zipcars, allowing even more University students, employees and citizens to lessen their car dependence. Same story for Lewiston, Maine, the small Maine city where I went to college. Will South Beach be next?

At one point Zipcar listed Miami on their web-based location expansion map. Although the map seems to be missing now, Miami Beach’s tourist throngs, weekend visitors, employer/ees, dense mixed-use urban structure and notorious parking crunch make it the logical south Florida city in which the Cambridge, Massachusetts based company should expand. Downtown Miami, the Biscayne Boulevard corridor, Coconut Grove, downtown Coral Gables and the University of Miami should follow. If you agree, call them up and say “Dude, where’s my Zipcar.” With enough support, we may be able to jump start their inevitable south Florida expansion.

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For the next few weeks, Metro Monday will take a new, commercial direction discussing some of the subtle daily reminders of auto-centric life.

In this Farmers Insurance ad, we witness a businesswoman hitch a ride to work on a garbage truck, on the roof of other vehicles, and with a mounted policeman. Aside from the absurd creativity behind this ad, there is the underlying notion that without a vehicle, mobility is impossible. Farmers isn’t that far off though, they’re promoting the likely scenario of a solitary option of transportation in her suburban neighborhood. Notice the absence of sidewalks. Public Transit doesn’t work in these settings…

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Notice the parallels between Auckland and Miami.

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We haven’t learned from our mistakes, that’s for sure. Henry Ford launched the model T, in an effort to make vehicles affordable to more people. Recently, Indian carmaker Tata Motors launched the world’s most affordable car, whatever that is, with a base price tag of just $2500. Shocking, I know. Ratan Tata touts the Tata Nano, pictured above, as “The People’s Car” and as MSN said, it is bringing “car ownership into the reach of millions.” There is a fundamental problem here: we are continuing down a path of unsustainable practices and living. There are clear lessons that still have not been learned from our past mistakes and will only become further compounded with vehicles that facilitate car ownership. This statement, an excerpt from a Forbes article, really irks me most:

“Most of all, it would give millions of people now relegated to lesser means of transportation the chance to drive cars.”

No Comment.

“The potential impact of Tata’s Nano has given environmentalists nightmares, with visions of the tiny cars clogging India’s already-choked roads and collectively spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air.

Industry analysts, however, say the car may soon deliver to India and the rest of the developing world unprecedented mobility.”

I would like to ask these industry analysts what sort of mobility do they expect if India’s roads are already overburdened and suffering from extreme congestion.

The car culture of the United States has sadly been exported to nearly every developing nation. The devastating effects this will undoubtedly cause cannot be quantified economically or ecologically for the world as a whole…

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