Zip around Lansing

Photo: A biker in Lansing

One of my most memorable times in Lansing was the year when I lived car-free. It all started a few years ago, I was visiting some friends in Detroit and my car was stolen.  At the time, I was biking more than I drove anyways, so it was a contrived transition to see what it was like to not have a car.

I realized that Lansing is a really great place to live such a lifestyle. The city is relatively flat. Grocery stores, the Michigan State University campus, banks, coffee shops, shopping malls, and music venues are all within a six mile radius, which makes it very easy to bike places. Like most years in Pure Michigan, I remember winter months being brutal, but there were only a handful of times when the snow kept me from heading out on my bicycle.

Photo: My bike a few winters ago.

Biking allowed me to see the small things that are beautiful about this city; the cobblestones of downtown, the landscaping in front of people’s houses in the east side neighborhood, the rose gardens on the MSU campus and people’s smiles as I biked by them.

In addition to being a bike friendly city, Lansing also has the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA); an award winning1 public transit system with over 30 fixed-routes2. CATA routes connect people from far reaching corners of the Greater Lansing area and around MSU campus.

We already bleed green here, but in efforts to make the Lansing area green in a different way Michigan State University has brought ZipCar to campus. Zipcar is a car sharing company that provides an alternative to car ownership or car rental. The company is only ten years old but has received strong support in larger cities where members are able to share cars billable by the hour.

For this initial pilot phase, MSU has started with a fleet of six Zipcars. Students will be able to rent cars starting from $8/hour and $66/day (including gas).  Zipcar has come to Lansing in efforts by the company to have a presence on university campuses 3. Since I heard this announcement, I have been considering getting rid of my car once again. I really hope this pilot phase is successful, because it is so great to see it become even easier to not own a car in this city.

We can only hope that people like Zipcars  and the fleet expands to a station in Downtown Lansing. Judging from packed busses in the mornings and evenings, I know that a lot of people depend on public transport and a Zipcar option may further accomodate people who are living without a car.

Maybe I will see you zipping around Lansing sometime soon!

1Capital Area Transportation Authority. (2008). “CATA Named in Top 10 List” 2010, from

2Capital Area Transportation Authority. (2010). “Inside CATA.” 2010, from

3 Lansing State Journal. (2010) “Car-sharing service on its way to MSU students” 2010, from