car2go abandons Toronto over "free-float" parking fight

car2go in Amsterdam
CC BY 2.0 Brbbl on Wikipedia

Because nothing is more sacred than the right for a homeowner to park in front of their house on public property.

Many in Toronto are bereft because car2go is pulling out of the city, after the city denied it permission to let the cars "free-float". This means that users can park the cars anywhere where parking is legal, including streets with permit parking. In a letter to TreeHugger Emeritus Bonnie, a regular user when in town, the company complained:

We have spent nearly six years attempting to collaborate with the City of Toronto to establish an effective regulatory framework for free-float carshare. Despite our best efforts, your City Councillors decided to pass a pilot that ultimately weakens mobility options for Torontonians and prevents us from providing car2go service for 80,000 Torontonian members once the pilot legally takes effect June 1st.

Basically, residents of Toronto believe that parking their own private cars on public property is a god-given right, so the City has proposed that car2go be banned from parking on streets that are at 95 percent of capacity for parking permits, which is probably just about every street in the city. This worries car-owning homeowners. One resident near where I live told the CBC news:

"We've started to see these small cars pop up in the parking lot and on the street, and in this neighbourhood I can see it being a problem for the residents," Gregory Zhang, who lives near Christie Pits Park, told CBC News. "We have a parking spot on the street that we rely on and sometimes we have to park far away."

This ignores the fact that in many cases, people who rely on Car2Go use it instead of buying a car, or a second car, which might be parked on the street. Laura Bliss of Citylab quotes a study by Transportation Sustainability Research Center:

For every car2go vehicle on the street, the researchers found, members sold somewhere between one and three personal vehicles and avoided buying between four and nine vehicles. Overall, each shared car2go vehicle removed as many as 11 personal cars from the road.

The cars are tiny, too, so they can often squeeze into spaces that regular cars can't fit. But no matter; this is Caronto, where you don't argue with homeowners in an election year.


car2go isn't perfect, and a lot of people suggest that an alternative is a bike or transit. Others complain that they shouldn't get to park for free when residents have to pay fifty cents a day for a street parking permit.

But having people borrow a gas-sipping little smart car when they need it instead of clogging up the streets with their own car makes the situation better for everyone, except the homeowner who thinks they own the road in front of their house. But again, this is Toronto.

car2go abandons Toronto over "free-float" parking fight
Because nothing is more sacred than the right for a homeowner to park in front of their house on public property.

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