Zipcar vs. My Car

22 Aug

All this meterosexuality could be mine....

So, on goes the continuing story of what car, if any, I should buy. See, I was having a little perusal of David Byrne’s book The Bicycle Diaries whilst I was in Mongolia. In it, the former Talking Heads singer talks a lot about urban planning and the fixation we have with the automobile. It’s an understandable fixation really. Man doesn’t like to move slowly across the land. Once he had found a way to not do, by entering into an entente cordiale with horses, well then there was no looking back. Then came the industrial revolution, and as we reached the end of the 19th Century, people started putting engines into horse carriages and thus came the fall of the 20th Century man. The car glistened in front of us and begged us to breach the horizon, pull it closer to us and to conquer the world at a speed hitherto fore available only to nature. This appeals, I think, to man’s innate desire to put everything, nature included, under its collective thumb. This is why we climb up Everest, jump out of planes, swim oceans etc.

Excuse the tangent, but all this made me think: should I look for a way to get around without a car? I know that I am Carficionado, but that doesn’t mean that I’m as bloody-minded as, say, Jeremy Clarkson, who is constantly assuming that people who stop and think about the effect of man on the planet want to build everything out of rhubarb. Getting around without a car is a legitimate option. Well, nearly. The main problem is, and I’ll let you in on a little secret here folks, Carficionado plays guitar in a band and thusly, I am forced to cart around a lot of instruments at the weekend. Not particularly easy to carry four guitars on a bicycle. I could use Zipcar, of which I am a member and which has now appropriated Streetcar, vastly increasing its numbers of cars (and, saliently, vans) available to users. I’m not big into maths, but I’d imagine it works out, in the end, more cost effective than owning a car. Bear in mind that when you rent a Zipcar, fuel is included in the price of the hourly rental, as are your first 60 miles, as is road tax, as is congestion charging. But until the Zipcar/Streetcar system becomes ubiquitous, it will continue to be not as convenient as owning your own car, which will be parked in front of your house. You also have to return the car to where you picked it up from, meaning that if you’re ever stranded and rent a Zipcar to un-strand yourself, you’ve got to eventually take it back to where it was you were stranded in the first place. Still with me? Plus, Oxford, where Carficionado shall soon be moving to, has Zipcar, but only at 9 different sites around the city. This may increase, but at the time being, I wonder how inconvenient it would prove.

Hmmm. You know what I think I’ll do, lovers of cars? I think I’ll try using Zipcar, public transport and my motorbike to get around in Oxford and to get to university for my master’s degree (an hour away). I may also get a bicycle, after mine was recently stolen, which will I think be the best way to get to the pubs and clubs in Oxford when my only baggage is me, myself and I. And I will see how this works. Do not think ill of me, aficionados of Carficionado. I am decidedly unrich at the moment, and just because I, woe is me, have considered using public transport to get around, and thus failing in the eyes of a certain Mrs. Thatcher, doesn’t mean I don’t know a good car from a bad one. Next time, let’s talk Ferraris or something. Or, as is more likely, let’s talk Russian motorbikes…..

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