Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Car2Go is coming to Brooklyn, launches October 25th

Car2Go is a one-way car sharing program.  This means that you can leave the car in a place different from where you pick it up, unlike traditional car sharing programs like Zipcar (which is testing one-way car sharing in Boston), Enterprise, Hertz, etc., which are two-way, which means that you have to take the car back to where you got it.

That also means that you hold the car for the entire time of a reservation, where with one-way car sharing you don't have to keep the car at your destination.  (On the other hand, it might not still be there for you if you want to use it to return.)

See "Car sharing and integrated sustainable mobility planning" for more about the car sharing concept more generally.

Car sharing is a way to extend parking inventory.  Some cities like Hoboken are using car sharing as a way to manage parking demand and "add to supply" because members of car sharing services living in dense areas typically give up one or more cars after joining (Cars at Curbside, Available to Share" and "Car-Sharing Gamble in Hoboken Has Mixed Reactions," New York Times).

In Seattle, our intent was to switch from light rail to bus to get to our final destination from the airport.  But while lugging our luggage to the bus stop, I saw a car2go, and we used that instead.

I didn't think we'd be able to get around without a rental car, but between transit, some use of car2go and Zipcar, maybe one taxi ride, and a couple of rides from friends, we got around just fine.

There are restrictions on where you can leave the car, but generally you can park it on the street, in metered or residentially restricted spaces, without an additional charge.  If you park it illegally/outside of the restrictions, you're responsible for tickets.
Car2Go on 3rd Street SE, Capitol Hill
Car sharing firms pay for car access to street parking.  The company and therefore the user-members, pays a high annual fee to the city each year to cover the cost of this "free parking."

It's been controversial in some areas in DC, because some car owners, who pay little ($35/year) to nothing (some parts of the city don't require residential parking permits) for the privilege of being able to park on the street resent "those cars" using what they consider to be "their" spaces in front of their houses or otherwise on the street, not acknowledging that all city residents should have the privilege of being able to park on the street, that such a privilege shouldn't be limited to car owners.

Car sharing extends sustainable mobility lifestyles.  It's a useful alternative to transit when where you want to go or come from isn't convenient by transit, you're in a hurry, you ended up buying a bunch of stuff that you have to carry, etc.  And it's a useful alternative to biking when the person you're with doesn't/didn't bike.

And it is a complement to not owning a car in that it enables you to get around for trips where transit, walking, and biking don't always work.

We use car2go more than I'd like to admit, but it usually means getting home in 15 minutes or less from somewhere, as compared to an hour using transit+walking.  And it's cheaper than a taxi.

A Car2Go vehicle in the HafenCity district of Hamburg, Germany.  Note how the car is parked off the street.

Car2Go operates in 11 cities in North America.  Right now, US users of car2go can use the systems in any of the 11 cities in the US and the 4 cities in Canada where the service is operational.

Car2Go is offered in 13 cities across Europe, but currently, US members aren't afforded the privilege of using those systems.  (On the other hand, I figured I'd have no clue about how to drive in Germany, so that was probably a good thing.)

In addition to DC, I've used it in Seattle and San Diego--in San Diego they have electric cars, which are a dream ("Car2Go electric cars in San Diego"), but you can also use it in Austin, TX; and in Montreal; Toronto; and Vancouver in Canada
On the Trail of Brownstones in Brooklyn - New York Times.jpg
Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times.  Fifth Avenue along Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

Car2Go opens in Brooklyn on October 25th.  Brooklyn is next in line, and will be the 12th "city" (it's part of NYC) in North America to have car2go service.  (At this time, Brooklyn is the only borough where people will be able to "park" car2go vehicles.  Similarly, in other cities there typically are geographical restrictions on where you can park and release the cars.)

And you can join for free in advance of the service launch, and get 30-minutes of driving credit.

But if you get a referral from me, you can get 40-minutes of driving credit--10-minutes more than the basic inducement and I'll get some credit as well.

Drop me a line at if you want an invitation.

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At 8:38 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Mercedes is releasing the electric B class in the US. They use it in Germany as a zipcar style car2go (from a fixed location) as car2go black. I can see them moving to that model.

Smart is releasing new versions of the car. Given that the purpose of car2go was to improve the CAFE numbers at Daimler, I'd expect them to bring new ones here. I'm not taking away from the revenue, it is very popular and effective, but there is a lot of potential for tax scams here as well.

My car (old but paid off, but needs repairs) comes out to almost exactly 47 cents a mile, which is very comparable to the car2go rate (40 cents a minute?).

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

makes sense to have different programs. As I mentioned, the electric smartcar drives very very nicely.

As importantly, as we have discussed before, it significantly augments car-lite living.

At 3:20 PM, Anonymous thm said...

I occasionally use car2go with my Brompton; folded up, the Brompton fits nicely in car2go "trunk," although it took me a few tries before I figured out how to keep the bike from moving around. The closest I can get to my workplace that's inside the car2go home area is just over a half mile away, and the Brompton cuts a 20-minute walk to a 5-minute ride. Same thing to find one in Brookland; there's usually one within a 5-minute bike ride.

At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

bike + car share is huge!!!!!!!! I am cheap, so I will try to get the least expensive zipcar. That may mean a bike ride from 1 to 2 miles.

But a 5-8 minute bike ride is a lot faster than a 20 to 40 minute walk...

Generally, with car2go, both Suzanne and I make the trip, although sometimes not...

At 7:43 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: car-lite.

I think both bikesharing and car2go both highlight wh at makes biking and driving in the city difficult.

1) With bikes, threat of being stolen and one way trips. Also maintaining a bike.

2) With cars, confusing street parking rules and costs.

Congestion isn't an issue.

I agree that you can fit two people (or one person +bags) into a car2go is part of the value proposition. Not having to deal with immigrant taxi driver is also a bonus.

Car2go is getting more restrictive on the no rush hour parking zones, which is pretty silly. I would not let me park on 16th st on saturday morning b/c of rush hour rules -- a car there (16th and q) would be gone within 30 minutes.

I'd increase the fee and remove them from street cleaning rules as well.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

interesting points. wrt weekend use, they definitely could program in parking on Saturday.

I was reading the card the other day (because I was trying to figure out the hatch and now the procedure is different from what I remember and we had to call, there were no instructions on the cards) and I seem to recall it said you couldn't park in a place with restrictions if the restrictions kicked in within 24 hours.

fwiw -- the new procedure is click unlock twice on the key fob and then hold down the weird icon, which is for the hatchback, for two seconds.

It took us longer to open the hatch then it did to drive home. (We bought a kitchen type vintage metal shelving unit from Trohv on the spur of the moment).


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