We think we can’t do without cars. But a few decades back, when society supposedly wasn’t as advanced as we think it is today, public transportation was readily available in cities and towns. Trains and buses served rural areas better than they do today.
Some people claim we need to get away from depending so much on our cars because of climate change. They say we need to reduce carbon emissions. But the realities of today’s economy may be what forces us to use our cars less or give them up altogether.
Having cars eats us alive, in a manner of speaking. It costs on average $700-$800 a month to own a car. Repairs are never cheap. Cars have become so complicated no “shade tree mechanic” can work on them.
But what if survival for you right now means doing without a car or using it much less? Maybe a job layoff or the threat of home foreclosure means you’ve got to make drastic cuts somewhere. How about sacrificing your car to keep your home?
Some time back I posted about a book called How to Live Well Without Owning a Car, by Chris Balish. In today’s economy, it’s worth mentioning again. If you’re car free now or are already a convert to the idea, you may not get as much out of this book as someone for whom this idea is new. But if you’re one of those who needs to make significant lifestyle changes, you’ll find useful, common sense information in this book.
It includes chapters on car-sharing, carpooling, and even car-free dating. There are tips and success stories of those who’ve broken the car habit.
The idea of car sharing came to us from Europe. A few companies are putting it into practice in metropolitan areas in the U.S. and Canada. Zipcar is one such company. They claim to be the world’s largest car sharing and car club service with an alternative to traditional car rental.
Zipcar serves cities like: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington DC. Check to see if they’re available in your area. If not, contact them about adding their service to your city or town. They not only serve individuals in business, but they provide service to universities, too.
It’s Zipcar’s vision to have more people sharing cars than owning them. Why have so much unnecessary congestion and pollution? They’d like to see cities all over the world where you can walk to a self service Zipcar within minutes. It’s also their goal to foster healthier community life.
Use of Zipcar has increased greatly since the economy went south. They charge an annual fee, but the services they provide have caused some of their members to sell their car or put off buying another one. Why buy a second car or replace your current car if you don’t have to?
If public transportation doesn’t get you where you want to go, or if you only need a car for a couple of hours, look into Zipcar by going to http://www.zipcar.com.
To further explore the idea of getting by without a car, get a copy of How to Live Well Without Owning a Car.
Do you have experiences to share with others on how to function in today’s society without a car? Or do you think the whole thing is nuts? How about leaving a comment below.