© Eli Duke on Creative Commons
Zipcar: The Zipcar app is super handy for those who use the service. Find and reserve available cars, update your reservation and honk the horn to find your car in a crowded parking lot.
Food Truck Tracker: Is your day incomplete until you eat food from a truck? Then this is the app for you. Find food near your current locale.
Happy Hours: So many happy hours, so little time. Get help with this handy app to find places to go and what they’re offering.
DC Metro Map: A great way to find out where you’re going without looking like a touron with the paper version of the map.
NextTrain DC Metro: This popular app tells you when the next train is coming, particularly helpful during non-rush hour times.
NPS National Mall: Use this app from the National Park Service to navigate the Mall while you get the lay of the land.
Spotcycle: Nothing’s worse than going to return your Capital Bikeshare bike only to find that the docking station is completely full. With this app, you can avoid that annoyance by checking space ahead of time.
After reading Megan’s post (below) about going car free, were you thinking about getting a Zipcar membership? Well, if you’re a DC resident, today is the day!!
The website called Groupon, which has a different deal every day, is offering a Zipcar membership for $30 (normally it’s $115). If you haven’t used Groupon before you might be wary, but don’t worry, it’s a legitimate site and I’ve never had any issues redeeming Groupons I’ve purchased.
My friend Megan moved to the DC area a couple years ago from suburban Pennsylvania. It’s her year anniversary of going car-free, and she was kind enough to share her thoughts on the decision.
I officially survived my first year living car-free. Last winter after finding out my car was going to need an expensive repair and realizing I didn’t use it that much since I commute to work on the Metro, I sold it and adopted a car-free lifestyle.
I live in Arlington one block from the Court House Metro and a short walk from CVS, Whole Foods and bars and restaurants. Also, I have a dry cleaner, gym and convenience store in my apartment building. These conveniences and access to public transportation provided assurance that I could survive without owning a car.
To eliminate panic for times a car is absolutely necessary, I signed up for Zipcar, an hourly car sharing service. My boyfriend and I mainly use Zipcar for one or two hour trips to Giant and Target. If we’re in need of a car for a weekend trip, it’s cheaper to rent one from Hertz or Enterprise (I usually take Metro to the rental places at the Reagan airport). I also have several friends who own cars, so if necessary, I ask them for a ride.
At times it’s really frustrating not having a car, but for the most part I have been happy with my decision. The largest benefit for me has been the huge amount of money I’ve saved by not having to pay for repairs, insurance, registration and $50 a month to park at my apartment building.
If you are considering living car-free I would suggest doing an analysis of your expenses with a car vs. expenses without (be sure to include costs for Zipcar and weekend car rentals) and identify how many places you go frequently that are not close to public transportation. It’s also important to evaluate if you’re willing to give up the freedom of hopping in your car at any given moment to go somewhere. It takes a lot more time and energy to live without a car and you must be willing to accept that challenge.
I know that at some point I will probably own a car again, but for now car-free is the way to be.