Last week Zimride, a nationwide online carpooling community launched a Web site specifically for the University of Colorado. The site, http://zimride.colorado.edu, is designed to help members of the campus community find people who travel the same routes they do, so that they can share their rides. They call it “social, sustainable and convenient transportation.”
Campuses are ideal for carpooling because everyone is going to the same place. Here at CU, even though we have access to public transportation and many people walk or bike, there is still a big group of people who drive to school every day.
A 2008 study of transportation modes on campus found that 25 percent of students and 45 percent of faculty and staff drove to campus by themselves most days. Seven percent of faculty and staff and only 2 percent of students carpooled. When asked why they didn’t carpool, many of the study participants said that either they didn’t know anyone to carpool with, or they couldn’t find anyone to carpool with.
That’s the beauty of the rideshare Web site. People who want to carpool are literally right at your fingertips. And, all their information is laid out in front of you, from their route to how loud they like to listen to music.
Zimride takes the amount of information you can get to another level by tapping in to social networks like Facebook. Their logic is that carpooling is essentially another form of social networking. Rides have Facebook-style walls, and users can choose to link their profiles up to the site, so that other potential carpoolers can check them out before deciding to ride.
It takes the guesswork out of carpooling. You know of other riders going your way, and you can get an idea about who they are, so you’re not jumping in the car with strangers.
There are plenty of good reasons to carpool, but one of the biggest benefits of ride sharing is carbon reduction. Even if you only do it once a week, you are shrinking your carbon footprint.
Driving personal vehicles contributes to 20 percent of overall carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, gas is expensive. Personal transportation accounts for almost 20 percent of average household expenses. Carpooling can significantly reduce emissions and save money. Other schools that have implemented Zimride sites have reduced carbon emissions by an average of 500,000 pounds.
The CU Zimride site went live Sept. 16. By the end of the day, more than 100 people had posted offerings, or were looking for rides. From the looks of it, plenty of people on campus were just waiting for the chance to carpool.
Heather Hansman is the communications coordinator for the University of Colorado Environmental Center.