SEATTLE—Between world-class transit cities like New York and sprawling, highway-filled metropolises like Houston sits a mobility middle-ground. Sometimes, a dense city quickly grows beyond its means and you end up with a population explosion—with a glut of road-rage issues to match.

What's a person to do if they want to ditch their car in a city full of traffic and parking issues—particularly my hometown of Seattle, which is going through transit nightmares thanks to a tech-hiring boom—but can't depend on lagging buses and trains? For roughly six years, Car2Go (owned by Daimler AG) has offered its car-sharing service in Seattle and other cities around the world as an in-between option. Now, German rival BMW apparently wants in on this action in North America. After a beta trial in San Francisco throughout 2015, BMW's ReachNow service officially launched in Seattle on Friday, and I proceeded to take it for a weekend-long spin.

While the service's weirdest and most intriguing offerings are still a ways off, the basic idea—pay by the minute to cruise in a BMW—has already accelerated smoothly from 0 to 60 MPH. Well, that's except for the time I almost got a moving violation ticket.

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