May 1, 2009

Car Co-ops

I saw a post on Planetary Gears today that got me thinking about cars. Or rather, car ownership. I have been moving toward car-lite beginning in March, either taking the bus or riding my bike into the office and trying to be more conscious of driving only when I need to on weekends. It's been easier than I thought it would be, but I can still see a place for cars in most people's lives.

A couple of friends and readers of this blog have encouraged me to commit to the car-free life (I will not say "pull the trigger") and sell my car. They make the point that for the money I would be saving I could easily afford to use an Hour Car now and then or rent a car for trips.

I agree - selling my car probably would remove a temptation, save some money and not greatly inconvenience me to, but I think I may have a better idea...

Vancouver, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis and a few other cities have organized car-sharing arrangements. In Vancouver, you can apparently join a car share group, get an electronic access card, and then walk up to any car in the program and borrow it (they have designated parking places so you know where to look for a car). I have not used Hour Car in MPLS, but I think this works by making a reservation, picking up your car, doing your errands and returning it, much like a short-term rental car.

People of Earth, I have a more radical proposal.

Screw the middle-man. Do it yourself. Go in with a few friends and buy a used car and make your very own car co-op. Park in a spot convenient to everyone, share insurance and maintenance costs, and always bring it back full. Simple, much cheaper than owning your own car, and you would probably have more flexibility. The trick to this would be letting the right people into the co-op, but that's the case with any kind of co-op situation.

I give this idea to the world free of charge.

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