question of the weekend: Do you use a car-sharing service, or would you if one was available in your area?

I love driving, I love the freedom of the open road, and I love the utility a car offers. But I hate owning a car. It’s expensive, parking can be a pain in the ass, and it’s generally a huge hassle, like with keeping up with maintenance.

I don’t need a car regularly in New York City, but it sure is nice to have one sometimes, for shopping or visiting outside the city, or just to get away for a bit. Which is why I love Zipcar, whose motto is “Wheels when you want them,” which is exactly right. Renting a Zipcar isn’t like renting a car from a traditional car-rental service such as Avis or Hertz, where you go to some central location — like an airport — where they’ve got an enormous parking lot, fill out a bunch of paperwork, and take a car from there. With Zipcar, you fill out the paperwork once, and then, whenever you need a car, you go online and make a reservation for one of the hundreds of cars they’re got parked all around in the city, in regular public parking lots. You use your RFID-enabled membership card to get into the car during your reservation — there’s a little device on the windshield that controls that access. The keys are in the car, and you just drive. Included in the hourly or daily rate you pay are gas, insurance, and a certain number of miles (you pay a per-mile fee above that minimum).
The only thing I don’t love about Zipcar is that the nearest cars “live” — as Zipcar calls it — too far away to make renting one sensible unless I take the car for an entire day. There used to be a Zipcar in my neighborhood a short walk away, and that was great for renting it for just a few hours, like to do some major grocery shopping. But Zipcar lost that parking space. Now, the nearest cars are a one-hour walk away, or a half-hour bus ride plus a ten-minute walk, or a $12 cab ride. But I live in an uncool neighborhood. In Manhattan and the hip areas of Queens and Brooklyn, Zipcars are everywhere.

That’s my car-share story. Do you use a carsharing service, or would you if one was available in your area?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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