How to start your own car-sharing service for suburban life
The first is the 50-mph traffic on the main road towards all of those places. No sidewalks. No shoulders. Nothing but grass on one side, and traffic on the other. It's a dangerous place to bike or walk.
Our second issue is where we live: the greater Atlanta metropolis. For those of you who haven't been introduced to the wonders of southern weather, let me just say that after a few minutes of walking, you feel water condensing on your body within seconds due to the intense humidity.
The booming car-sharing industry has held itself out to people just like us as a transportation alternative, but there's a few challenges. Our family of four spends about two hours a day driving to the places we need to go, and the occasional trips to family and friends during the weekends often involves even longer drives. So for right now, paid car-sharing services such as Zipcar and Getaround are not a practical alternative.
What's popped up instead is a homegrown form of car sharing among the vehicles in nearby driveways —one I and my neighbors organize without paying a middle man.
When our retired neighbors need a minivan, we have one that is always ready for them to use. A 2003 Chrysler Town & Country. 120,000 miles. Nothing fancy. But the seven seats are a perfect fit for whenever they have family visit from out of town.
Likewise, if I need to use a small pick-up truck for Home Depot runs or unusual purchases at nearby auctions and yard sales, my neighbor's 1996 Toyota Tacoma is almost always available; I was recently able to transport a full bench press and weight set thanks to their older truck.
For those few times we need a trailer or a tow dolly, our neighbors down the street have one along with a full-sized van with plenty of towing capacity for their irrigation business. No need for us or the neighbors to call U-haul or join AAA. Likewise, I have helped them safely store their irrigation supplies so that the county code enforcement agents find something better to do with their lives.
Everybody helps each other out, we trust one another, and it all works just fine, much like a friendly babysitting co-op. We have found that a few unique ingredients help make this process a fairly seamless one: