In praise of Edinburgh’s Car Club.

Data published by the Scottish Government at the start of the year shows that car ownership is increasing in Scotland, with three million cars now registered here. Although Edinburgh is bucking the trend, we have also seen public transport usage fall as costs have risen.

This is a concern as transport accounts for about a third of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions – much of it from cars. Although some people are going electric, this is slow in Edinburgh as there are fewer charging points per head of population than any other local authority.

For many people car ownership is essential. For others it is a luxury. For most of us, however, it falls somewhere between the two. The convenience cars offer means that people can choose to live far from work or family, but we know this has a downside.

A phenomenon we have all observed over the past 20 years is the rise in 2 and 3 car households. I live in Buckstone where the roads are slightly narrower as virtually every house has a drive. This is no longer enough – drives are full, and too many 2nd and 3rd cars end up parked on the pavement.

Buying a car is a big step if you are concerned about climate change. Every kilometre we drive emits 180g of CO2. This is overshadowed, however, by the carbon footprint of constructing a car – a medium-sized new car needs the equivalent of 17 tonnes of CO2 (same as driving 60,000 miles). 

There is an alternative to purchasing a car that’s not buying a bike or a bus pass. That alternative is joining a “Car Club”. For just £2 per month you get access to a brand-new car. You have to pre-book via an App and pay just over £5 per hour (plus 15p per mile), but you don’t have to worry about MOTs, servicing, insurance, depreciation or even petrol.  It’s not for everyone, but it’s great for people who perhaps want to transition out of car ownership or want to avoid buying a second car.

I’ve joined, and found the system simple and easy if you are organised enough to plan your trips a day or two ahead. You can apply here.

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