While you're waiting for the mass-transit system of your dreams, you can start
kicking the car habit by car-sharing. This transportation alternative began in
Germany and Switzerland ten years ago and now exists in over 100 European cities.
Last March, Car-Sharing Portland became America's first car-share business, with
a fleet of more than ten cars. In Seattle, city and county governments are
spending nearly half a million dollars to offer 100 shared vehicles within a
In a car share, or co-op, cars are parked in convenient neighborhood locations.
When in need, members call a 24-hour number to reserve a vehicle. Car-Sharing
Portland bills members $1.50 an hour (to encourage prompt return of the car) and
40 cents a mile to cover the costs of insurance, gas, and maintenance. Some
co-ops also charge an annual membership fee.
Car shares typically maintain one car for every ten members. They offer mobility
at a fraction of the environmental-and personal-cost of individual car ownership.
The hardest part, says Richard Katzev, one of the organizers of Car-Sharing
Portland, is depersonalizing the automobile: moving beyond "the love and
attachment people have for their cars."Linda Baker