South Africa to host its first Carpool Week

Submitted by: Kathryn Kasavel, Thursday, October 3, 2013

<p>South African carpool members displaying their savings (Image Source:<font color="#1f497d" face="Calibri, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 15.199999809265137px;"> </span></font>Cheryl Christie).</p>

South African carpool members displaying their savings (Image Source: Cheryl Christie).

October is Transport month and South Africa will see its first dedicated Carpool Week running from 7 October 2013 – 11 October 2013. Individuals can register for South Africa’s Carpool Week on the Carpool Week webpage and link up with individuals that are travelling in the same direction to minimise the impact of their travel on the environment for that week. Carpool Week South Africa is an initiative by FindaLift, an online ride share initiative in South Africa.

The aim of Carpool Week is to encourage fewer cars on the road which not only reduces pollution and saves petrol but creates a culture of sharing and social cohesion, says Daniel Claassen, Founder and Managing Member of FindaLift.

“For the individual, there is the benefit of saving fuel and wear and tear on their cars. It is a way of meeting people and making friends. It is also great way of getting South Africans together – uniting them. The third main benefit is reducing the environmental impact of commuters by reducing car emissions. For every 3500kms you drive you are actually planting a tree.  And it’s cool”, says Claassen.

Using social media to create awareness

Carpool Week aims to create awareness and education about the benefits of carpooling. Through the use of social media, Twitter and Facebook, Claassen will be encouraging live debate where he says “we want people to talk to us”. He says there are a variety of topics to discuss with regards to carpooling so assigning a whole week dedicated to carpooling will raise much more awareness. There are five separate days set aside for topic discussions which include:

  • What’s in it for me? – 7th October.
  • Did you know? Interesting facts and figures – 8th October.
  • Experiences: The good, the bad and the funny – 9th October.
  • Overcoming the safety and insurance barriers – 10th October.
  • Tips for individuals and business – 11th October.

Claassen says that at the end of each day, topic discussion summaries will be written up, shared online and sent out to their sponsors to circulate. There will also be a report written up at the end of Carpool Week that will be distributed to help raise awareness and educate South African commuters about carpooling. Claassen states that they are trying to build up a network for people to share their carpooling stories and experiences.

Carpooling misconceptions

Statistics South Africa 2011 states that car travel is the most common form of transport in South Africa with one third of South Africans using private cars to travel to work. Claassen points out that although carpooling is becoming more popular as an alternative form of transport, many people continue to have some misconceptions about carpooling and don’t realise that travelling alone with empty car seats means that they are wasting road space and money.

“A lot of people think it’s not safe but we are not saying share with a stranger. You get to know them first on social media. People are also unsure of insurance aspects because they are afraid they will get sued if they are in an accident but that is covered by the road accident fund. These perceptual barriers need to be overcome. People think that they need to carpool everyday but just doing it one day a week also has its benefits. Just try it out for one week. It’s about taking that first step” says Claassen.

Prizes and pledges to plant trees

Special prizes will be on offer including cash for fuel, hands free headsets and water bottles to encourage individuals to register online during Carpool Week. FindaLift has also pledged to plant trees in response to social media interactions. FindaLift pledges to plant a tree for every:

  • 500 Facebook likes and @Findalift Twitter followers;
  • 1000 registered journeys added on the FindaLift website
  • 3000 Facebook comments/ shares or Twitter tweets/retweets with the hashtag #carpoolweekSA.

South Africa’s first Carpool Week is supported by 110% Green, Miss Earth South Africa, Greenpop, The Enviropaedia, Change Agent, EcoPack, Urban Earth, Green Times, Green Office, Imagine Durban, Mooivaal Media, Climate Neutral Group, Global Carbon Exchange and World Wildlife Fund.

To keep updated with sustainability news subscribe to the fortnightly Urban Earth Newsletter.

Kathryn Kasavel