By Joe Baur
My distaste for automobiles is well-documented across my various writing outlets, especially right here at Cool Cleveland. Some of you may have already tuned out, thinking, “Lord, another ‘cars kill people’ article.”
Rest assured this is not about the lethal power of cars that a troubling majority of us have taken for granted. (Seriously, folks, these sons of bitches can turn into homicidal weapons in the blink of a distracted eye.)
Rather, this is about returning the automobile to its original purpose. This is about Clevelanders getting their transportation freedom back, allowing cars to serve our needs and not the other way around. With what I am about to purpose, many Clevelanders will be able to rid themselves of the financial burden that is vehicular ownership.
No, ODOT has not come to their senses, put a moratorium on road expansion, and diverted funding into alternative means of transportation. They are still a pretty horrendous outfit.
Meantime, there is a solution out there that can be implemented quickly to give Clevelanders the choice of going car-free — the way man (and woman) were meant to be. That solution is Car2Go.
The Day Has Come
Car2Go is a carshare service for point-to-point trips, but can also be used for round trips. You pay by the hour (or a daily rate) and access vehicles using a smartphone app.
Some of you might already be familiar with carshare. It’s essentially the same idea of bikeshare — another sorely needed transportation tool in Cleveland.
Zipcar is another well-known version of carshare that already has a presence in town, where a driver reserves a car for a certain time period and pays accordingly. Car2go, arguably, allows for more flexibility. Columbus already has them and I’ve been told they have been a great success, continuing to expand their system across the city.
Why am I trying to sell you all on a car service? I am sure many of you thought you would never see the day that I, Joe cars-are-metal-death-boxes Baur, would be asking the City of Cleveland and other relevant parties to take interest in anything having to do with cars. Now for a bit of honesty.
We Want To Be Car-Free
My plea for carshare is a mixture of selfishness and honest belief. First, the selfishness.
My fiancée and I will be leaving the country on August 14th for a year (or more if all goes well) in Costa Rica. The plan is to return most likely to Ohio City where we are keeping our eyes on a few transit-friendly apartment projects. (Guess I’ll need a new column name.)
Melanie is currently selling her car, joining team car-free. We would like to keep it that way upon our return.
Unfortunately, for the purposes of wanting to live car-free, we have family in the suburbs who would like to see us and a state transportation agency that makes that very difficult without a car. With Car2Go, seeing family will become infinitely easier. Not to mention getting groceries when we inevitably put off shopping a week longer than we should have.
Without carshare, we face the reality of having to throw thousands of dollars at, as we have already established, a metal death box for use once a week. Because, we want to see our family. We want to see our Yiayia! But ODOT, those soulless gas guzzlers, will not allow us to without a car, apparently.
Now this might all sound selfish, understandably. But I venture to guess that others in Cleveland neighborhoods would like to rid themselves of car and insurance payments, too. Being the urban millennial stereotype, I know plenty of my city and inner-ring suburban friends have family in corners of the region where transit is not currently a reasonable option.
I also venture to guess that there are those in the city who simply keep a car for errands. If that’s the case, it’s a terrible waste of money and space. Think of what you can do with all that money you save by going car-free? The cost of an average car is easily a beach vacation and then some. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Car2Go will allow us all one more transportation option, while alleviating us of car ownership.
Now here is what I need you all to do.
Recently I connected with Mr. Paul Delong, Chief Marketing Officer at Car2Go. Mr. DeLong just so happens to be from Cleveland Heights and is a St. Ignatius graduate. He is also responsible for the company’s presence in Columbus.
“I want this badly for Cleveland,” he told me. “Cleveland is my soul.”
In order to get Car2Go to consider Cleveland, DeLong says they need to see letters of interest from the city and neighborhoods.
So if you would all be so kind, please contact your representatives and community development corporations, and encourage them to reach out to Car2Go. Tweet to them yourself at @Car2Go.
Maybe even use the hashtag #Car2CLE. It can’t hurt.
Joe Baur is a freelance writer, filmmaker and satirist with a diverse array of interests including travel, adventure, craft beer, health, urban issues, culture and politics. He ranks his allegiances in the order of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and the Rust Belt, and enjoys a fried egg on a variety of meats. Joe has a B.A. in Mass Communication with a focus on production from Miami University. Follow him at http://JoeBaur.com and on Twitter @BaurJoe.