Portland Mayor Joins Commuters' Low-Car Diet

mini zip car photo

The mythical "Mollie," the Zipcar Mini, organizes block parties. Photo via Flickr by Joe Behr

For one month, Mayor Sam Adams joins 30 Portland, Oregon residents taking part in Zipcar's Low-Car Diet. The car sharing service has convinced these Portlanders to leave their vehicles in the garage for a month and test drive one of 238 Zipcars scattered throughout the city. Next Wednesday, the mayor kicks off this car-less experiment at City Hall (where a Zipcar parking spot is conveniently located around the corner). You, too, can sign up if you live in one of 13 Zipcar cities involved. See how it changed the lives of last year's participants.Natalie Kelly of Philadelphia, PA sold her car:

A few weeks into my "diet" and I have yet to borrow a Zipcar. It's amazing how easy it is to get around Public transportation offers more excitement than a short ride in a car. You can witness humanity at its best (and sometimes its worst) while riding a crowded bus. If anything, the people watching and listening to a lady talk about last night's wild party on her cell phone can provide several minutes of entertainment to help the time pass The point is that riding the bus, train, or trolley allows the possibility for all types of experience and human interactions - this should be seen as a good thing.

Tammy Lewis of Portland says: "Alternative travel has become habit."

John Forsythe of San Francisco suggests: "Bring a small point-and-shoot camera and take pictures during the time you are waiting [for a bus/subway/train]."

Doug Smith of DC let go of his Prius: "Nearly three weeks in, and I still don't miss my car - at all."

zipcar toyota photo

Zipcar named its Toyota Civic "Carlos," imagining the driver teaches yoga and loves to kayak.
Photo via Flickr by Andrew Currie

The Low-Car Diet program challenges city folk to live a car-free lifestyle for one month by pledging to walk, bike, use public transportation, skate, scooter instead, and/or use Zipcar by the hour or day, as necessary.

So if you live in the US in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington DC, London, England and Toronto or Vancouver in Canada, apply for the Low-Car Diet before the 15th.

"Wheels when you want them" — or if

If the company's claim that one Zipcar takes 15 cars off the road is true, it could save billions of gallons of fuel (6,500 vehicles in the Zipcar fleet x 15 @ 20 gallons of gas per week = 1,950,000). Last year, the company estimated its 300,000 members increased miles walked by 85 percent, biking increased by 131 percent, and miles driven decreased by 71 percent.

It's located in 27 cities and 100 college campuses, but most of the places are relatively well-equipped with public transportation. So where's Zipcar in communities that don't even have busses running on weekends? Perhaps if auto rental agencies, which are honing in on this business, will service these places, more of us will be in luck.

More on Zipcar:
The Day After ZipCar Makes a Profit - Part I
The Day After Zipcar Makes a Profit — Part II
Robin Chase on the Birth of Zipcar and the Future of Transportation (Part 1)
Robin Chase on the Birth of Zipcar and the Future of Transportation (Part 2)

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