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Posts from the "Car Sharing" Category


Street Parking in SF: Fees for Car-Share, Free for Car Owners

With hundreds of on-street parking spaces around San Francisco set to become available for car-share vehicles, the SFMTA plans to charge companies monthly fees for the conversion of curbside spots that are normally free. So while companies like City Car-Share, Zipcar, and Getaround  – which offer services that make it easier for residents to go without owning personal vehicles — will pay up to $225 per month for reserved spots, private car owners will generally continue to pay nothing for the use of unmetered spaces.

While it makes perfect sense to charge car-share companies a fee for on-street spaces, the new policy highlights the absurdity of giving away the same precious real estate for the storage of privately-owned automobiles.

“If you’re going to charge the car-share people $200 a month or so, how come you’re giving parking places away for $100 a year?” Howard Strassner, chair of the local Sierra Club chapter’s transportation committee, told the SFMTA Board of Directors at its most recent meeting. “I mean, this is craziness.”

The “$100 a year” Strassner was referring to (more accurately, $106 per year) is the cost of a residential parking permit in SF. The fee is limited by state law to cover no more than the administrative cost of running the program, and RPPs are given out in unlimited numbers, so they essentially serve as a hunting license in neighborhoods with high demand for parking. So even in neighborhoods where RPPs are required, drivers circle around for spots and add to traffic on the streets.

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SFMTA to Designate Hundreds of Curbside Parking Spots for Car-Sharing

Hundreds of on-street parking spaces across the city will be reserved for car-share vehicles starting in September as the SF Municipal Transportation Agency looks to provide more convenient alternatives to owning a car.

Image: ABC 7

Following a nearly two-year pilot designating 12 curbside spaces for the non-profit City CarShare, the SFMTA is planning a major expansion [PDF] in the next two years. In the first year, up to 150 spaces would be set aside for each car-share organization. An additional 150 would be available to each organization in the second year.

Until now, car-share organizations have generally only been able to procure reserved spaces in off-street parking lots and garages at sites like gas stations, many of which are giving way to redevelopment. Citing studies that found each car-share vehicle typically leads to 10 to 15 private cars being sold, SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said that opening up a fraction of the city’s 281,000 on-street spots for car-share will make it easier for car-share organizations to place vehicles closer to a broader range of residents.

“It opens up a lot more of the city to car-sharing,” said Reiskin. “Generally, on-street parking will always be here.”

The parking spaces will be available for traditional car-share services like Zipcar and City CarShare, as well as peer-to-peer services like RelayRides, Getaround, and Wheelz. However, one-way car-share services like Car2Go, which operates in other American cities and allows drivers to leave the car in any legal parking space (they’re tracked by GPS), won’t be eligible. Reiskin said the SFMTA has yet to see sufficient evidence that such services reduce car ownership and driving, and that accommodating them would require issuing a new special permit that exempts Car2Go’s vehicles from parking restrictions.

“We have some concerns that it could actually work in the other direction — that one-way [car-sharing] could actually encourage more driving,” said Reiskin. “We’re eager to get more information.”

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Livable City: Extra Parking for Car-Share Could Be Abused

Update 3/5/13: This bill was finally approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Developers would be allowed to skirt limits on car parking if they devote the extra spaces to car-sharing, under a proposal approved unanimously by the SF Planning Commission yesterday. The bill [PDF], which advocates warn could be abused as a loophole to expand private parking, would apply to residential and commercial buildings. The legislation must still be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Even as demand grows, car-share parking spots are disappearing as gas stations and parking lots are redeveloped. A proposal would allow developers to exceed parking maximums to add car-share spots, but advocates say it could be abused to expand private parking. Photo: Lacy Atkins, SFGate

Under the proposal, developers who want to build the maximum number of private parking spots permitted by the planning code but aren’t willing to devote any of those spots to car-share would be allowed to add up to five extra car-share spots in a building of 50 residential units or less. For buildings larger than that, which are required to provide at least one car-share space, up to eight could be added. To be eligible for the exemption, a developer cannot apply for a conditional use permit to exceed the maximum allowance for private parking, according to Andres Power, an aide to Supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the proposal.

Advocates say that letting developers exceed parking maximums undermines the purported spirit of the bill. “Car-share is meant to reduce demand for residential parking, so car-share spaces ought not be over and above the maximum number of residential spaces,” said Livable City Executive Director Tom Radulovich. “Using car-share to justify excess parking is cynical greenwash, and nothing more.”

Proponents argue that the bill would make it easier for car-share companies to provide spots evenly distributed near residences, which is becoming increasingly difficult as sites like parking lots and gas stations, where many car-share spots are located, are redeveloped for housing and other uses.

Power cited studies showing that, on average, every available car-share vehicle replaces eight to ten privately-owned cars while encouraging the use of transit, walking, and biking. Essentially, he argued, car ownership would be more effectively reduced if developers build extra spaces for car-share than no car-share spaces at all.

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SFMTA Plans Major Expansion of On-Street Car-Share Parking Spaces

Curbside parking spaces reserved for car-share vehicles could become much more widespread in San Francisco under a proposed expansion of the Municipal Transportation Agency’s on-street car-share pilot program early next year.

A curbside car-share space at Valencia and 17th Streets. Photo: SFPark

Last August, the SFMTA implemented 12 on-street pilot spaces with the non-profit organization City CarShare. Now the agency is planning an expansion of more than 100 spaces, which may include multiple private car-share companies, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin recently told a Board of Supervisors committee.

The SFMTA estimates that every car-sharing vehicle replaces up to 15 privately-owned cars. During the first pilot, residents in some neighborhoods opposed converting street parking to car-sharing spots, since they saw it as a reduction in available car parking. Reiskin said the agency plans to use data to make the case for converting future spots and win over skeptics.

“Flipping the understanding of — it’s not just taking a parking space away, but it’s potentially freeing up parking because people aren’t going to need to have their cars in that area — that’s where we need to go,” said Reiskin.

The SFMTA has learned a few lessons from the first pilot, said Reiskin, including the need to provide better signage and enforcement to prevent drivers from parking private vehicles in the spaces, a problem most prevalent in busy commercial districts.

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RAND: Car-Sharing Could Cut Carbon Emissions From Cars By 1.7 Percent

Source: RAND Corporation

The brilliant thing about car-sharing is that it leads people to drive less by providing access to cars. It allows people to give up their personal vehicles (along with the gas, maintenance, parking, and insurance costs they entail) without giving up the ability to use the car once in a while when necessary. It diminishes the need for parking spaces, since one vehicle can serve several households. And it makes people think harder about the trips they take, since each trip constitutes a higher cost than in a personal vehicle, which come with high upfront costs but low per-trip costs, encouraging more driving just to get your money’s worth out of your investment.

But only 0.27 percent of U.S. drivers participate in car-sharing programs.

A recent study from the RAND Corporation estimates that that number could rise to 4.5 percent if policies were put in place to support car-sharing. RAND’s outer estimate of the potential of car-sharing goes as high as 12.5 percent of the 21-and-older population of major cities. The potential for greenhouse gas emissions savings is significant.

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SFMTA to Test On-Street Car-Share Parking Spaces

On-street car share pods in Portland, Oregon. Flickr photo: sfcityscape

Car share members in San Francisco could soon be picking up their vehicles from exclusive curbside parking spaces. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is launching a pilot program in mid-August to test at least ten on-street car share “pods” as part of its SFPark program.

“On-street car sharing pods (i.e., locations where users can pick up a car sharing vehicle) can encourage car sharing by increasing the visibility of car sharing, improving the proximity to trip origins, and increasing the total number of pods,” says an SFMTA document [pdf] on the pilot.

The pilot is a partnership between the SFMTA, the non-profit City CarShare, and the City Administrator’s Office and will include at least five confirmed pods on Polk and Greenwich, Taylor and Pacific, Harriet and Folsom, Valencia and 17th, and Clay and Fillmore.

If it proves successful, SFMTA CFO Sonali Bose said on-street car share spaces could be expanded citywide and rented by any car share company that fits the agency’s criteria.

The SFMTA says it plans to mark the spaces with paint and signage paid for by City CarShare, which would rent the spots for $150 per month and be responsible for maintenance.

The SF Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to the Transportation Code today that prohibits unpermitted vehicles from parking in on-street car share spaces. The SFMTA plans to produce stickers to mark permitted car share vehicles, the SFMTA document says.

All but one of the six originally proposed spots were approved at a public hearing on July 1 after neighbors voiced complaints about a spot to be located at Union and Hyde Streets. SFMTA staff said they would come back with an alternate proposal for the location, but the SFMTA Board of Directors is expected to green light the other spots in the coming weeks.

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Car-Free Households in San Francisco Above 30 Percent

According to the new San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency 2010 Transportation Fact Sheet, the number of car-free households increased. Last year [pdf], data show that 29.8 percent of households had no car, a number than climbed to 30.3 percent this year [pdf]. Oddly, it seems the shift came mostly from households with one car, as some migrated to car-lessness, while others increased the numbers of cars in their households. In real numbers, there was only a slight uptick in households with no cars, or nearly 2,000. About 1,000 more households had two cars or more, while 4,000 more had at least three cars.

What factors do you think led to these numbers? Was it car-share, more biking, more walking, more telecommuting, higher unemployment? Remember to take into account that these numbers are from the 2008 and 2009 census data, respectively.

Tell me what you think in the comments. How do you think this will change next year?

H/T Jason Henderson, SF State Geography Professor


California’s Personal Vehicle Sharing Law Could Diminish Need to Own a Car

Photo: City CarShare

Will you be sharing your Mini? Photo: City CarShare

As more teens wait to get their licenses and young adults drive fewer miles annually, advertisers have begun to point to advances in digital technology to explain the trend. Many younger adults use digital media to connect to their friends virtually, the argument goes, and technological innovations will likely reduce the incentive to own and operate a car.

Now, with the passage of a new law in California that allows current car owners to share their personal vehicles in a car sharing service and make money without voiding their personal insurance policy, the age of owning a car as a rite of American adulthood may be ceding to a new vision of vehicles as a social service.

Because your car spends on average more than 90 percent of the time parked and idle, proponents of personal vehicle sharing argue, why not make money instead of sitting by as your investment depreciates in a garage?

“We feel like this is a historic moment. This legislation basically revolutionizes the idea of the automobile into being a shared service,” said Sunil Paul, CEO of Spride Inc, a personal car-sharing start-up company. “We think it can have a huge impact over the next many years about the way we think about the automobile.”

On the heels of the announcement that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1871 into law yesterday, Spride and City Carshare, the San Francisco non-profit that helped pioneer car sharing, announced a partnership to facilitate personal car sharing in the Bay Area. Once AB 1871 takes effect January 1st, the new Spride Share pilot program will allow car owners to loan their vehicles to the more than 13,000 screened and qualified members of City CarShare, offsetting the costs and environmental impact of private car ownership while providing City CarShare members with access to a greater variety of vehicles.

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Personal Car-Share Insurance Bill Passes Key Committee Test

The possibility that Californians will be allowed to share their personal cars within car-sharing pools and receive compensation for gas, maintenance, and wear to the vehicle moved a step closer to reality yesterday, as a State Senate committee voted unanimously to approve AB 1871, a bill that would prevent car insurance companies from voiding personal insurance if vehicle owners are compensated for the use of their cars.

California Assemblymember and Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) has been working with insurance companies and fellow lawmakers to pass the legislation that in theory could dramatically change the nature of vehicle ownership for drivers participating in personal car-share. Jones and other supporters imagine the bill will pave the way for reduced car-ownership, particularly in suburban areas, as social networks or church groups, for instance, make use of private vehicles, which otherwise spend an average of 90 percent of the time idle.

Supporters contend that removing the barrier to personal car-share will be an economic help to vehicle owners and will spur entrepreneurial innovations. Personal vehicle sharing in theory could be tailored as specifically or as generally as each participant wished.

"It's technically feasible and economically viable to have an arrangement where you decide that the only people you want to share your car are your Facebook friends or some other universe that is a part of your social network," Jones told Streetsblog.

After the bill flew through the Assembly with unanimous support, Jones was optimistic the Senate would view it favorably as well. The vote at  yesterday's Senate Banking, Finance, and Insurance committee was 10-0.

According to Jones' office, the bill will likely proceed to the Senate floor for a vote in early August, though it could be sooner. If Governor Schwarzenegger signs the bill into law, theoretically by Labor Day, it would take effect January 1st, 2011.


San Francisco Will Explore Bringing Car-Share to the Curbside

402415604_dc9d9f8978_b.jpgCar-sharing vehicles could eventually "live" in on-street parking spaces. Flickr photo: Jeff Hester

San Francisco could eventually see car-sharing come to the curbside after the Planning Commission voted yesterday to urge the city to explore the idea of allowing on-street car-share pods. The commission also voted to start a process of updating the city's guidelines for car-share requirements in new buildings.

Car sharing first came to San Francisco in 2001, and just a year later, the Planning Commission began requiring some new buildings to include car-share spaces as a condition of project approval. According to the Planning Department, San Francisco is the only city that requires car-share spaces for many new buildings by law, a policy it adopted in 2005.

Almost all of the city's car-share parking space, or pods, are in private garages and lots, where they've been required as part of a building's approval for construction, or where building owners have voluntarily leased out spaces to one of the city's two major car-share organizations, City CarShare and ZipCar.

That could soon change, as the Planning Commission urged the city to study using some public on-street spaces as car-share pods.

Planning Department staff wrote in a memo [PDF] that providing on-street car-share parking spaces could greatly expand the number of available spaces, increase car-sharing's legitimacy and visibility, make it feel safer for people who don't want to go into garages, and make more efficient use of on-street spaces that otherwise often stay occupied by one person's vehicle all day.