How to Reach Inclusive Car-Sharing
Car-sharing has many benefits and even more opportunities. In the Interreg North Sea Region project SHARE-North project, we believe it can contribute to solving mobility poverty. Autodelen.net has been experimenting with several innovative concepts in Belgium for many years in order to make car-sharing an inclusive mobility solution for as many target groups as possible. Insights, lessons learned and tips & tricks can be read in a summary booklet with the suitable title “Car-sharing for everyone”.
Car-sharing is (not) for everyone…
The range and diversity of car sharing initiatives are growing exponentially. More and more people are seeing the benefits of not owning but using a car. However, the target group being reached is often still too one-sided. Until now, car-sharing has mainly reached a homogeneous and selective public (double earners, higher educated, living in big cities,…).
At the same time, an estimated 19% of Belgians find themselves in a state of so called “mobility poverty”. Mobility poverty afflicts a group of people with insufficient access to societal functions due to limited mobility. Numerous factors are at play, but the lack of resources/possibilities for using (adapted) means of transportation are a constant factor. This impacts participation in our society. Groups at risk include people with physical disabilities, people dependent on care, people in poverty, rural residents, people with migration backgrounds, people without driving licence, singles with children, and so on. It’s remarkable that these target groups are not/infrequently being reached by car-sharing.
Car-sharing for everyone is a no brainer
Autodelen.net believes car-sharing is an essential element in providing solutions to conquer mobility poverty. First of all, it provides “car mobility” at a lower cost. Because members only have to pay when they have been using a car, the high cost of car ownership disappears without losing the possibility to use a car. This might be the difference between getting at a job interview or not.
Also car-sharing enhances access to transportation for persons with physical and/or mental issues and specific transportation needs. Those who cannot travel by bicycle or public transport, may find a solution in car-sharing. Last but not least, car-sharing enhances social cohesion in neighbourhoods as people come into contact with one another more often and with a bit of creativity it’s possible to engage volunteer drivers for those who are unable to drive themselves. In this way, car-sharing is building a better (mobile) social network.
“Not possible!”, we hear you say…
It’s true, car-sharing still has big opportunities to engage the so called low hanging fruit such as inhabitants of big cities or higher educated people. However, to maximize the impact of car-sharing, it is important to also make car-sharing available for different target groups. Yes, it needs a bit creativity, innovation and understanding of specific target groups but it’s more than possible. In this article, we provide just two examples out of variety of possibilities we are testing in Flanders.
The first example is the AVIRA-project. It’s about sharing wheelchair-friendly cars for people with reduced mobility and people living in the neighbourhood. These two groups are proving to be an ideal match. The local residents have access to a bigger car when needed and are engaged to be a volunteer driver. People with reduced mobility have access to an adapted car whenever they want and have a bigger pool of volunteer drivers. If you want to know more, listen to this SHARE-North webinar.
A second example is, as far as we’re concerned, one of the best examples of sustainable, inclusive and smart mobility on a local level. In a small Flemish village (Mesen, 1,000 inhabitants), a care centre, in cooperation with a car-sharing provider (Partago) and the local government, are sharing two electrical cars with the neighbourhood. In addition to reserving the car, this initiative allows residents to reserve a driver as well. So people without a driver’s license or people who require assistance, such as the elderly, can use the innovative car-sharing scheme. The experiment has proven successful (e. g. monthly 20+ reservations including a driver are being made) and in 2019 – 2020 the care centre will duplicate this idea in 11 other cities. Lessons learned and tips & tricks
Despite of the many (successful) experiments of Autodelen.net, leading people in mobility poverty to car-sharing proved to be a rather challenging matter. It is a path with many obstacles but a lot of opportunities lying ahead. In order to accelerate the good practices and new innovations in the field of inclusive car-sharing, Autodelen.net wrote down its experiences in an inspiration booklet. You can read about the best practices, thresholds, solutions and a lot of tips & tricks for making car-sharing accessible for everyone. If you have other best practices which are both innovative and inclusive, please do let us know (at firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can enlarge our library of opportunities for inclusive car-sharing!