Car-share vehicles deserve neighbourhood parking, supporters say

Car-share vehicles deserve neighbourhood parking, supporters say

For every resident who doesn’t like competing for on-street parking with car-share vehicles, there may be another who considers them a blessing.

Our last column was about resentment over Communauto Flex vehicles parked on residential streets in Bloor West Village, where parking is already tight due to the attraction of upscale shops and restaurants on Bloor St. W.

Residents who don’t have private parking and pay for street parking permits find themselves competing in inner-city neighbourhoods with cars that have been granted permits under the city’s “free-floating” car-share pilot project.

But the other side of the story is that car-share vehicles can be used by more than one resident of the same street or neighbourhood, who might otherwise own a car that would be entitled to a permit for on-street parking.

We got a note last week from Kevin McLaughlin, a pioneer in car-sharing who was involved in the local startup of AutoShare in the late 1990s and has since done work for Communauto.

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“I live in Cabbagetown with only half a driveway with my home (and) I have two kids, three dogs and haven’t owned a car since 1992,” he said in an email.

He went on to make points about the value of car-sharing in a city that becomes more populated each year, which only adds to the number of private vehicles competing for road space and parking spots.

“Our city is growing, up mostly, so out streets are going to become more crowded and valuable.

“Car-sharing reduces vehicle ownership and use, voluntarily. It makes more room for everyone.”

He passionately defended Communauto, saying “there is no car-share company in North America more committed to the communities that they operate in than Communauto, which has become a de facto public utility in Quebec since its launch in 1994.”

Marco Viviani, a Montreal-based vice-president of Communauto, emailed to say “we have 83 users in the area between Keele St., Annette St., Jane St. and Bloor (not the most crowded zone but we only started in November).

“In all the month of May only 457 trips ended in that area (done by the 83 and others). It corresponds to 5.5 trips/months per user resident in the area. It means that each user, if we say parked one time a day, left free space 25 days in a month.

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“In six percent of cases (26), the cars stayed parked more than 48 hours, while 26 per cent stayed less than three hours. We are far from an invasion.

“These 83 users are able to not own and use a car less, thanks to the solution of car sharing.”

The takeaway is that car-sharing provides an alternative that seems to be no less a demand on parking in a particular area than if only a few residents who do not now own a car decided to buy one and needed on-street parking.

We want to hear from people who come down on both sides of the debate. Send us an email with your thoughts.

What’s broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Email jlakey@thestar.ca or follow @TOStarFixer on Twitter

TORONTO STAR

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