DriveNow: Using a car club with kids (or, a day out at Columbia Road Flower Market)
June 16, 2016
DriveNow is a London car club perfect for short local journeys. Based in Haringey, Islington, Hackney and Waltham Forest, we thought it would align perfectly for one of our favourite things to do on a Sunday morning: Columbia Road Flower Market followed by coffee, a little retail therapy and then lunch. Timed right, we get down there before the crowds by driving in the early morning nap and we come back during the post lunch nap.
We were invited to test the 290 strong fleet of Minis and BMWs and see what we made of using a London car club with kids. Truthfully, whilst I can and do drive, I was grateful that husband is (a) used to and happy driving in London and (b) used to driving myriad rental cars, so he wasn’t in the slightest bit concerned about driving an unfamiliar car, so he stepped up as test driver.
Once the sign up process is completed, it’s pretty instant to find and use a car. You can reserve it on the app for 15 minutes, or, you can walk straight up and use your card to open it and begin the rental. Once you’ve got the card, it’s perfect for short, spur of the moment journeys, or for getting to London places which are a little tricky – like Crouch End to Hackney, which is a bus, tube, overland kind of trip. Not something I am a fan of doing with 2 children and in the rain.
The actual sign up process is super easy too – there’s a registration system, then you do a driving licence check, snap a photo of your licence and pose for a selfie, and upload it all to the app. My customer card arrived the next day. So, a little organisation required, but you could still sign up on Wednesday and be taking your first drive that same weekend.
Columbia Road Flower Market opens at 8am so perfect for an early morning trip. Despite not having anything that could be described as a lie in, getting ready with 2 kids always seems to take an age though and we weren’t out as early as you’d think when the morning started at 6am. Once we were ready though, instead of having to trail to the bus stop and wait for ages for a Sunday bus, we simply opened the app, reserved a car and then literally hopped in.
We took the baby in his car seat which fastens in with a seat belt, and for Pip we used the booster seat that the BMW 1 series and Minis have onboard. We folded the wheels of the pram into the boot, which was also super easy as the boot was entirely empty… I don’t think I’ve seen an entirely empty boot in our own car since we bought it, which means loading in the pram is often like playing some kind of spacial awareness game.
The other thing I liked about the BMW we tested is that it had a built in navigation system. We simply programmed in the road where we wanted to park and it told us where to drive. Perhaps everyone has one of these now but I usually have to navigate, so it was a pleasant change to simply sit there and have M drive following the system. And then, when we arrived, we didn’t have to worry about parking – we simply found a space, got out, and ended the rental.
Pip has inherited my love for peonies, so naturally our first stop had to be wondering up and down the market looking for the nicest pink ones. Flowers safely in hand, we escaped the pouring rain by sitting at the back of our favourite cafe for a while with coffee. We then picked up some essentials for our holiday next week (an enamel cup for Pip to match our ones and a little beach basket) and had lunch at Sager & Wilde before heading back home.
The verdict: using DriveNow with kids – EASY!
Sign up and registration fast and through the app (and the card arrived the next day)
69% of the fleet have booster seats on board – just filter by car type on the app to find the nearest appropriate car
Perfect for even a short journey as you pay by the minute (from just 29p!) & you can pop the car into any parking bay as long as you’re in Islington, Haringey, Hackney or Waltham Forest without worrying about paying or using a residents bay.
Great for avoiding the sudden downpours we are having at the moment. Jump in and drive home!
Plenty of back seat space and boot space for 2 car seats and a pram in the back (we tested the BMW 1 series).
Great alternative to a hire car – I am thinking this will be fantastic for Copenhagen as we can use the app in Copenhagen too.
DriveNow have very kindly given The Little Pip readers the chance to try out DriveNow personally. That link will let you register free – so try it out yourself and see what you think!