Zipcar Culture

Zipcar's recent Initial Public Offering didn't just put $175 million into the company's bank account - it gave a lot of people confidence that car-sharing has finally gone mainstream. I personally think Zipcar is about the greatest thing in the world, and one of the ultimate urban amenities.

(from Andrew Currie on Flickr)

When I lived in Dallas, I used to sit around my apartment thinking about how hard it was to live in a top-ten American city without access to a car. It's not just that I didn't own a car, it's that I had no ability to drive anywhere, unless a friend was willing to lend me their wheels. And unfortunately, the city was designed in such a way that you "had" to drive everywhere (or at least that's what everyone told me).

The truth is that Zipcar isn't a solution for car-dependent cities, and it's not surprising that Zipcar doesn't have a presence in cities like Dallas or Houston. Car sharing is one piece of a diverse transportation system. That's why Zipcars tend to be clustered around public transit stations. It's why the orange Zipcar signs on the side of the street double as a bike rack.

Zipcar isn't just a business, it's a tool of urbanism. It provides neighborhoods a tremendous social good. And the fact that it's provided by a for-profit company on the verge of profitability is definitely something to note.