Nashville Businesses Get Creative to Solve Parking Crunch

Nashville Businesses Get Creative to Solve Parking Crunch

Hytch prides itself on innovation and exploring new ways to tackling the infrastructural pains our region's growth is creating. Take a look at how Hytch and our CEO, Mark Cleveland, is spearheading the movement of Nashvillian's into the share-economy. 

Sharing to help solve the snarls of Nashville traffic

Three questions with Mark Cleveland about his push to build carpooling app Hytch

AUTHORS Geert De Lombaerde

Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have thoroughly disrupted the short-distance travel market but aren’t suited to the everyday travels of suburban commuters. Enter local entrepreneur Mark Cleveland, who has been pitching his free Hytch carpool networking app to local municipalities and other transit stakeholders. Here, Cleveland lays out his vision.

How would you sum up the idea behind Hytch?

Every great story has a villain, a hero and a happy ending. Right now for Nashville, traffic is the villain. But with Hytch, Nashville can take a page from the sharing economy playbook to help solve the snarls of traffic — right now, before spending the billions of tax dollars and thousands of days that long-term mass transit solutions require. If every driver commuting to Nashville will use it, even occasionally, we will take 100, then 1,000, then maybe tens of thousands of cars off the road in no time.

What Air BnB did to match a house guest with that extra room in your home, Hytch does for empty seats in your car. Sharing the cost of a ride turns that unused asset into a money maker. Imagine 50 to 75 people in your neighborhood who are on your route to work or just a stone’s throw off your route for pickup. If you had 75 options available for sharing a ride, would you take advantage once in a while? Once a week?

What’s a reasonable first-year expectation for adoption?

I believe in the people of Nashville to come together to solve the problem of traffic so my expectations for Hytch’s first year are sky high — say 10 percent of Nashville’s daily commuters.

Do some math with me: Research shows that taking 1,500 cars off an interstate is equivalent to adding a new lane and increasing travel efficiency by 10 percent for everyone. Today, on Interstate 24 alone, about 21,000 cars per day travel to Nashville from Clarksville, about 38,000 to Nashville from Murfreesboro. Take a mere 5 percent of those cars off the road and we’ve cleared two lanes at peak hours.

In terms of what will get people to sign up and share their cars, is it a question of karma or incentives?

Both, actually. Hytch is not a ride-for-hire approach, although you can be paid up to the mileage reimbursement rate of 54 cents per mile. I think of it as paying people back their time, their safety and their convenience. Big employers and small companies have a stake in promoting this solution, too. People fight traffic by quitting their jobs or moving to avoid long, frustrating commutes. Happier commuters make for a happier workplace.

How Hytch Is Making Carpooling Awesome

There was a time when coworkers and neighbors would come together and share a commute in order to save on time and gas. We hear stories of tight knit communities and friendships that have lasted for decades as a result of carpooling relationships from a different time.

Then, there was a change. People became obsessed with owning their own cars. Car ownership became a token of independence, a milestone for teenagers coming of age, and a way to establish social status. This was all great before the roads became so congested that a traffic junky might see a cyclist breeze right by their 470 horse power Jaguar during the 8:00 rush.

That's where Hytch comes in. Our roads are congested, our environment is suffering, our time is wasting, and our wallets are shrinking. Hytch is bringing carpooling back and it's going to be revolutionary. With Hytch, users can meet and interact with neighbors or colleagues who go the same way every day. They can ride together and share the cost at 54 cents / mile or less. 

But, how does it work?

Users login with their Facebook account. The app automatically creates a profile for them. They enter their home and work address and whether they are driving or riding. Then they begin seeing all of the other people who share the commute. Once users mutually swipe right on each other they can chat and initiate a ride immediately or at a later time. Other features include paperless reimbursement for rides, rider and driver ratings, location sharing with friends, and more.

Download Hytch today in the Apple or Google store to become a beta tester. The complete version will be launched this Fall.

Self Driving Car Law Passes in Tennessee

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The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed a bill about the legality of cars that drive on roads without the help of a driver.

The bill makes self-driving cars a viable option on Tennessee roads. The new law states that no local government in the state can ban the use of autonomous cars in their municipality. The law to make autonomous cars legal in Tennessee was signed by Governor Haslam on April 24.

The law says that governments in Tennessee cannot prohibit a vehicle solely on the basis of the presence of self-driving technology as long as the vehicle is otherwise in line with safety regulations. Also, autonomous technology is defined as technology  “that has the capability to drive [a] motor vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator.”

The topic has been widely discussed in legislation and tech media for the past couple of years. Nevada passed a law in 2011 to make the self-driving cars legal. Florida passed legislation to allow the operator of a self-driving car to text while the vehicle has control. Other states that have passed laws to allow the use of self-driving cars are California and Michigan, and a number of others have pending legislation on the matter.

Companies such as Google, Tesla, Audi, Nissan and a number of other auto/tech companies have built self-driving models and have plans to release them on the market in the next five years. There is even a German company, Daimler, planning a self-driving 18 wheeler, the Freightliner Inspiration.

To be able to drive automatically, a car needs cameras and sensors that tell it when there’s an approaching curve, pedestrian, other car cutting into your lane, etc. These sensors are placed on the front, back and sides of the vehicle, as well as cameras on the top.

As for the interior, it is up to the imagination of the automaker, as long as safety standards are still in place. Some models have front seats that swivel so that everyone in the car can face each other, and Mercedes-Benz has a model with no windows for complete privacy while the car drives itself.

As it stands, most of the cars will be considered safe in rural areas and on interstates and highways, but not in dense urban areas where there are many more variables.

The reality of self-driving cars on the road is fast approaching. They may not take to the sky as Back to the Future predicted, but the automobile in 2015 is certainly approaching the speed it will take to take us to the future of the automobile industry.