How carsharing can help a city: the impact of Zipcar in Baltimore

After a year of running its carsharing service in Baltimore, MD, Zipcar released a survey yesterday of its members in the city and the findings are exciting for anyone who supports easy parking, reduced traffic congestion and transportation choices.

According to the survey, people who use Zipcar’s carsharing service reported driving less overall, reduced vehicle ownership and increasing use of other modes of transportation. 18% of respondents have sold their vehicles since joining Zipcar, 46% stated that they have avoided buying a car, and 72% said being a Zipcar member made it less likely they would buy or lease a car in the future. In addition, a full 88% of respondents say they take less than five car trips each month.

All of this means that there are fewer cars on Baltimore roads, and that has great implications for the city. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake explained that the partnership between Zipcar and the City of Baltimore – which provided several key incentives for the company – has helped the city better manage parking and congestion. As Mayor Rawlings-Blake explained in a statement:

“We’ve shown that by working together, the city and Zipcar can make a positive impact on city life for our residents and businesses. Fewer cars on the streets means less competition for limited parking spaces. It means fewer vehicles in rush hour traffic. And it means less pollution in the air. But best of all, this program offers affordable and convenient transportation at a time when many people in the city are looking for cost-saving options.”

The survey’s findings also imply that Zipcar members use the service as part of a balanced transportation diet, so to speak. In addition to using Zipcar, 14% of survey respondents say they bike more since joining the service, 21% walk more and 11% use public transportation more. Carsharing services are a great way to provide people with flexible transportation choices, and as Zipcar’s recent findings reveal this strategy brings with it a host of benefits for both transportation users and the areas they live in.

After One Year, Zipcar Drives Transportation Change in Baltimore [Zipcar press release, July 18, 2011]
Zipcar’s Impact On How People Use Cars Is Enormous [Fast Company, July 19, 2011]
Zipcar Baltimore Car Share Members Drive Less, Give Up Cars, Use Mass Transit [CleanTechnica, July 19, 2011]

Photo by Flickr user 3n.