2012-03-13

Everyone In Europe Is Carpooling Everywhere

A new video visualization of one week of rides taken in Germany using Carpooling.com shows that the simplest transportation innovations might be right under our noses (and parked right over there).

There is lots of talk these days of solutions to the problems of how much we drive--everything from the complex (road trains!) to the relatively simple (P2P car sharing). But even as companies that let you grab your neighbor’s unused car for a quick trip to the store start to take off, over in Europe they’re maximizing their miles with a far simpler solution: carpooling.

Yes, there is some tech involved. The video here shows people using Carpooling.com, which lets users put in their desired destination and time of departure and then matches them with people driving that way (this is what Zimride and others do in the U.S.). But what’s astounding is the number of people commuting.

Watch the video and you’ll see crazy spikes in traffic--especially at the end of each day--and then a truly massive one Friday night, when riders peak at over 10,000 at any one time. In the course of a week, 170,000 carpoolers in Germany travel a total of more than 26 million miles.

So while we wait for our jetpacks or driverless cars, it’s a good reminder that there is a lot of surplus inventory on the roads at any given time, and, thus, a truly easy way to eliminate many unnecessary miles we’re all driving. We just have to be willing to use it (and sit with a stranger for a few hours).

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