How can we help people to live without needing to own their own car?

Yarra’s streets can be better for car sharing if Council supports growth of the fleet to 2,000 vehicles and allows car share vehicles to be sited on residential streets. The primary argument against a significant increase in the car share fleet is that is takes on-street parking away from residents. This is wrong – car sharing reduces demand for on-street parking, so the more we have, the easier it will be for residents to find a park.

Image credit: GoGet

Council support for car sharing

The City of Yarra supports car sharing on its website:

Yarra car share policy

The City of Yarra has adopted a car share policy, with a target to grow the fleet from 152 to 283 vehicles over five years. This is a far lower growth than what we need. The policy also restricts the ability of car sharing vehicles to be located on residential streets, close to where people live. This is the opposite of what we need.

Context

The policy does not comply with the Council Plan, where Objective 6 states:

Image credit: Council Plan

Nor does the policy comply with City of Yarra Parking Management Strategy Action Plan, where the goals include:

Image credit: City of Yarra Parking Management Strategy Action Plan

To comply with the Council Plan and Parking Management Strategy, the policy would need to enable car share service providers to offer an attractive service. In other words, significantly more vehicles and located on residential streets.

Justification for 2,000 vehicles

Residents in Yarra own about 40,000 cars. To comply with the Council Plan (to support a fulfilling life without the need for a car) we need to offer enough car share vehicles to displace the private fleet. If each car share vehicle displaces 7-10 private vehicles, we need to target 4,000-5,714 car share vehicles. If we only target half the population transitioning to active transport supported by car share, we need to target 2,000-2,857 car share vehicles. Thus, a target of 2,000 car share vehicles over 10 years is appropriate. If Yarra only wishes to adopt targets as part of 5-year policy, then a target of 1,000 car share vehicles can be set. Note that a target of 2,000 vehicles over 10 years to 2030 is far lower than the neighbouring City of Melbourne’s goal of 2,000 vehicles by 2021.

Image credit: City of Melbourne transport strategy

Justification for parking on residential streets

Residents in Yarra park their private cars on-street, close to where they live. To be an attractive alternative to the private vehicle, car share vehicles also need to be located on residential streets, close to where people live. As stated in the Council Report, car share vehicles reduce demand for on-street parking, so the more we have, the easier it will be for residents to find a park. It’s a win-win. If some streets still have a high demand for on-street parking, then Council can bring demand back into balance with supply by using pricing, because demand is a function of price.

Local champion

Your local champion for car sharing is Astrid Herber – Yarra resident. View all of Streets Alive Yarra’s champions on our testimonials page. Astrid writes:

Attending last nights Council meeting, and witnessing their approval of the new Yarra policy around car share bays, essentially a paltry 20 per year to be added for the next 5 years, wasn’t a joyous affair. Clearly there are some squeaky wheels, so to speak, that are vehemently opposed to losing a single car parking space around their home or business, when parking availability is such a contentious issue. I do feel for the Councillors who need to manage this situation, though it seems blindingly obvious that reduction of car ownership would assist managing this issue as they continue to grow the population density throughout. 

Of the 90% of the population that didn’t respond to Council’s survey, I’d hazard that many of these people are going about their busy lives, with cars sitting comfortably permit-stickered outside their Victorian cottages 23+ hours a day, completely oblivious to the possibility that this vehicle, and it’s associated maintenance costs could be easily made a thing of the past. Working in a pro-sustainability field, I’ve often been exposed to the echo chamber of supporters, however also mixing people from many walks of life, many are surprised when I tell them I no longer own a car. The concept seems foreign & confusing to them – that anyone gainfully employed and living above the poverty line wouldn’t also be a car owner. Understandably people living further out of town don’t have the luxury of short trips to all essential services, easy to walk, ride or cheaply order a driver, not to mention the copious public transport options that are available just minutes away from my doorstep. This is one of the privileges of living in the Yarra area. Accessibility is key to more people doing away with their vehicle, or at the very least their second vehicle, in the case of many families. 

If Yarra Council isn’t prepared to push back against the long standing residents that are struggling with parking issues on behalf of ride-share companies, these companies can of course simple take up commercial real estate for their bays, and the market can continue to grow through increased awareness & contributions of the residents of Yarra. Regulated ride sharing is great, though we are talking about the sharing economy – and there are ~30,000 cars sitting idle most of the time in the jurisdiction. If 10% of those were listed on Car Next Door, and even just 30% of them ceased to exist (statistics currently show 7-10 vehicles are taken off the road per car share vehicle, but let’s conservatively assume a diminishing return), that’s nearly 10,000 more parking spaces for current & new residents of the area to fight over! Surely Council would be pleased to have 20% of their parking spaces freed up, and maybe even allocate some more to GoGet & friends. 😄 (and even one for Frank Rochel’s commercial properties too if he’s lucky!)

Astrid Herber, 17th July 2019