Changing Car Culture by Elizabeth Sullivan, Executive Director, City Carshare

Riding my bicycle to work along a new route the other morning, I found myself suddenly aware of having taken a bike lane almost entirely from home to work. Thank you San Francisco Bicycle Coalition!

This subtle shift made me reflect that vision is not what is lacking in our city's social change movements. In the bicycle community, we know we want to look like Amsterdam. We want kids and old people to feel safe enough to ride all over the city. The hardest work, I believe, is medium-term action-after you get started but before the huge shifts happen. This is when we ask ourselves, of all the things that need attention, what is the priority? Are we really making concrete change?

Thanks to the combined efforts of a large coalition of advocates like the SFBC, as well as community groups and government partners, City CarShare is moving from a good idea and a start-up, into that critical phase where we will be working to fulfill our promise. Over the next ten years, we want to visibly reduce the number of cars in the Bay Area; inspire a cultural, attitudinal shift in the American relationship to cars; and use car-sharing as a tool to replace parking with more important things like housing and parks.

City CarShare, just one year old, now has 1,500 members who share 55 cars. And, in a recent survey of our members, City CarShare gained some exciting new insight into our potential impact.

Of the 35% of respondents who owned a car before joining City CarShare, 47% reported giving up their car after joining. That's roughly 260 people who have become car-free. Additionally, 11% of respondents have given up their second car, making that 58% of car-owning respondents who have gotten rid of a car after joining City CarShare. An additional 13% reported that they are "thinking about" getting rid of their car.

More than 60% of respondents declared that they have put off or forgone a vehicle purchase because of City CarShare, while 85% of respondents said that they would "think twice" before purchasing a car should their job or family situation change.

We are now in 20 different neighborhoods throughout San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley offering 24-hour automated car-sharing. Many of our cars have bike racks. This summer we're adding electric and hybrid cars to our fleet. About 52% of SFBC members still own cars. So, if you have not done it already, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members, it's time to join City CarShare and finally get rid of your car!

Elizabeth Sullivan and Kate White were recipients of the SFBC's 2001 Golden Wheel Award for starting City CarShare to help reduce car use and ownership.