Skip to content

Posts from the "Car Sharing" Category

2 Comments

Eyes on the Street: New On-Street Car-Share Parking Spots in Action

A pair of new Zipcar spots at 20th Avenue and Irving Street. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The first in a new wave of on-street car-share parking spaces are on the ground, kicking off the eventual roll-out of 900 spots planned by the SFMTA.

I spotted the pair of Zipcar spots above on 20th Avenue at Irving Street in the Sunset on Saturday, and they were apparently already being used. The first time I passed by, the spots were both empty, but later one car had been returned.

As more locations like these make car-share more convenient and visible, car ownership is expected to decline: each car-share vehicle replaces nine to 13 privately-owned autos, on average. It’s a statistic we’ve continually reported, and it means these spots will make more parking available — but that’s still often ignored by those who call these space conversions “privatization.”

SF has already had a dozen on-street car-share spots in place for a couple of years ago as part of an SFMTA pilot, but now the real proliferation has begun. If you spot others, feel free to share photos in the comments.

9 Comments

Leave it to KTVU to Sensationalize One Car-Share Parking Space

KTVU reporter David Stevenson is at it again, with a new report about reserving one on-street parking spot for car-share vehicles. With Stevenson’s history of muckraking about lawfully helmet-less bicyclists, and a handful of re-purposed parking spaces, this sort of scandalous scoop is right up his alley.

Somerville and Stevenson bring you the latest parking scandal. Image: KTVU

Stevenson glosses over the fact that car-share vehicles open up more parking spaces, since each can replace nine to 13 privately-owned cars. He knows that, if you find enough uninformed people on the street to quote, the real story will come out: “Drivers and businesses in the neighborhood tell us they’re bracing for the impact,” he says.

That’s right. A single parking space, at Clement Street and 24th Avenue in the Richmond, is poised to be used more efficiently. So naturally, “Some people are saying changing just one parking place can disrupt an entire street,” as KTVU anchor Frank Somerville said to introduce the story.

There will indeed be an “impact,” and it may even “disrupt” the street, in the positive, tech-culture sense of the word. More residents can either sell their cars, or forego buying one, since they’ll have more convenient access to car-share. A nationwide study from UC Berkeley confirmed this.

But it’s probably a safe bet Stevenson didn’t explain that to people on the street, since otherwise he might not have elicited the sort of soundbites that fit his narrative: “a waste of a parking spot,” one man says. “I think it’s ridiculous,” one woman says.

“Everybody kills each other for parking out here, so it’s going to have a huge impact,” says a grocery store owner.

Let’s hope it does.

76 Comments

Parking Shared Cars Instead of Private Cars Isn’t Exactly “Privatization”

A flyer distributed in the Lower Haight recently made the absurd argument that converting private car parking into car-share parking is “privatization.” Photo: Amy Stephenson/Hoodline

The SFMTA’s endeavor to reserve on-street car parking spaces for car-share vehicles has yielded complaints from some car owners who, ironically, decry the “privatization” of space currently used to store private cars.

These folks don’t seem to acknowledge the extensive research showing that each car-share vehicle replaces, on average, nine to 13 privately-owned cars. They should be embracing the arrival of a program that provides a convenient alternative to car ownership, allowing some of their neighbors to sell infrequently used cars, and ultimately make more parking available.

An on-street car-share parking spot in SoMa. Photo: Andy Thornley/Flickr

But the greater point that some folks seem to be missing is this: No use of public street space is more “private” than dedicated storage of private individuals’ automobiles. To decry converting comparatively few of these spaces to welcome a much more efficient form of auto storage – making each space useful for dozens of people, rather than one or two – is absurd.

Yet that’s what Calvin and Michelle Welch argue, in flyers they distributed that protest two on-street car-share spaces in the Lower Haight, as Hoodline recently reported. ”It would privatize a shared, currently free, scarce public resource making it available only to paid members of a car share program,” the Welches wrote. (It’s worth noting that Calvin Welch is a longtime activist who opposes the construction of new market-rate housing.)

Our societal blind spot tends to make it easy to forget that the vast majority of street space has been given over to moving and storing cars, many of them owned and used by just one person each. San Francisco’s 275,450 on-street parking spaces would stretch, lined end-to-end, longer than the California coastline. Ninety percent of this prime real estate is free to use at all times of day.

Read more…

16 Comments

Map: SFMTA’s 900 On-Street Car-Share Parking Spots Coming Along

This post supported by

A snapshot of the SFMTA’s draft map of 900 proposed on-street car-share parking spots. See the full map [PDF].

Updated with new version of the map here [PDF].

The SFMTA is rolling right along with its plans to reserve 900 on-street parking spots for car-share vehicles, which will bring a convenient alternative to car ownership to more of the city. The agency has published a draft map [PDF] of proposed car-share spaces throughout the city. The map isn’t final, but residents can start to get a sense of where they might see car-share pop up in their neighborhoods starting this year.

The SFMTA Board of Directors gave the green light to the first 25 car-share spots last week, with the rest expected to be approved in batches over the coming months. Dozens more spots have already cleared the first hurdle, having received preliminary approval at bi-weekly SFMTA public engineering hearings.

Car-sharing ultimately frees up more parking spaces. A growing body of national research shows that each car-share vehicle typically replaces nine to 13 private vehicles, and car-share users walk, bike, and take transit more often. The SFMTA says that those findings were confirmed by their experience with both a test program with 12 on-street car-share spots, as well as the hundreds of off-street car-share spots that have been in place for years.

“There’s an opportunity to free up 10,000 parking spots,” said Padden Murphy of Getaround, which allows car owners to rent their vehicles to their neighbors.

The on-street spots will be available to Getaround and to conventional car-share organizations, like ZipCar and City CarShare, that own and maintain fleets of shared vehicles. The on-street car-share program was spearheaded by the SFMTA in partnership with the non-profit City CarShare, which started the earlier on-street car-share pilot in 2011. The current SFMTA initiative extends the pilot by two years and expands its scale.

Nonetheless, the SFMTA Board did hear from a handful of detractors who don’t seem to buy the evidence, arguing instead that the program is an incursion on storage for personal cars and complaining that the SFMTA didn’t adequately notify neighbors about the proposal.

Read more…

13 Comments

50 More On-Street Car-Share Spaces Proposed — Support One Near You

This post supported by

About 50 on-street car-share parking spaces could be approved at an SFMTA engineering hearing tomorrow. That’s your chance to write in, or show up at City Hall, to support a smart move by the SFMTA: placing car-share vehicles in convenient locations citywide, and putting everyone within easy reach of this alternative to car ownership.

An on-street City CarShare spot in Bayview. Photo: City CarShare/Twitter

The 50 locations are the first set of 900 on-street car-share spots planned by the SFMTA, following a successful pilot program of 12 spaces around the city. The on-street expansion was originally set to start rolling out last September, but was delayed for unknown reasons. The spaces will be used by City CarShare, Zipcar, and Getaround, and the SFMTA plans to have 450 available by the summer.

Reserving curbside parking spaces for exclusive use by car-share puts shared vehicles closer to more residents, making the service more convenient. Until now, car-share organizations have generally only been able to procure reserved spaces in off-street parking lots or garages, or at paved-over sites like gas stations that are often prime sites for redevelopment.

The SFMTA’s car-sharing policy document [PDF] cites a 2010 nationwide study which found that every car-share vehicle replaces as many as 13 private automobiles. Some auto owners who don’t drive often give up the hassle of car ownership (or second car ownership) after joining car-share, while other residents may choose to not buy a car in the first place because car-sharing grants them access to a car.

Nonetheless, there are reports that some neighbors of proposed car-share spots don’t buy the stats, and oppose the reserved spots because they see “their” parking being removed. One merchant at my street corner has a sign posted in her window telling people to oppose two proposed spots nearby, and didn’t seem swayed by my arguments that it would make more parking available. (As a car-share user myself, I know that it stops me from considering buying a car, and thus occupying a parking space.)

Below is the list of proposed locations for on-street car-share, taken from the hearing agenda [PDF]. Comments can be emailed to sustainable.streets@sfmta.com, or you can speak at the hearing on Friday at 10 a.m. in City Hall, Room 416.

Read more…

80 Comments

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.

An on-street car-share parking spot in SoMa. Image: Google Maps

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.

Read more…

4 Comments

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.”

Read more…

15 Comments

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: City CarShare/Twitter

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.

Read more…

5 Comments

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.

Read more…

No Comments

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.

Read more…