Residents have set up a “Hiya Car” sharing program to help fight traffic

A NEW carsharing program aims to reduce the number of cars on the streets of Oxford and tackle the climate emergency.

At a time when the local government aims to reduce traffic pollution and the number of vehicles entering the city through low traffic neighborhoods and other active travel programs, residents have instead decided to take matters into their own hands. .

Emily Kerr, who lives on Argyle Street, looked out the window one day and decided something needed to be done about the number of cars crammed into narrow East Oxford Street.

She said: ‘I started to wonder if there was a way to use them more efficiently as there are always a lot of cars on the streets and Oxford is not an easy city to drive or get around. by car.

“I posted on my local Facebook page to see if people thought we could share cars between us – people thought it was a good idea but said insurance would be the big deal.”

However, Emily didn’t let this obstacle stop her and went out and found a commercial supplier called “Hiya Car”.

“Hiya Car” basically works like an “Airbnb” for cars, ”explained Emily,“ people rent their cars commercially to strangers, just like you would rent someone’s house on “Airbnb”.

“The app covers insurance and verifies licenses and people’s identities before people come to borrow your car.”

Graeme Risby founded Hiya Car in 2016, but said it only started taking off last year.

He said: “The closed loop in Oxford is really exciting because from day one we focused on how we can change mobility at the local level and affect local communities – because this is how we can connect people and avoid waste from idling cars.

“For those who use the closed loop, carpool revenues are so far down people’s lists, people just want to get cars off the road to make more room for their kids to play or more room to. ride a bike.

“It’s about people coming together to make a difference.

Emily has decided to implement a “closed loop” with the app, which means only neighbors within a six-block radius, and who have agreed to lend or borrow cars, can use the program.

The program allows neighbors to borrow cars from owners as they please, whether it’s a trip to the supermarket a few miles away or a week-long trip.

If the trip is less than 20 miles, users don’t have to pay for fuel – and if they do, they simply top it up before returning the vehicle.

Over the summer, Emily and her neighbors in East Oxford decided to give the program a try – and it turned out to be a big success.

She said: “It worked so well that I decided to give up my car because I now know that I will still be able to use my neighbor’s car.

“I had an SUV and didn’t really think about the environmental impact – I was pregnant and the dealership told me it was the safest type of car – but now I realized that I could do without a car. ”

Emily also highlighted the amount of money she will save with this new program.

“The average cost of running a car in the UK is almost £ 300 a month, and it’s really expensive.

“Our neighborhood loop will make driving a lot cheaper for me.”

Teresa, who lives in Parker Street, has decided to participate in the trial to do her part for the environment.

She said: “I have to say the loan went really well for me – it makes me feel connected in a different way to my community because I meet people who live locally.

“My main motivation is that we are living in a climate emergency.

“We not only need fewer cars on the road, but we also need fewer cars produced, because all production is very damaging to the environment.”

The success of the trial program, which will become permanent in the coming months, has led to Emily being contacted by people from all over the UK, such as Edinburgh and Derbyshire.

Other Oxford residents are also looking to create their own “Hiya Loop”, including two in North Oxford and others in East Oxford.

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