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Adventures in Car Sharing

I believe I mentioned before that Brent and I sold our only car a few weeks ago. I’m becoming pretty adept at taking the bus, but Seattle is surrounded by so much natural beauty that sometimes a car trip is absolutely necessary. That’s where our Zipcar membership comes in.

We decided to use a car for a few hours on Sunday and get out of the city.  We reserved a Honda Insight for $7 an hour. We weren’t big fans of the car, but for the price we had no complaints. I wish I could say the experience was super easy and carefree, but truthfully it was kind of a hassle. We got to the car at 10am when our reservation started and Brent attempted to use his Zipcard to unlock it – you hold the car on the marked spot on the windshield and the car is supposed to unlock. We tried for 10 minutes with no success and Brent finally gave up and called customer service. After waiting on hold for a while, the customer service rep unlocked the car trunk and inside there was a new Zipcard. Brent was told his card wasn’t working and the card in the trunk was his now. Brent asked why his card didn’t work and no one was able to give him an answer. Weird, but ok… at least we got into the car. So at 10:30, we were finally on our way.

Later, when we got back in the car to head back home and… it wouldn’t start. Total confusion and reading through the owner’s manual ensued. Again, Brent and I gave up and called customer service 10 minutes later. Once more, after waiting on hold, we got our answer: Zipcar locked the engine as a “security measure” and we had to hold the Zipcard up to a sensor in the front of the car to unlock it. Why was the engine locked? Does this always happen? Again, no one could tell us. Frustrating. 😦

The Zipcar seems like an awesome idea in theory and we were excited to have it as an option, but we were definitely disappointed, both with the issues themselves and the lack of explanation from the customer service reps. These issues cost us time, and when you’re paying by the hour it’s pretty annoying. Being as we’re still carless and enjoy using a car for an occasional hike or to stock up on 50lb. bags of dog food, we’re not ready to give up on car sharing, but I hope next time is easier! Oh, and when I tweeted about the hassle, Zipcar Seattle replied asking me if everything had been resolved, so at least they tried.

Other than those minor issues, the day was fun. We headed to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, which was only 20 minutes away. Although it was so close, once in the park we couldn’t tell we were in the suburbs. We weren’t looking for a strenuous hike, and this was a perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon. There were a few steep hills, but it was pretty easy going for the most part. We saw so many dogs, and I really want to bring Larry next time!

Steeeeeeep hill at the beginning

Electric green moss covered nearly ever surface.

We did have a minor hiccup involving me losing to a huge mud puddle and ruining some gym shoes. I was due for a replacement anyway, and I should probably get some hiking shoes too! Brent has some made of Gortex and he was impressed with their waterproofing ability.

Cougar Mountain Park is a perfect place for winter hiking near the city, and with 36 miles of trails to explore, I’m sure we’ll be going back soon!


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