How can we make Adelaide less car-centric?

While Adelaide is offering more shared transport options in the CBD – such as the bike-sharing schemes Ofo, oBike, and EcoCaddy – adoption levels remain low. Photo courtesy EcoCaddy.

Growth in share bike and car schemes could help end Adelaide’s car-centric mentality.

UniSA is partnering with the State Government and Adelaide City Council to examine ways to encourage people to use shared transport options in the CBD.

South Australians own more cars per person than any other Australian state or territory, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This obsession with private transport could be given a major shakeup in the coming decade through shared bike and car schemes, eco-caddies and ber services.

The global shift to a shared transport economy is already transforming European and North American cities and UniSA researchers are investigating the potential impact for Adelaide’s CBD. UniSA will use a $300,000 grant from the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living to map the role that shared economy mobility services can play in reducing inner-urban transport systems.

Project leader Dr Stephen Berry, a researcher in niSA’s Barbara Hardy Institute, says younger people and tech-savvy baby boomers are behind the shift in transport use.

“Generations of transport users are growing up within the paradigm of the sharing economy. Many residents, workers, students and tourists are now seeking access to a broader range of transport options, partly due to cost, partly due to convenience, but also because they are fun ways to get around,” Dr Berry says.

RAA figures show Adelaide has the highest percentage (79 per cent) of people commuting to work by car of any Australian capital city.

Research indicates that economic and environmental sustainability is a key motivator for people to join commercial share schemes but little is known about the obstacles to achieving this.

Sustainable marketing expert Associate Professor Anne Sharp from UniSA’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute predicts that shared transport options will become the norm in future.

“They will be used across the board, not just by a few sustainability-minded people. This is what we have seen happen in other markets,” Dr Sharp says.

“An interesting question is to see how share cars challenge the notion of car ownership which has been our behaviour since their invention.  Moving into a rent-by-the-hour transaction is truly reshaping how we think about cars and how they fit into our lives.”

Dr Berry says that if Adelaide follows the same trend as Europe, carbon emissions will be reduced significantly in the city, along with traffic congestion and relieving pressure on providing car parking places.

“One of the key challenges is that – due to its diversity and rapid evolution – it may be difficult to regulate shared transport schemes.

“From a carbon neutral perspective, we also want to find out how the shared transport economy will influence people to adopt human-powered, electric and other low carbon technologies.”

While Adelaide is offering more shared transport options in the CBD – such as the bike-sharing schemes Ofo and oBike – adoption levels are currently low.

“We will be looking at who is currently using these schemes and what the triggers and barriers are to people either supporting them or rejecting them,” Dr Berry says.

“If the international experience is replicated in Adelaide, we expect these schemes to take off soon to become an integral part of a low carbon transport system, utilising the convenience of smart phones and GPS technology to revolutionise the way we get around the city.”

EcoCaddy founder Daniels Langeberg, who launched his pedicab business in Adelaide in February 2015, has just clocked up an impressive 40,000 trips, reflecting the strong consumer demand for environmentally-friendly transport options.

“In that time I estimate we have reduced 7.4 tonnes of carbon emissions, with 80 per cent of our customer base local residents and the remaining 20 per cent visitors,” Langeberg says.

Dr Berry says the world is in the middle of a transport system transformation with UniSA research at the cutting edge of understanding the role share economy services such as EcoCaddy, share bikes and share cars can play in delivering a more environmentally sustainable future.