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City Holler

Trish Kelly explores the issues and challenges that face our growing city.

Vancouver, let’s learn to share nicely in 2017

If we're serious about embracing the sharing economy, we need to try to share well with others, writes Trish Kelly.

The City of Vancouver finally launched its Mobi bike share system in 2016.

Matt Kieltyka/Metro File

The City of Vancouver finally launched its Mobi bike share system in 2016.

It seems like Vancouverites are keen on the sharing economy. We have the largest car2go fleet in the world, and it’s only one of four car-sharing services in our city. Last year, we got our first bike-sharing service and an app to match dogless dog lovers with a pooch for the day.  And we’ve been doing it for years; we’ve had a tool lending library since 2011.

But do we share nicely?

The question came to me after work the other day. Rushing to an appointment, I’d reserved a car, conscious that the 30 minute reservation window would give me 15 minutes to wrap up my inbox before I had to begin the hunt. Hunt is the right word to use, since my semi-industrial neighbourhood provides plenty of hiding spots that my fellow car “sharers” will often use to stow a car.

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While the intention behind car sharing, and many other pay per use aspects of the sharing economy, is to acknowledge that a useful thing is likely only useful to a single person a small percentage of the time, and when it is idle, that’s a waste of resources, Carhogs are users who decide to drive a car and then hide it where no one will be able to find it, hoping to snag it again for the return trip. Private parkades, fenced in parking lots, and personal garages are some of the crafty ways those who don’t car-share nicely try to stash their cars.

In this case, I found the car hidden beside an active set of train tracks, behind a dumpster. The people who make such jerk moves undermine the sharing economy. I suspect they are also the people who leave their disposable coffee mugs, parking tickets, and other trash for the next user to deal with.

It makes sense to get into sharing. We live in an expensive place, where space is at a premium; who can afford to own something we only use infrequently?

A 2016 study by the Sharing Project found that 85 per cent of respondents claimed to be sharing in some way in their lives. From lending out your favourite book or leaf blower, to borrowing a rec room for your Oscar party, Vancouverites already share.

But sharing is a fragile concept that sits directly on top of trust. If we want to benefit from a neighbour’s power tool collection, or borrow a dog for an afternoon, more is required than liability insurance and clean up fees.

We have to remember we’re in this together, that sharing means when you’re not using it, someone else, another human who’s just as worthy as you, holds it in their hands. We have to share nicely.

Trish Kelly lives and writes in East Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter @trishkellyc

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