Monday, July 21, 2008

Pittsburghers Surrender Car Keys for a Month

Sixteen people are giving up their personal vehicles for a month as part of a nationwide "Low-Car Diet." The carsharing company Zipcar is giving participants a free membership and bus pass. Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto is giving up his Mini Cooper. He says he has his trips for the week already planned out: he's taking Port Authority buses, carpooling with staff members, and he's riding a bicycle on Friday to various meetings around his district. He says he hasn't ridden his bicycle since 1992. The only trip he's still figuring out is from his Point Breeze home to Neville Island, where he plays ice hockey twice a week.

Breen Masciotra has also accepted the challenge. She says she might have to start grocery shopping closer to her Mt. Washington home. Until now, she's mostly shopped at Whole Foods in East Liberty. But she says having Zipcar will help solve one problem: how to bring home a new couch. Her car is too small, but Zipcar has trucks.

Ryan Walsh already rides his bicycle a lot but says having Zipcar will come in handy when he moves in a couple weeks. He also says Zipcar will give him a chance to try out some cars he's never driven before.

Flexcar was the first car-sharing service to begin operating in Pittsburgh. It started in May 2007 with 20 vehicles downtown and in Oakland. Later that year, Flexcar merged with competitor Zipcar. Now the company has 40 vehicles and has expanded to other neighborhoods like Shadyside and the South Side.

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