Spiking gas prices, traffic, pollution, parking, insurance, tickets, down-payments, monthly payments, maintenance … it’s no wonder that America’s love affair with the car is dying a slow, painful death. All of these expenses could easily add up to 15% of our monthly gross income. As the cost of living in the Bay Area continues to soar, something has to give. Many Americans are perceiving car-ownership as a burden and choosing to make ends meet by giving them up!
Carsharing services like Zip Car (acquired last year by Budget) are enabling Americans an alternative to this paradigm by renting cars by the hour. Zip Car currently has 7 “pods” scattered around Emeryville that are accessible at any time. City CarShare, the largest nonprofit carsharing provider in North America, recently announced that they have expanded their service to our town. A Toyota Camry Hybrid and a Toyota Prius Hybrid are now stationed in front of the EmeryTech building on 66th at Shellmound. City CarShare now has more than 230 Pod locations throughout the East Bay, including Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito … and now E’ville! 50 percent of the City CarShare fleet is now comprised of electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid vehicles as of 2013.
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Benefits of car-sharing to the community according to their site include:
- Savings of up to $8,400 a year
- Reduction of the amount of CO₂ in our atmosphere by millions of pounds
- Versatility in vehicle choice
The “Sharing” concept is not exclusive to cars though. Bike Sharing Programs have become extremely popular internationally and have recently made their way over to the U.S. including our neighbors in San Francisco. The initial program launched by the MTC last August with 700 bikes in SF and parts of the Peninsula.
According to Renee Rivera, Executive Director of Bike East Bay (Formerly East Bay Bike Coalition), 160,000 bike trips total have been taken in the five Bay Area cities participating in the program. “I think everyone is in agreement right now that an East Bay pilot makes a lot of sense, and we know we’re going to see good usage over here.” Rivera is pushing to bring 350 to 500 bikes to the transportation corridor around BART. The MTC will vote next Wednesday 4/9 on funding for these additional East Bay locations that would include Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. If approved, the signature light-blue bikes could be implemented within a year.