Thoughts on car sharing and the folding car


Rendering of the MIT CityCar by Franco Vairani. Post updated 9:57 to add commentary on parking. 

This morning, RelayRides will announce it is updating its system on how neighbors share cars. Before, only cars with OnStar and smart card systems could be used (like how I-GO and ZipCar operate now). The change is that anyone with a car can sign up to lend it, for as little as $5 per hour, using a key exchange: the owner and the renter arrange to transfer the key.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this works in practice. I’m going to convince my roommates and friends to sign up their cars. Individual car ownership does not bode well for our society, economy, and environment. The kinds of cars we own have a less significant impact than how we drive them. How we drive is what makes our car culture. The one that costs us more than we can afford, pollutes the environment, and sustains a sedentary lifestyle. Continue reading Thoughts on car sharing and the folding car

Gettin’ down at the I-GO Car Sharing members’ holiday party


Even though I don’t use car sharing often, I’m very glad it exists. I live a block away from an I-GO Car Sharing location and I have a membership, but I can easily do almost all my commuting and errands by walking, biking and transit, carrying groceries and such in my bike’s saddlebags. Even if I need to move furniture or large items from the home improvement store I can haul most of these things with my large bike trailer.

So if I check out an I-GO vehicle it’s usually because I’m too lazy to hook up my trailer. As I wrote last week, other than road trips and transporting other people, the main reason I would use a car is to move fragile music gear to gigs. The by-the-hour pay scheme of car sharing makes it impractical for a trip where the car just sits outside the club for three hours while I rock out. (Any I-GO staffers reading this, please reply to this post to let me know if you guys actually offer a plan that makes sense for this kind of trip).

Continue reading Gettin’ down at the I-GO Car Sharing members’ holiday party

How do I really feel about driving?


Photo by Mia Park

In 2003 Eric Paul Erickson interviewed me for the Chicago Tribune about my thoughts on bike advocacy and activism. At the time I said, “I think 10 years from now it just won’t make a lot of sense to own a car here.”

Unlike in, say, New York City, certainly Manhattan, car ownership was fairly practical in Chicago back then and it still is today. Although there are plenty of hassles involved, parking is still relatively plentiful, city fees are affordable and gas is currently less than $4 a gallon. Was my prediction unrealistic?

Continue reading How do I really feel about driving?