With the rise of online social networks and so many more of us carrying smart phones and tablets — with the ability to connect anywhere and at any time — we are seeing bigger and more modern versions of good ideas. An example on the road: ride-sharing businesses are springing up across the country.
Hopefully, it means carpooling will finally be seen as sexy and fun. You have friends in your life and then you have your extended network of ‘friends’ online — and now you can reach them when making transportation plans.
Zimride, a program started in San Francisco, allows users to search for rides or offer rides — it’s like an online ride board. It is one of many services we are seeing. Last year, a membership-based car sharing service called Zipcar raised nearly $175 million in its IPO and boasted half a million members…so-called ‘Zipsters.’
I see the hipster association as a positive. If we are going to see a reduction in our GHG emissions, we are going to need the younger generations to help lead the way.
If you haven’t heard of Zimride or Zipcar, that’s okay. What is important is that Zimride, Zipcar, and other services are growing on college campuses, where new drivers are learning to rely on, and embrace, alternative and sustainable forms of transportation. Innovations on college campuses are always encouraging.
We have already seen the rise of bike sharing programs on college campuses in recent years. The University of Washington even has an electric bike-sharing program. Transportation programs at colleges are also offering financial incentives to students who opt out of driving their own cars in favor of ride-sharing, taking public and campus transportation, or biking.
In addition to being encouraged by the sustainability programs and courses being offered and the fresh crop of students hoping to gain employment in a growing green job market, we are excited to see them already using greener modes of transportation.
Matt Petersen is president and CEO of Global Green USA, the American arm of Green Cross International