Friday, July 10, 2009

Honk! Lessons from a shopping trolley

Lessons from a shopping trolley (more mobility with fewer cars)

- Michael Glotz-Richter, Senior Advisor Sustainable Mobility, Bremen

Ever considered buying a shopping trolley of your own? After all, it would be convenient to have one available anytime you want to buy a litre of milk. You could store it in your living room or the kids’ playroom when you aren’t using it. And if we each bought one, just think how we would be supporting the shopping trolley industry.

Proud family with their late-model shopping trolley

Now think about our “urban living room” – our cities – and about how we use that space. Studies have shown that, on average, most cars are parked for 23 hours a day. Do we really want to use so much valuable space for storing vehicles?

One pragmatic and proven solution is Car-Sharing. Car-Sharing supplements public transport, walking and cycling by providing a ‘car-on-call’ for its customers whenever they need it. It also starts to break the perceived link between car ownership and mobility.

In Germany today, there are currently about 140,000 Car-Sharing customers, more than 5,000 of whom live in the city of Bremen. Bremen (population 550,000) has a well-integrated public transport system and good conditions for cycling. Almost 60% of all trips there are made by walking, cycling and public transport – good preconditions to reclaim “living space” from parking for social and ecological purposes.

* Click here for brief Momo video on carsharing in Bremen.

Bremen has established – and is expanding – a series of so-called “mobility points” (“mobil.punkt”) which integrate on-street Car-Sharing stations with bike parking near public transport stops. The city is also creating a Car-Sharing development plan to help integrate it as one crucial component of a wider strategy toward a culture of sustainable mobility.

In Bremen, the more than 5,000 individuals have taken 1,000 private cars off the road by becoming Car-Sharing members, and there is evidence of changing mobility patterns: for the first time ever, statistics show a decline in the number of cars (-1.6%) despite an increase in population (+0.2%). At the same time, public transport use has increased by 3.6%.

But the potential in Bremen, and elsewhere, is still tremendous. Cities worldwide could benefit by integrating all public transport services – including the ‘car-on-call’ – to make their urban spaces more attractive, liveable, and free from excess ‘shopping trolleys.’

Bremen was selected to present its approach to sustainable urban mobility as an ‘urban best practice’ at the 2010 World Expo (Better City, Better Life) in Shanghai.
Michael Glotz-Richter is Senior Advisor "Sustainable Mobility" in the City of Bremen's Department for Environment, Construction, Transport and European Affairs. He has served as initiator and coordinator of several EU projects on Car-Sharing like "moses" (Mobility Services for Urban Sustainability) 2001-2005 and the current intolerably named project in the EU-energy-efficiency-program: "momo Car-Sharing" ("more options for energy efficient mobility through Car-Sharing").
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