Car Sharing Has Lasting Effects on Behavior
In a society still dominated by cars, a real reduction in emissions requires a major behavioral shift. According to Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley, car sharing is having a positive effect on the behavior of participants. As outlined in a recent GreenBiz article, Sheehan found that fully half of participants chose to either sell their car or decided not to buy one because they had access to car sharing. And because users were driving fewer miles, carbon emissions declined as well. Shaheen sees even more potential down the road, with the growth of point-to-point services that encourage car sharing for daily commutes, rather than station-based services that are used primarily at night or on weekends.
The increasing popularity of car sharing and bike sharing programs is encouraging. It shows that urban residents are changing the way they think about transportation, and are open to more flexible and sustainable solutions.
Matthias Krause, Contributor to GreenBiz
If you’ve attempted to dive deep into the topic of car sharing, chances are you’ve come across Susan Shaheen, or at least some of her studies. About 18 years ago she fell in love with the concept, even though she’d probably never put it that way.
The idea of car sharing “resonated” with her, she said, as a Ph.D. student at the University of California at Davis looking for a dissertation topic. She saw a lecture by Michael Glotz-Richter, a German Marshall Fund Fellow from Bremen. She was fascinated by behavioral effects of people joining car sharing, and the resulting benefits for the environment, she recalled from her office at the University of California at Berkeley, home of the Institute of Transportation Studies, where she serves as a co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center.
“He essentially showed that 44 percent or 45 percent of vehicle kilometers traveled were declining due to the use of car sharing, and people were selling their cars or not buying cars, somewhere around 7 to 15 I think the numbers were,” Shaheen said. The reductions in energy use and CO2 emissions were notable, achieved by people changing their behavior.
Image credit: UC Berkeley