In the club: adventures of a newly car-free family

Posted On 17 Mar 2015 at 1:19 pm

SPONSORED EDITORIAL: Since passing my test more than 20 years ago, I’ve always owned a car – and despite the illusion of convenience, I’ve always yearned to be free of the hassle.

The MOT, the tax, the repair bills, the paperwork and oh-my-god the parking – all these things add up to one right royal pain in the wotsit, and so when cashflow problems finally forced us to sell our car, I secretly sighed with relief.

One of the things I love most about Brighton and Hove is that nearly everything is walkable, or at a push a bus ride away.

But of course there are some occasions where a car is just so much easier – which is where City Car Club comes in.

I regularly spot the brightly coloured cars around the city, which isn’t difficult in my neighbourhood where they seem to be parked on every other corner.

So one of the first things we did after saying goodbye to our beaten-up old Honda (now enjoying life as a banger racer) was to sign up.

Our first trip was a family day out to Stanmer Park for a spot of gruffalo hunting on a winter’s day for our two small children.

They were thrilled at getting to ride in a new car – and I was thrilled at how easy the car was to drive, particularly the rear camera which made parking a doddle (see, I still can’t stop myself talking about parking).

A couple of weeks later, we took it for a spin to Newhaven to visit Paradise Park. We hadn’t planned the trip, but with so many cars nearby, there was plenty of availability.

And on Sunday, we used it to visit grandma in Eastbourne Hospital, stopping off en route to stock up with Mother’s Day chocolates.

Each trip cost us between £25 to £30, which on the face of it sounds a lot – but when you think that just owning a car was costing us about £100 a month with insurance, tax, MOT, repairs and depreciation, it’s a significant saving.

The cars themselves are wonderful – clean, reliable, and a pleasure to drive. There are also about a dozen cars within easy walking distance of our front door.

As the owners of two small children, getting car seats in and out each time is a little annoying, but more than outweighed by the knowledge you could just park the car, walk away and not worry about it anymore.

I can also see us using it in the future for taking bulky items to the charity shop, or back home from the supermarket, or for more day trips to the South Downs.

Would I recommend it? Definitely.

To sign up, click here.

  1. Jsamuels Reply

    Improve A23 & A273 for communters. Journies from city centre to main A23/M23 artery takes apx 25mins (-/+).

    Reduce amount of current traffic lights by 50%.
    Better pedestrian navigation away from main road arteries. (Not more crossings).
    Improve road lay out around The Level, Brighton Seafront, Preston Circus, New Engalnd Street (better, straight forward, smoother transition between East Brighton and Hove with using seafront or A27.

  2. sasquatch Reply

    What incentive is there to give up our car when its cheaper for me and the wife to drive to Churchill Square from hollingbury than it is for the two of us to get a bus! £6.50 car £9.60 bus? Reduce bus fares to say £2.00 return and more people would get the bus instead of 3/4empty buses everywhere.

    • Anderson Reply

      I’ve also got rid of my car, I use city car club occasionally if I’m heading out of town but mostly travel by bus. Buy a season ticket, for me as a regular user it costs under £2.50 for a whole days travel. As a contrast owing a car cost me in excess of £3,000 a year and I also found it a real pain to park near my house. Best of all – when it’s congested the bus driver does all the work, I just sit back, read, listen to my music or have a nap!

      • Gerald Wiley Reply

        Buses are great as long as you have loads of time on your hands and want to go to or from the city centre. If you want to go to anywhere else you need to allow a good 2 hours to get into Brighton, switch to your alternate bus, and then get to your destination.

        And of course, if you want to actually transport anything bulky (such as weekly shopping, or going to the tip), forget buses.

  3. Gerald Wiley Reply

    Great if you do live where there are cars parked on every other corner. The nearest to where I live is almost 30 minutes walk away and therefore unusable – in the time it would take to walk to it I can drive from home to my destination.

    Looking at the https://www.enterprisecarclub.co.uk site it shows no cars at all in Portslade, Woodingdean, Rottingdean or Saltdean, an in my case there only 4 cars out of 180 west of central Hove.

    If this is going to really take off we need club cars on almost every street corner across the city and not just in the centres.

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