Monday, January 27, 2014

Does carsharing promote balanced and sustainable economic growth?

The short off the cuff answer is: yes definitely. But let us dig deeper.

car-pollutionThe answer becomes even more self-evident if you turn the question around and ask: does an automobile-lifestyle promote balanced and sustainable economic growth. We all know the answer to that one.

A well thought-out carsharing policy -- which incidentally is not really possible unless you first have a well thought out overall mobility strategy – – will make a contribution to promoting balanced and sustainable economic growth. How is that?

  • First because it makes a contribution to remove one of the least balanced and least sustainable policies and practice in the transport field, which incidentally by most measures accounts for something on the order of 20% of all emissions, energy consumption, etc.

  • Now we are well aware that carsharing does not all by itself substitute for unsustainable solo driven cars. But as many studies have shown, carsharing does have a role in reducing the number of cars in circulation and with it traffic, congestion and all the bad things that connotes.

  • Carsharing, if it is to be effective, must be part of the overall sustainable mobility strategy and in this respect has to be understood and judge as part of this greater whole.

  • Carsharing leads to energy savings, for all kinds of reasons which are well identified in the literature. Energy savings in the case of the Netherlands lead to a corresponding decrease of the need for spending your hard earned money on imported fossil fuels or indeed any other energy source other than renewable energy.

  • Carsharers organize their lives differently from those who are entirely dependent on their own cars. They walk more, cycle more, take public transport more and organize their time more carefully, by contrast with the average car owner who jumps into their car for a cost free trip at the drop of a hat. Their mindset and lifestyle is really quite different and, to coin a phrase, sustainable.

  • There is a not unreasonable argument which states that without carsharing -- which as we know is an option for being able to drive a car when it is needed without saddling the driver with the 800 pound gorilla that is an own-car -- the path to a sustainable mobility system is going to be longer and more hotly contested by all those who do not want to be entirely deprived of the highly flexible mobility option that a car can provide.

Executive summary: Carsharing is thus "the missing link in our sustainable transportation system", and as such it is an important motor for balanced and sustainable economic growth.

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- Draft section from "World Carshare 2014: Going Dutch". KpVV and EcoPlan

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