Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Changing how London moves

In a couple of months, a significant change to the way Londoners get around the city will arrive.  While the first choice for people to move from point A to point B should be "active" transportation (walking, cycling, etc.), followed closely by public transit (the city bus in London's case), most elect to hop into their personal vehicle and drive to their destination.  Starting in April, drivers will have a new option when it comes to automobiles:  Community CarShare has announced they will open in London.  (Read their announcement)


Haven't heard of Community CarShare?  Ontario's first non-profit co-operative car-share service started in Kitchener-Waterloo in 1998, and essentially enhances the traditional car rental with the flexibility of using (and therefore paying for) the use of a vehicle only when you need it.

At the December meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Environment (ACE), we received a presentation from one of the co-op's representatives.  He told us that a car-share vehicle removes 5 to 15 cars from the road.  This means less traffic congestion and lower pollution levels as a city adopts the concept.  In addition, he informed us that the average car-share member drives 50% less with a shared vehicle versus owning one (they will choose to walk or take other transportation for close trips), translating into more exercise and improved health.

Many families will debate how "big" they should go:  purchasing the "largest" vehicle possible to suit all needs means having to take a mini-van or SUV everywhere, while its main purpose in size serves to deliver children to their activities (such as hockey, with all the equipment that needs transporting along with the player!), yet proves overkill for most other tasks.  A car-share program allows a family to choose the best vehicle to fit the needs of the day:  perhaps a sedan for groceries on Tuesday, a mini-van to transport to the arena or the performance venue on the weekends, or an extended-cab pick-up truck to move furniture for the university-bound student twice a year.

The average annual cost of owning and operating a vehicle in Ontario sits at about $10 500, while the average CarShare member will spend $1200 per year, including gasoline, insurance, and other incidentals.  Instead of purchasing that "second vehicle" that rarely gets used or exceeds the majority of a family's needs, a household can spend a tenth of the yearly costs for the same service and convenience with a shared vehicle.

The Community CarShare representative informed those of us at ACE that they only ask from the City of London a $150 000 line of credit for the next five to ten years (as a fallback: there is no plan to use the money unless necessary), and some subsidized or in-kind public parking spots.

Think your neighbourhood could use a shared vehicle?  Get in contact and flood them with requests:  you will put your street on their radar and may get your very own community-owned vehicle.