When it comes to car sharing, Toronto is both a leader and a follower.
The city leads in usage. Since April of 2016, when car share agency Car2go began to allow users to drop off cars on most city streets, use of car sharing has exploded. For the last five months, Car2go says Toronto has been their most active city anywhere in the world — meaning the cars here are used more frequently than other cities they serve.
Not only does that mean Toronto is better at sharing than Canadian cities like Vancouver and Montreal, it also means we’re trouncing global urbanist champs like Madrid, Rome and Berlin.
But when it comes to policy, Toronto is trailing way behind.
The move that Car2go made to allow on-street parking of their vehicles? Technically, not, um, legal. As a result, as usage has increased so has the number of parking tickets issued to car share vehicles.
Toronto remains the only city with car2go service where this is the case. All 24 of their other global locations operate with some sort of permitted agreement to allow so-called “free-floating” service, where car share vehicles can be parked on street.
But there’s some good news. Car2go’s outlaw era might finally be coming to an end this week. At their meeting that kicks off Oct. 2, Toronto City Council will debate a proposed pilot project that would, if approved, allow car share vehicles to legally park on streets in permit parking areas.
It’s city hall’s second shot at this. In 2015, bureaucrats shot down the notion of free-floating service. Residents worried that the shared vehicles would take up spaces they use for their cars.
The new plan addresses that concern by requiring agencies to relocate vehicles within two hours if more than one car ends up parked in the same block. It also caps the total number of permits available to agencies.
I hope that’s enough to get Mayor John Tory and Toronto City Council to give this plan a green light, because the benefits of widespread car sharing should outweigh the concerns of residents worried about parking.
Just look at the numbers. Last year, the University of California Berkeley produced a study analyzing car share usage in five cities. They found that each car share vehicle removed up to 11 total vehicles from the streets. And in November of 2016, an Ipsos poll found that 82 per cent of Torontonians thinking of buying a car might forego the purchase if car sharing were easier to access.
Those numbers aren’t just good news for car share users, it’s good news for everybody. Fewer total vehicles on the streets means lower emissions and eases a factor causing road congestion.
With these kind of outcomes on the table, there’s no reason why city hall should block this car share pilot. A permissive policy will continue growth and encourage more companies to enter the market, ultimately encouraging more people to ditch their personal cars.
Best of all, it will start untangle this absurd contradiction where Toronto is both leading and lagging on car sharing.
Maybe we can finally just lead.
This post was originally published at http://www.metronews.ca/views/toronto/torys-toronto-matt-elliott/2017/10/02/toronto-still-playing-catch-up-on-car-sharing-even-as-usage-explodes.html on 2017-10-02T00:00:00.000Z