Sharin’ the love….
image from City CarShare’s website
I was pleased to see the Chron’s overview article citing the growing acceptance of car-sharing programs in SF – I’ve been a member of City CarShare for going on two years, more than one year of which I still owned my trusty Mazda sedan, which I just sold last May.
During the year that I owned AND shared, people often asked me why I did both.
I’m an admittedly over-analytical person, and I wanted to test the system against my private vehicle use to really see if it would work with my lifestyle. For several months, I randomly reserved and utilized the CCS vehicles, testing to see whether they were readily available, convienent to use at various locations, and the “true” cost – after all, the hourly fee + miles breakdown doesn’t become “real” until you start applying it. For several MORE months, I utilized the CCS vehicles exclusively – while still doing the street-cleaning shuffle of my own vehicle – to finally be assured that I *could* make car sharing a viable system for me. And then, I sold my car without hesitation, and haven’t looked back.
Now, I’m not saying that car sharing is a perfect system – it requires more diligent planning and implementation of time-limits to some activities that I’d rather leave open-ended – but as a whole, it has definately improved my city-dwelling quality of life. I no longer have heart-failure when I wake up mornings, wondering where I’d left my car parked last, and was it a Monday or Tuesday cleaning street? I’d had my car broken into twice in the 5 years I’ve lived in the city proper, and both times it had cost me plenty, both monetarily and in the raging emotional tirade that followed. Giving up the car gave me back a lot of peace of mind.
Granted, my current lifestyle affords me to make such a decision. My daily commute is from Lower Pac Hts to SoMa, which is ambitiously walkable, and serviced by several forms of public transit. There are several car-sharing lots available within blocks of my office, for the times I need to visit clients or travel to job sites. My boyfriend lives along a BART route, and my land-locked neighborhood fringes on several adjacent ‘hoods that quench my thirst for a full range of city scenes. For weekend camping trips, we take his car, which has all-wheel-drive.
And I DO use my membership regularly. On average 2-3 times each week. And to date, my monthly bill has yet to top what my monthly insurance rate was on my privately owned car, whether I used it or not. I use the Toyota Prius’ as often as I can, for obvious reasons. I’ve utilized CCS’s truck to help a friend transport a large potted palm. I fit 4 dining chairs into the ScionXB to supplement my boyfriend’s dining set for Thanksgiving. I take out the ScionXA when I know I’m heading to areas where parking between garage doors is all there is to be had. I whizzed visitors around town in the CooperMini (convertable!) and had a blast. NOT owning a vehicle has afforded me the ability to access the kinds of vehicles I need for the various kinds of activites that I do – and that beats the heck out of dealing with an SUV year-round for it’s “perfect” application just twice a year.
I’m a CCS member, but am seriously considering joining FlexCar as well – they have cars in Portland, where I visit often enough that having access to vehicles there makes a lot of sense. I’d be happy to sign up for ZipCar’s ‘occasional use only’ plan, which doesn’t charge a monthly rate, but offers a better rate when logging many miles than CCS’s plan. I can see myself being a supporter (financially as well as philosophically) of all three outfits.
Because it makes sense. Financially and philosophically.