Urban Renaissance with Cowboy Hats. Zipcar Launches in Houston.
BY JESSICA ROBINSON // PHOTOS BY TAYLA ARBISSER
Houston is one of the nation’s fastest growing metropolises, continually ranked as one of the most livable cities, and now Zipcar’s next major metro market. In Houston’s downtown neighborhoods, massive city blocks that were dirt lots only a few years ago, are now apartments and condos filled with young professionals and other skilled workers drawn to the city for good jobs. The numbers are truly Texas-sized. In one year alone, over 130,000 people moved to Houston. Thanks in part to this boom, newcomers and longtime residents are re-imagining what it means to live in Houston.
Representatives from the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau talk shop with President of Zipcar, Kaye Ceille.
GATHERING OF THE MINDS
The reimagining will truly be a community affair. On Wednesday, March 26th, eager to lay down roots with local leaders, Zipcar lassoed representatives from local businesses including Clean Line Energy Partners, Houston B-cycle, Houstonfirst, city departments, and a rep from The University of Houston for breakfast at the Julia Ideson Library to chat about the role Zipcar will play in Houston’s future. Zipcar’s head honcho, President Kaye Ceille joined City of Houston Sustainability Director Laura Spanjian to talk transportation.
Laura, Kaye, and Dan Curtin, Regional Vice President of New Markets, present the biggest Zipcard we’ve ever seen. (Everything really IS bigger in Texas!)
Some might find this surprising, but Houstonians have already embraced sharing: Zipcars have been rolling around Rice University since 2008, and Zipcar technology powers more than 50 of the city’s fleet vehicles. On smaller sets of wheels, Houston B-Cycle bike sharing has taken off since its launch in 2012. With light rail set to grow, more than 150 miles of bike trails in the works, and reconstruction of the Bayou Greenways walking and biking trails, residents are reconsidering how they get around. Laura summed it best by observing the change was about “alternatives to commuting in a car by yourself.”
City of Houston Sustainability Director Laura Spanjian greets the crowd, while MINI Hattie Mae (one of Houston’s newest four-wheeled residents) awaits her official ribbon-cutting.
NOT EVERYONE IN HOUSTON IS FROM HOUSTON
One attendee, Louisa Kinoshi of Clean Line Energy, already knew what Zipcar was all about. She’d first used Zipcar as a student at Carnegie Mellon, then after graduation as she moved first to New York then London. So when she relocated to Houston, Louisa looked right away for the Zipcars closest to her new home, only to find she was too far ahead of the curve. But now that Zipcar has a greater presence in Houston, she suggested reaching out to the young professional organizations in town to connect with others like her: Houston transplants from car-sharing friendly cities and other “ahead of the curve” Houstonians.
Green means go! Visitors at the City Hall Farmers Market get essential info (and some cool swag) from Peter Choung, Marketing Coordinator at Zipcar San Francisco.
Across the street, the Zipcar marketing team worked busily prepping at the City Hall Farmers Market. Houstonians out to grab a quick bite from a local food truck were greeted by gathering TV cameras and the sight of a Zipcar with a giant green bow sitting at the foot of City Hall. (Not your typical lunchtime by any stretch.) Laura and Kaye teamed up for an inaugural ribbon cutting to cap off the morning as MINI Hattie Mae joined the ranks of Houston’s new residents. (Yes, those big scissors really work.)
Snip, snip! Kaye Ceille, President of Zipcar, and Laura Spanjian, Director of Houston’s Office of Sustainability, confirm that Zipcar’s made the cut.
When Hattie Mae’s not out on a Ziptrip, she’ll be at home in Midtown hanging with a group of B-cycle bikes just steps away from the Red Line. Ribbon or not, she’s ready for Southern-style adventures with her fleet and the newest batch of local Zipsters.
CJ Himberg, PR Specialist at Zipcar, makes sure the guest goodies (all eco-friendly, of course) are in Zip-top shape.