Car-pooling initially started out as a scheme to make commuting cheaper and easier. A few decades down the road, you can use this approach to catch a cheap ride from Stockholm to Pisa or Memphis to Boston and make the most of many networks available in all corners of the world. The idea is deceptively simple: Drivers and passengers alike use a centralized system to find, offer, and book lifts after scanning fellow travelers’ profiles for likeable and like-minded souls. As a further bonus, registration tends to be free. And while French platform BlaBla Car “only” offers an average of 600,000 rides a day, the world’s biggest network, Carpooling.com, boasts more than 4.5 million registered users in 40 countries speaking 7 languages. To date, the platform has helped to set up more than 30 million carpools and promoted a total CO2 saving of 860,000 tons by its users, not to mention the countless of friendships (and at least 16 marriages) that were forged on the way!
Pursuing a different tack, the last few years have seen the proliferation of so-called drive-on-demand systems. Providers like Car2Go continue to expand their fleet and potential markets. Young urbanites, especially, embrace the idea of always having a car at their disposal, yet leaving inconvenient responsibilities like repairs or insurance to the provider. A relatively recent entry to the market, apps like Carjump provide a welcome overview of several different car-sharing companies, displaying the nearest vehicle of all subscribed services on a well-designed map.
Or take Parkcirca, a service that allows canny users to monetize their own parking spot while they are on the go: The side project of San Francisco-based geeks, Parkcirca relies on the simple fact that neighbors know that helping each other tends to be in their own best interest.
If, however, you enjoy physical activity and doing some good for the planet, why not ditch the car altogether and hop on a bike or, even better, share one with others! By now, commercial bike rental services abound with different schemes in most major cities, among them Citi Bike in the USA, Call a Bike in Germany, or Mexico City’s EcoBici. Most of these services do not charge for the first few minutes of travel and only require an (occasionally elaborate) registration.
To introduce even more flexibility, US-based Social Bicycles come with built-in locks and GPS units. Anyone who needs a bike can simply whip out their smartphone, locate the nearest bike through the app, and then unlock it by entering a PIN at the rear of the bicycle. On arrival, users simply stop at their destination, lock the bike, and walk off.
Beyond the commercial sphere, private bike sharing is also on the up. Still in their early stages, websites like Spinlister – connecting cyclists to rentals and bicycles with potential renters – might require more participants to reach the required critical mass, but their US marketplace, for example, already offers a great booking system that connects individuals with rental outlets, regulates insurance and takes care of all payment details. Users can register their bikes and charge around $5-8 an hour or $20 per day – and then wait for the money to come rolling in, transferred directly into their account by the clever Spinlister software. Thanks to its likeable social media twist, each bike and cyclist also comes with an image gallery and its own bicycle story.
Sticking with these two-wheeled wonders for a little while longer, the Velolet system has already sent bikes around the world a cool 500,000 times. As a renter, you simply search for available bikes by zip code or address, view the listings, and then filter for the right photos and details (frame style, size, etc.) to pick a bike that matches your location, price, and cycling requirements. Once you have made your selection, you can reserve your chosen beauty, define a pick-up and drop-off time, and pay securely by credit card. Now, all you need to do is show up to collect the bike!
Taking this concept one step further, the crew behind Bike Surf Berlin offers a welcome add-on to free hospitality schemes like CouchSurfing or BeWelcome: True to the sharing spirit, they promote free provision of bicycles to help Berliners or tourists get around – and to highlight the benefits of mutual trust. Right now, the initiators are in the process of assembling an entire fleet of (donated) bikes available to anyone for a period of up to seven days. At the same time, the website also serves up plenty of useful tips for those who already own a bike, including favored sources of second-hand models and some great places to get ailing bikes fixed.
Cars, bikes … moving on to the upper end of the transport scale, what about yacht or plane sharing? More and more platforms have set their ambitions sky-high with platforms for pilots and potential passengers – or aim to make waves with relatively affordable boat rentals for spontaneous sea-faring folk. JustShareIt, for example, not only offers a range of sailing boats and yachts for easy peer-to-peer rental, but also lists heavy motor bikes, roadsters, and even huge trailers. Anyone looking for a seat on a Cessna or Learjet, on the other hand, should scan the listings of Fly Victor. And while the latter suggest plenty of fun and adventure, their environmental impact might be debatable – so, don’t forget to sponsor initiatives like My Climate or Atmosfair to redress some of that elevated CO2 balance.
Wherever your next trip might lead – the nearest shop or a faraway stop – why not consider sharing a ride and a progressive travel experience?
Text: Romy Uebel
Header image: atelier conradi