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Mentality stands in way of car sharing in Kazakhstan 26 октября 2014, 12:46

Kazakhstan needs to rethink the usage of personal vehicles. But are people ready for that?
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©Yaroslav Radlovsky ©Yaroslav Radlovsky

Kazakhstanis are not yet ready to give up personal vehicles for the benefit of ecology and efficient urban transport, the chairman of the Independent Automobile Union Edward Edokov told a Tengrinews correspondent.

Car sharing is a system of short-term car rental with per-minute or hourly rate, typically used for short intercity trips. In general, car sharing implies the possibility of returning the car at any point of service. The system can save up to 70 percent of the total cost of transportation for the participants, as they pay only for the time they actually use the car.

According to Edokov, about 5-10 years are needed for people of Kazakhstan to be ready to give up personal vehicles. He said that the people in our country found it “mentally difficult” to share their “homes on wheels” with somebody else.

“As we can see, our city is filled with cars, and every day there are fewer places where one can walk, ride and park a car,” Edokov said. “We must overcome this mentality, like Europe once came to an understanding. In Almaty we are breathing combustion products from our cars, and over the past 10 years the emissions have increased many-fold. We must properly learn from the European consultants and go for it, for car sharing. We must create a city for people. I think we need 5-10 years to do that."

An expert of the Institute of Transportation Policy and Development of the United States Michael Kodranski came to Almaty to lecture on the topic of urban transport. According to him, modern cities require a system of car sharing.

Kodranski said that was no longer relevant to talk about construction of high-speed roads in cities. On the contrary, such roads exacerbate the problem of congestion.

"In the long run, in fact, high-speed roads deceive expectations. Many cities have come to understand after they saw high-speed roads exacerbate congestion and air pollution, instead of meeting the goals the cities originally wanted them for.” Kodranksi explained. “Waiting in a traffic jam people waste their time, nerves, and get to spend less time with their families, they fail to arrive from point A to point B at a scheduled time. Hence, the opposite effect is generated."

He believes that cities should invest in public transport as opposed to building new highways. This should be done together with investing in land use, necessitating some changes to the legal framework.

"Land use needs to improve so that the whole environment of the city contributes to the easy movement of citizens, so that a resident of the city would want to walk to and from the bus stop of his or her destination,” the expert continued. “Systems of car sharing and bike sharing, famous all over the world, are mobile and flexible. They can be put in place very quickly. From the beginning of the design to the implementation it can take a year, or a year and a half at longest. Speaking of the mass introduction of car sharing, I can cite the example of Colombia, where in Bogota in three years a world-class system of public transportation was organized from scratch."

Another option is to use money collected from paid parking to develop bicycle transport. Edokov believes that the financial side of the project involving construction of bicycle paths and paid parkings should be transparent and available to public through websites of state agencies.

"We do not know where the money from parking lots goes, how it is distributed. In developed countries, the money raised from paid parking is use for development of bicycle paths, improvement of the city landscape and transport network," the speaker said.

Europe may have gone through the phase of chaotic use of cars decades ago, but the people of Kazakhstan got hold of their own vehicles only 10-15 years ago, he said. Therefore, the system of car sharing will be making its way to Kazakhstan over a span of years.

Reporting by Roza Yessenkulova, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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