How to Drive Chicago: The Cardinal Sin

Last tip for January…

4. Drive.  This one is simple. Do not block intersections. Sometimes it’s tough as we space out behind the wheel, but if you’re creeping along pay attention to more than just the car in front of you.  If you see traffic is stopped ahead try to leave 20 feet between you and the car in front of you so that cross traffic can get through if the stoplight changes. Getting stuck in the middle of an intersection when cross traffic gets the green light is the cardinal sin of city driving. Get the big picture.  Isn’t that what this blog is really about. Get the big picture! That may mean stopping at the intersection’s entrance even with a green light because you can’t get completely through it. I know, I know. You’re stopped at a green light.  It’s going to freak you out, but you can do it. Do not enter the intersection if you cannot get all the way through it!  

How to Drive Chicago: Crosswalk Common Sense

OK. Week 3 brings us to the first lesson for traveling on foot.

3. Survive.  When on foot and waiting for the “walk” sign to flash, do not stand in the street!  Stand on the sidewalks as far back as possible. Daily I see people standing at intersections with their toes over the curb, or worse yet, with 1 hoof in the street.. as if this will get them to their destination sooner.  I get it. You’re in a hurry.  That extra 5 feet is not going to affect your arrival time and chance are you’re in someone’s or something’s way.  I’ve seen buses nearly tear faces off.  I’ve seen delivery trucks dislocate knees.  Move back!

Not to mention the common occurrence of the 85 yr old who thought the accelerator was the brake and careened into a crowd killing or maiming men, women and children.  Likewise when a driver has a grabber or stroke behind the wheel. Give yourself a fighting chance.  I’ve taught all my kids to stand as far back from the curb as possible. It won’t make you late, but it may save your life.

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Rendering by my friend Wilson

How to Drive Chicago: Fight the Urge

2. Drive. When you’re the first car stopped at a red light and another car pulls adjacent to you on the right do not accelerate abnormally just to keep them from getting in front of you. That person is in a rush, or just likes to drive excessively fast. They are going to speed right past you. Let them go. They’re not going to affect your travel time at all. Fight your instinct to not let them in and turn it into a race. Think rationally about it. Let them get out of your way and enjoy your day. 

How to Drive Chicago: Driving Tip # 1

1. Drive.  We all know the old adage, 2 seasons in Chicago…winter and construction. It’s true. Most people probably think of construction on the expressways, but from April to November every side street I drive on is being resurfacing. When approaching a small patch of road construction mainly where the intersection has been carved down by 2 to 3 inches there is no need to slow down to 5 mph. Tires are incredibly rugged. They will be fine. Drive right over knocks in the road like a motherfucker. Especially, ESPECIALLY if you are in an SUV.  It is an SUV for God’s sake. It was designed to do this. It yearns to do this. Drive over road defects at the speed limit with authority!  Keep traffic moving.