I’ve recently been wondering just how green the car sharing service I use actually is. The service is certainly convenient, but am I actually reducing my carbon footprint? It appears the answer may well be yes. A new study in England suggests that each shared car replaces on average 23 privately owned cars.
Further, car share participants take significantly fewer trips than car owners, opting instead to walk, bike, or use public transport. Finally, the shared car fleet examined in the study is significantly more fuel efficient than the average private vehicle in the UK. It’s reasonable to suppose that the environmental benefits of car sharing translate to an American context.
Since moving back to San Francisco from overseas in 2007, I’ve opted to go car free. I’m fortunate to live in a city with good (sorry MUNI, can’t quite say great) public transportation, great walkability and easy access to car sharing.
For me, car free has also been care free. Where once I used to spend up to half an hour trying to park near my house, my car share is now a two minute walk away and there is always a space. I don’t pay for gas or maintenance, which used to get costly in my (very) old pickup truck. And there is a fantastic selection of vehicles to get different jobs done.
In fact, when making my most recent apartment move, having a large car sharing lot nearby was a key consideration. I certainly make fewer car trips now, instead opting to walk or take public transit to most places in the city. We have gone from a two car household to a zero car household. I am sure that we would have buckled and purchased a car by now if not for car sharing. If you’re a member of a car sharing service, chime in an let us know how you’ve maximized the experience.