Sep 27

CAT Leadership Meeting – Monday, September 17, 2012

1337 E. 5th St (New CAR-FREE.ORG administrative office)


Meeting began at 6:30PM

In attendance:

Treasurer, Anne Connors;  vice-President and Board Member, Roy Young; Advisory Committee Member Jennifer Swann, ; and League Cycling Instructor & CAT Member, J Dietrich Reisenberger; plus Director, Steve Schmitt.

Office hours changed to 10:30AM-1:30PM Monday-Wednesday-Friday
Secretary, Christin Hottenstein, and Director, Steve Schmitt, usually present during office hours. Office expenses for new office less than $500/month for phone, internet, rent & supplies

The discussion during this meeting centered on hourly car rental (Zipcar for example) and the potential for CAR-FREE CAT to accelerate the trend of more ride sharing in order to improve mobility, decrease pollution and congestion, while lowering individual and regional transportation costs.  With cyclists accounting for only 1 in 2,000 commuters traveling to work; transit riders less than 1% and walkers, less than 5% and not easily increased, ride sharing is the only alternative feasible to significantly impact the 86.6% of work commuters traveling by themselves in their own car.  Hourly car rental, such as that offered by Zip Car is an essential option (as are walking, cycling and transit) to permit more people to forgo car ownership and single occupancy travel in cars.
Initial contact with Zipcar several years ago revealed the Lehigh Valley is well down on the list of metropolitan areas and will not be serviced by Zipcar for many years to come.  (Lehigh Valley is approximately the 300th largest metropolitan area in the United States.)  How can we make readily available hourly car rental happen sooner is the question.  The experience of Arlington County in Virginia would indicate that other areas are thinking the same way.  That county got Zipcar to open with a financial guarantee with excellent results.
Stakeholders in a car sharing program:

  1. Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC)
  2. Hotels/Motels-Discover Lehigh Valley is the convention center that oversees visitor travel.
  3. Young professionals with two household  incomes desiring to have only one car
  4. Parking Garage Operators/Parking Authorities


Assess way to bring stakeholder into effort

LVAIC – Jennifer Swann

Discover Lehigh Valley-unassigned

Young Professionals-committee includes Sarah Andrews, Kim Schaffer

Parking Authorities-unassigned

If CAT is going to work on this project we need a small grant to cover administrative costs.
Both California and Oregon – have passed laws to make peer to peer ride share easy.
Anne suggests Seniors she works with in State Representative Steve Samuelson could use the car to get to the doctor and get rid of their car (save money) Anne volunteered to look at State grant opportunities and legislation affecting car/ride sharing.
A question about car sharing was raised – would we need a centralized location for pick up and return?  Yes and no, Berlin has 3000 offices! So most people could walk to one. Car sharing companies in Germany don’t push the savings/environmental benefits as much as suggesting you could drive different car each day.

Steve pointed out that Pennsylvania has a regressive tax on hourly car rental. While
small it could be onerous with repeated hourly rentals.

Uhaul has developed a ride share system now in use at Lafayette College, there is some hourly car rental at Lehigh University.

and we have many park and ride lots, most serviced by
Lanta. But No one uses Lanta to get to the park and ride
planning commission – is expanding the park and ride system rapidly.

Steve also wants an app contest – the app will allow people to buy a seat in a car for trips in the Lehigh Valley similar to the Zimride app that uses paypal to pay for a trip before it starts.  The arrangements are made through Facebook.  Roy volunteered to help work on this.

The app could be modified to work for specific employers or other destinations such as hospitals and supermarkets (Stakeholders:  Lehigh Valley Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital and Giant).

Rodale made their own program at significant cost and more than 400 employees signed up.  But few shared rides resulted.  Steve suggests the employee base was older and better off than our target audience.  The younger and lower income households are more likely to want to ride share? Is someone willing to ask Rodale for use of their ride share program?

Steve would like to change the bus schedule to accommodate people in the neighborhood around our new office at 1337 East Fifth Street.  Steve also talked about long term issues with the bus shelters being poorly lit, badly designed and maintained, plus not enough of them.



Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative

 11 W. 2nd St. (New Bethlehem Bicycle Cooperative site)

The new BBC is on the 2nd floor in the parking garage of Starters/Steel Fitness and the Riverport Condominium Association (see map). The space is much smaller than our existing site, but is large enough to continue our education classes, Bicycle Heaven Rides and Bicycle Library program.

Air Quality

Lehigh Valley Ride Share Task Force

After discussion with the leadership and an analysis of commute to work data, CAT will add Ride Sharing to its long standing four categories of appropriate transportation: Walking, Biking, Public Transportation and Public Trails. Only 1 in every 2,000 people bike to work, 4% walk, less than 1% take LANta bus, while 86.6% drive by themselves to work. It seems unlikely that walking, biking or public transportation can significantly impact this last number. Without significantly changing the percentage of people who drive alone to work, we can not solve the problems of air quality, congestion or the high cost of transportation.
The only way to improve the situation is to shift more people to share the ride. The young today are more interested in sharing because of social media and communication technology improvements. The percentage of teens eligible for drivers licenses who postpone getting one has doubled in the last ten years. John Zimmer, the founder of Zimride, says that 80% of all seats are empty on any highway. His company recently passed 200 million miles shared and has opened a new promotion for the trip from Washington DC to NYC. This transformation to a more efficient transportation system with a higher percentage of rides shared will happen whether we are planning for it or not. Steve suggests we create blogs to explain and accelerate this phenomenon. The Air Quality Partnership recently agreed to dedicate some of its grant to CAT this year to this effort.

Adopt-a-Bus Stop Program

Unique program recently expanded into Easton thanks to the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership. LANta bus riders pick up the litter at bus stops in return for free bus rides. The program was funded last year at $9,340 and recently received a 50% increase this year. The
Northampton Street corridor is remarkably more attractive than just a year ago because of the Adopt-a-bus Stop Program, the sidewalk paver program and the new tree wells, two other programs put in place by the WWNP. CAT will expand the program to the Walnut/Washington/Ferry Streets Transit Corridor this year.
Meeting ended at 8PM
CAT Leadership meetings are scheduled for every 3rd Monday at 6:30PM at the Board Room in the Forté Building. If you are driving to the meeting consider sharing the ride. Maybe you need a ride? Either way, email or call the office so we can match you up. cat@car-free.org or 610 954 5744.

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