It is International Car Sharing Day today. Car sharing and hitch-hiking isn't what it used to be, thanks to computers and social networking. Nora Young on CBC's Spark looked at ride-sharing this week, and some of the apps that make it easier and safer. In Europe, Carpooling.com is a very big deal, moving a million people a month, saving a hundred million gallons of gas and claims responsibility for thousands of new friendships and sixteen weddings. They claim that it's safe too, "Not a single serious problem reported in the last 10 years". Half of the riders are women, too. On Spark, a woman in Munich is interviewed; she says that the fact that you can see ratings online, you have names and license numbers, and everybody is registered gives her confidence. She is marrying someone she met on a ride.
Zimride is another network discussed on Spark, although they suggest that it lacks the critical mass to really work well. They also make a big deal about safety and trust, and insist on using Facebook for log-in. "With Facebook integration, you can see if you have friends in common with other members. Look for mutual friends on ride post pages and member profiles."
It’s no small question. Auto manufacturers could be affected. Cities could have less congestion and traffic–and be organized differently. Pollution could be improved with less cars on the roads. Since World War II, American society has been organized around the automobile in eating, working and entertainment,... and if people could get used to ride shares and car shares (from startups such as RelayRides and Getaround), that could change.
No small question indeed.