Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Allow me to introduce myself...

I am a Landscape Architect with varied interests that include effective transit, design of all sorts, environmental issues, livable communities and green living to name a few (my profile). About 9 months ago I began a blog which chronicled my attempt at going without a car in San Diego (my blog) and Colin Leath happened to come across this back in December. Colin is part of a carfree yahoo group which I have since joined and frequently post to.

One of the most significant topics that I intend to blog about is public transit and mobility in the region. Effective public transit is something I am passionate about as it goes hand in hand with lower carbon footprints, freedom from big oil, financial freedom, cultural interaction and freedom of mobility.

Here in San Diego we have some good things working for us but we really are behind the curve when it comes to public transit and land use planning. A city with effective transit policy will no longer embrace the automobile like we do but rather develop a transit forward approach to planning. It is inevitable that a society will move toward mass transit as a long term solution to mobility. What remaining land we have is too precious for wider roads and more parking. I could go on and on about how bad the automobile is and how great transit is but I will leave it at that.

Eventually people will decide to ditch their cars (GASP!), and some already have for a number of reasons. They may live close enough to work/school or possibly transit trip times or routes have improved. Some people are "captive" riders and cannot drive or afford a car.

When people decide to give up their cars there is this revolutionary and relatively new concept of carsharing that can fill the void of not owning a car. Essentially you become a member and reserve cars near you by the hour. The rates are extremely affordable, about $9 per hour here. Flexcar was established in San Diego several years ago and they had vehicles in many neighborhoods from downtown through metro San Diego and at UCSD. You may have heard that Flexcar was recently acquired by Zipcar; this brings some good and some bad.

Zipcar has a fantastic user-friendly website and the same can be said for their phone reservation system. They also offer a great lineup of car models in certain metros. In San Francisco, for example, they have everything from Honda Civic Hybrids to BMW 3 series vehicles. When you are a member you can use their cars nation wide. Zipcar recently decided that in southern California they are going to focus their fleets on campuses. This is bad news for those who live downtown or in the metro area but should be good news to me as I live near SDSU and work near UCSD. The only problem is that SDSU has not welcomed Zipcar to their campus.

This week I sent an email to President Weber of SDSU, below is an excerpt from that letter.

"The recent addition of the trolley line was a significant boost for those who prefer not to drive their cars to campus for environmental, economic or reasons of convenience. Those who decide to not bring their cars on campus or those who are not vehicle owners would benefit greatly by having more options for mobility. You are probably familiar with the concept of carsharing, a system whereby people reserve vehicles for by-the-hour use. When carsharing vehicles enter communities parking demand is reduced, privately owned vehicles become less necessary and result in reduced traffic congestion. In this new era of environmental awareness this concept has been a growing part of the overall transportation network in cities and on campuses.

Zipcar is an established national carsharing company and its regional focus is on providing carsharing opportunities for campuses in southern California. I do not work for or represent Zipcar. I am simply a proponent of carsharing and am a resident of the college area. It is my understanding that Zipcar does not have any contacts at SDSU who have expressed any interest in partnership opportunities. I would ask that you consider the benefits of a carsharing program on the SDSU campus and pass this information to other decision makers on campus."

If anyone has contacts at SDSU please feel free to pass this along or to put me in contact.

This post has become quite lengthy and it is my intent to keep future posts more brief. Let me know what you think of the style and content.

Don’t forget to visit the maps and calendar here. They are great tools for staying connected to our community.

1 comment:

Colin Leath said...

Mike, I like the length--I like longer as long as it is readable and interesting vs. rambling. Some ideas for how to get flexcar at SDSU:

* Wait--it should happen eventually.

* Get Flexcar to do the work of contacting people--if they would make money doing it, they could do all the necessary networking.

* Do the networking with the campus groups--SDSUEBS, SDSU Green Campus, and the green-oriented physical plant people.

* Some other local contacts that might help: Active Living Research,WALKSanDiego, plus one more interesting link. But I guess working directly with SDSU is probably best.

* Work with some of the sustainability groups that work with all the UC/CSU campuses. See the California Student Sustainability Coalition's Move-U Campaign. UC Office of the President, UC/CSU/CCC sustainability conference. Move-U has an email list, but this is the best I can do to find it right now.

* Work with the other citizens interested in carshare--carsharing.US, carsharing SD blog.

* Once I made an attempt of my own to work through Weber: "The future local current global carfree majority". And I did attempt, weakly, to organize a campus carfree club. Sometimes I see Weber at the ARC early.

I've just about beat this comment to death. It's not very easy to write a decent comment using this interface! Blogger may not be the best for everything--poor comment interface, contributors aren't notified when someone comments, it is not easy to geocode individual posts. I've mentioned these to their wishlist.

Hmm. Time to switch to another project where I'm not trying to get someone other than me to do something. Peace.