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Web Site of the Week: December 15, 2008

Divide the Ride

Time and money. Money and time. It seems as though no one has enough of either these days. This week’s column takes a look at a site that just might save you both!

Even with the recent decline in gas prices, hauling the kids back and forth to their myriad activities and running what feels like an endless array of errands can be both costly and time-consuming.  Once upon a time, carpooling was a great alternative – think about all those old sitcoms where dad went off to work every morning in a car filled with co-workers. Carpooling has dwindled to a rare exception nowadays but, thanks to the Web, it’s starting to make a comeback.

Divide the Ride is a carpool facilitator with a focus on helping you find and share rides for your kids to all those soccer games, dance rehearsals, piano classes, and hockey practices. It’s super easy to use and includes all the functionality you could wish for.

To ensure the safety of your children, Divide the Ride differs from typical carpool facilitators where you type in your starting point, destination and schedule and let the site find you a ride. Divide the Ride leaves the initial creation of the carpool up to you. It figures that since you probably know the other families that share your son or daughter’s activities, doing this won’t be too burdensome.

How is this different from simply emailing the other parents? Well, the service integrates enough cool functions to make it well worthwhile.

First of all, set-up is a one time event, so there’s no need to email everyone on a weekly basis. Once set-up is complete, Divide the Ride creates a calendar and sends reminders to the cell phones and email addresses of all carpool participants, complete with reminders of whose turn it is to bring snacks or where the game is being played that week.

Divide the Ride even has a “conflict resolution” feature. If you’re unable to drive on your scheduled day, you simply click the blue Conflict button. After a couple of quick steps, a series of messages are sent to other parents in the carpool asking them to cover for you. Each time the request is declined, the message is passed to the next parent.

If all parents fail to respond in the time allocated, an alert is sent to everyone in the carpool saying no-one is available to drive and every parent is responsible for their own child. Unfortunately, they haven’t added a feature to salvage your popularity among the other parents!

The site just added CarLine Manager, a new feature designed to help schools and parents work together to make the afterschool pickup process safe and better organized. Parents just log in to the CarLine Manager website specific to their child’s school and, with just a couple of clicks, they can grant other parents, friends or relatives permission to pick up their children. If any changes are made to the school's schedule on short notice, school administrators can use CarLine Manager to notify parents so they can make the necessary accommodations.

Ultimately, Divide the Ride hopes to connect with schools, teachers, coaches and other organizers of your child’s activities and get them to implement the service at the outset. If they succeed, the site could really start to take off.

If you love the idea of using the Web to help create carpools – and not just for your kids – check out Pickup Pal, which calls itself the largest online carpooling community in the world.

Zimride is a newer entrant to the field that has a pretty cool Facebook application and has already built an application to work with Android, the mobile operating system from Google.

Finally, if you just can’t stand the thought of carpooling, then at least do yourself a favor and visit Fuel Me Up or Gas Price Watch to find the cheapest gas prices in your area!

And be sure check out previous Web Sites of the Week:

Mint.com: December 8, 2008

Daily Lit: December 1, 2008

TGI Black Friday: November 24, 2008

Wee Web: November 10, 2008

Savvy Auntie: November 3, 2008

Woot.com: October 27, 2008

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