January 25th, 2011

Sharing is Caring: Why Having One Car per Person is Not Working and How We Can Change


Perhaps because I live in the suburbs and share one car (by choice) with my husband I notice it more acutely; cars left in driveways, parking lots and meters for days. Since I work from home, live within walking distance to public transportation and bike whenever possible I’m able to remain fairly mobile. Truth be told, I also need to be creative and have on occasion borrowed my neighbor’s car. My situation is advantageous, I know that there are many living in the Midwest with no access to public transportation and poorly developed pedestrian infrastructure. While living in a society where we drive to the gym – borrowing someone else’s vehicle must seem preposterous. What can I say; I like to live on the edge!

Others are also taking note of our car-centric culture. Anne Lutz Fernandez a former corporate executive turned car culture critic (whom I had the pleasure to interview for this post), along with her sister, anthropologist Catherine Lutz co-wrote Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives, to explore our hidden relationship with the car. Ann explains, “The automotive industry spends more on advertising than any other sector. This investment has resulted in a remarkably successful effort to convince Americans to buy cars more often than we need to; to buy more car (in horsepower, size, weight, and gadgetry) than we need to. In 2003, the number of vehicles in the national fleet surpassed the number of Americans with a driver’s license for the first time. Today, more than 250 million cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles ply the roads as nine out of ten U.S. households own a car and most now own more than one. In the 1960’s, just 20 percent of households owned a second car; now over 65 percent do. Because sharing cars even within our own families has become anathema, at the same time that cars have grown larger, the number of people in them has declined; the average occupancy rate is 1.6 people per car.” At nearly 7B people, we would probably need to pave Earth’s entire surface to accommodate for such a demand on a global level.

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August 30th, 2010

Top 5 Reasons Why @RelayRides is Better Than @ZipCar


If you think ZipCar is cool, they have nothing on RelayRides. Some businesses just make sense, and when you hear about them you think ‘DUHHH’ obviously,  ’Why doesn’t this already exist?’ or  ’Why hasn’t anyone done this before?’ RelayRides is this concept.

RelayRides is hot, there’s no question about that, and for this they’ve been getting a lot of good press around Boston and the country from BostInnovation, Cambridge Day, Xconomy, and Mother Nature Network.

I enjoyed Scott Kirsner’s review of his experience using RelayRides for the first time, Driving Thy Neighbors

Car: My Experience with RelayRides.  However, I absolutely, completely, 100% disagree with his conclusion about RelayRides and ZipCar. First, let me state that I’m not trying to start an argument, I just don’t want potential ‘RelayRiders’ to be scared away from the service due to his review. Mr. Kirsner stated he prefers ZipCar for two reasons: convenience and confidence. Here’s the thing: RelayRides is in beta release. Thus, they are still working out the kinks, only have a small number of cars on the road, etc. However, with their business model, there is no question they will be much more convenient then ZipCar, because the cars can be everywhere and anywhere. In terms of confidence, as more RelayRide users start renting their cars, competition will increase between renters. Thus, renters will be heavily incentivized (being able to make up to 7k per year!) to make sure that their cars are in tip top shape.

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