Driving in New York City
Oh my God, where do I start! I have written about the high cost of parking in New York but that is not the worst thing about having your car in Manhattan. Driving on the streets of Manhattan everyday will stress you out. The very worst of the worst drivers are livery car drivers. You can tell these guys from the rest as they all drive 4 door black sedans like the Ford Taurus or Toyota Avalon. These drivers simply do not care about you or anyone else on the road. They will move into your lane like you are invisible. As if you just turned on your cloaking device. “DO YOU NOT SEE ME?!” I yell to no avail. “Am I invisible?!” Likely so. At least to the livery or town car driver, you are for all intent and purpose, invisible. Now I know they are professional drivers and very good at actually driving around the city. They do so much driving in the city, they feel like they have ownership rights to the streets. That’s the problem.
I know you can see me
Next on the list of most hated drivers on the streets of Manhattan are the, you guessed it, taxicab drivers. Maybe not as bad as livery car drivers but really close. They seem to be able to see you but just don’t care if they need to get into your lane. Keep an eye out for all sudden swerves in front of you or very possibly on your side. They also don’t care much about which lane they are in. There are left turn only lanes and right turn only lanes all over the NYC. You would think if there are 2 left turn only lanes on an avenue, drivers in the far left lane would definitely turn left. You would be wrong. Seems it doesn’t matter what lane they are in, if they want to go straight, they go straight and if you’re trying to turn left and you’re in the second from the left lane, you are in danger of a taxi smashing into your drivers side door. This horrible mistake goes for many drivers and not just taxis by the way. So be careful making a left from the second from left lane.
Out of State Drivers
Now look out for out of state license plates. Many of these people have little to no experience driving in NYC and it shows. It is quite possible they have read or heard about driving in NYC but without the experience, they just don’t know how to drive on NYC streets. I remember growing up in New Jersey, hearing about how to drive in NYC. I was told you need to be aggressive to fit in. Drive like you belong there. This is really bad advice. You do not need to be overly aggressive and it is absolutely ok to let a taxi or another car actually merge in front of you. Just know the driver behind you will honk loudly if you do let someone in. The honker will see that as an act of weakness on your part. Pay them no mind. Honking happens for no reason whatsoever many times and it’s quite likely they just haven’t honked for a while…like 7 minutes or something and they need to get their honk fix in. Just be cautious. You need to be 100% focused on the task at hand, that is, getting to wherever you are going safely and without hitting or being hit by another car. I actually see very few accidents though I see dozens of near misses every day. Most of those near misses are me almost hitting someone or someone almost hitting me. I can actually count on one hand the number of actual accidents I have seen in the last 3 years. So, don’t be afraid, just be careful. Extra tip, Pennsylvania drivers are the worst closely followed by drivers in every other state in the union.
You would think traffic cops would actually improve upon the traffic since they are humans and can see and respond to traffic conditions that traffic lights simply cannot do. You would be wrong again thinking something so silly. One of the biggest fears of the New York City Government is gridlock. NYC has gridlock alert days mainly during the holidays, which in NYC is Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Other gridlock alerts come out when the President of the United States pays a visit. That was a fun day. I made the mistake of actually trying to drive home when POTUS was in town and after being thwarted several times trying to cross town (getting from the West Side of Manhattan to the East Side), I came to a dead stop on Park Avenue facing South. I kindly asked a Police Officer if there was any way I was getting home tonight and he laughed and said not likely. Of course he meant not any time soon. The President’s motorcade came South in the Northbound lanes right past me and I was finally able to get home that night after just 2 hours and 45 minutes. A trip that normally takes me 1 hour and 15 minutes on a good day. Sorry for going off on a tangent, the NYC Police, as far as I know, have nothing to do with the NYC Traffic cops and I am not saying anything to disparage the NYPD. The traffic cops on the other hand are horrible at their jobs. If gridlock is a main concern, then why the heck do they not stop cars from moving into intersections when there is nowhere for them to go? Actually causing gridlock?? And why do they stand in the middle of the road so you need to swerve around them so not to hit them? When you swerve around a traffic cop, you are swerving into another car who has to swerve away from you. More honking.
When you’re driving in NYC, you need to be careful about the suicidal squirrels. I am not referring to the furry little critters in Central Park. I mean pedestrians. These pedestrians, or squirrels as I call them, are either not that concerned about their own safety or are simply clueless. They will just walk in front of moving traffic without the slightest hesitation. NYC has very simple traffic lights that a 5 year old understands. If you are a pedestrian trying to cross the street and you see a white lighted person figure on the traffic light, you have the right of way and the cars have to stop and you can cross the street. If you see a red hand, that means STOP and the cars have the right of way. Although the new speed limit in NYC, as of this year, is 25 MPH, no one drives that slow. What the squirrels will do is walk across the street, even though they do not have the right of way (red hand), surely thinking they are safe since the car approaching will not plow into them. So be on the lookout for squirrels at all times. Sometimes they will be on their cell phones and not paying attention or sometimes there will be no discernable reason for them to take the risk. That is because these squirrels are clueless…or suicidal.