In a push to reduce expenses and trim emissions, the City of Asheville is conducting a shared-vehicle program that lets city staff have use of a compressed natural gas car and two bicycles. Launched in January, the City Share program allows multiple departments access to the vehicles to run city-related errands.
Maggie Ullman, Energy Coordinator for the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability, says the system, which underwent a trial run earlier this year, is preferable to one in which each department purchases and operates its own gasoline vehicle in the city’s fleet.
“We are coming at this from the direction of reducing our capital costs,” Ullman says. “But the cherry on top is that we are reducing our carbon footprint.”
Carbon emissions by CNG vehicles are dramatically lower than standard gasoline vehicles, and the Honda Civic CNG has been rated as one of the greenest cars made.
The city is also providing two bicycles in the City Share program, a four-speed cruiser and a 21-speed mountain bike, giving city employees a zero-emission option to get to a meeting or errand.
City employees interested in using the bikes take part in a bike safety course held on a regular basis and lead by the Asheville Police Department’s bike patrol, which has been operating since the fall of 2009.
“We partner with the APD to utilize their expertise in bike safety training,” Ullman says.
Since January, four city departments have had access to the vehicles: Legal, Administrative Services, Information Technology, and Planning and Development. Data collected during the trial period is being examined to determine if the program can be expanded to other departments.
In 2007, Asheville City Council passed a resolution with a goal of reducing the city’s municipal footprint 80% by 2050 and achieve a 2% reduction each year. Click here to see more on the City of Asheville’s efforts to reduce its municipal carbon footprint.