Zipcar Brooklyn: is it a disaster waiting to happen?
September 7, 2010 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Does it make sense to sign up for zipcar in Brooklyn?

I am moving to Brooklyn and wont be bringing a car. Since i will need to do the customary Ikea run to furnish my place, I will need a way to get the stuff from Ikea to my apartment in Bay Ridge. Does it make sense to sign up for ZipCar? Any of you NYC Mefites have any advice on this? Does it make more sense to rent a car for two days to cover my trip from the airport, and my trips to set up the apartment?
posted by Heliochrome85 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It might make sense to look for a uhaul van rental or something. I rented one of those big Ford Econoline vans from uhaul. It's $19 a day plus .99c a mile. You can probably get everything in there in one run and minimize your costs.
posted by jourman2 at 8:45 AM on September 7, 2010

For IKEA, you don't need to rent a car- you can either pay to have your stuff delivered, or they have an on-call taxi service waiting outside, both with regular-sized cars and vans big enough to carry those long, flat boxes. And from the airport, you might as well take a cab. I don't know that signing up for a regular service just to cover those two events would make sense, but it would depend on your future driving plans, I suppose.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2010

ZipCar makes sense in Brooklyn. We use it for day trips out of the city, big supermarket runs to Fairway, Craigslist item pickups, and return trips to Ikea. My boyfriend has used it to pick me up from the airport. All excellent uses of the membership fee, in our opinion.
posted by chelseagirl at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2010

I have never rented a Zip Car, but I've lived in Brooklyn for six years, moved several times, and have made a great many trips to the Red Hook Ikea.

The Red Hook Ikea has flat delivery rates which are very reasonable inside of Brooklyn -- they actually just lowered the rate to $69. The Ikea itself is extremely easy to get to -- you can take one of several buses, or a Water Taxi from downtown Manhattan.

A taxi from JFK will probably cost you between $30 and $50, depending on traffic, your exact location, how well your cabbie knows your neighborhood and how well you want to tip.

If you don't already have a ZipCar account, in NYC it seems to cost $75 (annual fee and application fee) just to sign up, plus a rate of either $8 an hour or $77 a day.

Renting a car from JFK (I picked Enterprise for this particular calculation) for two days will cost you about $211, plus subway or cab fare back home from the airport after you return the car.

And on top of all this, driving (and more importantly, PARKING) in Brooklyn can be a nightmare, especially if you've never done it before and don't know the city very well.

Given all of this, plus my personal experience, I think you'd be better off using a combo of public transit and Ikea's delivery service. It'll save you a lot of money AND frustration.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2010

ZipCar is awesome, but as said above, you don't need it for Ikea.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:50 AM on September 7, 2010

A lot of people who were big Zipcar advocates, like my sister, have come down on them pretty hard lately. She's had too many incidents where cars she reserved weren't there, or weren't drivable, or were absolutely filthy.

I don't see Zipcar pickups at either LGA or JFK, so that wouldn't get you from the airport to Bay Ridge.

If you're going to Ikea, as others have noted, there are plenty of ways to do the Ikea runs without renting a car. However, renting a car makes sense because for a big "i just moved in" trip because it would let you go to the better Ikeas in New Jersey (Elizabeth, for example, has 3% tax) and you could also do Container Store / Target / etc. runs because the Targets in NYC are even worse than the Ikeas. Look for deals on weekends, they exist.

CAVEAT: only rent a car if you you have driven in a large city before. If you haven't driven in NYC or a large city like Boston or Chicago or LA, don't try to learn now in a rental upon arriving. This place is crazy enough.
posted by micawber at 9:01 AM on September 7, 2010

Zipcar claimed I smoked in their car, even though I don't smoke, and charged me $50. They only responded to my phone calls after I disputed the credit card charge, and then it was only to say "you should have reported the smoke when you rented the car," even though the car was fine when I rented it.

Not wanting to wait for the occasion when Zipcar would charge me for collision damage that occurred after my rental, I canceled Zipcar in a hurry.

posted by massysett at 9:10 AM on September 7, 2010

I love Zipcar. I've driven them down to DC, to go upstate during the fall, and in Atlanta on vacation. I go load up on groceries at Fair Way. I've used them to move. One time, I just felt like joyriding to Greenpoint for an hour, in a BMW.

And Brooklyn, IMO, is easy when it comes to parking— at least by NYC standards. And I personally love driving in NYC, but I could be slightly nuts.

I live in Manhattan now, but I still use it like crazy.
posted by functionequalsform at 9:35 AM on September 7, 2010

I live in Brooklyn and joined Zipcar - and almost never use it.

It doesn't make financial sense for me - I haven't found (m)any situations where it's more economically sensible to take a Zipcar than to take public transit to where I'm going and a car service back (they'll send a big car if you ask and some will help you move stuff too).

If I had a lot more money (to feel find about padding the time on the end to not have to rush, to pay for parking, to pay for the convenience of driving myself there and back), I would probably use Zipcar more.

So do it if you're happy to pay for it.

(I'm sure it's still MUCH cheaper than owning a car, but that wasn't on the table enough to be a consideration for me).

Since I already paid the membership, I just haven't renewed the insurance and won't until another opportunity comes up when it makes sense to use it.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:49 AM on September 7, 2010

FYI: The Ikea in Brooklyn has Zipcar on location. I also love IKEA.
posted by lunachic at 10:02 AM on September 7, 2010

oops... i meant that to read.. I also love ZIPCAR. We use it regularly.
posted by lunachic at 10:03 AM on September 7, 2010

You may want to check out Hertz Connect, too. It is similar to Zipcar, with the yearly membership fees and such, but I think since it's just starting, they have deals (I just signed up, so haven't used it yet, but they waived the annual fee, and I got $80 in driving credit, and just had to pay a $25 activation fee) going on right now. Use HOPSTOP as a coupon code I think... it was right there on the site when I signed up last week.
posted by Grither at 10:35 AM on September 7, 2010

I just went to Ikea to buy some stuff - outside there were minivans with rates posted on the wall. To bring my stuff back to Bay Ridge cost $36.00 before tip.
posted by bonsai forest at 10:43 AM on September 7, 2010

I would think carefully about how often you will really need a car.

IKEA, for instance, is accessible via public transit. Obviously you can't lug furniture on the F train, but OK, that's one trip. You're not going to be buying furniture every weekend.

Most people I know who are zipcar members use the service at least a few times a year. Otherwise it just isn't cost effective.

Of course, it's valuable to have access to a vehicle periodically if you like to get out of the city a lot, or if you have a hobby that involves needing to move heavy stuff around the city from time to time. And for that sort of thing, zipcar can be really useful. You might find yourself in this boat more often if you'll be living in Bay Ridge - South Brooklyn isn't nearly as well connected to the transit system as "brownstone" Brooklyn.

...and vans big enough to carry those long, flat boxes.

Warning about this - I used a car service SUV to get some flat-packed furniture home from West Elm once. It came out to about as much as either having it delivered or renting a vehicle would have. Which is neither here nor there wrt zipcar. But you should do the math for delivery options and feel free to choose an option that is more convenient for you.

Re driving and parking in Brooklyn:

driving - not really a nightmare, especially if you have GPS or know how to use google maps (the only issue is that it doesn't work on a grid the way that Manhattan does). I only ever get frustrated trying to make a left turn off Flatbush Ave. And, well, yeah.

parking - IKEA has a frakking massive parking structure. As do most of the big box stores and supermarkets that people enjoy having access to zipcar so as to take advantage of. Parking on the street can be a challenge depending on the neighborhood, the day, and what exactly you're trying to accomplish. As long as you're patient and know how to parallel park, it's not really that bad. Especially compared to trying to find parking in Manhattan.
posted by Sara C. at 1:10 PM on September 7, 2010

Note that zipcar's insurance is really crappy. If you get into any sort of serious accident and are only covered by zipcar, you're screwed. See:
posted by grumblebee at 1:24 PM on September 7, 2010

thanks guys for all the help so far. i wont be buying furniture, but more like silverware, sheets, pillows, etc. I think my best bet right now is to just subway it up, and then have whatever i buy delivered to the apartment. if i need zipcar i can always get it.
posted by Heliochrome85 at 2:34 PM on September 7, 2010

I like Zipcar, never had a problem with it in Brooklyn or Seattle. You may find you want it eventually. But you don't need it for a non-furniture trip to Ikea. You probably don't even need to pay to have someone deliver it to you. I used to take the free shuttle bus+subway home from the Red Hook Ikea with giant bags of lamps and crap all the time. Do it in two or three trips if you need to. That's still cheaper than delivery or a car service, plus you can get a plate of meatballs to refuel each trip.
posted by doift at 6:41 PM on September 7, 2010

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