Sierra Club is telling us not to share

Environmental group wants San Francisco's car-sharing program to go away

Blog Entry February 25, 2013

Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.

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The Sierra Club is acting like a 2-year-old with a water gun.


If you give my youngest, Declan, a hydrogen-loaded weapon, I assure you he would fire it off like a crazed assassin. Shots would be sprayed in every direction, and everybody and every thing would be a target.


The cross hairs of the nation’s most bothersome environmental group appear to be just as loose. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to allow residential developers to add more parking spots to their new apartment buildings as long as they are dedicated for car-share programs.


Unlike a 2-year-old, San Francisco is way into sharing when it comes to cars that travel on local routes. Its non-profit City CarShare allows users to choose a vehicle—one of them an environmentally conscious Toyota Prius—that they can use for a few hours before returning it so someone else could enjoy a drive.


At first glance, it looks like the Sierra Club has a legitimate argument. Club Secretary Sue Vaughan said the plan “will add to overall congestion and negatively impact the flow of transit and air quality.”


Those who do not have access to a car can suddenly have one if they are a paying CarShare member. However, a recent University of California-Berkeley study found that after signing up with a car-sharing program, almost half of households with a car got rid of their vehicle. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors provided a more detailed statistic, stating that each new car-share vehicle replaces between eight and 10 private cars.


Apparently, city developers are literally pushing out San Francisco’s CarShare program. The biggest complaint among members is that parking spaces at gas stations and open-air lots are dwindling when those areas get converted into buildings and other uses.


What I don’t understand is why the nation’s top environmental watchdog is questioning something that has a green undertone. The Sierra Club should wait and see the actual effects of this movement, but instead it just wants to take a green garden hose to the idea and soak it to death.

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