So what happens when we acknowledge that cars are highly underutilized commodities that are parked 95% of the time? Are there solutions out there that would offer people the convenience of car ownership without the societal burden created by the need for parking?
|Imagine yourself driving around in one of these cute BMWs. |
This could be the future of downtown car ownership.
However, this solution is not without it's challenges. As they say, the devil is in the details. Part of the problem is that at peak times everyone wants to use the car (say Saturday afternoon), so you need the right volume of car share vehicles to make this work. There are many entrants in this market that are actively working to figure out these details. Besides BMW these include car2go and Enterprise.
For those of us working on downtown issues, we should prepare ourselves for the impact because we will among the first to experience these changes. Car sharing makes the most sense, of course, in dense, pedestrian friendly communities like the ones we serve. New residential development in urban places will provide downtown practitioners some of the earliest opportunities to partner with car share providers. Now the question is, will our cities be prepared with the right regulatory requirements and flexibility to allow for these new technologies? Will banks underwrite loans for buildings with reduced parking? And will retailers accept lower parking requirements when they have little experience with these new models? Clearly, these chapters remain to be written.