Thursday, June 12, 2008

$5 a gallon? Driving less? Share a car, beat the pump

With Zipcar, you always have a car around the corner.

Ever thought about giving up your car completely? Like most families, ours once had a vehicle in the driveway for every driver in the household. Twelve or thirteen years ago, our children and their vehicles long departed, my partner and I realized that one of our cars sat unused for days, sometimes weeks at a time. We decided to give it away. We never missed it.

A few years later, we moved to the city and deliberately chose a neighborhood with excellent public transportation, sold our only remaining vehicle and subscribed to City CarShare. Getting downtown by bus or train takes 15 to 20 minutes with no hassles, no driving around for parking, and no parking garage fees. When we need a car, we reserve one online, walk the few blocks to our local CarShare pod, get in and drive away.

The cars are clean, fueled and well-maintained. Our only responsibility is to return them on time with at least half a tank of gas and as clean as we find them. City CarShare takes care of the insurance, oil changes, tire pressure checks, and pays for all of the gas we use. We pay a low monthly fee, mileage and a set rate for each hour we use a vehicle.

Last weekend we checked out a Prius hybrid overnight and visited our daughter and her family seventy miles away. The weekend before, we checked out a larger vehicle with a fold-down back seat and brought home an eight-foot ficus. Our plans this weekend don't require a personal vehicle. In fact, we may not need a car again for weeks or months.

Interested in finding a car-share service near you? CarSharing Net has a list. Some orgs are non-profit, like City CarShare. Others, like ZipCar are entrepreneurial and for profit. If you don't find a car share in your city, start one, like David Brook did in Portland, Oregon.

Sharing resources is one way we can work together to build Ordinary. What are folks doing in your town?

Next: Bicycle sharing abroad and here at home


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great post about a great concept! City CarShare and Bay Area Wilderness Training just lauched a program together called the BAWTmobiles- two mini vans- that will be SHARED by teachers and youth workers to help get kids outdoors! It's an important extension to an important concept that helps us all have a smaller carbon footprint.
    - Kyle Macdonald, CEO Bay Area Wilderness Training

  3. Great tips, Kyle! Thank you. I checked out the Bay Area Wilderness Training website and told a friend of mine about it. She signed herself and one of her children up as volunteers the next day. What a wonderful program.


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