Why I Love Paris, Reason #789
To my millions of readers, I apologize for having been MIA. School and work and life have swallowed me up and refused to spit me back out. BUT, many environmentally-friendly things have indeed been happening in my life and I will post them as my sleep schedule permits.
I have come out of my mini-hiatus because something deeply exciting is happening in my second favorite city in the world, Paris (it would probably be first or at least tied for first if I spoke the language). As mentioned previously, Paris gave birth four years ago to the world’s first major bike-sharing program, the Velib’. Now, as if reading my mind, it is launching Autolib’, a car-sharing network featuring the all-electric Bluecar!!!!
I am so pumped I feel like running circles around my cubicle, but at the same time I want to sit on the floor and kick my legs in frustration: why can’t we have one of these??? I am just dying to leave car ownership behind. Car-sharing makes so much sense that I want to just up and establish my own program (unfortunately, the enormity of such an endeavor almost immediately knocks me back down).
The Autolib‘ operates much the same way as its two-wheeled predecessor, with minor car-specific modifications: sign up for a subscription with a driver’s license and credit card, mosy down to your nearest station when you need a car, unplug, drive, return to any station with an empty spot, plug in car, et voila. Currently in testing with only 60 units, the program will have 3,000 Bluecars available once fully launched. A year’s subscription costs the equivalent of $190 USD; in addition, the driver pays roughly $6-7 per hour of usage.
Do I even need to count the ways Autolib’ rocks? Most of us do not operate our cars continuously; they are sitting somewhere, stationary and useless, for most of their existence. Car-sharing networks relieve financial burden off the average citizen, cut down on the environmental impact of manufacturing, selling (see Cerritos Auto Square) and owning automobiles, and reduces traffic congestion by making drivers more conscious of how much they drive (after all, every hour counts in terms of $$). Yes, Zipcars and other local car-sharing entities exist in the U.S. (and I’m actually equally excited about the nascent Getaround), but most of them are not financially viable enough to be usefully mainstream. We may need some governmental muscle, a la the French , to get such a program into gear (pun totally intended).
I WANT ONE!!! Wahhh! I’m gonna go throw a fit now…