There’s been a lot of talk in the news recently about Climate Change and it’s not unreasonably that as parents we might wish to make our own contribution to improve matters.
For those of us who live in urban areas and who use a car infrequently there is the option of giving up car ownership entirely in preference for using car sharing or car clubs.
The barrier to this though has always been how you manage that with the need to comply with the law regarding car seats. Specifically, if you want to use a car club vehicle how do you get yourself, your children and their car seats to it when it’s a walk away and often there are busy roads to navigate.
The ideal scenario is to leave the children at home with an adult, walk to the car and drive it back to then fit the seats and get the children in. But what if you are a lone parent and you can’t leave your children? Or what if you want to walk them there but the car is simply too far away?
Well there are solutions and Emily Kerr of ShareOurCars has faced in to this head on and come up with a great option. She wanted to move away from car ownership and take advantage of car sharing but didn’t want her children walking long distances to her nearest car share vehicle. So instead she set up ShareOurCars in collaboration with HiyaCar to allow people in her immediate neighbourhood to offer their cars but only to those in that neighbourhood. This has created a closed loop car sharing service and as a result she now has 3 cars within 50m of her front door. The scheme is currently in pilot but is already proving to be popular and will hopefully be rolled out further.
So that solves the issue of access to a nearby car, but what about the car seats? In Emily’s case when she is just using the car for local journeys she equips her children with Trunki Boostapaks, which they carry on their backs like a rucksack. As she points out to me, they don’t have any side protection so they aren’t ideal for journeys where one is travelling at higher speed, but for around town they are perfect.
It’s important to note though that, just because you aren’t driving your own car, you can't ignore the law regarding car seats, that being if your child is less than 12 years old or 135cm tall, they must in a car seat. Thankfully there are a good number of portable booster seats available on the market to serve the needs of children from ages 5 – 12 but there are less products available for younger children. Maxi-Cosi recently launched their portable child seat, the Nomad, which covers children from 9 months – 4 years (9kg – 18kg). It’s a Group 1 seat and is secured by the seat belt in the car (not ISOFIX) and is forward facing only.
In conclusion, car sharing is definitely an option for parents but as is often the case, all elements need to be considered. If your child can make the walk and you are able to carry their car seat then it’s very feasible, but if you are a lone parent with two children who can’t walk too far or who can't carry their own car seats then it’s unlikely to work.