More Reflections on car2go

Now that car2go has been in operation for a few weeks, I’ve had a chance to use it a handful of times and have some additional observations.

There’s also been more than a little chatter on the interwebs among transportation advocates that car2go makes it too convenient to use a car!

In my own use, I found it mostly competing with transit. The cases where I’ve found myself looking at the iPhone app to find a car are when I’ve planned to use transit, but the next vehicle is more than 10 minutes away. In one case I did rent a car.

I suspect that if you’re already car free (or the member of a one-car household like me, without immediate access to the family vehicle) car2go DOES compete with transit and cycling.

In general, the ‘sustainability win’ for car sharing is that it makes it more likely that your household will give up a car (or not buy one to start with). From that perspective, I think that having car2go in the mix may very well encourage more folks to go car-lite or car-free.

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Don’t do this with your car2go

Courtesy of cfarivar [Ceative Commons licence]

The ‘parking advantage’ has also been interesting. It’s terrific not to have to worry about meters, time limits or residential-only zones, but there is only a slight advantage in manifesting parking spaces (the car does fit in some spaces smaller than an average sedan could get into). So I still found myself driving around looking for spaces. It’s very frustrating to be circling the block at 35 cents per minute!

The other question I’ve seen around the net is whether you can take advantage of the small vehicle size and park perpendicular to the curb. The short answer is no, the car2go documentation says not to:

Vehicles parked in curbside spaces must be parallel
parked unless the location specifically requires
perpendicular or angle parking.

17 responses to “More Reflections on car2go”

  1. If I recall, when the FourTwo was first coming to the US, Smart was advocating parking like this.

  2. Yeah unfortunately, the law in Portland is vehicle must not extend further than 8′ from curb. For the Smart that is 4″ too few. As to the efficacy, I think it is completely silly not to have more in downtown core/Lloyd. Checking the map I often see them piled up at the northern boundary which probably does no one good once they are parked. I wonder how much they shuffle these around to adjust coverage.

  3. That seems kind of silly, as large pickup trucks regularly extend more than 8′ from the curb. The large trucks are nearly 8′ wide, so if the driver doesn’t get it right up against the curb, it will extend more than 8′ from the curb.

    I think the bigger problem might be the process of parking it in this orientation. You would have to make a 90* turn, which would be hard to do without taking up space in the adjacent lane.

  4. Kittens: I wonder how much of the car in the photo is hanging over the curb. 4 inches?

    Anyone who got a ticket parking this way could certainly make a good argument in court that by extending a few inches farther from the curb you create a public benefit by saving several linear feet of parking space. (Or, because I have a high fever right now, my logic is screwed up. Go easy on me, people.)

  5. Chris,

    Have you ever had an instance where the need to haul bags factored into a decision? I realize that the FourTwo doesn’t have very much room for freight in it, but I imagine you could still fit more groceries in one than you could comfortably haul on the bus.

    A particular concern for families with kids–especially ravenous beasts like mine. :)

  6. So far that has not been a factor.

    Generally if I need cargo capacity, I’m planning advance to borrow my partner’s vehicle (I do a lot of trip chaining on weekends!).

  7. I have a nagging concern about car rental on a per-minute basis. Seems like it would subtly feed into a frantic, hurried approach to driving. Not what you want for someone using an unfamiliar vehicle, especially if they don’t drive a lot, especially in a congested urban place.

  8. I am car-free and have used car2go twice. Once was late at night when transit had completely stopped running, and the other was when I missed my bus and the next one wasn’t going to come for 30 minutes. I don’t feel like it is competing with transit so much as supplementing it. Car2go is expensive enough that transit is still cheaper for most trips, but unfortunately transit is not always available. The parking situation is interesting–I would probably avoid trying to take a car2go to downtown or the NW just because I know parking would be difficult to find. Does car2go have a map that shows their reserved spots downtown? By the way, I highly recommend the Find2Car android app.

  9. I would suspect that car2go’s relationship with transit is similar to the relationship between transit and taxis–complementary, not competitive.

  10. Yeah, I don’t really see car sharing eating into transit ridership, except perhaps where the frequency is really poor. I kind of look at car sharing as a light version of what we might see in future decades with driverless taxis as an alternative to transit.

    With more people using transit because they no longer have a car in their garage, but also a lot of people that were entirely transit dependent having a car available to use for cheap, you’ll have more people wanting better “best” service and less people caring about how transit works where it is toughest to do. Kind of tugs on transit in two directions at once. Actually, I think you’re tugging in one direction, and pushing on the other end in that same direction, towards sorta choice rider values. Choice drivers.

  11. Oops, my bad. Law says angle parking is prohibited unless otherwise signed. But two- or three-wheeled vehicles may park angle or perpendicular if not more than 8′ from curb. Dumb

  12. I wonder how much they shuffle these around to adjust coverage.

    I don’t think there’s much of that. I took one grocery shopping Saturday morning and it’s been parked in front of my house ever since.

  13. I don’t think there’s much of that. I took one grocery shopping Saturday morning and it’s been parked in front of my house ever since.

    Are you sure the meter’s not still running? :)

  14. For a few days they were piling up around 74th and Holgate – then when I wanted one on Sunday I had to go clear to 74th and Center. I ditched that one in Goose Hollow. (We actually drove it to pick up a Zipcar Truck that we were using for the day – META car share WIN). Later in the day I picked one up at 28th and Glisan and left it by my house near Lents Park. It was mostly an experiment to see if the folks near 74th and Holgate will brave walking east of 82nd to retrieve it. That and I didn’t want to wait 1/2 an hour for the MAX.

    There’s enough room for about 4-5 sacks of groceries in the back. In most cases it works for the stuff I need to do and eliminates the most annoying aspect of Zipcar, which is having to end your rental at a specific geographic location. Zipcar has other advantages though, like having trucks.

  15. I think one of the dumbest things about parking in Portland is that a kei car can’t be parked perpendicular or two-to-a-space, even when it will fit in the space that way.

  16. For me the advantage comes when a transit trip would require a transfer or when it is a short trip. If two people are going you can drive for nearly 15 minutes for the cost of the newly proposed one way fares, that is a pretty good hop, and my time has value so if I have to wait for a bus more than 10 minutes and then wait for a transfer I’ll be checking to see how far away the nearest car is.

    I also think the city should look into changing their rules to make it clear that smart cars can be parked perpendicular to the street.

    Finally I must admit that when using the car I did feel the urge to drive faster than I probably would have otherwise, and I think that is a concern. It would be nice if the rental charged more like a taxi, distance and waiting time, rather than just time as that would remove the financial incentive to speed.

  17. One of the things the city desperately needs to do is eliminate those silly “movement zones” between every third parking space downtown. I know some folks find them helpful and convenient, but they take up valuable asphalt that could be used to fit more vehicles. In some parts of downtown I’ve seen with new construction they have been eliminated — no more yellow curbs, horray! But so much more capacity could be realized if they went away.

    Also, I am guilty of parking the car2go in 5 minute and 15 minute zones when I get desperate and can’t find on street parking anywhere else. :-/

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