A three-car pod has been proposed for the north side of the 3100 block of Fleet St., just east of Fleet’s intersection with S. Ellwood Ave. A two-car pod is proposed for the south side of Boston St. at the 2800 block at S. Linwood Ave.
Tiffany James, a spokesperson for the city’s Parking Authority, said that further community input would be sought before a decision is made to release the spaces—20 feet each—to Zipcar.
“We want people to use it and feel like they can give up a car or two,” said James, adding that representatives from the Parking Authority and Zipcar would be contacting community associations in the near future.
Last week, Barry Vanderable fleet manager for Zipcar in Baltimore, visited the Canton Community Association’s monthly meeting to pitch the two new pods, which he said had been requested through email by Canton residents.
“We’re all about sustainability and taking cars off the road,” said Vanderable. “We never want to shove something down your throat; we always want to come to the community and get your input.”
Canton residents’ reactions varied. One woman said that Zipcar should try to put pods in private parking locations, such as church parking lots, before taking over public spaces. One man who said he lived next-door to one of the proposed pods, called the idea “a bigger headache for me.”
“My thought process is, if there are two Zipcar spaces, and two neighbors give up their cars, it’s a wash,” said Darryl Jurkiewicz, president of the Canton Community Association. “Anything more than that, and it’s a benefit for the neighborhood.
Zipcar currently offers a discounted annual fee and waives the joining fee for members of local community associations.
Zipcars began appearing in Baltimore’s’ public parking spots in June 2010, when the Parking Authority released spaces to Zipcar in exchange for the company’s putting six cars in different neighborhoods of low vehicle ownership specified by the Parking Authority.
One-and-a-half years later, in January 2012, Zipcar began paying the city $40 per month for each Zipcar space that was once a public space. The company’s three-year contract with the city ends in June; James said that the Parking Authority is still deciding what will happen then.
There are 78 Zipcars in Baltimore’s public spaces; Vanderable said that the city has a total of about 160 cars; that number includes pods in private parking areas, such as the Canton Can Company or Johns Hopkins University.
“We like each location to be as welcome as possible,” James said, “because we want it to be successful.”
by Erik Zygmont