Car and bike sharing services

By Dr. Solmaz Rezaei
Head of research and consulting department

Car sharing services are now used in more than 1,000 cities worldwide as a new means of urban transportation. The service is a kind of car rental in which individuals can rent a car from a fleet of vehicles with a network of city stations through a smart software system, in other words, a certain number of cars are shared. In today’s urban life practices, the high cost of insurance, taxes, maintenance and fuel supply, along with factors such as the ever-increasing urban traffic volume and air pollution, have expanded the use of this new urban traffic model, which is considered a mediocrity between the use of personal vehicles and public transportation systems. Despite the fact that in-town trips with private cars are not a desirable sustainable urban transport system, the removal of this method is not feasible, but it is needed to change the operational approach to optimize this transportation method, and in this regard, cars sharing is a desirable solution.
The first car sharing service began in Zurich in 1948 under the project Sefage. With the increasing problems of urbanization and traffic in cities, over and over in the 1970s and 1980s, a more serious look at this issue was created in Europe, so that in 1991 the car sharing union was established in the Europe. Today, global car sharing plans has been on a growing trend, with current figures showing that the number of vehicles used in these services and their users has roughly quadrupled from 2006 to 2012 in the world. In this regard, examining the various experiences of countries in using car sharing plans can be interesting. According to the Italian Association for Consumer Protection, in 2014, the cost of maintaining a car, including tolls, parking lots, car repairs and other related items for each household in the country, will be more than 4,000 euros annually which is a significant figure for the middle class in terms of earnings. This has led to the use of car sharing programs which are much cheaper and more economical than taxis or personal vehicles. Also, the possibility of entering traffic areas for users of these systems has attracted more attention. In Japan, the high costs of car maintenance, various road traffic accidents, and in particular the lack of parking space in a city like Tokyo, have led many people to use shared cars so that from 2012 onwards, the demand for the use of the scheme Shared by more than 70 percent, and part of the community has left the idea of owning a private car.
According to a study in 2005, the average mileage by private cars has dropped 28 to 45 percent after launching a car sharing system in European countries. Studies also show that up to four cars will be removed from the streets by adding each vehicle to a car sharing program. On the other hand, according to a prediction by McKenzie Institute, in 2030 a car will be used on sharing systems for each manufactured car, and given that such designs have used electric cars or have optimal pollutant standards, and are in small dimensions, so they can play an important role in reducing urban traffic and air pollution.
Another branch of this transport model is bicycle sharing systems, which include bicycles and city-wide bike stations that today have many fans in leading cities. Statistically, China’s Hangzho City has about 66,500 bikes and 2,700 stations, the largest bike sharing system in the world, and cities including Taiyuan in China, Paris, Shanghai, London, New York, Barcelona and Montreal, are in next position respectively.
Bicycle has many ideal features as a sustainable transport vehicle. For example, every 6 bikes occupy the size of a car, and the energy that a person consumes for a 400-kilometer bike is equal to the energy of one liter of gasoline. It is also cheaper and more affordable to purchase 1,000 bicycle for public consumption than buying a city bus.
In order to use bicycle sharing systems, the infrastructure such as a widespread and accessible network of start and end stations, direct connection paths with the lowest possible route, personal and road safety for users, visual appeal, and also comprehensive monitoring of fast and comfortable flow of cyclists should be provided.