This is a 2-parter:
Again, WHY are you doing this?? And How Did Week 1 Go?
So, you might be wondering — WHY am I doing this experiment? I’d have to say that I’ve been considering this for a while. But only after a few key items fell into place, was I really even able to consider the possibilities.
#1 – This only even remotely works if you live in a relatively dense urban area that supports alternate modes of transportation, and is considered walking/biking friendly… case in point, my adventure in the suburbs this week… more to come. (for those who live in larger cities, I apologize — you’ve been way ahead of us suburbanites for a while…)
#2 — All of my key errands for work, doctors, dentist, groceries, banking, haircare, outdoor activities, commute to airport etc. were either walk or bike-friendly, or on CBUS (free) or COTA bus routes.
#3 – The remainder of my other errands which require hauling pets and/or “stuff” around – large grocery hauls, vet appointments, or grooming, really became MUCH more of a possibility once ZIPCAR moved into my parking garage. Now I also have the option to reserve a car by the hour(s) or by the day, in addition to my normal car-rental for business (Hertz or National). Easy Peasy. (And for you data-geeks, it’s been estimated that one ZipCar is the equivalent of getting 13 cars off the road, since it’s shared across multiple users, only when they need it. I’ll do a feature on ZipCar in a later episode).
#4 — So that’s all good — BUT WHY GIVE UP YOUR CAR, even temporarily? Because when I looked at how much $$ I was spending on downtown parking, insurance, maintenance, etc for a car I rarely used –maybe once a week or so, it became apparent that I was already choosing to get around in other ways so I wouldn’t have to find parking while running errands downtown. AND since this is part of my Sustainability Business portfolio, I really wanted to understand how feasible it is to reduce my carbon footprint even further. It was clearly shown in a recent study, that people who live AND work in the City of Columbus have a substantially smaller carbon footprint compared to their commuting suburban large-home counterparts.
#5 — Columbus is the 13th largest city in the country, but also has one of the highest rates of single-person commuters by car into downtown (82%!!) — so much so that a study was done clearly showing that WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH PARKING for all those folks who work downtown. This became readily apparent when I moved into my current permit parking area — residents share the reserved spots with folks who commute and work in the building. Good luck trying to find a spot between 8am – 4 p.m.!
#6 – So in 2018, the COTA C-PASS (annual unlimited bus pass) was launched with public/private funding… any employers in the metro area became eligible for a trial pass for their employees — good anywhere on COTA routes. After tracking the initial sign-ups, it was estimated that there was an increase in ridership of 7% — modest, yes — but how many parking spaces did that free up? Making parking PAINFUL – via meters, parking apps, etc is also a way to get people NOT to drive. I never drive in D.C. — I fly into Dulles and take the shuttle bus to the nearest Metro stop, and take the train into the city. Again — Easy Peasy!
So tell me, tell me — how did Week 1 go??
To be honest, I woke up on Tuesday morning and forgot I no longer had a car… that’s how rarely I was using it.
#1 — The Good: I planned a Zip Car reservation around an appointment I had in the suburbs (which wasn’t easily accessible by bus), and since I was going to have the car anyway, I ordered groceries online and had them ready to pick up when I knew I would be able to swing by after my appointment — trip #1, super easy — with a little pre-planning, I was done with all my major errands for the week, for less than $15.
#2 — The Bad: My other trip was for a networking event. I mapped out my bus route, and saw that I could be dropped off 0.5 miles from my destination. Figured it would be a short 10-15 minute walk in good weather to my end destination.
#3 — The Ugly: See photo at top of blog… NO sidewalks, NO bike lanes in the suburbs… they just assume you have a car. So the walk was a bit ugly, but I made it. On the way back, I found a short-cut to the bus stop via a residential side-street. Sometimes you have to try things to see what works.
** Silver lining– we may be able to put some pressure on the Village to add bike lanes, and/or bike path additions — since several people at the networking location have also requested this NEED… so for everything, it requires diligence and perseverance. But hey, why not ask?
#4 — The other Key Takeaway — when I initially turned in my parking permit/garage fob to my rental company, they said I couldn’t get out of my parking payment because it was part of my lease — WHAT??? I’m not paying for a parking spot when I don’t have a car…. after further discussion, they had to figure a way to work around their systems. They’ve never had anyone ask to NOT have parking here!
So in summary — baby steps… Columbus is still learning how to be a 21st Century Transportation City. I’m happy to share my experience if it helps them to keep moving forward!
I’m also looking to find other like-minded individuals to discuss ideas with — i.e. Grocery Shopping with others on the weekends — make an adventure out of it. Meet there via Bus, shop, then split an UBER on the way home. I hadn’t thought of that…. all good ideas are welcome! More next week 🙂