Car Lite London

Our UK General Manager, Mark Walker, is passionate about improving urban mobility in our major cities. Below, he outlines the role car clubs can play in making London a more liveable city, and what we can all do to make the city a better place to live. Over to Mark...

Zipcar’s inner drive

At Zipcar, we are all about simple and responsible urban living.  We want to help make cities better places to live.  In the realm of “urban mobility”, we look forward to a future where major cities all around the world will have more car-sharers than car owners.  Why?  Because car club members make smarter transport choices;  because everyone in the city will benefit:  less unnecessary driving means better traffic flow, fewer cars means less parking stress, reducing exhaust fumes means improved air quality and less harmful pollution. And fewer cars can help reduce the impact that traffic has on cycling and pedestrian safety. In short, car club members use their vehicles more responsibly than car owners, to the benefit of all.

I was first introduced to car clubs in 2000, when I read the landmark Natural Capitalism: Creating The Next Industrial Revolution.  Then, in 2004, Streetcar launched its first eight cars in Battersea and I joined immediately - my life has never been the same since.  Now, working at Zipcar, it’s as much a crusade as it is a career.  I’m incredibly proud of what the team has achieved during these past ten years; and restlessly motivated by how much more there is still to be done.

Preserving London’s magic

London is a spectacular city – I’ve lived here for nearly 30 years and I love it.  London is lucky to have an excellent public transport system, but this great city was not designed for cars.  Current trends give rise to mounting challenges and, if London is to remain the jewel that it is, it needs car clubs to be mainstream.  We want to work with the city to make that happen as quickly as possible and, as part of the dialogue towards a tangible strategy, we commissioned Malcolm Fergusson to research and write the paper, ‘Car Lite London: How car clubs will help more Londoners drive less’.

About Car Lite London

The paper sets out the challenges London faces when it comes to car ownership and use, and the established evidence, which demonstrates the positive impact of car clubs.  It also proposes policy recommendations to accelerate car club adoption, so that the benefits can be realised as soon as possible.

Did you know, for example, that:

  • All the cars parked next to London pavements take up an area the size of Southwark?
  • The population of London is forecast to grow by 14% in the next decade, which could mean an additional 330,000 cars?
  • London has some of the worst air quality in Western Europe?
  • Every Zipcar put on the street to share, replaces at least 14 privately owned cars?
  • Car club members drive seven times fewer short trips (less than five miles) than car owners?
  • Car club members reduce road congestion at peak times, because they do not commute by car?
  •  Car club members are twice as likely to use bikes and public transport as other Londoners?

This is the time for action

So, we’re recommending firm policy, action and guidance in the following areas:

  1. Strategic promotion of car clubs - by, for example, TfL and the Mayor of London, to build awareness and accelerate adoption;
  2. Integration of car clubs with public transport’s ticketing and payment systems: imagine your season ticket also including car club use?
  3. Incentives to join car clubs - like discounted membership for selling your private car, cross-promotions with season tickets and Barclays Cycle Hire;
  4. Strong central policy guidance on parking provision, to provide consistency - for on-street spaces across all Councils; and in new property developments.

Join the debate

Please read the paper and join the debate.  Send us your views and help shape London’s strategy and future success.  We all want London to continue to thrive; as it grows, that means finding ways to keeping everyone moving, while breathing cleaner air.  We want London to be an even better place to live than it is now.  Car clubs have a major role to play.

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