It’s time to fess up: shortly after my car-free week began, I remembered that today is the start of our church weekend away. It’s outside London, and we are giving a lift to a mother and daughter as well as ourselves – six people and their luggage. This is one of the few times when an oversized Volkswagon does actually come into its own.
Still, it’s got me thinking about what we would do in the alternative reality I’ve been imagining all week, one that doesn’t include a seven-seater parked outside. What could we have done, specifically, this weekend?
– I looked up the train route and it was do-able to the weekend venue, albeit taking 1hour 15 minutes (of which 20 is walking, unless you use a taxi) compared to 40 minutes. On the other hand the 40 minute drive could be considerably longer in traffic…
– Car hire would be close to £200, just for us as a family of four.
– Comments left by Duncan and Mike have introduced me to zip cars, a ‘car club’ where you pay a low annual or monthly subscription. Two days looked like just £90. They are well distributed across London and it turns out that there is one zip car less than ten minutes’ walk from us.
I would not be at all surprised if it was a financial saving to resort to zip cars – and even occasional taxis – over keeping a family car. If our own car wasn’t sitting on the street, plenty of journeys would surely turn out not to need it, and those that did need one would amount to less money spent over the course of a year. However, I heed the words of local resident Karl:
‘We did about 6 months many years ago using car hire for the long out of London trips and occasional taxi for kids parties in London. Eventually were robbed by a car hire company and we decided with kids and their party / post school requirements it really was a tough thing.’
(Interestingly, children’s birthday parties have been highlighted as being tricky by two other non-car owning mothers.)
My other concern would be the level of organisation required, such as remembering more than an hour in advance that a car might need to be booked. But perhaps recovery from car-brain would allow extra space for such things.
In the meantime, sadly, I need to prepare for our journey by driving the Volkswagon to the garage and getting a bulb replaced.