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City to reserve more parking spaces for carsharing

Pilot project a success

April 26, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The city’s pilot project to provide street and municipal-lot parking spaces for carshare services was successful, and the program would be made permanent, the city’s Department of Transportation announced.  

At Smith and Butler streets in Cobble Hill, the site of two on-street carshare spaces, on Earth Day, DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman announced the program would expand from 14 pilot zones to neighborhoods citywide. 

This would enable carshare companies, the best-known of which is probably Zipcar, to propose new spaces in areas now underserved by car sharing, with the anticipation that hundreds of new spaces will be created beyond the pilot’s original 285.  

City Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman, at the podium, announces the expansion of the city’s pilot project to provide more parking spaces for carshare services. Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Transportation

“Almost three years ago, this administration predicted that New Yorkers would come to embrace the cleaner and greener alternative that more convenient carshare offers – and 150,000 rides later, the unqualified success of our pilot proved us right,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman.   “I give special thanks to the City Council for their leadership around this program – and give great credit to the DOT team that has so carefully constructed a program that New Yorkers have really embraced.”

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Carsharing is a service that gives members access to an automobile for short-term use ― usually by the hour, or day ― at a cost that includes gas and insurance.  With cars parked in publicly accessible neighborhood locations, members can reserve and then just walk up to a car and drive away, returning later to the same reserved spot. 

The pilot expanded carshare parking, previously limited to private garages, to more visible public locations, as well as low-and moderate-income neighborhood. Among these neighborhoods were Red Hook, Washington Heights-Inwood, Parkchester, Jamaica, Harlem and the Rockaways.

Among the pilot’s major results:

  • Carshare users took about 160,000 trips total during the pilot, with an average of 24 trips per month per space.  
  • Using detailed customer surveys, researchers concluded that for every car shared within the city, four personal vehicles were either suppressed or sold.
  • Annual Vehicles Miles Traveled (VMT) were reduced by about 38.7 million miles and produced an annual net reduction of  minus 12,000 metric tons in greenhouse gases per year.
  • Comparing their pre-carshare behavior, carshare users in the pilot drove fewer miles and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The pilot dramatically increased diversity: Black/Latino membership doubled to about 30 percent of total carshare users.
  • After the first year of the pilot, unauthorized use of on-street carshare parking spaces declined dramatically

Under the DOT’s new initiative, companies will be able to propose specific parking spots to DOT. The agency will review these based on siting guidelines—for example, spots must be located outside of areas with significant off-street parking.  DOT will evaluate these space requests with feedback from the local community.

In addition, 20 percent of all spaces must be located within low-income and moderate-income neighborhoods, and companies must provide a new discount for low-income users.

The president of the leading carsharing company approved. “At Zipcar, we’re committed to making cities better places to live and that starts with reducing a reliance on personal cars,” said Tracey Zhen, Zipcar’s president. “Thanks to the support of Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Gutman, we’re able to provide more New Yorkers across the city with access to a vehicle, without the burden of car ownership.”

Brooklyn Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon shows her approval of the carsharing program. Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Transportation

“Especially on Earth Day, I am so pleased that the city’s carshare pilot has helped reduce car use and emissions and achieved its equity goals,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn Heights-Downtown-Cobble Hill-DUMBO-Gowanus-Park Slope).

“Carshare programs have time and again proven to reduce the need to own a car, reduce greenhouse gases, and drive down vehicle miles traveled,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Making this program permanent will ensure that New York City benefits from these climate and quality-of-life improvements.”

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