I honestly feel like I have a little Eco-Angel watching over me!
I am nearly 30 years old, and I have managed my entire life without owning a car. There have been days when I have cycled home in torrential rain, and there have been times when I have nearly gotten frost bite on my nose! There have been nights when I have not felt entirely safe, but generally, I have managed. Even with a child, I have somehow managed (thanks to the trailer I have, which can take a surprising amount of children and groceries, and occasionally bricks). I have used other people’s cars, but I’ve never had my own.
However, I’ve got to be honest – I have really struggled since I moved to Tavistock in Devon. I can get around town pretty easily, but I can’t get to the climbing centre 7 miles out of town, because I usually find myself childless and wanting to go climbing in the evenings when it is dark, and the windy little national speed limit country road isn’t exactly inviting. Also, occasionally, it’s nice to get out of Tavistock at the weekends and go up on the moors, or to a Cornish beach. I live in a beautiful corner of Britain, and I love discovering it on my road bike, but I can’t travel so far with a 4-year-old in a trailer on the back. Public transport in Devon is not particularly helpful.
So I have ended up feeling a little isolated. I’ve been very reliant on other people giving me lifts, and I’ve felt a little stuck on a number of occasions. I told my family last week that I had reached breaking point. I wanted to buy a car!! I was willing to sacrifice my family renowned hippy status, and their jaws were on the floor!
AND THEN……My Eco-Guardian-Angel looked down on me (in the form of Kate Royston from Transition Tavistock), and emailed me. E-cocars, a Co-operative car club, were putting a car in Tavistock. Basically, you pay a £25 joining fee to be a part of the club, and then you can book the car online. You then pay per hour or daily, plus the miles that you drive. You have a swipe card, which figures everything out for you, and you get a monthly invoice. I would have signed up, if Kate hadn’t emailed me to tell me that they needed a caretaker for the car. In return for keeping the car checked and clean, and making sure the battery for the computer which logs everything doesn’t go flat, the caretaker gets to use the car for free….I said yes please!
So today we launched the new Tavistock Club Car. We have a delegated parking space in Bedford Square car park, and in the pouring rain, the Town Mayor came down to show her approval! It’s a nice little Seat Ibiza, and it’s perfect for the person who only needs a car, for a trip or two per week. Like me!What’s more, I’m bartering for the use of the car. I’m not getting paid, and I’m not paying. I caretake in exchange for use of the car. I’m really pleased to be supporting a really great initiative, and I’m benefitting immensely. I can still cycle everywhere to my heart’s content, but occasionally, like today, I can hop in the car, drive to the climbing centre on a cold dark miserable evening, climb for a few hours, drive back to Tavistock, and walk the 10 minutes back to my house. It’s not that close to my house, but if lots of people sign up and start using it, then they will be able to put a second club car in Tavistock, which will be more at my end of town. In Totnes, when you go online to book a car, there are a couple to choose from. It is more likely that one will be available when you need it, and they are parked in different locations, so you can choose the one that is closest to you. This is what Tavistock could be like in the future.
I thoroughly recommend that you look into this, if you think it could fit in with your life. Or if you could change your life to fit in with it…Or if not, recommend it to someone who you think it would work for. When you share a car, you are not only sharing all the costs of the car, but you are sharing the environmental costs too.
Sign up HERE!
Permaculture is about designing systems to be sustainable, but occasionally, parts of the design fall into our laps, and all we have to do is recognise them and say yes.