Author Iain (M) Banks has given up his car collection, and cut back to a single hybrid vehicle. He gives a brief explanation here. Reading this made me take a moment to reflect on my own experiences with ditching the car.

About a year ago my wife changed jobs, which meant that the company car, a top of the line Ford Focus with all the added extras was going to have to go. We thought long and hard about what to do - should we buy a car? New or second hand? What would the insurance cost, what should we budget for maintenance etc. With both of us working as project managers the point at which we drew up a spreadsheet to calculate total cost of ownership was drawing closer.

After about a week of thinking about this we thought the unthinkable. Maybe we didn't need a car at all.

After about a week of thinking about this we thought the unthinkable. Maybe we didn't need a car at all. The thing that convinced us to try was Greenwheels, a Dutch company who maintain a fleet of cars around Holland. You can book them for periods as short as an hour and the fees are low. The basic idea is that when you really need a car you can get one at short notice.

So one year later how have we done? Well I'd guess we've used the Greenwheels car about twice a month, usually for trips or to see relatives. Lately we've been househunting with it. The total cost to us is a fraction of what a car would have set us back.

The things I thought would happen haven't. We haven't ended up trudging long distances in the rain with heavy shopping bags. We've never not been able to go somewhere because we don't have a car. Commuting by public transport has been less of a problem than my wife thought it would (she has a long commute, I have a very short one). In short the carless life is an easy one to lead.

Of course it helps that we're living in Amsterdam, a capital city with everything in easy range. It helps that in Holland public transport is of a very high standard, but even so the transition has been remarkably painless. So if you're thinking about ditching the car - give it a go.