Tuesday, January 19, 2010

World Streets Annual New Mobility Country Reviews:
An ultra-short progress report on carsharing in Iceland

This series strives to try to provide a balanced view reporting on how the practice of sharing cars is progressing in countries and cities around the world. Including in places that have yet to create their own carshare operations or pubic programs to investigate or support them. The case of Iceland is one among many, showing how the roll-up takes time and the importance of convincing of those who have yet to embrace the broader new mobility approach to transport and environment. Let's have a look.

This in today from Morten Lange, World Streets Sentinel in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Here is an ultra-short report from Iceland:

1. At present there is none.

2. The relatively new NGO here in Iceland called Society for a Carfree Lifestyle ( Samtök um bíllausan lífsstíl, http://www.billaus.is ) applied for a grant from the government last year to write a report exploring the possibilities for a carsharing club or company.

3. Sadly they were turned down, and since that not much has been happening on that front as far as I understand.

4. They might be interested in joining the World Carshare Forum so, I copied this email to a contact within the board at Bíllaus, whom I promised to inform about the World Carshare forum and this series.

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The author:
Morten Lange describes himself as "as an advocate for cycling and other healthy transport (in my spare time and then some)". He lives, works and pedals in Reykjavik Iceland

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Commentary:

With a regional population of about two hundred thousand, distinguished by per capita car ownership among the highest in the world at more than 500 vehicles per 1000 residents (an average of well more than one per household), and a high standard of living despite the recent economic meltdown, it is hard to imagine that there is not ample space for some kind of carsharing operation or at least a preparatory program in the region -- if only to take a first hard look at how it might play a role in the area's transportation system. And if we add to this otherwise favorable situation for carsharing, the fact that income levels have plunged as a result of the crisis, it would seem that the considerable economic advantages that carsharing can offer should make it an important part of the current policy scene.

It is a fine thing that Morten Lange and others in Iceland are taking the time and trouble to get more people to thinking about carsharing in their country, and it is great luck that he is not alone in this. When we set up the World Carshare Consortium back in the closing years of the last decade, one of our objectives was to provide an open forum for peer group support and exchanges of information and experience in this key sustainable transport mode. And gradually over this decade we have seen others come in to do the same with strong programs of their own.

Among these the original "Moses" project of the European Union - "Car-Sharing project within the City of Tomorrow - mobility services for urban sustainability" (see http://www.uitp.org/Working-Bodies/Car-Sharing/pics/moses-KeysToCarSharings.pdf for a good summary of this program); and currently the (somewhat wierdly named) successor program – "momo: More options for energy-efficient transport through carsharing" at http://www.momo-cs.eu. (We hope to present a report on this important long term EU effort to help inspire and support more and better carsharing at a later point in this series. The EU is to be congratulated for sticking to this program; continuity being one of the vital keys to the transition to sustainable cities. )

Likewise since 2005 the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) has created its own UITP CarSharing Platform at http://www.uitp.org/Public-transport/carsharing/index.cfm, aimed at bringing together all actors of the sector, i.e. car-sharing operators, public transport operators, organizing authorities, the industry, and academic members and stimulating interaction, debate, and the exchange of good practices in order to promote and develop car- sharing worldwide.

In addition to these international efforts we are seeing a plethora of national support programs organized in various ways in almost all of the countries that are already well into the carshare development cycle. These you will see more about in the various country reports in this series.

Stay tuned. More follows.

The editor

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