Alternatives to Having a Car on Campus

Most people like having the freedom of a car. It makes everything accessible. However, much like having a car in Chicago or New York City, having a car on campus can be challenging. Many campuses do not have adequate parking for all their students, so driving to class can be a bit dicey. Most students living on campus don’t need cars anyway, and here is a list of alternatives to getting around without your own.

A red moped parked in front of a green hedge.

Bum a Ride With a Friend

This is useful if you want to go out to the movies or grocery shopping. Someone you know likely has a car on campus. I would recommend asking them to take you somewhere rather than borrow the car, but that depends on how well you know them. Always make sure to offer something in return, such as gas or food. Having a car on campus is a commodity, and you want to be sure to show your appreciation.

Check With Campus or Public Transit

Some campuses are large enough that they have their own bus routes. Figure out where those stops are and what time the bus will be there. Keep in mind, you’ll want to get to the stop early. It’s no fun to chase after a bus. If you’re using the surrounding city’s public transportation, check into year-long bus or train passes; they’ll often be less expensive than having to pay for parking and gas. Plus, if you work off-campus somewhere, you can see if the stops are close to your workplace.

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Bring Your Bike

Biking is a good alternative almost anywhere you go. It’s a green option if the environment is a concern, and it is much faster than walking. Take care to research any bike laws in your school’s city or state has (whether helmets or lights are required, if you have to bike on the street or the sidewalk, etc.). The other thing I cannot stress enough is this: If you want to continue biking, make sure you lock everything down with sturdy locks. Chain your wheel to the frame, lock your bike as close to the rack as possible, and invest in a seat leash. Or, if you can, take your bike inside.

Longboard or Skateboard Around

Longboarding and skateboarding have the same benefits as biking but with the added perk of being able to bring your board wherever you go. Again, stay aware of any signs saying you cannot board on sidewalks–you don’t want to get a ticket for something easily preventable.


Mopeds are a lot more manageable than cars around campus. They usually have their own little parking spaces close to buildings. Mopeds can’t go all that fast, but if your goal is only to navigate campus, they don’t need to. Just remember to use your turn signals like you would with a car.

Coordinate With Your Parents

Sometimes you really do need the car because of job interviews or road trips, but you don’t need it all year round. If you can’t bum a ride from your friend, then try to coordinate with your parents to see if they can bring you a car–though this tends to work best if you’re attending college closer to home. You’ll probably have to go out to dinner with them in exchange, but hey, it’s quality time with them, a free meal, and you have the car for whatever it is you need.


If you can’t coordinate because your parents live far away, a similar option would be renting a Zipcar. Many colleges have a partnership with the service and have Zipcars parked near dorms or other student housing. You can rent out a Zipcar for however long you need it. Membership is $7/month or $70/year, and it allows you access to Zipcars anywhere. The hourly rate depends on your location and what kind of car you choose.

Skates and Scooters

I kid you not, I have seen people riding their scooters around campus. In a place where no one wants to walk, but no one wants to pay for bringing a car, you do whatever it takes. That includes breaking out the scooter you had six years ago. Like skateboards, scooters can become compact and easy to carry into class. Skates–including rollerblades and Heelies–might be a little trickier, as you’ll probably want a change of shoes for class. However, a pair of flip flops or sandals can likely fit in your bag well enough.

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