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I joined Zipcar today.

Zipcar is the car-share business that lets members reserve and use cars for a few hours at a time. Their cars, rather than all being at the airport or in a central garage, are parked throughout the city. Once you're a member, you reserve online, you go borrow the car, you drive, and you park it back where you found it--easy peasy.

There's a Zipcar parked a couple of blocks from my house. It's not that my own car isn't working--it is, I think, though I haven't started it months, and last time I did the fuel tank was near empty. That's the point. I don't really need to own a car. I haven't needed to own a car for a while now.

So I'm gonna try out ZipCar for a few months. It cost me $25 to join, and the hourly rental fees (which include fuel and insurance) wouldn't amount to a hill of beans at my rate of car-usage.

Then, at the end of the summer, if it's been viable, I'll probably sell my car. It's just sitting there.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 13th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
just the other day i was thinking about zipcar! i really do use my car a lot so it wouldn't work for me, plus there is nothing near my house on the south side.

i do see them parked all over the place on the north side. it's way more practical for north siders since parking is really hard to find. there are tons of large apt buildings with no built-in parking lots so trying to share street parking with 5 huge 10 unit apt buildings on one block is awful! (i knew someone who was on a waiting list for 2 years and then BOUGHT a spot for $30k. yes. crazy.
May. 13th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
The denser the city, the more something like Zipcar makes sense. I never owned a car at all when I lived in the heart of downtown. It wold have made no sense to have one.

I figure if I want to get out of town real badly, I can get a regular car rental, and that getting out of town on a whim is something that the world really can't afford me doing that much anyway. So I have to plan ahead? I can do that.
May. 13th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)

and i also meant to say that i think zipcar is perfect for you! you'll be able to save on all the fees associated with a car and the upkeep. and hell, a zipcar parked just 2 blocks from your house? that's perfect!
May. 13th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
There are also a couple dozen of them within a stone's throw of my work, so if I wanted to do something like an IKEA run right after work, that would be a piece of cake.

The trick, for me, is giving it a good test, and really pretending that Zipcar is my option--that is, not saying, "Nah, I really don't need to go to IKEA" when I really want to.

The goal isn't to let my life shrink down to a tiny orbit because it's complicated to get out. I need to strike a balance.
May. 13th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
May. 13th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
We'll see how it goes.
May. 13th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
I approve highly of communitization of social institutions to keep large expensive metal things in constant use, which is why I go to the laundromat instead of having a washer and dryer. However, I suspect that Zipcars will not be able to even out demand and availability, because the number of cars doesn't fluctuate but demand does.
May. 13th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
They have to reach some kind of demand/supply parity in order to stay in business. Obviously, their pricing model has to allow for longish periods of non-use (late at night, for instance) and for some wiggle room in return times, but according to my sister, whose employer has a corporate membership, all the cars within easy reach of her dense-downtown workplace are in pretty high rotation.

I expect that their business model overall depends on demand fluctuating less as membership increases. There's no real reason why Zipcars, as a fleet, shouldn't eventually be used at the same rate as the overall fleet of cars in society--which is to say, graphable at pretty much exactly to the fluctuation of freeway noise.
May. 14th, 2010 07:17 am (UTC)
what a great idea, I hope it works - not just for you (I'm pretty sure it will for you, because you don't drive much) but for the whole community, and becomes a sustainable business
May. 14th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC)
There's brand-new housing being built in Portland that *gasp!* has no garages, and a new carless-by-choice population group is moving in. Zipcar is marketing to them. I have no idea whether they're showing a profit yet, but their presence seems to be growing.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )



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