As if finding a parking space in New York wasn’t difficult enough, the city is taking 285 spaces away and reserving them for car-sharing services like Zipcar. The move is already infuriating New Yorkers, reports The New York Times.
This will be the first time that car-sharing services will be reserved parking spaces in the streets of the city, according to the newspaper. Currently, some companies keep cars in parking garages, but others allow users to leave cars parked on the street in designated areas. City officials say Reserving on-street parking for carpooling will encourage more people to use the services, reducing reliance on private cars and reducing traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.
But New York City already has relatively low car ownership rates. Just under half of adults own a car, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. This is well below the national average of 92%, note The New York Times. City officials say greater car-sharing availability is still needed to serve neighborhoods with limited transit infrastructure.
The 285 parking spaces are located primarily in low- and modest-income neighborhoods, according to The New York Times. The neighborhoods were chosen because they are currently poorly served by car-sharing services and have relatively few car parks. Of the designated car-sharing spaces, approximately 230 will be on streets and 55 on municipal land. Signs designating spaces reserved for Zipcar and Enterprise CarShare have already been put up and companies have been allowed to tow private vehicles.
Use of car-sharing services is on the rise, with about 1.4 million U.S. users in 2017, according to The New York Times. But in New York, parking spaces are as valuable as any other type of real estate. The city has already removed spaces in many neighborhoods for bike lanes and docks for the CitiBike bike-sharing program. But he didn’t give up on strict enforcement of parking rules, and there wasn’t exactly a surplus of street parking to begin with. Some drivers would also resent the city giving away public land for the exclusive use of private companies.
It’s unclear whether more carpooling will reduce traffic, but that may depend on how the services are used. A 2010 study of round-trip use found that one shared car could eliminate nine to 13 private cars. But Susan Shaheen, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, said The New York Times that his research has shown that one-way car sharing does not significantly reduce traffic.
In New York, Zipcar and General Motors’ Maven service require users to return cars to designated parking lots or garages after a trip. Daimler’s Car2Go only requires users to leave cars in a designated “welcome area”, not a specific location. It was also BMW’s ReachNow policy, but the service withdraws from New York starting June 5.
New York has an extensive public transportation system, but that system, especially the subway, is widely criticized due to lack of maintenance and unreliable service. It remains to be seen whether the removal of parking spaces and the neglect of public transportation will really convince New Yorkers to take up carpooling.