If you live in Brooklyn, you are familiar with Car2Go. If you do not: Every couple of blocks, fitting comfortably in a parking spot too tiny for a normal-sized car, is a blue and white Smart Fortwo, available for any of the program’s users to reserve and drive away. You do not need to bring it back to the same parking spot. You can book the car entirely through your smartphone. When you’re done, you can leave it nearly anywhere in Brooklyn west of (and including) Bushwick, all the way down to Coney Island. I hate to engage in cross-borough one-upmanship, but when I do, I think of Car2Go.
Car2Go began in Germany in 2008 and now exists in 28 cities, including nine in the United States. It is not available in Manhattan, and this is probably okay. Manhattan has a near-comprehensive grid of subways shooting up and down and diagonally inside its borders. Brooklyn’s subway service is not nearly as comprehensive. (Take Red Hook, for example.) I live in Carroll Gardens. When I want to go to Williamsburg — when I’m feeling young enough to be in Williamsburg, that is — it takes me either 40 minutes via the G train or a $15 cab fare (not including a tip).
Car2Go, which I joined in January last year, upended the way I interact with Brooklyn. It costs $0.41 per minute to use one of their cars, which means it is always — always — cheaper than a cab, usually by about half. Because Smart cars are about the length of a medium-sized person lying horizontally, there is almost always a place to park at your destination. And because they are ubiquitous in the western half of the borough, it is incredibly easy to find one. There are nine available (more than Citi Bikes) within a five-minute walk of my apartment right now.
I have used Car2Go 44 times this year. Most of the time, it’s to go to dinner in Williamsburg or a friend’s place in Park Slope. In the summer, my wife and I use it to lug an umbrella to the Rockaways. Several times, we’ve used Car2Go for overnight trips upstate. I do not recommend this. Smart car tires are roughly the size of over-inflated volleyballs; the potholes on the New Jersey Turnpike or Route 9D have, multiple times, left me with flat tires. When this happens, Car2Go’s customer-service reps are apologetic and helpful. The lesson is simply to not push the boundaries of Car2Go’s usefulness. Take the train, or rent an actual human-sized car. Car2Go has one purpose, and at this purpose it excels: to make Brooklyn more navigable for its residents — and remind them why it’s better to live in Brooklyn.
For a limited time, New York readers who use the code NYMAG will earn a free registration, plus $5 credit for their first Car2Go ride.
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