The thermometer reads 20 degrees, so forget about your Trek. You cough up bus exhaust, standing behind the bus as it speeds away. You need to get to the store, but how? Never fear, for Zipcar is here.
The company is located in a town where parking meters growl and parking enforcement officers smile. Champaign, Ill., is home to 10 Zipcars.
The concept is simple. Once a 21-year-old, clean-record, registered member is in the system, he or she can reserve any one of the 10 cars for a certain time and day. Once the request is processed, the driver can unlock the nearest Zipcar with his Zipcard and drive off into the sunset.
Rates depend on how often users request the car. If it's a one-time deal, it's about $7 per hour. Otherwise the company offers monthly and annual plans for more active Zipcar users.
It's gaining a lot of popularity here on campus at the University of Illinois. It's perfect for students or faculty members who don't own cars. They don't invest in a car that sits around most of the time, and they don't have to pay for gas. The company is targeting students by having a Facebook page and being very accessible on campus.
In addition to a big money saver, Zipcar offers a lot of green benefits. According to the website, every Zipcar takes 15-20 regular cars off of the road. Besides car-saving, it's a huge gas saver, too. Their website says that 90 percent of Zipcar members claimed that they drove 5,500 miles or less a year, and 32 million gallons of crude oil not used.
That's not all. Illinois isn't the only university that offers Zipcars. In fact, new locations are popping up all over the nation as we speak. There are over 6,500 Zipcars in 28 states in the U.S. They aren't just for college students either. Companies use them for their employees, and even an everyday Joe can gain access to a hot ride.
Here at Illinois, about half of the Zipcar members are students, but the other half includes community members and university employees.
If you're not a fan of Jack Frost on your 10-speed or you're just looking to get across town, go on the Zipcar website www.zipcar.com
and find your city's closest Zipcar location.