As a native Californian, one thing that I’ve always loved about Bloomington is how convenient it is to get around the town without a car. Most days during the week, I can walk or bike everywhere I need to, which as a student comprises mainly SPEA, the library, and the gym. For longer distances around town, the campus and city buses, free for students, provide an excellent service. Given that I find myself filling up my gas tank only once every month or so, I’ve sometimes wondered whether I might actually be able to live without my car (which again, for a Southern Californian, is virtually unthinkable!). However, there are times when public transportion just isn’t the most convenient option, so I’ve kept my car around.
This calculation changed a bit this past week, as IU brought four Zipcars to campus – the first ones in the whole state of Indiana. These cars are parked near the IMU and at 13th and Fee Ln, just up the street from SPEA. For a registration fee of $35/year (which includes $35 in free driving for the first month), students can have access to these cars whenever they need them, at a cost of $8 per hour, or $66 per day – $9 and $72 respectively on weekends – with gas and insurance included for up to 180 miles per rental – plenty to cover the 100 mile roundtrip journey to Indy. Zipcars are just one part of a wave of interest in campus sustainability that’s swept the campus in recent years, which has seen the creation of the IU Office of Sustainability and numerous environmentally friendly initiatives – see http://www.indiana.edu/~sustain/ for more details.
Since the Zipcar program has just begun, it’s too early to tell if the cars will take off on campus – or alternately, if it’ll be easy to reserve a Zipcar given the campus population of 40,000 students (4 more additional Zipcars will be added in the fall). Since I’m graduating in May, I don’t think I’ll get rid of my car just yet. But if this option had been around when I first came to Bloomington, I might’ve given much more thought to bringing my car here in the first place.