RE: Cohousing and car sharing
From: Fred H. Olson (
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 14:03:15 -0600 (MDT)
I've been reading this thread with interest and intending to reply but 
dont seem to have found time so far - in part because my thoughts are
still not completely sorted out.  But I feel the need to give it a try
in brief anyway.

First a bit of background on my interest.  I have been an informal student
of urban transportation and and land use - often discussed under the term
"urban sprawl" in the US lately.  I even did a year of grad school in
urban transportation many years ago - but concluded it was only worth a
year...  Urban (mass) transportation in the US is is a major challenge for
a variety of reasons. 

My trip to Sweden and Denmark included (in addition to DK99 cohousing
tour) a fair amount of observation (again casually) of urban form and
transport.  I live in the Minneapolis inner city (2 miles W-NW of
downtown)  and ride a bicycle and use buses for transportation,
particularly when my wife's car is not available.  I consider myself a
contientious objector for the 90's - I refuse to own a second car in the

See picture of me on a Danish train:

I suspect that part of the Rob criticism has gotten comes from the
confusion in the discussion (which he has noted) between describing what
*is* and what some people *hope will be* in some instances.  I agree that
car sharing is seldom if ever found in current US cohousing communities. 
Tho I think it is useful to describe a "reason" that is related to Rob's
hypothesis but from a somewhat different angle.  Most but not all US (and
Danish it seems **) is built in suburban or exurban locations where public
transportation is minimal if it exists at all.  This means that people who
live in US cohousing use a car for their primary means of transportation
even if they would like to do otherwise.  Particularly if they commute by
car they have extensive need for a car.  In this situation sharing a car
is a much less attractive possibility.  

Depending on commuting circumstances it might be possible to do car
sharing as an alternative to owning a second car. Also there are some
communities (and I hope there will be more) that have transit alternatives
and as this discussion indicates there are some folks who would consider
carsharing as possibility.  If there are enough such folks in the same
place and whether the logistics work out well enough to be worthwhile
remains to be seen, If anyone trys something please let the folks on the
list know. 

I would expect that if cohousing people want to do car sharing it is most
likely to be a subset of the community that would participate and not a
fromal community wide system. Thus it would be ralatively few people (10
households or less??).  In general I think that car sharing works better
with larger groups of people because the probability of a car being
available.  Some of these advantages can be overcome by close
communication and negotiations of times and needs.

I urge people to try to make it happen!

** Tho Danish cohousing communities in the Copenhagen area are almost
all on the edge of the urban area quite distant from the city center, they
do tend to be reasonably close to the train system and I suspect are much
more likely to have bus service than in the US. The communities we visited
had good bike parking for their many often used bikes of the community -
adult bikes and kid's bikes...


Who said this was going to brief :)  Oh well, it may serve
as a bit of an answer that I have been thinking about to: 

On Sep 18th  in a message "Re: Denmark Cohousing Trip Photos"
Robyn Williams, Pinakarri Community, Fremantle, Western Australia wrote:

> The Danes have got their design act together - public transport, toddler
> chair - haven't they?  And the commitment to cycling as a viable form of
> public transport - does this translate in reality, ie better flowing
> traffic, less cars per capita, etc?

I have yet to look up the stats Robyn asks about but would be interested
in them also.  I suspect they are better than the US ones...

Fred H. Olson  fholson [at]    Minneapolis,MN   55411  
(612)588-9532  Amateur radio: WB0YQM          List manager of:
Cohousing-L  See and Nbhd-tc --  Twin 
Cities Neighborhood issues list.  See

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