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Park, Circa 2011

Though most days I bike to the TerraPass office in downtown San Francisco, a mostly flat ride of a little under 30 minutes, there are days that I need to go by car. Usually these days involve either dropping off or picking up my kids on one or both ends of my day, in places where public transportation just isn’t an option. There’s nothing like a day spent jogging to parking meters, or paying $20 or $25 for the early bird special, to remind me that I’m lucky to ride a bike to work.

As my kids get older this has been happening more frequently, and it’s made me think a little more about parking. Well, first it got me thinking about Zipcar which as you probably know is a car-sharing service now available in more than 50 cities in the US, Canada, and the UK (well, London). That’s an elegant solution to a lot of temporary car needs, with cars and dedicated parking spaces stashed all over town. This isn’t a great solution when it involves carrying a child’s car seat all over town once you’ve used the car, though. To say nothing of two seats. It’s just much easier to use your own car in that situation.

That’s why I’m intrigued by Park Circa, a just-launched service that dispenses with the car-sharing part of Zipcar and offers the parking sharing. If you have a parking spot at your disposal through your home or apartment or some other means, you can rent it out to other members of the Park Circa community. You set the rental rate, the time limits (because you don’t want it filled when you need it), and you get paid at the end of the month, or save the money to use to pay for your own parking.

It’s simple, straightforward, and seems destined to make much better use of driveways and downtown parking spots all over town. OK, I can already hear the obvious complaint – we don’t want to encourage people to drive. But listen, sometimes it’s hard to avoid, and we all know in our hearts that driving mindlessly around the neighborhood looking for parking is a useless waste of resources and a source of carbon emissions. In fact, UCLA professor Donald Shoup estimates that 30% of driving emissions in central business districts are from drivers looking for parking.

So if you happen to have a space available for the Park Circa community to rent, or if you are in the market for one from time to time, check out the site. If you’re going to have to drive sometimes, you might as well make your parking as efficient as possible, both economically and environmentally.

Take the first step.

Start small. Be conscious of the impact your actions have on the environment and figure out what you can do to lessen the blow. Calculate, conserve, and offset.

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