What If I Didn’t Buy a Car?

Photo credit: Jonathan Brodsky, CC BY 2.0.

I am 90 percent sure I’m not going to do this, but hear me out.

So… I was reading Charles Montgomery’s Happy City, because it’s a book about how to be happy in a city; the types of apartments or neighborhoods you should seek out (look for shared green space), the ideal commute (bike, followed by no-longer-than-16-minute drive), etc.

Then he got to the section on carsharing, and I realized I had forgotten to look up Cedar Rapids’ carsharing options.

There are no ZipCars or Car2Gos, unfortunately. (There are ZipCars in nearby Iowa City.) There is a site called CorridorRides, “an online commute-matching system that makes ridesharing possible by providing those who live and work in Iowa’s Creative Corridor a way to search for carpools, vanpools, transit routes, and bike and walk buddies.”

CorridorRides is also working with the East Central Iowa Council of Governments to launch an Express Bus Service between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City in 2018, as an attempt to reduce the number of single-passenger vehicles on the highway.

So I could, in theory, use a combination of walking, biking, Lyfting, bussing, and ridesharing to get around Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

There aren’t any busses or rideshares going the 15 miles between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon, though—and I’ll need to get to Mount Vernon if I want to visit my parents.

Then I started looking into how much it would cost to rent a car for a single day. The answer is $24, plus gas and any insurances I want to add on.

I wouldn’t even have to go to the airport to get the car; there’s an Enterprise near the center of town.

Now, I know this is a completely ridiculous idea that would turn a 15-mile trip into at least an hour-long adventure—I’d have to get to the Enterprise, I’d have to fill out all the forms, etc.—but as soon as I had the idea I thought “I cannot only be the only person who’s ever thought of this,” and yes, there are multiple people on Financial Independence forums who have put this plan into practice. They’re essentially creating their own ZipCar via Hertz or Enterprise, and it’s worth noting that Enterprise actually has a ZipCar-type service of its own, but it hasn’t hit Iowa yet.

Like I noted at the beginning of this post: I am 90 percent sure I am not going to do this, especially not until after I move and get a better sense of how the city fits together.

But just having the thought reminded me that there are numerous ways to solve a problem.

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