I have a theory. I think the trouble with America is that we do not have enough cars.
Yup, that’s what I said. We need more cars.
Specifically we need more small cars. Used to be that all you could afford was one car per family. All that steel was expensive. If all you have is one car you have to make sure it is big enough for all occasions. The problem is that most of the time the driver is alone or only has one passenger, but just in case we get a bigger car.
So we built our whole transportation infrastructure on the idea of a 4-6 passanger car and the just-in-case-I-need-it-but-rarely-ever-use-it-for-more-than-groceries truck. Then since we were used to them being a big ticket item, manufacturers have found ways to make them stay expensive.
Right sized vehicle for each trip
Now that the cost of materials is much lower relative to wages, and the cost of gas is higher, it makes sense to only use as much car as you actually need. If it is just you and one passenger, drive your two-passenger vehicle. When you are taking friends use your four or seven passenger vehicles. When you have cargo then and only then use your truck. Sound crazy? Not if they cost a 10th of what they do now.
Because cars are more expensive than they have to be we find ourselves making extra trips and burning extra gas to make sharing vehicles work. This is especially true before and after school. For maximum benefit we would need to make it safe for kids to drive but that is another post. For now, yes, with computers this really is possible.
If people only drive their big car when they really need it then 80% of the time they will be driving something 1/4th the size of a compact. That means you can re-stripe half the parking lot and more than double your parking capacity.
Fewer trips in some cases combined with smaller vehicles in most cases make for less traffic all the time. In addition, if small cars really catch on, you could turn a single lane into double motorcycle and mini-car only lanes in some places and add half lanes in other places.
Why not motorcycles?
Motorcycles are a great option for some, but they are considered less safe, they are no fun in the rain, and have several other problems associated with being open air vehicles. Europe has the right idea with the mini cars that are popular over there, but I think we could do better than that.
What do you think?
So that’s the dream. I have ideas on how we can make it happen too, but first do you think this is a good idea? Do you have other ideas for solving traffic, parking, fuel usage, and other related problems?