Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chicago's car-sharing under serve communities of color

Chi-Town Daily News:
Between I-GO and Zipcar, there are 531 vehicles in 303 locations within Chicago city limits. Seven I-GO cars — three percent of the I-GO fleet — are located in black neighborhoods, and only six percent are located south of Cermak.

Zipcar has 0.4 percent of its cars located in black neighborhoods, which is only one car, even though African Americans make up 36 percent of the city’s population, according to the 2000 Census.

Instead, both of Chicago’s car sharing companies concentrate their business in white and mixed race neighborhoods. I-GO has 145 car locations in Chicago, 89 percent of which are in white and mixed neighborhoods. Zipcar has 148 locations in the city, with 97 percent of them in white and mixed neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are mostly on the North and Northwest sides, with the exception of a few areas on the South side near Illinois Institute of Technology, Hyde Park and the University of Chicago.
“Are they deciding on the basis of market demand or are they deciding on the basis of race? A lot of times people will cover up their real motivation with things that seem to be business reasons but actually aren’t,” says Naomi Davis, founder and president of BIG: Blacks in Green, an environmental organization that advocates bringing green practices and lifestyles into the black community.

“The black community is routinely the last to receive any sort of savings innovation and new, quality ideas. There’s nothing new about that. I would really be surprised if it were any other way.”

Officials at I-Go and Zipcar had different explanations.

“The most dense concentration of our cars is at the densest part of our city, which is along the lakefront,” says Kosmacher of I-GO. “But if you look at where we are, we’re in Albany Park and moving into Old Irving. We’re starting to move out and move west and also to move south.”

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