Top 10 Reasons Not To Have A Car in NYC

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Our contributor, Shayna Gehl of The Disheveled Parent, has disclosed to us her turbulent relationship with her car!

When my hubby and I moved to NYC, one of the first things I exclaimed was “I’m so happy we don’t need a car anymore!” Two years, two children, and a couple apocalyptic meltdowns later, I am sporting the envy of soccer moms everywhere: a minivan. (Yes, I am still struggling with it. I realize it’s not cool to blare 50 CENT if you’re driving a minivan. Hasn’t stopped me though.) I won’t bore you with the ugly events leading up to said lease signing. What I will say is, I thought it was a bad idea to have a vehicle in the city before, and I am even more convinced now! There are many reasons why having a vehicle in NYC is a bad idea. For those of you on the fence of getting one, this list may be just the thing to dissuade you. For those of you who already have one, let’s mourn in solidarity. Without further ado, your top ten.

Top Ten Reasons not to have a vehicle in New York City

10. New York City is expensive enough. Don’t add to that by having a vehicle. There are so many options for transportation like Zipcars, bikes, and mass transit- which usually comes with a free street performer or two. My favorite act is the one with the group of kids that dance and flip in the middle of the subway car and manage to only get a small speck of dirt on your face as their shoes whip by your face. You can’t get that in even the most expensive car….

9. Owning a vehicle means family expects you to visit more. The cost of gas and 8+ hours of infant-screaming bliss don’t create any extra sympathy.

8. THE COST OF GAS! I am crying in my cheerios over the 8 meals I could have bought my family (or fed an entire third world city with) instead.

7. Like riding in cabs? Me neither. I don’t like driving next to them either.

6. Like dog pee? Me neither…and I don’t like it all over my tires either.

5. You need to own a snow shovel. Not for your sidewalk, but to bail your vehicle out from diligent city plows after a good snow. We don’t have a shovel (my teachable moment happened right now). On the bright side, we have a toddler with enough energy to power a city. He will have some “playtime” ahead of him with an enlarged serving spoon and some hand warmers.

4.  Driving in the city is like a video game. Dodging potholes, moving over for double-parked cars, hitting pedestrians, swerving around bikers, and frequently changing lanes. Did I say ‘hitting’ pedestrians? I meant waiting patiently while they talk on their cell phones oblivious to the line of 20 cars waiting to cross….

3. Mystery Damage- when my hubby and I lived in Japan, we liked to play a little game called “guess what you’re eating.” With the van, the game is “guess where that damage came from”. (Except for the time the van was splatter-coated with bird poop; didn’t need the game for that.)

2. The horns, the horns, the maddening eff-ing horns! Driving offers you unlimited access to the most melodic of horns from the “long blaring” to the “short toot”. Driving your own guarantees a serenade of something horny- I mean…nevermind.

1. Parking. Will. Do. You. In. Alternate side parking, crowded streets from double parking, fire hydrants, loading zones, and the infamous bumper “kiss” to nab the only spot for blocks. (Infomercial voice) It’s alllll there and more! With no extra cost to you, only the small easy payment of your sanity.

Wow, you’re still here. Well, I’m impressed. If you still want a vehicle in NYC, I’m surprised to say the least and if you already have one, I’m interested. I need to know your secrets to help me survive!

-The Disheveled Parent

Shayna is a stay-at-home mother of two living in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. She writes for The Daily National and has been featured on a number of other blogs writing about (disheveled) parenting and photography (one of her two hobbies- eating being the second, fantasizing about a full night’s sleep being the third). Shayna has a blog at, on Twitter @dishevldparent, and has a Facebook page entitled The Disheveled Parent (don’t be afraid to ‘like’ her)!

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  1. I live in Brooklyn and work in Queens, all trains to and from work seem to constantly snail along and/or constantly have construction going on that makes getting to and from work take about an hour and a half to two hours each way. I want a car simply to cut that down to a half hour car ride. No inner city driving, thats madness, since I could only imagine how expensive parking would be. Anyone in a similar situation that has a car?

  2. Move to a less crowded neighborhood. There are lots of areas of Bklyn that are easy to park in.

  3. I loved having our car for grocery store runs, playdates in other neighborhoods so that I could bring my baby along, freedom to get to and from locations that hae limited subway access, but I HATED the alternate side parking situation. Having a car felt like as much work as owning a dog (almost)- I had to remember to move (walk) it, wash it, give it gas (dog food) and I thought about it all the time….

    And, trying to remember where I parked it, or where my husband might have parked it? That was a memory game that inevitably I failed often!

  4. Before I even read your article, I said to my husband…top reason: can’t walk child to school AND do alternate side-of-the-street parking.

    We enjoyed having a car when son was infant/toddler. It enabled us to comfortably transport portable crib, car seat, diapers and other paraphernalia to grandparents’ homes when we went a-visiting. We made good use of the magical time (from when the car was illegally parked until said spot became legal) for grabbing a couple slices from the corner pizza parlor and hanging out in the car. Car time became learning time. We learned about fractions (1 slice is equivalent to 1/8 of the pie) and money (the change we got from our $5 was used for teaching that 5 pennies are equivalent to a nickel, and so on).

    When our child began school, it was no longer possible to shift the car because shifting time was walking-to-school time. I tried to drive him the few blocks a couple times, just to have the car out of reach of meter-maids, but that wasn’t sustainable. After being inadvertently zapped with two $150 parking tickets and having our rear-view mirror stolen through a broken side window, we caved in and got rid of the car.


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