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CASE STUDY: Edinburgh

Residents of Edinburgh's Marchmount housing estate are to test run a car sharing project in September. The car club will serve a sprawling Victorian development of 5,000 flats 2km south of the centre. It is expected to offer annual savings of up to £1,400 to its users and could be more effective at reducing car journeys than any single public transport initiative.

Similar car clubs in Switzerland and Germany have cut residential car mileage by as much as 50%.

Tenders are out now for a car lease company to provide a dozen vehicles, parked in dedicated on-street bays and reserved solely for car club members. On offer are preferential hire rates, a computerised booking system, and convenient free parking.

An annual club membership fee of, say, £100 would allow members to rent a vehicle for any period from 30 minutes to two weeks at a maximum rate of about £1.50 per hour.

Edinburgh is also pioneering one of the world's first car-free housing developments. A former rail goods yard 5km west of the centre is expected to soon receive planning permission for 120 low rise flats. The development will have no roads and no parking facilities.

To enjoy this exhaust-free zone, housing association flat owners must sign a declaration promising not to own a car. Prospective residents are apparently queuing up to sign for occupation in 2000.

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