Call me spoiled, but I’ve had my own vehicle since I learned to drive at 16.
For the most part, the freedom of being able to get where I want, when I want outweighs any negatives to owning a car in the city.
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But there are days that I have to admit vehicle ownership is a pain in the keester. Like last fall, when my SUV was out of commission for a week because I couldn’t get the parts for repairs.
So when I heard that the car-sharing phenomenon was alive and thriving in Ottawa, I decided to check it out.
An alternative for people who don’t own their own cars but want the option of being able to use one, car sharing saves money, reduces the number of vehicles on the road and, therefore, emissions.
“The carbon footprint is less when you walk, bike or share a car,” said Vrtucar’s chief sharing officer, Wilson Wood.
That’s nice. But as a product of our instant gratification society, what appeals to me more is that Vrtucar has environmentally friendly cars parked in lots every 500 metres downtown.
So I purchased my driver’s abstract online, went in for the most thorough orientation in history and Wood handed me a key fob and the universal car key that would allow me access to any shared car in the system.
I was ready and raring to go. But my own life stood in the way.
My editor gave me an assignment that was taking place mere minutes from then. I went online to book a car. But with such little notice, I couldn’t find one close enough.
The next day, I thought about booking a car again. But with no idea how long to reserve the car for and Vrtucar’s policy on late charges — there’s always a possibility that someone is waiting for the car at the end of your time slot — I decided it wasn’t worth the risk.
Three weeks later, I never did get around to sharing a car. Still, I can see how it makes sense.
If the only time you need a car is for weekly grocery trips or if you rarely leave the reaches of the OC Transpo bus system, car sharing saves money and the environment.
But it comes at a price — you need to plan ahead, a luxury that a reporter covering spot news doesn’t have.
If there’s a fire raging across town, I need to be able to jump into my car and get there, not go online and book a vehicle and find the nearest lot while the world comes crashing down.
Perhaps in another career. Or another lifetime.