24 June 2009

Oh, the places you will go: Chicago

The Windy City. Second City. The City of Big Shoulders.

Whatever you call it, it's the closest big city to Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and even though the El runs all night and the buses generally come every ten minutes, you might need a car while you're there, right?
(Okay, maybe not. Traffic is atrocious and parking is a nightmare. But that's why shared cars have reserved parking spots)

In any case, if you do need a car, our friends at I-Go are there for you. Give us a shout in advance, and we can set the whole thing up for you. I-Go's offices are right off the El in Wicker Park if you need to pick up a key card (which can also be mailed to you in advance), and with about 200 cars, there's many for you to choose.

So if you plan to go down to Chicago, you car can be waiting for you there, too.

19 June 2009

What's black and white and red all over?

Why the newest HOURCAR, of course: a red Honda Fit with black and white decals. It's going in to the Kingfield Neighborhood in Minneapolis (soon)! And we have your first exclusive pictures.

Stay tuned for its exact location (it'll be near 38th and Nicollet); it will be launched in early July. Or, if you live nearby (or near any other HOURCAR), Sign up now!

15 June 2009

Car funny

Sometimes, we just need a laugh.

What if Ikea bought GM out of bankruptcy court?


12 June 2009

HOURCAR member rewards

You use your HOURCAR key fob to save money on transportation, and now you can use it to save money at a growing network of local businesses! You don't have to be tempted to use an HOURCAR (if you don't want to), as most of them are an easy walk, bike ride or bus trip from our hubs. Just show your key fob and let the savings begin! Here are our current partners; and keep an eye on the Hubcap blog for more. And in the vein of social media, we'll provide links to a bunch of their Facebook pages so you can be a "fan" of theirs. (You're already a fan of HOURCAR, right? Good.)

Jerabeks New Bohemian Coffee House
63 West Winifred Street, Saint Paul.
(Jerebeks on Facebook)
Offer: 10% off with key fob in addition to 10% with your own cup

Common Good Books
165 Western Avenue, Saint Paul.
(Common Good Books on Facebook)
Offer: 10% off any item except magazines, newspapers, and specialty items

Bryant Lake Bowl
810 West Lake Street, Minneapolis.
(Bryant Lake Bowl on Facebook)
Offer: Buy 1 game of bowling, get 1 free. Up to 3 games at one visit. Shoe rental included.

Red Stag Supper Club
509 1st Avenue NE, Minneapolis.
(Red Stag on Facebook)
Offer: Complimentary Happy Hour Drink anytime. 1 drink per guest per visit. Includes select wine, taps, and specialty cocktails.

Park Square Theatre
20 W 7th Place, Saint Paul.
(Park Square on Facebook)
Offer: $10 off any adult ticket for any performance

Bibelot Shops
in Saint Paul: Grand & Lexington, Saint Anthony Park
in Minneapolis: Linden Hills, Northeast
(Bibelot Shops on Facebook)
Offer: 20% off one item. (Cannot be combined with any other coupon or discount.)

Anodyne Coffee House
4301 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis
Offer: Buy 1, get 1 half off PLUS 10% with your own cup

Everyday People Clothing Exchange
1599 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul
Offer: 15% off total purchase

Fast and Furless
2615 E Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis
Offer: 10% off

History Theatre
30 E. 10th Street, Saint Paul
(History Theatre on Facebook)
Offer: $5 off a regular priced ticket for 2009-2010 season (Cannot be combined with any other discount)

Events throughout the Twin Cities
Offer: $5 off your first event

08 June 2009

Cool bike watch

Here at HOURCAR we are always interested in what the next new automobile trend is going to be. But what really gets some of our staff jazzed up, however, is cool bikes.

On Friday afternoon we walked out of the office and saw this bike parked on the rack. My first reaction was, "oh, look, an old yellow bike." But then I got closer. This is one of the most fantastic paint jobs I have ever seen: the bike is painted, with excruciating detail, as a New York Taxicab (although with slightly outdated rates, from before the last fare increase in 2004).

It looks like a yellow bike, but what's the checkered stripe?

And fares?

I should hope so, as I don't know how many people have taken rides on this taxicab for $1.50 per mile.

05 June 2009

Oh, the places you will go: San Francisco

Are you going to San Francisco? In addition to wearing flowers in your hair (a reference to a very old song), did you know that you can share cars there, too?

That's right, in the City by the Bay. Also in Mad City (Madison), the cities of Big Shoulders and Brotherly Love (Chicago and Philly), the Mile-High City (Denver), by the Gorges (Ithaca), the Queen City (Toronto), and others, even Down Under. It's part of the reciprocal memberships offered as part of your HOURCAR membership. Let us know in advance and we'll contact the car sharing organization in the city to which you are traveling, and we'll set you up to drive there without having to pay sign-up costs for their program.

(Do note, qualifications may vary for different programs, and we need to know at least a week beforehand to get you on your way.)

An HOURCAR staff member recently was in San Francisco and, camera in tow, dropped by to see the local car sharing service, City Car Share (Locals there refer to San Francisco as "the City") and the sights as well, including a genuine Twin Cities Rapid Transit Streetcar on Market Street.

And if you go anywhere and share cars, send us your stories and photos and we'll be glad to post them. Or post them yourself at the HOURCAR Facebook page.

The green roof at the new Academy of Sciences Museum; you can walk up on to it and gaze off at the hills around.

A butterfly in the museum's great rainforest exhibit.

Sporting the HOURCAR t-shirt in a City Car Share parking spot. (The car was out.)

The view from under the Bay Bridge, where it was sunny.

A red Fit in the CityCarShare fleet.

04 June 2009

Bikes > Cars

The recession has hit everyone, including bike makers. However, times are especially tight for auto makers, who have seen their sales plummet enough that there were more bikes sold in the first quarter of this year (2.6 million) than cars (2.5 million).

Not bad. With gas headed back up (2.50 and rising) pedal power is the way to go. Especially since it hasn't rained here for a month (okay, we do need the rain).

03 June 2009

What's your Walkscore?

According to the website Walkscore.com, ours is 98. Well, for two of our cars, anyway. #6 and #10 score 98 out of a possible 100. The rest of the HOURCAR fleet range as low as 66.

The average for the whole fleet is 87, meaning that we are "very walkable" and close to a "walker's paradise" overall. Of course, the site has its limitations: directions are as the crow flies and it sometimes misses certain stores in categories (like, you know, the Wedge and Mississippi Market Coops in "grocery stores").

They recently ranked the 40 largest cities (*) in the country (since Minneapolis and Saint Paul are separate, neither made the cut; an oversight on Walkscore's part) and the winner was San Francisco, which scores an eminently walkable 86, followed by New York, Boston and Chicago. (They have some pretty nice maps, too.) So, does that mean that HOURCAR is more walkable than San Francisco? Discuss.

(*) Why they did this I do not know. More pertinent would have been the central cities of the 40 largest metro areas in the country. But their methodology is their methodology (and, hey, it says almost nothing about access to jobs, which is probably the most important aspect of a location); perhaps it would make sense to contact them and tell them to please rank the Twin Cities, if only because we'd find it interesting.