Today I took my first journey (or ‘ziptrip’) in a Zipcar.
It’s taken me long enough. I’ve been intending to join Zipcar since way back, when it was still Streetcar. The incentive was a promotion through Time Out Offers that gave me a year’s membership plus several hours free driving for £35. However I first needed to sort out my driving licence, which showed me still living at the address in Lancashire that we left in 1998. I thought that this would require the chore of obtaining a passport photo and having it verified, plus a hefty fee. So I was pleasantly surprised, after visiting the online application site, to discover that, with my permission, the DVLA would attempt to copy the photo stored electronically from my last passport application. I was also amazed to see that as I was applying for a replacement licence following a change of address, there would be no fee! Within a week my new and gratis driving licence arrived in the post.
While waiting for the licence to arrive, I bought the promotional offer and received a promo code in return, which I was able to use on the Zipcar online application website. The application process was completed with a phone call to Zipcar, which included a 3 way conference call with a nice lady from the DVLA who confirmed the details of my driving licence. A couple of days later and a package arrived including my Zipcar smart card (inevitably called a Zipcard) which would give access to any of the numerous Zipcars parked in the Borough of Islington and beyond.
So today we took Zipcar Moomin – a nearly new VW Golf Mk 7 – to our charity shop at Archway Methodist Church, boot and back seat crammed full of second hand stuff. Apart from a one week car hire, this was the first time I had driven a car for nigh on seven years. I discovered that car technology has advanced a bit since my last car – an S registration Rover 216. For a start the Golf has no manual handbrake. Instead there is a button where the handbrake should be, which operates the brake electrically. Having soon got the hang of that, we headed up to Archway, Mary Ann playing about with the touchscreen radio en route.
On this occasion our total journey time was just 40 minutes. However it was good to see how the Zipcar system works, and I am now an active ‘Zipster’. If I had paid for the journey (it was covered by the promo offer) it would have cost me only £6.50, which is cheaper than a minicab.
I am looking forward to driving Moomin and his/her fellow Zipcars over the coming weeks and months. I anticipate that Zipcars will meet all our motoring needs during our final year in Islington and will therefore delay the need to buy and run my own car, which is the whole point of Zipcar and similar car clubs. My decision to stop running a car some time ago was not just a matter of economics, but also because it was a greener option. But there have been times when we have missed having a car, and I hope Zipcar will fill that gap.