Drive in, but don’t drive out

It’s a drive-in movie, but they hope you walk out.

Last Thursday, Zipcar invited District residents to donate their vehicles at the E Street Cinema – encouraging people to rent instead. The switch will have significant environmental benefits, event organizers said.

More than 200 Zipcar members and friends filled the theater, where they heard from the Washington Area Bicycling Association and watched the environmental film “Arctic Tale.”

Zipcar provides vehicles for short-term rental in D.C., attracting many GW students to the service. Their promotional tents are a presence at campus events throughout the year, and a number of GW students also work for the company.

Zipcar recently made its services available to 18-year-olds at GW, a circumstance unique to Foggy Bottom considering Zipcar typically requires drivers to be 21 and older. Sarah Wagner, a spokesperson for Zipcar, mentioned that GW is one of the few campuses across the country that was chosen for this new membership plan.

“The fewer cars that we have on the street, the less emissions we’re going to have,” Wagner said. “Hopefully that will lessen problems with traffic congestion and have fewer cars parking on the street as well.”

Surveys of Zipcar members have shown the average user drives 93 percent less after they begin relying on the short-term rentals.

Senior Chuck Born was working at Thursday night’s event along with two GW graduates.

“I think it’s great that we’re donating cars and taking cars off the road. People see that we’re trying to do things for environmental causes,” Born said.

Thirty-three cars were donated to benefit the bicycling association.

Michael Metcalf, a member of WABA and Zipcar, said he enjoyed the film and encouraged the use of alternate transportation.

“The idea is if it’s widely enough adopted then nobody needs to have their own car,” Metcalf said.

Zipcar has 22,000 members in D.C., and recently announced a merger with Flexcar, another national car-sharing company. Members can rent any of the 475 cars available in D.C., which include SUVs and hybrid vehicles.

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