Zipcars speed into downtown Ann Arbor

This story originally ran 3/11/09

Zipcars are coming to downtown Ann Arbor next Tuesday and Al McWilliams can't wait for their arrival.

The self-described Master of the Universe at Quack! Media lives, works and doesn't own a car in downtown Ann Arbor. It's not that the overlord of one of Ann Arbor's most promising start-ups can't afford one. He just prefers not to be chained to parking, maintaining and worrying about his own automobile. It's a lifestyle he has enjoyed for two years now.

"I walk everywhere," McWilliams says.

Except when he has to drive somewhere for work or personal reasons. Previously he used rental cars, which could be expensive to just grab a quick ride to big-box store to run an errand.

Last year McWilliams started accessing the Zipcar fleet at the University of Michigan. That proved cheaper at $8 an hour with gas and insurance included, but it was still a bit of a walk from his office on Main Street above Conor O'Neills. The new downtown Zipcar fleet is much more convenient.

"This is just outside of my office so that's awesome," McWilliams says.

The new fleet will consist of four cars. Two will be near McWilliams' office on the south end of downtown. The other two will be parked in Kerrytown on downtown's north side. Those will compliment the Zipcars on the University of Michigan's campus. U-M's fleet started with three cars in 2005 and now has a dozen. Those cars are utilized about 40-60 percent of the time, making the U-M fleet one of the most used in all Zipcardom.

"Clearly this is something that is a good option and is desirable," says Nancy Shore, program director of Ann Arbor's getDowntown initiative.

She expects this new Zipcar fleet will give people who live, bike, bus or walk to downtown more transportation options. The more people who come to downtown Ann Arbor without cars means the more people can come to downtown to work and play, making the city's center more vibrant.

"It provides a lot of flexibility that downtown employees need or want," Shore says.

Source: Al McWilliams, master of the universe for Quack! Media and Nancy Shore, program director for getDowntown
Writer: Jon Zemke
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