Lyft Plans to Build Public Parks to Counter a Bad-for-Cities Reputation

(Bloomberg) -- Car-sharing and ride-hailing services have long thought of themselves as urban planners, prodding cities toward a future with fewer cars, less parking and more green space. Lyft Inc. wants to speed up the process.

The newly public company announced Thursday that it will build seven public parks over the next year in cities to be named later. It’s a partnership with The Trust For Public Land, a San Francisco-based non-profit which creates urban parks and conservation projects.

“Our vision as a company has been to create more livable cities and improve people’s lives by providing transportation,” said Lilly Shoup, Senior Director of Policy and Partnerships at Lyft.

So far, it’s not clear Lyft and its competitors really do make cities more livable. Ride hailing has been blamed for a slew of environmental ills, including worse traffic and waning enthusiasm for greener transportation options like public transit, walking and biking. In response, California has already drafted rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from ride-hailing fleets and push them toward electric cars.

Lyft says it’s investing in scooters and electric vehicles and integrating more public transit options into its app. It also buys carbon offsets and gives customers the option of hailing a more fuel-efficient ride. The park project, said Shoup, “is showing what could be when we invest in cities without cars.”

Lyft’s park-building initiative is part of a $50 million commitment the firm made to “City Works” projects last week.

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