Archive for May, 2008

Why does Stonnington oppose car sharing?

May 23, 2008

Well, I certainly don’t have the answer to that one!

A week ago we had to remove our Flexicars (Dorthy & Toto) from Prahran due to the closure of Conservo Biofuel Service Station, where we had temporary parks. We always knew these parks were temporary, and that’s why Flexicar applied for car parking with Stonnington Council back in September 2007. Stonnington initially rejected our proposal, despite it being in line with those submitted to and supported by the Cities of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra and Moreland.

Many of our members wrote to the various Councillors urging them to allow Flexicar to operate in Stonnington, which, to their credit, they eventually did. They called for Expression of Interests to operate a car share scheme in the Prahran/South Yarra area.

Their timeframe for consideration meant they were going to leave Dorthy & Toto without a home. We therefore appealed to the Council for temporary parks, or to fast-track their Expression of Interest considerations.

The issue was actually tabled as an urgent matter at this week’s Council meeting. At the time of deliberation, the Council decided on a private decision, and observers were asked to leave. When the Councillors surfaced from their discussion we were advised they had voted AGAINST allowing car sharing in Stonningon. The vote was 5-4.

Needless to say we are extremely disappointed, as are the 50+ Flexicar members that no longer have access to a car share service. To be honest, we find it absolutely mind-boggling that Stonnington continues to reject this concept that has so many demonstrated community and environmental benefits, is already supported by all other inner-city councils in Melbourne (and Sydney), the Victorian State Government, Metlink, etc. City of Melbourne Cr Catherine Ng even wrote to Stonnington urging them to support car sharing in their municipality!
Despite their website claims of being an environmentally conscious municipality and as being “affected by high traffic volumes, fast-moving vehicles and traffic congestion, all of which could potentially undermine the quality of life in some parts of Stonnington” they remain the ONLY Council Flexicar has dealt with that is not supportive of car sharing.
If Stonnington was serious about tackling the tough issue of climate change and increasing urban density, while managing parking pressure and traffic congestion, it would be providing leadership and support for new and innovative solutions like Flexicar.

So how convenient is a car really?

May 23, 2008

It’s interesting that when I’m talking to people about Flexicar – even if they aren’t regular users of their own car – they often say “but I like the convenience of my own car”.

But having been a car owner for many years, I know that often it isn’t that convenient to own a car. Especially when something goes wrong – which can cost you thousands and leave you without a back up transport option. Or when you get a giant rego or insurance bill at exactly the time you’d really like to be heading off on a holiday…or paying the rent!

I wonder how much of what we think is convenient is just something that we’re used to. How else do you explain the fact that I can’t convince my mum that online banking is much more convenient than lining up at the post office to pay her bills? Or that someone will pay thousands of dollars a year for a car they only use once or twice on the weekend?

Kimberly the marketing chick

Who says small isn’t better?

May 22, 2008

The Flexicar team are feeling rather excited this week, as we’ve been chosen as a finalist in the United Nations World Environment Day Awards. Our category is “Best Specific Environmental Initiative” and our small business is up again a couple of giants – Alcoa and Origin Energy. We want to congratulate the other finalists – and jump up and down a little about a small business like Flexicar being in the same class as these big businesses.

Putting the Awards entry together, it was amazing to realise just how many ways Flexicar – and our members – are “kicking the carbon habit” – the theme of this year’s World Environment Day.

I don’t have the space to go into it all here, but a couple of key points were:

* Flexicar members only drive an average of 500km a year – compared to the average Aussie, at 15,000 km a year!

* With our current membership numbers, we’ve taken around 500 cars off the road

* The most common method of transport used by our healthy and environmentally conscious Flexicar members is….their own feet!

The winners will be announced on Friday 6th June at an Awards Dinner. We’ll have fingers and toes crossed!

Here’s a bit more from the UN about the awards:

“Held as part of celebrations for the United Nations’ World Environment Day (5 June), these Awards acknowledge actions taken at a local level to address global environmental issues. The 2008 United Nations World Environment Day theme, ‘Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy’, and the 2008 International Year of Planet Earth focus particular attention on global warming and on the responsibility of countries, companies and communities to de‐carbonise their lifestyles.

The standard of this year’s finalists is outstanding, which reflects the growing awareness across all Australian sectors of the critical role the environment plays in all aspects of human endeavour.”

Kimberly the marketing chick