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By Greg Archer, clean vehicles director, and Barbora Bondorova, researcher, at clean transport NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).
The average car sits unused for more than 90% of the time, carries on average just one and a half people and costs on average €6,500 a year to own and run. Each car occupies 150m2 of urban land and still this is not enough – congestion costs the EU economy €100 billion annually. The convenience that made the car a 20th century icon has been eroded by its popularity.
Now digitisation and the sharing economy provide the opportunity to reduce the number of vehicles in our cities by up to an order of magnitude and end the appalling costs of pollution, accidents and congestion caused by excessive car ownership and use. One US study indicates the global car fleet could be reduced by a third if sharing schemes were widely adopted. Another in Lisbon shows just 10% of the vehicles could maintain the same level of mobility if shared.
But the transition will not be a painless or easy one as shared and privately owned cars initially compete for space and utilisation producing positive but modest benefits. However the ultimate prize, to reclaim our streets for car domination, would transform the quality of urban living.
Concerns that sharing schemes do not deliver a net reduction in car use are not supported by the overwhelming majority of the evidence, which shows: