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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 1331, Portland, OR 97204

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Dylan Rivera

Public Information Officer


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A brief history of car sharing

Part II: Car Sharing 2.0 Series

Car sharing reportedly began in 1948 when a housing cooperative in Zurich Switzerland began a small car share arrangement. In the 1970's and 1980's, more ambitious car sharing projects were launched in France and Amsterdam but these early projects lasted only a few years.

Re-emerging in the 1990's, small car share systems in Switzerland and Germany experienced a slow growth. StattAuto in Germany is credited with leading the way to the first programs in the United States by showing early success and growth within a well-structured business model.

Carshare Portland is recognized as the first official car sharing operation in the United States. Portland resident and car sharing expert (and editor of the excellent CarSharingUS blog) Dave Brook launched Carshare Portland in 1998 with one car and a few neighbors and the operation eventually grew to about 20 cars. In 2000, a Boston couple started Zipcar. Seattle's Flexcar was also formed in 2000 and eventually bought Carshare Portland and in late 2007 Flexcar and Zipcar agreed to merge.

It's estimated that 600 cities around the world support successful car sharing operations. In Germany alone, car sharing operates in over 150 cities and some European operations, like Mobility CarSharing in Switzerland, have more than 30,000 members. About 30 independent car share companies operate in the United States.

*This article first appeared in the PBOT Transportation Options Winter 2010 newsletter


Read more in the Car Sharing 2.0 series 

Part I: Paris launches world's first electric car sharing program

Part III: The benefits of carsharing

Part IV: Car2go provides one way car sharing in Austin, San Diego

Part V: Nationwide (and over the pond), Zipcar continues to innovate

Part VI: Peer to peer car sharing comes to Portland


List of Lewis Walk + Bike Volunteer Positions

Lewis School (SE Portland) has developed an extensive list of walk and bike opportunities for parent volunteers

 Lewis Walk & Bike Program – 2011-2012

Activities & Roles 

Walk + Bike programming is a great way for parents to get involved in hands-on, meaningful ways that kids see. W+B advocates at Lewis Elementary believe that parent involvement is a key ingredient for student success and have developed this extensive list of ways to get involved.  Try out some ideas at your own school or contact Lennie Bjornsen ( for more information.

Monthly Walk & Bike Celebration -1st Thursday mornings

Monday indoor posters [remove Thursday afternoon]

Weekly newsletter ad – publicist 

Wednesday announcement at lunch

Wednesday hall barker reminders

Wednesday yellow sandwich boards

Big wheel sign w/ balloons

W&B banner – hang on brick wall – set up tables

Mapping [free maps] where kids walk or bike from 

Hot chocolate/  juice table

Registration Table: Stickers, pencils, relfectors (joining the “club”); Sign in for raffle prizes at Thursday lunch

Pamphlets available


Celebrity visit – cartoon, fantasy, sports

Dishes & cleanup

Raffle prizes at Lunch

Bike Trains & Walking Busses - weekly

NorthSiders Bike Train

NorthEastSide walking bus

SouthEastSide Walking Bus

SE neighborhoods bike train

SouthSide walking bus up 42nd

SW bike train

Park & Parade!

From Key Bank

Bike Fairy

Intermittent reinforcement and mystery

May Challenge Month

Daily logs via teachers

Post weekly results in Newsletter – website, etc.          

Pledge cards

Celebration at Festival


Walk & Bike Festival

End of school year – last event for W&B Year [just before Labor Day? ]

Celebrate individual and student body accomplishments during Challenge Month

Bike power demonstration – teachers? 

Businesses for donations


“Traffic Tamers” campaign

Gathering feedback from teachers

Discussion with Principal

Teacher orientation, opportunity, supports

Safety education – coord with BTA

Parent outreach & orientation

Safety Classes with 2nd & 5th graders   [BTA & Safe Routes]

Volunteers needed for 5th grade rides – Oct 17 – 28  [periodic afternoons]

2nd grade pedestrian safety classes

Developing bike instruction for younger students / families

Training for “Traffic Tamers”

City of Portland Safe Routes - infastructure


Mapping Safe and Suitable Family & Student routes to Lewis

BTA Walk + Bike liaison


Business & Civic partnerships

Bike shops – Free repair coupons?

Running shoes – discount coupons?

Hardware store coupons?


Lewis W+B e-list

Streetcar Music Festival Video

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As someone who promotes transportation choices for a living I greatly admire and feel a little bit envious of what a great job the New RailVolutionaries, a national organization of young transit professionals, did with the Streetcar Mobile Music Festival

The music festival happened entirely on the streetcars, while they were in service and open to the public.  Imagine walking onto to your train and stepping into the middle of a live performance!  A local portland video company produced a fantastic 10-minute video highlighting the event.  If you don't have time for the full 10 minutes, just watch the first minute or two to get the feeling of the event.  It's worth it.

Portland's Streetcar Mobile Music Fest from SQWare, LLC. on Vimeo.


The benefits of car sharing

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Part III in our Car Sharing 2.0 series - perhaps we should have started with the benefits instead of waiting until part III?

Part III: Car Sharing 2.0 Series

Portland is arguably the birthplace of North American car sharing, so it's no surprise that we have one of the stronger car sharing markets in the country.

Just because you're a Portlander, however, doesn't mean you know about car sharing.

Here's a brief summary of how it's different from conventional car rentals:

  • Cars are available for rent by the hour*
  • You need to become a member (and usually pay a membership fee) to rent a car
  • You don't need to go to an office to rent a car - you can reserve a car online
  • Cars are parked throughout the area in on- and off-street locations
  • Gas and insurance are included in the rental.

An extensive study of carsharing by Nelson Nygaard Association found that car sharing reduces car ownership, reducing vehicle miles travelled and increases walking, biking and transit. By offering an affordable alternative to car ownership, people can sell their car (or forego purchasing one) while still having automobile access. They conclude that for every car sharing vehicle on the road, at least five private vehicles are removed.

The authors reason that car sharing also reduces driving and increases sustainable modes by changing the economics of driving. For most folks driving has a big fixed cost (buying the car) but a relatively small cost for each individual trip: You sink a lot of money into buying a car, but as long as you have gas in the tank, you don't have to pay anything for each individual trip.  

Car sharing flips that equation on its head. Car sharing membership is inexpensive, but you pay for each individual trip. Car sharing members have to consider the cost every time they drive and are therefore more likely to forego the trip in favor of walking, biking, transit. 

The study also notes that car sharing reduces vehicles emissions (both through less driving and by car sharing fleets being cleaner and more fuel efficient than the privately owned cars) and reduction in household travel costs.

*Some car rental companies now offer hourly rental


Read more in the Car Sharing 2.0 series 

Part I: Paris launches world's first electric car sharing program

Part II: A brief history of car sharing

Part IV: Car2go provides one way car sharing in Austin, San Diego

Part V: Nationwide (and over the pond), Zipcar continues to innovate

Part VI: Peer to peer car sharing comes to Portland


Not all peaks are a bummer

Peak oil may be offset by peak car

By now the term peak oil is a relatively well known part of the economic lexicon.  It refers to the "point in time when the maximum global output of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline" (hat tip to Wikipedia for that one). 

In other words, no more cheap oil.  The prospects of a post-peak oil economy usually comes with scary forecasts that will require fundamental shifts in our daily lives (the one that always gets me is the thought of no coffee - makes me shudder just to write it).

In the year 2000?

Nah, just Bridge Pedal

But what if we are already making those fundamental shifts?

Peak oil deals with production, and because most of us don't work in the petroleum industry we aren't too concerned with geological deposits.  However, most of us do go to the gas station and we do drive a car.  Researchers are finding that we may have already hit peak gas and peak car - perhaps before we've hit peak oil.

What do peak gas and peak car mean?  That gasoline sales and the number of miles we drove hit a high in about 2000 and have fallen over the past decade.  In addition, cultural and demographic trends are pointing to reduced demand for automobiles and the gasoline we put in them.  

Unlike peak oil, I find these other peaks full of sunny optimism.  These are longer-term trends that don't correlate to the recession.  Instead, people are looking for ways to change their commute or live closer to work, and the generation that is coming of driving age now isn't all that interested in that old-school rite-of-passage.  As I like to quote from a recent Grist article: iPhone is the new Prius.

What do you think?  Is this a true trend or are we seeing a blip in our still auto-centric culture?