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Saying goodbye to the household car: two families tell their story

Adrian & Catherine and their two kids have recently given up their household car (Hackney)

Adrian: “Our car was quite old and we found we weren’t using it very much so we decided we’d try to manage without it when it was no longer road worthy, which actually happened a lot sooner than we’d hoped! But going car-free has been much easier than we expected. In fact, it’s relieved us of quite a bit of expense and stress.

We’ve used Zipcar when we need a car for short trips and we’ve hired a car for weekends camping. Otherwise we just use public transport or walk which, living in London, we actually find far more relaxing than driving. I cycle to work and the kids have bikes. We have space in a cycle hangar for cycle storage which is great because we don’t really have space for lots of bikes. We do get supermarket deliveries and use click and collect but we also shop locally whenever we can.

There have been a handful of occasions where we’ve missed the flexibility of being able to jump in the car. However, these small inconveniences would not change our minds about going car-free. We feel much better not having to worry about the car breaking down and we’re pleased we’re no longer contributing to London’s traffic pollution and congestion problems.”

Adrian and his two children beside a cycle hangar where he stores his bike. Image supplied

Duncan & Anne and their two teenage kids have recently given up their household car (Hackney)

Anne: “We mainly used the car for ferrying the kids around, shopping, visiting friends and bigger events like a festival or a camping trip. Duncan used the car as his main mode of transport, sometimes driving a very short journey out of laziness! I’ve always cycled and tried to walk more often than not, especially with the headache of parking in London. Our kids, Conor and Hazel, used a combination of bus, tube, walking and cycling, when we weren’t ferrying them about!

We had no plan to get rid of the car. The decision came about when I was driving and was in an accident where a car came at speed, mistaking the dual carriageway for a one-way street, demolishing one side of the car and effectively writing it off. At that point, I suggested it was worth trying a period of time without a car. Duncan agreed, fully expecting we would all struggle without a car and be heading for ownership again before too long.

The reality was that it was actually quite liberating. Those local trips to the shops we do on the bike with paniers and rucksacks. When we do need a car, for instance for picking up relatives from the station, or taking a turn to pick up the children, we use a Zipcar and for longer journeys we will hire a car if train travel isn’t convenient.

It certainly saves a lot of money on maintenance, petrol, parking etc. We all walk more which is a positive. Sometimes when it’s raining and there’s no Zipcar nearby, then it’s missed momentarily but the pluses definitely outweigh the minuses.”

Zipcar Flex is a one-way service where you drive where you need to go and drop it off in a Zipzone. Image: Zipcar

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