I stopped being a car-owner back in 2017. I was frustrated by an ongoing problem that translated into many expensive car repairs. Driving in DC, with its share of potholes and trenches, had taken a toll; at that point, it was easier to let it go. Luckily, I live within few blocks of grocery stores, corner stores and restaurants. I have a teen and a tween who have become very comfortable and confident riding our public transit system. Services like Zipcar and ride sharing have been extremely helpful in filling in the gaps for longer trips or times when you are caught in inclement weather.
But there are always those times where you need a car just a little bit. You may have overdone it at Eastern Market but don’t want to hail a ride share service with your groceries. Sometimes you may be running behind schedule in an errand close to home, and the convenience of driving a car with more than one passenger seat for a shorter distance is the difference between arriving on time or being very, very late. Free2Move has become that bridging system for me and my family, so when the Free2Move crew emailed me back in the summer to let me know their service had expanded west to Arlington, I wanted to give it a try and tell you guys more about it.
Free2Move’s model, which calls itself “free floating car-sharing” has 600 vehicles parked all over town –not just in designated parking spots. The rate starts at $0.45/minute, then $15/hour and $79/day. Fuel and parking are included and you don’t need to have insurance, which also makes a difference– just make sure that you are very careful when you pick up your car. A couple of months ago, I got a car and didn’t inspect it thoroughly. After driving an uneventful mile and a half to make it to a doctor’s appointment, my younger son got out of the car and remarked on the bumper, which was detached on one side. I felt terrible about the whole thing, but immediately called Free2Move to report what had happened (and to assert my innocence). A claims adjuster called me some time later to verify my story and the process was very smooth. But, lesson learned: ALWAYS inspect your carshare ride very thoroughly before you get in. This also extends to checking the car or SUV you rent has a cable for you to connect your phone–otherwise you can’t end your trip. The cars are clean and well maintained, but they are out on the street and at the mercy of random people or vans hitting them.
My favorite part of using Free2Move is that you can book a car as you are walking toward it: You open the app and can reserve a nearby car for up to a half-hour. Once you get to the car itself, you unlock it with the app and get going. You get 500 miles per trip and you can keep the car for more than one day. I have found that the short trips work best for me, but you should give them a try and find what works for you.
I’ve been using Free2Move since the summer and their cars have taken us to friends’ houses that were a little too far to walk to after a long day –and where no direct bus route could take us. We’ve made it to doctor’s appointments and used it to pick up prescriptions. We once even drove it to Joint Base Bolling-Anacostia –which is right outside the coverage zone, and which made the car blare out a friendly but slightly ominous female voice letting us know we were venturing too far. As it turns out, we were fine. You may not drop off your car outside the coverage area, but you can go up to 500 miles away from where you started and still be fine– just bring the car back to the coverage area when you’re done. The app has a coverage map you can consult if you’re unsure.
I’m grateful to have access to a service that’s made my life easier and I’ve found to be very practical. Free2Move did not offer me any money to write this post, but they are offering The Hill is Home readers a $20 credit for signing up. When you sign up, enter code HILL and it will automatically appear in your account. To sign up for Free2Move, click here. Click here if you want to get it from the Apple app store and click here if you want to get it on Google Play.