How car sharing encourages active travel

Environmental benefits of car sharing: How car sharing encourages active travel 

According to the Climate Change Committee, active travel is an important factor to help reduce the UK’s travel-related carbon emissions and in working towards our bold – but necessary – greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets.

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘active travel’, it simply refers to journeys made through physical activity such as walking or cycling, instead of using a car or public transport. There are other forms of physically active travel, such as running or even roller-blading and roller skating, but walking and cycling are the most common.

There are multiple benefits of active travel. It helps to improve health and fitness, it’s better for the environment as it emits no CO2 and it saves money.

Levels of active travel (and other “climate-positive” behavioural changes) increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, when walking and cycling became primary modes of transport for many people. Retaining these levels has been identified as an important goalby the Climate Change Committee.

Studies have found that people who use car sharing services are also more likely to pursue active travel (walking and cycling, specifically). For example, one study found that members of a car sharing scheme reported a 25% increase in walking and a 10% increase in bicycle use (plus a 14% increase in public transport use); another saw that members of a car share scheme reported both walking and cycling more after one year of joining. 

When we spoke with Ian from Bristol who shares his car on Karshare, he said that “If we’ve got a good rental coming up, it means we have to think of something different – whether that’s jumping on a scooter or cycling. It has made us reconsider how we get around and discover all the other, eco-friendly ways of travelling.”

Although it’s easy to see active travel as a no-brainer in theory, decisions about how to travel and what form of transport to use is complex. It can be difficult to persuade people to quickly change long-rooted travel habits, and often takes time and/or incentives. 

This is why the Climate Change Committee’s report mentioned above highlights the need for investment in and support of active travel (such as creating more cycle lanes), and public engagement strategies to let people know the wide-ranging benefits it can have. As the report points out, taking action now is key to maximising just how positive it can be for the environment. 

What are your thoughts? If you shared your car would it encourage you to increase your active travel?