Tuesday, June 21, 2011

philly driving 101

i'd like to tell you about something that continues to amaze me in philadelphia: the driving.

when i first moved to philadelphia, i immediately noticed a change in the driving atmosphere here. i had just come from minneapolis, a city of the most passive, docile drivers in the history of the world. granted, this type of behavior is probably justified, because despite the fact that the city is coated in three feet of solid ice 9 months of the year, the highways are built like roller coasters — narrow and full of sharp curves and crazy angles. it is the most poorly disguised method of population control i've ever seen from a city. as a result, going 60 mph on the highway immediately pegs you as a maniac. i went a solid nine months there without hearing a single car horn.

then i moved to philly.
drivers are psychotically aggressive here. all traffic laws are seen as mild suggestions to be heeded when convenient, and blatantly disregarded when not. essentially, drivers here do whatever they want and curse anyone who stands in the way.  good thing i'm a fast learner. within two weeks, i'd broken my car's horn from overuse. it's pretty fantastic, actually. very liberating.

another thing i noticed while driving around were the traffic signs. philadelphia has a lot of traffic signs posted around town, stating common driving rules. examples below:
"wait for green light"
"stop at red light"
"stay in your lane"

really, philly?
it didn't take me long to figure out that these signs weren't just friendly reminders to the area's driving populace. they were desperate pleas from the city, imploring people to quit driving like drunken blind yaks. fairly ineffective, as far as i've seen, but it's the thought that counts, right?

since i have an hour commute (one way!) everyday, i am able to witness all sorts of amazing driving demonstrations. last week, i glanced in my rearview mirror just in time to see a prius pass another car by swerving into a lane of oncoming traffic and blowing past a stop sign. then, while sitting at a stop light, the truck next me got impatient and casually ran the red light, turned into a one-way street going the wrong way, then avoided traffic by ambling onto the sidewalk. then he slowly drove out of sight, scattering pedestrians left and right.

good times.

this weekend was spent in toronto, visiting the BF, who is interning there for the summer. toronto is a seriously incredible city. it seems almost fake. the weather was amazing, the food was delicious, and they have a SHOE MUSEUM! we took in a toronto symphony performance, ate frozen yogurt three different times at three different places, hung out with some college friends and apparently just missed seeing justin bieber in downtown toronto on sunday.  


alright, enough yammering from me. i hope everyone's week is going splendorifically. 
peace out.


Ann said...

Goodness, I've never thought Philly drivers were all that bad... which, no doubt, must say a great deal about my own driving. All of the big northeast cities seem equally perilous, but I hear Rome has us waaay beat.

Glad you had a chance to get to Toronto. I'd love to go there and see Niagara Falls on the way.

Anonymous said...

woah - it sounds like they drive like the people in Beijing. it's a whatever goes, make up your own rules at your convenience kinda mentality. be safe out there!


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