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To own or not to own a car

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Dec. 10th, 2001 | 02:38 pm

So looking at my car costs over 10 years. It looks like instead of owning a car I could rent one about 50 times per year for the same price.

Considering that LA is beginning to build a mass transit infrastructure. I could just go back to my previous plan of not owning a car. And in a year or two a bus/train pass should get me most places I'm interested in for slightly less than what I spend on auto insurances.

Also everything I can come up with is unless there's a break through in fuel cells or batteries most of us will be using things other than cars to get around in 10 to 20 years. Demand for oil will probably start to outstrip the maximum planetary production in 5 to 15 years.

Pound for pound a bicycle is the most efficient form of transit known to humanity. (Apparently a bicycle on flat ground only needs 80 watts of input to go 14mpg).

Fundamentally a car cannot achieve the same efficiencies, as a car is many times heavier than the payload while a bicycle is several times lighter than the payload.

So instead of wasting 25 to 35 thousand dollars over a 10 year period for a car I could waste 2 to 3 thousand over the same period for a nice bicycle and spend the rest on solar panels.

I guess my frustration is that not only are cars horrid for the environment they also don't make economic sense. They hold their value just slightly better than computer equipment.

such frustration.

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Comments {5}

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Clare T. Rampling

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from: rampling
date: Dec. 10th, 2001 04:02 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, you could perhaps arrange for a car co-op with some Tech students. Though it might be tough to manage people coming and going from the co-op. Perhaps a leaving person could sell their share to an incoming interested person. The coordination might get tricky too -- who wants it for Friday night and when, what if someone doesn't return it when they promised, .... I dunno.

I just know that I find it a drag to try to organize get-togethers with my sister who doesn't have a car. I don't invite her to stuff that I would like to or hang out with her much, because it usually means I have to go pick her up &/or drop her off. And another friend that doesn't have a car doesn't get to go to parties I throw, even though it's cool to see him. When your car was broken, I was willing (short-term) to drive you back to your place after a visit -- but that would be a major drag long-term. Losing out on opportunities is an intangible "cost" of not having a car. Just because something costs a lot doesn't meant that you haven't really bought something for that money.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Dec. 10th, 2001 04:31 pm (UTC)
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Actually an annual fee would probably work, I think the student shop works somehow like that. One of the other car sharing programs has a low membership fee, plus rental costs for taking the car. So as long as you track the usage per person, they can keep it out longer they just get charged more for it.

Yes buying a car does have some value attached to it, the question is does it have enough value to justify its cost.

For example for 1,000 to 1,500 I could have an electric bike with a 20 mile crusing range, for example the Panasonic Folding Bike.

With such a device I could trivially make it to your apartment, and considering the lack of freeway connectivity between us I could do it at pretty much the same speed as driving.

Making it to shannon & chris', the LA G&L center or WeHo on a bike would be harder, for that if say the blue/gold line was built and running a small folding bike would easily allow me access to most of the parts of LA I care about.

However jess did manage to end up in downtown LA on her bike.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Dec. 10th, 2001 04:07 pm (UTC)
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Yeah I've seen references to car sharing programs before. A program where I could go to some lot in pasadena and check out a car anytime 24/7 would be ideal.

The biggest problem with car rental places was that they close at 6pm and so it's harder to just randomly decide to do something.

Hmm... However I work at a school in pasadena, where there are plenty of undergrads and graduate students who can't afford cars and don't usually need them, but could use one occasionally.

It seems like a great environment to start a car sharing program.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Dec. 10th, 2001 06:49 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome for the link...

As for starting too large of a project, considering I'm motivated because I don't want to own a car, it doesn't have to be a big program... A few people would probably work.

And there's always the possiblity of getting caltech to do it as a service to the caltech community.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Dec. 10th, 2001 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Next step, getting more people interested

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