Car dilemma: Solved

Letting go of a car is tough. Personal vehicles conveniently package comfort and privacy, so it’s easy to see why car owners are reluctant to switch to public transit, carpooling, walking or biking for their daily commute.

But if you’re trying to curb your carbon footprint, using your car less often or giving it up completely can make a big difference.

Is there a happy medium? Perhaps.

You may have heard of car sharing services. The concept is like that of bike sharing: You can get a membership (usually online) or pay per use. Cars are parked in residential neighbourhoods, in parking lots or near popular transit routes. Members pay an hourly usage rate. Car maintenance, fuel and insurance fees are usually included in the rate.

More than 15 car sharing services are available to Canadian residents in 26 cities. As of Jan. 1, 2011, they logged more than 85,000 members.

For city-dwellers, this means you don’t need to own a car to make that occasional trip to Home Depot or reach places that are nowhere near public transit stops. 

If you simply can’t operate without a car, don’t despair. Some services link members with private owners, meaning you can rent out your car for hours at a time and make a little profit.