Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Honk: Find-a-parking-spot contest

The city of Tel Aviv has all the natural attributes of a place where carsharing is part of the new mobility solution: tight urban form, plenty of mixed use, high incomes, plenty of people ready to try new ideas (the "Mediterranean’s New Capital of Cool"), and some, it is said, attention to costs. Here is how their carshare operator is calling attention to the Achilles heel of carsharing, parking.

Tel Aviv: 'Find-a-Parking-Spot Contest' Highlights Car-Sharing

by Hillel Fendel - http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/133065

How to deliver 24 newly-arrived cars from the port to dealers in Tel Aviv? Have drivers take them there, competing along the way to be the first to find a parking spot!

The contest will be held this Friday and will be used to call attention to both the lack of parking spots in Tel Aviv and the advantages of car-sharing systems gaining in popularity around the world.

Israel’s car-sharing company is Car2Go, which was founded last year in the city of Ulm, Germany. The system's advantages are that the cars can be rented by the hour or day, picked up and dropped off almost anywhere, and can be reserved with almost no advance

In addition, from municipal and national standpoints, the car-sharing systems offer considerable savings in traffic congestion, pollution, and parking availability. Car2Go reports that each one of its cars replaces 15 cars on the roads and frees up 14 parking spots.

Naom Margalit, who heads the Car2Go company in Israel, would like the Tel Aviv municipality to follow the example set by other cities around the world and designate – for a monthly fee - parking spots for his company. He explains: “The idea for the contest was born when we looked for an original and creative way to get 24 new cars from the importer to the dealers. The competition illustrates the parking problem in Tel Aviv and the daily race for a spot in which Tel Aviv drivers take part, and raises public awareness of the advantages of designating parking spots for us.”

The Tel Aviv municipality is reportedly interested in the idea, but no decision has been made of yet.

The system works roughly as follows: A fleet of vehicles is made available for Car2Go members, parked in specially-designated spots and available for use at any time. A car can be "hired" by flashing one’s driver’s license – equipped with special chips for the purpose – at the windshield, thus checking to see if the car is “taken” or “available.” If the former, the user will be informed of the nearest available car. The customer then gets in, types in his personal PIN number as well as other information, such as the condition of the car, and drives off. When he finishes – an hour, day or even a month later – he parks the car in another designated spot, logs out, and is billed monthly.

Car2Go reports that over 400,000 people currently take part in car-sharing systems in 600 cities in 18 countries around the world. The “Mobility” company is the largest of its kind in Switzerland, which has a population similar to that of Israel, and serves 70,000 drivers with an array of 2,000 cars.

Friday’s contest will be held in three stages. It will begin at the Reading Power Plant parking lot, where 24 pairs of contestants will get into freshly-arrived new cars. At the signal, they will dash off to find parking spaces, in accordance with special instructions they will receive via SMS and envelopes at various points along their trip. Points will be taken off for traffic violations. A vacation for two will be granted to the winner, and other prizes will be awarded to the other contestants.


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