Nightmare on Downing and Mexico Streets

These Car2go things are pretty terrifying. Photo: David Sachs
These Car2go things are pretty terrifying. Photo: David Sachs

Something is amiss near the corner of Downing and Mexico in southeast Denver this Halloween week. A “bizarre situation,” according to ABC7. A “neighborhood invasion.”

Tiny Car2Go Smart cars parked in front of people’s homes. The horror.

Here’s more from ABC7:

Where are they coming from and why are they here? A neighborhood in south Denver is dealing with a new and bizarre situation out in front of their homes.

Not squirrels or mice, but rather – those Car2Go micro-rides.

“Why the sudden attraction?” said Lynn DeJohn, who lives at the corner of Downing and Mexico. “There is no light rail station here.”

DeJohn says she woke up Sunday morning and there were five Car2Go vehicles in front of her home.

Five! Reporter Russel Haythorn goes on to explain that the car-share vehicles are “confusing and infuriating to residents here.”

Why? It’s not really clear, but it seems to have something to do with parking. According to Haythorn, residents are concerned that Car2Go vehicles are “taking” parking spaces away from the people who live there. Residents are also reportedly concerned that these smaller-than-average cars are causing “close calls” with drivers who have to maneuver around them, as if other cars wouldn’t cause that problem.

To hear ABC7 tell it, the most vexing part of all this is that no one knows why the car-share vehicles are there. Actually the most vexing part is that this non-story was reported at all.

ABC7 says that Car2Go is “taking away” parking spaces from residents, but the street is not private property — it belongs to the public, meaning everyone, not just the people who live on it. Even if you subscribe to the idea that proximity entitles people to the use of a street, Car2Go has 1,500 members who live near the intersection of Downing and Mexico, as 7News reported. Don’t they have a claim to that curbside space too? More to the point, imagine how much space would be “taken” if each one of those members owned a car and parked it on the street.

We’re also told that the uptick in Car2Go vehicles is “bizarre.” Okay… or it could just be a consequence of events that have been in the news recently. A quick Google News search or a visit to Car2Go’s Denver website would’ve revealed that the company shrunk its “home area” — the places where Car2Go drivers can pick up and drop off the vehicles — last month. That decision concentrated the company’s fleet in areas where they have more members, including the neighborhood in question, hence the uptick in vehicles.

There are fair questions to raise about Car2Go, and the jury’s still out on the exact effects of car-sharing on Denver’s streets. But it seems to be a net traffic reducer and an effective way to help people forgo owning a private car. According to a survey [PDF] of Denver’s car-sharing members (including people who use services other than Car2Go), 25 percent gave up a vehicle after joining.

ABC7 didn’t look into these questions — it just handed a megaphone to people who assumed the worst.