Strolling along West 4th on a Saturday, you’ll often spot car-sharing companies like car2go, Modo and Zipcar out recruiting new members.

If you don’t have wheels, whether for environmental or financial reasons, access to car-sharing is a good thing. The City of Vancouver agrees, supporting car-sharing initiatives as a part of the plan to go green, and anticipating that coop cars will be a ubiquitous feature of urban life.

But in a recent article in The Vancouver Sun, locals voiced their growing frustration over the City bylaw that allows car-sharing companies to park their vehicles in residential permit-parking areas that are already short on parking spaces. In the city’s efforts to push car-sharing, they’ve irked people who already own vehicles.

Val Emerson, who lives along West 1st Avenue near Pennyfarthing Drive, which The Sun reported as Kitsilano, told the newspaper that three car2go vehicles are perpetually parked on their street, sometimes for days, forcing residents to drive around looking for a free space

“We are really strapped for parking in our neighbourhood and that’s all the residents have: that one block,” she said.

Carli Edwards, the city’s manager of neighbourhood parks and transportation, said city bylaws allow the companies to use permit-parking spots as holding bays in residential neighbourhoods where they have a high customer base.

The idea is to reduce the number of private vehicles in the area. “This is going to give people options to their owning a private car and parking it. If a car is going to be on the street, it’s going to be used,” Edwards told the Sun.

Emerson responded:  “I’m just so sick of things being shoved down our throats. Where’s the consultation?” she asked. “It’s not very environmentally friendly if you have to cruise around looking for a parking spot.”

Car2go has 14 dedicated parking spaces in Vancouver and two on Granville Island. The car2go website lists 200 cars in the company’s Vancouver fleet, which are parked all over the city, explaining: “In residential areas, members can park and end their rentals in any permit-only parking-spot. Our free floating concept means there is no return time or return location. When you’re done, simply park the car back within the operating area.”

Will the City of Vancouver work with car-owning residents to ease the transition into greater car-sharing? Or does the eco-friendly high ground trump private car owners’ convenience?

Edwards said the city researches requests from the car-sharing companies — car2go, Modo and Zipcar — and grants the parking permits based on where the car-sharing customers live.

What have your experiences with car-sharing and parking been like? Comment below or email me. It’s

Last modified: May 25, 2017

21 Responses to " Should Car-sharing Companies use Residential Permit Parking? "

  1. St says:

    It’s important to consider that the cars Val is upset about might actually be parked there by residents of her street, even her building. When Val parks her car there, it’s using a spot until she decides to leave next, which for all we know could be days. When a Car2Go parks there, it’s only there until another member takes it away, or until the Car2Go crew repositions it. If it really is as active a car-sharing area as Val says, then it shouldn’t be long until someone takes the car away and frees up the spot.

    If a car is parked there by someone visiting the area (it’s close to Granville Island, so likely), they’re putting a car on the street hat’s now available for a resident to take. This helps to reduce the need to own a car if you live around there, which means overall residents need fewer spots.

    There are probably resident-owned cars that sit on the same street for days or weeks at a time, many of which are twice as long as a Car2Go (smart car).

    I think people point the finger at Car2Go because the cars are so visually noticeable. If I was angry about not being able to find a parking spot, I think my initial reaction would be the same. But when you think it through, it’s pretty obvious that Car2gos in resident spots are a win for everyone.

  2. kits resident says:

    Great comment by St. Again to follow up I live in kits, and do not own a vehicle. I am now a Car2go member and love the idea of the cars being so close to my door. Should we people who choose not to own a car for multiple reasons (environment, costs, health) not have a viable option as well? The Vancouver Sun article was one sided and should of had multiple opinions.

  3. Catsitter says:

    ST: If you read the Vancouver Sun article, Car2Go is admitting that they are using the spots as “holding”, so likely these cars are NOT currently being used by their members. Resident-only parking should be just that, not holding spots for companies.

  4. Ian says:

    I can understand the frustration, but I still have to agree with the other two commenters. If every resident of a block used the 1-2 permits they’re allowed (I’m not even sure, is it more?) then every block in Kits would be full all of the time. If a few people forgo cars, but instead choose to “give” their permit to a car co-op, then they have that right, and actually make it easier to park.

    If you find you’re driving in circles for a long time looking for parking, it may be time to ditch the car or build a garage.

  5. Chris says:

    You have to remember that there are two types of sharing services

    Modo & Zipcar – The cars have a “home” and must be returned to it when the trip is over so the parking in residential spots is temporary.

    Car2Go – These cars can be left anywhere and could be there for days. These are smart cars and are half the length of a normal car.

    If the goal of Vancouver city is to promote green values then having less cars on the street is a great way to do this. If shared cars cannot park in residential spots then the appeal of these services goes down and the benefit to the environment is less. When i lived in Kits, i owned a car…in my opinion residential parking in the city is a privilege not a right. Its frustrating when you cant get a spot outside your home but thats life in the city.

  6. St says:

    Catsitter: I apologize, I hadn’t read the article in full and now that I have I more firmly hold the same view. If they’re using these spots as a home base for 3 cars, it’s because they have demand in that area for pickups. Pickups are most likely from residents of the area. So, this is actually better for car owners in that area because:

    1. Often the cars will be taken away on one-way trips

    2. Several residents share each spot instead of using a spot each

    3. Each car only takes up 1/2 a parking spot (they are smart cars)

    I think what will probably happen here is that the city will ask them to spread out those 3 cars so that a single block isn’t used as a holding area for 3 cars. Unfortunately that might discourage people from that densely populated area from car-sharing, which could cause more spots to be used for longer periods of time by bigger cars 🙂 Oops.

    Would love to hear from Zipcar, Car2Go, Modo or Val Emerson in this discussion. Maybe Car2Go can provide some actual numbers on how often that block has cars in it. Maybe a local developer can use the car2go API to prove whether or not 1st/Pennyfarthing is a problem area.

  7. John says:

    I have to agree with all the other comments on here. Car sharing reduces the overall number of cars on the road and it’s overall beneficial.

    “Resident Val Emerson said her husband often has to park three blocks away.”

    Really? Three blocks is too much? Stop complaining and get an apartment with parking if you’re too lazy to walk three blocks.

    It should also be noted that 3 car to go = 1.5 normal car parking spots. Hardly unreasonable.

  8. Bonnie says:

    I’m a regular user of car sharing services and have been for two years. I support preferred parking for these services which reduce the number of vehicles on the road (and parked).

    I find it interesting that VE thinks having to park 3 blocks away and walk is an inconvenience. When you car share, you are used to walking between 3 and 5 blocks to pick up and deliver a car to it’s spot. After a few months you don’t even think about it (well maybe if it’s raining and cold).

    Car sharing isn’t for everyone, but I think it deserves the level of support that other forms of alternate transportation receive (bicycles, transit, walking for example).

    I agree that these vehicles are more visible and therefore easy targets for frustration.

    If more folks used car sharing services there would be less vehicles on the road and more parking spots available. (okay maybe that’s stretching it a bit )

  9. Chantal says:

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that Car2go is owned by one of the big auto manufacturers. If the city is giving them preference for permit spots, I’d like them to favour Modo, the local guy.

  10. Chris says:

    An interesting Wired article.

    Share a Car, Save the Planet

  11. Dan says:

    “It’s not very environmentally friendly if you have to cruise around looking for a parking spot.”

    Actually, parking frustration is environmentally friendly. You may drive around looking for parking for longer, but people choose to drive less, which is the point.

  12. CP says:

    I think the real issue is that it is mid-summer in Kits. Good weather = big draw for Kits beach, meaning a tough time for everyone to find parking. Give it 3 weeks and this issue of Car2go will be gone.

  13. Bill Barilko says:

    A few salient points-east of Burrard is NOT Kitsilano no matter which way you slice it.

    The area around the building on 1st & Pennyfarthing is notorious for being short of space-tight doesn’t begin to describe the situation.

    And Yes walking three blocks to park a car isn’t all that bad-I know someone in Mexico City who rents a spot a 30 minute walk from his apartment.

    Personally I sold my vehicle and use Enterprise when I need to drive-the Co-op is too expensive and the other two private outfits too flaky.

    If push comes to shove though I prefer giving permission to the Co-op not the foreign owned multinationals.

  14. St says:

    Personally I prefer the big companies over the little guy. They are more likely to come up with innovative ways to book cars (check out the iPhone apps for ZipCar, Car2Go), and to solve tougher problems like one-way rentals. The car co-op is really cool, but they should have to play the same game – one should not be favoured over another.

  15. Brad says:

    Modo (the only car co-op in Vancouver) actually has a partnership with Dollar and Enterprise so, if you needed to do a one-way rental, you could do so through either of those rental agencies (at a co-op member discount, I might add).

  16. Brandy says:

    I am members of both Car2Go and Modo, and have previously been a ZipCar member. I am also handicapped and have a cripple parking pass that I can use when I have a car out on a booking.

    I left ZipCar because they didn’t have enough cars in my area. Modo has lots of cars and I prefer the homegrown company and it’s rates. The closest car is 7-8 blocks away. I would love it if there was one only 3 blocks away! I often need to take a cab to and from the car if my pain is bad that day. The car lives outside a home that a member used to live in. There are instructions in the car on where to park it if there is no parking available. The neighbours are taken into consideration when Modo places a car anywhere. Some cars have instructions on where NOT to park them based on input from the neighbourhood.

    When Car2Go came on the scene, I was curious. Their rates are more expensive, and I can’t take them to the US or take my pets in one but the big plus side for a gimp like me is that I can park it outside my house when I am done with it. This is a huge bonus. I happen to live in a non-permit parking neighbourhood that has a fair amount of parking.

    For a city with such traffic/transit issues as Vancouver, I would think that folks that did drive would be happy that there are car sharing programs around. If more people used car sharing, there would be less cars on the road. Oh wait, there ARE less cars on the road because we do have car sharing! Imagine if all of those Car2Go Smart cars were replaced with 3-5 standard sized cars instead. Then where the heck would ya park?!?!

  17. Brett says:

    Gregor and the crew won’t be happy until we’re all walking, biking with the twits on the last Friday of every month, or using public transportation. Don’t complain people…you voted for him. But regardless, if you want to live in the city you put up with lack of parking. If parking is top priority then buy a house with a driveway, a condo with a stall, or move to the glorious suburbs.

  18. Thomasina says:

    1st and Pennyfarthing isn’t Kits, sorry to say. Kits is Alma to Burrard, Cornwall/Point Grey to 16th. Please stop perpetuating this notion (which landlords use to make their listings more desirable, for one) that “near” Kits is actually Kits. That’s just lazy reporting.

  19. Taraneh says:

    Thanks for your comments and corrections Thomasina. Just to clarify, as a Kits resident, of course I agree that the area is not within our boundaries. This blog devotes a lot of time to analyzing, correcting and going into greater depth on bad reporting from various Vancouver publications. When the word ‘Kitsilano’ appears in a newspaper, we check out the debate. Since car sharing and parking are both issues that do come up in Kits, the issue was included in the blog.

  20. Mojo says:

    Thomasina – I guess you better go to the Vancouver Sun and complain to them about their ‘lazy reporting’ or are you engaging in lazy commenting? When arguing for the importance of correct addresses – you may want to ensure that your comment has the right address too…

    It is the The Sun that said – “along West 1st Avenue near Pennyfarthing Drive in Kitsilano” – the area is not strictly in Kitsilano, but right on the border and well within the proverbial spitting distance (from the Burrard Bridge when the wind is right that is…).

    But, let us not let nitpicking distract from this serious discussion.

  21. Simon C says:

    Funny I should come across this article when I was searching for Car2Go parking spots in Vancouver. I have been a Car2Go member since the beginning in June of 2011. The main reason for me joining, NO HOME drop off point. I loved it. There were 2 Car2Go dedicated spots right outside my apartment building. Cars weren’t always at these spots, but were always within walking distance. That changed around December when the spots were taken away, now the cars are not so close and not as many. My point here is these vehicles are great as long as people can get fairly quick access to them. Take away where they can be parked and the concept gets flushed. That would be a great shame. This is an affordable way to get around for some people, especially for groceries and errands. Cheaper than a taxi and way more convenient than a bus. Ever tried to do grocery shopping with a bus? Oh right the people that are complaining have higher incomes and own vehicles and big sticks shoved somewhere that make them better than everyone else. Just saying. There is room for everyone, share the sand box for crying out loud.