Montreal

Share a car with your neighbour through LocoMotion, a pilot project in Rosemont

LocoMotion grew out of the Solon collective’s search for ways to reduce the number of cars in the neighbourhood.

LocoMotion grew out of Solon collective’s search for ways to reduce the number of cars in the neighbourhood

About 50 Rosemont neighbours have signed on so far to a pilot project in which car owners lend their vehicles to someone who lives nearby who needs the use of a car, for a small fee. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

Solon, a collective that aims to make Rosemont a more liveable community, has launched a new program to encourage people with cars to lend them to their neighbours.

The idea of LocoMotion grew out of Solon's search for ways to reduce the number of cars in the neighbourhood.

"There's already so many cars on the streets, so we are getting people to actually share their own cars," said Jérôme Laviolette, one of the organizers of the initiative.

"It is really in the spirit of community, of sharing, of having people getting together and taking care of the mobility needs in their own neighborhoods," he said in an interview with CBC Montreal's Daybreak earlier this week.

Solon, established in 2015, grew out of an effort to beautify the back alleys of the neighbourhood, turning them into green space where children can play.  

Since then, the collective has launched other projects. It's also working on a project called Celsius, hoping to install geothermal heating and cooling systems that will be shared among neighbours.

A car within 5-minute walk

So far, around 50 households have signed up for LocoMotion in the three zones now being piloted.

Each zone is an area with a 500-metre radius, so that someone who borrows a car can get to the vehicle in under five minutes.

Car owners who register their cars in the LocoMotion program are paid a small fee to cover the cost of their vehicle's depreciation. The borrower also pays a $5 insurance fee and takes care of the cost of gas.

"The whole goal of the project is not for anyone to make profit," said Laviolette.

He said that's what make LocoMotion different from other car-sharing services such as Communauto and Car2go.

All the fees paid by users are simply to cover the costs of the operation.

Laviolette said not only does the program serve a practical purpose, but it fosters a sense of community in the neighbourhood.

"There is a kind of trust that people who live in the same community [have], and that's what's behind this idea of peer-to-peer car sharing," he said.

He's already experienced this, meeting people with like-minded goals of reducing their carbon footprint through the project, and now running into them at the local grocery store or elsewhere in the neighbourhood.

"People want to have a tight-knit community," he said.

Bike trailers, too

Marie Leviel and Jérome Laviolette are LocoMotion participants. (Submitted by Solon)

Bike trailers and hitches are also available, and organizers are working on obtaining cargo bikes.

The trailers attach to the rear axle of a bike. Laviolette has used the trailers many times to transport soil and plant pots from Canadian Tire.

"It's a very useful thing," he said.

The pilot project is still in the early phases of development.

The organizers wanted to get the project off the ground quickly, so there's no app for LocoMotion. Instead, they're using low-tech tools that are freely available. For instance, members use Google Calendar to book vehicles.

A borrower texts to arrange a meetup with a neighbour to get the car keys or pick them up from a lock box.

Solon is collecting feedback from members to improve the services and to see whether it is feasible to expand operations to other neighbourhoods in Montreal.

With files from CBC Montreal Daybreak

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