Carpooling Psychology: Outside the Car Culture

Ryan & I live without a car. By choice.

“The most random carpooling passengers were a Gecko, 20 kgs of wax, a forgotten key and 25 hamsters saved from a science lab,” posts, Europe’s largest carpooling site.  Another fun fact is that, in Germany, “there is a carpool every 6 seconds.” Here in Arkansas, carpooling is not a very popular part of our lifestyle.  On Ridester, I could only find 10 carpool requests and offers in the state of Arkansas, although I found a puppy that needed transport back to Denver, Colorado.  Humorous, but not terribly applicable to our situation.  In the United States, that situation looks desperate to people who own a car or who have car-centric lifestyles and family expectations, such as encouraging all teenagers to get their driver’s license and a car for their 16th birthday or as soon as possible to become an “adult”.  My poor parents had to tolerate my freakish ways as I lacked interest in driving and didn’t enjoy it, even though the travel freedom it allowed me was appreciated.

This week’s Making Ripples column in the Free Weekly focuses on carpooling, not in terms of emissions or cost of owning a personal vehicle (two things that have already been covered), but in terms of social psychology.  In a culture like ours, carpooling can be complicated for both driver and passengers. How? Read our perspective and tell us what you think!  More discussion about what’s really involved in a sustainable lifestyle can help more and more people have success with their transition to sustainable living.  Carpooling is one option.

Both NWA Commute and NWA Commuters websites have been removed since 2008, due to lack of interest.  After all, only 10% of Americans carpool!  But there are other websites that may be useful to you, including (for 40 European countries only), Ridester, Zimride, eRideshare, and Carpool World.  These sites didn’t help me find what I was looking for in Northwest Arkansas, but maybe I’ll take the plunge and post a request for a carpool to see if anyone is interested.  If they are, I can get psychologically prepared to endure whatever is necessary in order to live sustainably and save money. 🙂


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Rachel Williams

I like Covoiturage now called blablacar for Europe (France particularly but they are expanding), could never have finished my distance studies without it! Cheaper and in some cases faster than the trains even.

Amanda Bancroft

Hi Rachel! Thanks for commenting and sharing Covoiturage / Blablacar! I’m happy to hear that there are options in the world for people who don’t want to own a personal vehicle as their main transportation. Hopefully the USA will someday catch up with Europe in public transportation systems 🙂

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