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World Car Free Day Is As Doomed As Car-Sharing: Here’s Why

September 22 is not only the day in which we wave goodbye to summer and welcome autumn. It also became the World Car Free Day. Created to show that we can go places without passenger vehicles, it is celebrated all over the world in traffic jams with people that complain about getting stranded but would never consider other ways to commute even if they were given a choice. World Car Free Day is as doomed as car-sharing: you will see some adopting either (or both), but they will never be mainstream.
Brie Larson DrivingSofia Vergara DrivingKids in the BackseatKids Inside a  CarA Couple on a Road TripParents in the Front Row
Herbert Diess shared a tweet stating that car-sharing doubles the average time people use cars to two hours. Car rental companies can make them work for four hours every day. Those would be signs of a bright future for them, according to the executive. At least he did not promote World Car Free Day as some automakers have in the past, which would be as much a paradox as hypocrisy.

First of all, that sort of reasoning is weird, to say the least. It is like saying your couch is useless because you only sit there one hour a day. Or that your house is unnecessary because you only spend half of your day in it, if not less. A car that does not run much every day is a vehicle that saves tires, fuel and that lasts longer, theoretically.

People who rent cars do so when their vehicles are going through some sort of repair or travel somewhere and do not do so by road. When these folks do that, they want these rental vehicles to work just like their personal automobiles do, with all the convenient aspects they offer.

A car is not solely a transportation means. It is also a private space for you to keep your stuff, listen to the music you love without bothering others, protect your loved ones from bad weather, and usually get to places faster than by any other means.

The international health crisis demonstrated how important this private space could become all of a sudden. People that depended on public transportation either traveled too close to others, risking infection, or had to wait hours for a bus, a train, or whatever could carry them with the proper distance. If that was not enough, some governments restricted public transportation even more in the hopes of keeping people at home.

The fact that public transportation is controlled by governments in many countries is an issue on its own. You have to subject yourself to their policies, strategies, and restrictions “for the greater good,” even when that implies that you are taking personal risks, as we just mentioned.

The funny thing was that public transportation workers in some countries were anxious that lockdowns ended so that they could go on a strike. It’s their right to fight for better working conditions, for sure, but it demonstrates why people love cars in the first place.

It is that sort of love that makes car-sharing weird. You pick a car, leave it somewhere, and hope that another one will be available when you need to get back. If you happen to forget your sunglasses or any other personal belongings in a shared car, you’ll never see it again. The private space your vehicle provides makes it almost sure you find everything when you get back – depending on where you park and where you live.

Car-sharing is for emergencies. It is for when you really need to be somewhere, and your car can’t take you there for any reason. There’s certainly a place for it, but not as some think it will be. It is not a long-term solution for most people.

If the idea is to avoid sales for profit – postponing Earth Overshoot Day – Riversimple proposed a much better idea. Instead of selling vehicles, it just offers them as a mobility service with all expenses included in a monthly fee. However, you can use the car as if it was yours for as long as the contract is active. In short, the convenience and private space are there without the worry about insurance, servicing, and other expenses.

We know that cars are not a mobility solution for all situations. You should not use it to go two blocks away to buy groceries, for example. However, the movement to turn automobiles into villains or inconvenient goods fails to see why they were invented in the first place: to expand individual horizons and go further than ever before. While craving for that persists, we’ll still have something to drive.


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