Today I received an email from the Alexandria Transportation Demand Management Coordinator asking me to fill out a survey as follow-up to the reimbursement of fees I received from the City of Alexandria for paying my initial membership fee for the carsharing company, ZipCar.
One of the great perks about living in an environmentally conscious community like Alexandria is that they offered to pay for my ZipCar membership through their Carshare Alexandria!. The City will reimburse residents for annual and membership fees for first-time memberships. (Unfortunately usage fees and future member fees are not eligible for reimbursement). The City will also reimburse businesses for corporate and employee annual and membership fees for first-time memberships and like the residential program, it only applies to the first year. Money (literally).
When I graduated from college a year and a half ago, I debated whether or not I would get a car. When I discovered that my apartment building was near a transit hub (Braddock Road metro) and there were 4-5 ZipCars in the immediate vicinity, I decided to go carless. I’ve been without a car for five and a half years now (counting college) and I’m happy with my ZipCar membership. Not only do I not have to worry about past and future gas spikes, I’ve don’t have to worry about maintenance, parking fees, and waiting in traffic. I’ve never have problems about other users returning the cars late, dirty, or smelly. Using the gas card and making reservations are easy. The only thing I have to worry about is returning the car on time; if I’m ever running late I can extend the reservation over the phone and I don’t have to pay a surcharge.
I bike to the grocery store once a week and carry groceries in my backpack and put the rest in my re-usuable bags I balance on the handlebars. Riding metro certainly has its downsides, but it gives me the opportunity to read every morning. Since January, I’ve read four books: Team of Rivals, Imperial Grunts, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and The Short Reign of Pippin IV.
So I get more time to read, more money in my pocket (according to a 2008 study by AAA, it costs about $8,000 to own and drive a midsize sedan), mandatory exercise (lest I be late), I don’t have to worry about traffic, and I get to help the environment. What a deal. Check out a great article about the concept of carsharing from the NYTimes.com here: “Share My Ride.”
What do you think of the concept of carsharing? Would any of you consider going carless? If so, under what conditions? If not, why not?
A penny for your thoughts.