Category Archives: cities

Car-sharing Is On The Rise, But How Will It Affect Auto Sales?

Car-sharing is growing, led by companies like Turo.

Cars were once seen as a symbol of freedom. But as real estate prices rise, and millennials face student loan burdens, some see them as a burden. Their owners are saddled with a costly, often unused piece of machinery, not really necessary for everyday life.

In comes collaborative car consumption, which addresses the profound cultural shift in how transportation is viewed.

Collaborative car consumption, also known as car-sharing, takes many forms and has been the cornerstone of many recent car-based start-ups, from well-known Hertz to lesser-known Turo. Collaborative consumption is the shared use of a good or service, and in this case, that good is a car.

Ride-sharing services, such as Uber or Lyft, don’t necessarily fit the definition of collaborative consumption. These services still have a single person driving, or owning, the car, and they are generally booked from point A to point B (although Lyft’s new “add a stop” service could change that.)

Collaborative car consumption models

There are three types of collaborative consumption, according to Future of Car Sharing, which tracks the model. They are peer to peer, where individual car owners rent their cars; business to consumer, where a business owns the cars and facilitates their use to members; and not-for-profit, where a community group owns cars and facilitates their use.

Peer to peer companies include Turo and Getaround. Through Turo, a car-owner lists their car on the company’s database as available for rent, according to the Turo website. From there, anyone who needs a car can rent one, meeting up with the owner at a specified location.

In New York City, cars listed on Turo can be rented from $40 per day to more than $250 per day.

Peer to peer car-sharing companies have found it difficult to be successful. One such company was WhipCar, a British start up which was founded in 2009 but shut down in 2013. On its now deactivated website, the company says, “there are still barriers to widespread adoption of peer-to-peer car rental in the UK.”

The business to consumer model is includes companies such as Hertz, Enterprise and Zipcar. These companies own the fleet of cars they rent to consumers and are the most popular form of collaborative consumption.

Not-for-profit collaborative car consumption companies prioritize car-sharing with the goal of changing driving habits over profit. Many cities across the country have programs that allow users to rent cars from the city owned program, often by the hour.

Programs include eGo CarShare in Boulder, Colorado, City Car Share in San Francisco, California, and Ithaca Carshare in Ithaca, New York. Continue reading

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The Auto Industry Prepares For A Big Change In Direction

Which direction will the auto industry take?

If you follow auto sales, you know two things about how they’ve been doing recently. They boomed the past couple of years, but they’ve started to trail off this year.

That’s no surprise. The auto industry is a cyclical business. But, there’s a growing awareness that the automotive landscape is changing, and even people who produce cars for a living may not realize what is heading their way.

That’s a conclusion from a new report by AlixPartners, the strategic planning and consulting firm used by major companies worldwide. Some of AlixPartners’ experts were involved in advising the Obama Administration about the  bailout of the auto industry, back in 2009, so it’s a prestigious name.

There’s an all-new automotive ecosystem developing, and I fear that many players really aren’t prepared for it,” says John Hoffecker, global vice chairman at AlixPartners. “The changes coming are the biggest since the internal-combustion engine pushed aside horses and buggies.”

But, Hoffecker also says the changes are as unpredictable as “trying to guess which app is going to be most popular on next year’s smartphones.”

I spent some time reading the report this past week, and these things jumped out at me.

New ideas and competition

Five years ago, Tesla was a curiosity, a billionaire’s pet project promising to produce ultra-luxury electric cars. Now, Tesla is one of the most valuable brands in the automobile industry and it just built the first Model 3, the moderately priced electric car it wants to sell to the masses.

Tesla’s rise shows just how fast things are moving in the industry and the influence that an outsider can have. To give it some perspective, five years is the length of a car company’s production cycle, the number of years that a model is generally on the market before a major change.

AlixPartners says there are now 50 companies competing to produce autonomous vehicle systems. It’s a “wild west” atmosphere that the industry hasn’t seen in more than a century, when there were dozens of car companies in the U.S. and around the world. Continue reading

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Filed under car sharing, cars, cities, Driving, economy, ride sharing

My Transportation Diet: Getting Around By Bus And Bike In Des Moines

This week, Curbing Cars inaugurates a new feature called My Transportation Diet. We’re asking our audience to tell us how they get around where they live and work.

First up is Michael Leland, who is the News Director of Iowa Public Radio. He lives in Des Moines.

“My transportation habits are a little of several things.  I live about a half-mile from my office in Des Moines, so it takes me about 10 minutes to walk to work.  I’ve mostly walked to work for the last two jobs I’ve had over the last 10 years.

I drive if I need to do something after work, like grocery shop.

I live a couple of blocks from a commercial district, so a coffee shop, my bank, and several restaurants and bars are all within a 15 minute walk from my home.

I live close enough to downtown (20-25 minutes) to walk to things like the library, barber, farmer’s market, church, etc., though sometimes I take a free circulator bus into downtown from the office, and then walk home.

I mostly use my car for errands like grocery shopping and other weekend needs.  Sadly, the downtown area in Des Moines doesn’t have stores like Target, PetsMart, and other major retailers, so I need my car for those.

I do some errands by bike,  but Des Moines is sort of behind the curve in developing a good system of bike routes and lanes.  I would do more if that was the case.”

We’d love to feature you in My Transportation Diet. Send us your story at curbingcars@gmail.com. We’d welcome your photos and video, too.

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Filed under bicycling, cars, cities, Driving, My Transportation Diet, public transportation

What’s Your Transportation Diet?

Summer is underway, and we’d like to hear from you. What is your transportation diet these days?

How would you describe your mix of personal transportation? Do you primarily drive, walk, or use public transportation? How often do you bike, use a skateboard or even get around by boat or plane?

Perhaps things change depending on your schedule. For instance, you drive in one or two days a week, and share a ride the rest of the time. Or, you’ll only drive if you have an early meeting. Let us know.

Knowing how you get around will help us frame our future coverage. We want to know whether our audience is relying on cars, buses, streetcars, their two feet, etc.

We’ll publish your responses and we’d love it if you’d include a photo of a video of your commute or leisure travel.

Please tell us your name (not a screen name, please) where you live, and if there are any roads you regularly take (for instance, Interstate 96, Milwaukee Avenue, Canal Street, and so on) or transportation systems that you regularly use, like the New York subway, the Boston T or rapid bus lines.

Send comments, photos and videos to curbingcars@gmail.com.

Thanks!

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Filed under bicycling, cars, cities, Driving, Travel, walking

Does This Place Come With Parking? Increasingly, The Answer Is “No”

A proposed apartment without parking in Portland, Oregon. Via Oregon Live; Courtesy of the Boise Neighborhood Association

 

Mass transit and millennials are feeding one of the biggest trends in real estate development: apartments without a parking space included in the purchase price or rent.

Of course, city buildings constructed through World War II rarely had much parking. But starting in 1950, the number of parking spots built by home builders rose steadily for more than six decades, according to a study by real estate analysis firm Redfin.

Since 2012, however, the number of parking spots built per bedroom has declined. That’s causing some discussion over whether a lack of parking is good for the environment or bad for the neighborhood.

The issue is front and center in a number of American cities. Here’s a round-up of what’s going on where.

Last week, transportation officials in Portland, Oregon announced that they are looking into the possibility of building a subway system, according to Next City. That could increase demand for buildings without parking spaces.

In 2013, Portland officials decided that buildings with 30 units or more should have a minimum number of spaces, responding to neighbors’ complaints about crowded nearby streets. But in 2016, officials decided not to impose the minimums in a Northwest Portland neighborhood, reopening the debate.

In Denver, plans for an apartment building without onsite parking were approved in Denver last year, but were met with resistance from neighbors shortly afterwards, according to 9 News. The city has since stopped issuing similar permits for space-less buildings.

Continue reading

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Analysis: “We’ll Never Have Paris,” Trump Declares. What That Means For Transportation

Boston City Hall was lit green on Thursday night.

President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was not a surprise. He talked about it many times during the 2016 election campaign.

But the outraged reaction to it from every corner of the world showed that the move was a shock.

Rather than join the global effort to address climate change, the U.S. now will be on the outside looking in. Before the U.S. withdrew, 196 countries agreed to abide by a deal in the making since 2009.

The implications couldn’t be greater for the future of transportation. Here’s why.

Unpredictability. Under the Paris Agreement, car makers, transit providers and commuters all knew what to expect: efforts to reduce global warming by 1.5 degrees centigrade. One of the simplest ways to do that is  to raise fuel economy standards. By using less fuel, cars emit less carbon dioxide pollution.

However, any companies that think Trump’s decision lets them off the hook would be misinformed. On Thursday, 187 mayors from around the U.S. pledged to “adopt, honor and uphold” the Paris Agreement, and it’s likely that more will be joining the group in coming days

These mayors represent 32 million people in the country’s biggest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Austin, Des Moines, and many more. Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston, responded by lighting Boston City Hall in Green (see the photo above).

“We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy,” the mayors declared.

Presumably, this puts companies in an unpredictable position. Cars whose emissions comply with federal standards might not meet those embraced by the Climate Mayors. Some mayors may adopt stricter rules than others. An exception to the group: Detroit.

No one knows for sure what those mayors could enact, and uncertainty upsets shareholders, employees and consumers. Car companies and others could find themselves darting from one end of the country to the other in order to negotiate standards. Continue reading

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Curbing Cars Test Drives Detroit’s New Light Rail System

In its first week of operation, the QLine carried nearly 50,000 riders, averaging 7,140 riders daily, well surpassing the operators’ goal of 5,000 riders a day according to M-1 Rail, which operates the system.

The streetcar system was funded by public and private monies with hopes of expansion in the future (there are no concrete plans that detail where the streetcar system may go in the future). There are six streetcars ready for operation–each can seat 34 people and hold 125 people–all of which can be used at times of high-ridership.

The QLine planned to offer free rides for its first week of operation. But late last week, it announced that rides will be free until July 1. The operators will use that time to work out the bugs, and capitalize on the public’s interest in the new light rail system.

Join our Colin Beresford for a test drive of the QLine.

Have you ridden the QLine? Please let us know about your experience at curbingcars@gmail.com

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Filed under cities, Curbing Cars, public transportation, urban planning

The Two Faces Of Uber: Getting Banned And Becoming Public Transportation

Even as it is under fire, Uber’s role is expanding. Photo via Uber

Over the past seven years, Uber and ride-sharing have taken the transportation world by storm, changing consumers’ transportation habits, and forcing cities around the country to rethink their own transportation systems.

Uber’s troubles still get most of the attention.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit by Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo, will go to trial. Waymo has accused one of its former engineers of stealing thousands of pages of trade secrets when he left, and taking them over to Uber. The judge rejected Uber’s claim that the dispute was an employment matter that should have been settled through arbitration.

In the meantime, Uber is moving beyond its original approach of growing its customer base through individual customers. Some states and cities are ncreasing the role of Uber within their jurisdictions.

Five Florida cities are subsidizing Uber rides, and providing further support by paying for rides to public transportation stations. A New York City proposal, if passed, would force Uber to add a tipping option for riders within the city. And Edmonton, Alberta has begun exploring a partnership with Uber and other ride-sharing companies, in an effort to replace bus routes.

Making deals with cities

Last June, the Florida cities of Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford and Maitland, began their pilot programs with Uber. The five are located just north of Orlando, and aim to save money, reduce traffic congestion and increase ridership of their SunRail train system.

The program subsidizes 20 percent of every Uber ride beginning and ending within the city. Trips that end or begin at a SunRail station are subsidized 25 percent, according to the Orlando Sentinel. These ideas are often referred to as “last-mile programs,” meant to bring riders to public transportation stations.

Uber kept the amount of money it received from each city a secret until January, when a Longwood city clerk, Michelle Longo, released the invoices from Uber to the Sentinel.

Longo told the newspaper, “While Uber claims this invoice is a confidential trade secret and exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act, it is the City’s position that this invoice is not confidential and exempt and that the public should have access to this invoice reflecting the amount that Uber is seeking payment from the City under the Pilot Project Agreement.” Continue reading

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Filed under car sharing, cities, infrastructure, Uncategorized

Public Transportation Is A Mess. How Can It Be Fixed?

New York. Toronto. San Francisco. Chicago. Great cities, with one thing in common. Their public transportation systems are a mess.

You probably know Richard Florida’s name. And if you don’t, you certain know the phrase he popularized: the Creative Class. In his 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida said that cities’ fortunes could be revived by appealing to smart, talented people — entrepreneurs, technology experts, artists, and creators of all kinds. These innovators could lead the way in putting cities back on their feet.

His idea worked. The only problem was, it left a lot of people behind. Now, Florida is back with his latest book, The New Urban Crisis.

In it, he says that by ignoring the working class, service class and essentially the middle class in general, America’s cities are in big, big trouble. Some of them could be headed for confrontation well beyond what the Occupy movement generated.

Florida appeared before Ann Arbor SPARK, an conomic development group in Ann Arbor, Mich., last week, where I got a chance to catch up with him.

He says one of the biggest problems that cities face is the deterioration of the ways people get around. “Once a metropolitan area gets above 5 million people, the old way of growing, with single family homes and cars, seizes up. That platform of economic innovation will no longer work,” Florida says.

He went on, “We need to invest in transit. Lord God, come visit me in Toronto and try to get anywhere. It is gridlock. I go to Atlanta, it’s gridlock, Miami, it’s gridlock, Washington, it’s gridlock, Boston, it’s gridlock. New York, the whole thing is falling apart. Every day, the transit system is a nightmare.” Continue reading

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The Best American Cities For Bicycle Commutes

Best Bicycling Cities

I’ll bet you’ve notice more people commuting to work by bicycle over the past few years.

I just moved away from one of America’s best cities for bicycle commutes — Ann Arbor, Mich. — but I now live next to another one of the best, Tempe, Ariz. They’ve both college towns and that seems to be an attribute of many of the nation’s leading bicycling cities.

Take a look at this wonderful Bloomberg graphic on the top places where people get to work on two wheels. Is your town on it? What will it take to land your town on it?

 

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