Zip Car

Smart Car + Smart Phone = Smart Errands

The hose I borrowed temporarily had such a rubbery taste that Raffi wouldn't drink the water. Getting a drinking quality hose was a priority today, so I decided to try out Portland's newest public-private transportation option. Car2Go is a car rental program utilizing a collection of blue and white Smart cars that are perpetually scattered across the city by one-way trips. Here's how it worked for me:

  • I became a member a couple weeks ago during the trial period while the memberships were free. Yay!  I downloaded the app for my android phone.
  • I woke up this morning and decided to see where the closest car was. (I hadn't even gotten out of bed at this point. Thank you smart phone!)
  • I made breakfast, tended to my chicken, put on my shoes, grabbed my bag and my shopping list, and walked the eight blocks to the closest Car2Go.
  • I held my membership card over the little panel on the windshield and the car unlocked.
  • I hopped in, answered a few questions about the vehicle's condition, set my destination on the GPS, and headed out.
  • When I got there, I selected the "Stopover" option so that I could extend my reservation while I was in the store and the car would still be there when I returned.
  • When I was done I parked the car, answered a few more questions, held my membership card over the panel at the windshield, and went about my day.

My downfall was this: I didn't make sure the store had everything I needed before setting out. Since Car2Go charges by the minute, my first trip ended up being a total waste of time and money. I've decided that Car2Go is a great option for spur of the moment trips since you don't have to make a reservation like you do with ZipCar and Getaround. You also don't have to return the car to the place you found it, which can save lots of time and hassle. But it's worthwhile to use your smart phone prior to hopping into that smart car to make sure that your errand isn't a wild goose chase.

I was after a drinking quality hose and a hose splitter for my water supply and coconut coir for my compost toilet. I'd already been to a couple little garden shops in search of coconut coir blocks and they didn't have them. I'd purchased coconut coir at a big yucky corporate hardware store in the past so I decided to go ahead and go there since they'd have everything I needed. They didn't. I shouldn't have been surprised since I don't think I've ever left that place satisfied! Nevertheless, I had another good reason to support my local hardware store, which I knew carried the recycled rubber drinking quality hoses. Unfortunately, they didn't open for another hour and I didn't want to pay for the car that whole time. So I parked it on my street and finished my reservation. (Couldn't resist pulling the car into my driveway first though for a photo.) Fortunately, no one else got the bright idea to use that particular car so the car was waiting for me an hour later. I was able to get the hose and splitter from my local hardware store and be home again in no time.

I imagine I'll still use my bike for most of my trips, even errands that involve some hauling. But it's nice to know that Car2Go is a convenient option for opportunistic auto-ing.


When Brittany helped me settle into the tiny house a few weeks ago she left me a propane tank with a little bit of fuel. At the time my host had said "one of these days you'll be cooking dinner and - poof - your propane will be out." I knew she was right but felt like I had too much else on my mind to worry about it.

Tonight was that night. I was half way through cooking my pasta when the propane ran out. Luckily I was able to finish it in the host house kitchen and it gave me a chance to visit with my neighbors. So I guess it's time to figure out how to get a propane tank filled.
This, like so many other errands, would be much easier if I were a car owner. I have never owned a car because I don't really like driving. I know lots of people actually enjoy driving but I think it's stressful. And while I certainly appreciate the freedom and convenience, I don't want the troubles of owning a car either. My commitment to being car-free is sometimes an obstacle to my determined self-sufficiency, but I like that it requires me to come up with alternatives. I can usually find a creative way via foot, bike, or bus to move myself and the stuff I need to and from. (I know someone who moved her entire apartment with her bike and a bike trailer!)
But a propane tank is heavy and I don't think the bike trailer is a good idea for transporting flammable liquids. I recently joined Zip Car so this may be my first adventure with car sharing...
Follow up: My neighbor plans to be out and about running errands tomorrow so she offered to fill up the tank for me. Thanks! I do think this would be a good car share errand though. I plan to periodically rent a car for the afternoon to get a bunch of errands done so this sort of hauling task will go on that list!