The cost of living crisis has forced many to review their household spending. For some that will include looking at whether they wish to own a car.
The issues are not limited to finances. Less than half of London’s households have off street parking spaces and, across the country, cars are parked 96% of the time. Almost three quarters of the parking is at home rather than work or elsewhere. This figure is increasing given the trend to work from home. On top of that are issues around health, pollution, addressing climate change, the proposed ULEZ expansion to outer London in 2023 and so on.
Going car free is a big step and many people still need occasional use of the vehicle. The good news is there’s a growing number of alternatives to owning a car – and plenty of real world examples. This blog outlines some of those in Enfield.
Options tend to fall into one of three models, car hire, car sharing and lift sharing. The latter not only includes the long-standing model of sharing the driving to work (which can also be sourced via liftshare) but also taxis in all their forms. This blog focuses on the first two models.
Car hire is also a long-standing model although the way the market operates is changing. Enterprise has branches in Brimsdown and Palmers Green and Hertz in Arnos Grove and Southbury. Previously hiring a car meant having to travel to a branch, but increasingly car hire companies will deliver to and collect from a customer, usually for an additional charge. Prestige and Europcar do not have an office within the borough, but the delivery/collection model opens them up to Enfield residents too.
The most significant developments are in car sharing, often along the lines of ‘AirBnB for cars’ (also known as ‘peer to peer’ sharing). Residents can hire each other’s cars from a little as 30 minutes to many days in a row. The technology is keyless which means you can pick up a vehicle with your phone.
At face value it makes cars available for those unexpected emergencies, which is a key barrier for many relinquishing their car. It also provides an opportunity to generate income from your car.
Some schemes have more cars available than others; beyond choice the key advantage of peer-to-peer sharing is that it means a shorter walk or journey by public transport to pick the car up. Finding a vehicle within a mile is definitely possible, and more so with advanced notice. Hiyacar now has almost 1000 cars listed under ‘Enfield’, Getaround, Karshare and Turo are alternatives but with fewer options at present.
In addition to these options, Zipcar is a well-known scheme with no central location – cars are located in allocated spots. Only a handful are in Enfield at the moment, but with potential to expand presumably if there is sufficient demand. Co-wheels is a community car club model, in its infancy in north London at present (and not in Enfield). Their success in Oxford is worth noting.
In addition there is Enterprise CarClub, an interesting development with a traditional car hire provider getting involved in a new model. Perhaps paradoxically an increase in active travel is good news for companies like this; the fewer people who have their own car the bigger the market. Enterprise’s own website states that ‘today our streets have in the most part been planned around the private car. This has led to an ever-increasing escalation in congestion, poor air quality and dangers posed to other road/pavement users. All of which have made walking and cycling more and more unattractive. We know however that such active modes of travel improve health, quality of life and the environment, and local productivity, while at the same time reducing costs to the public purse’.
At face value car hire can present as expensive. Car sharing options are much cheaper and increasingly convenient (although monthly subscriptions for car share schemes are common). When compared to the cost of buying, insuring and running a car the alternatives are far cheaper, with the obvious rider that it depends how often you hire, share or take a taxi.
Evidence indicates that those who share rather than own are making savings and have found other ways of traveling. The London report from this link states that membership of car clubs is growing very quickly, each vehicle in a car club has replaced 24 in private ownership and members are leading a more active life.
Giving up car ownership may not remove all car costs for those who wish to hire for a holiday or weekend away, but it can reduce them very significantly. In addition to this those who have a gym membership to ensure they get some exercise may find they no longer need it.
Are you thinking about going car free?
If so, what are the main barriers?
Have you already done it and have a story to tell?
What experience do you have of these schemes?
Let us know via social media.