How to Drive Chicago: Jumping the Line at a Stoplight

45.  Drive.  Jumping the line at a stoplight. If you live in the city you know what I’m talkin’ ’bout. I’m not going to go into why one would pull this maneuver, but it comes in handy from time to time (or at every traffic light you come to if you’re S.R.)

Here’s the best technique: 

1. Hang back a few yards out of peripheral vision from the first car in line as you pull adjacent to it on it’s right so as to not raise his “not going to let you in front of me” antenna. 

2. Monitor the electronic countdown for the cross traffic crosswalk. When it hits 0 you know cross traffic is about to get their yellow.

3. Begin advancing during the cross traffic yellow. Your light is about to go green. You have already left yourself some extra runway. 

It’s near impossible for the lead car on your left to accelerate from a dead stop faster than you with your rolling start to keep you from merging in front of him. You’ll get so far out in front so quickly that it will eliminate their attempt to race you and keep you out. 

First car at the light….. let the jumper go. It doesn’t affect you. 

How to Two: Come on Already. ALERT. MUST READ. 

 36.5. Drive. Let’s make today a two-fer. This will also be the first time I’ve revisited a previous post. This one harkens back to Month 1 of this blog and I feel like none of you are listening.

THERE IS NO NEED TO EVER SLOW DOWN WHEN DRIVING OVER A SEGMENT OF ROAD AS  SEEN ABOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   

Never ever ever bether nether clever pleather smether heather ever ever. 

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen a mile long back up because people hit the brakes and creep over a patch like this I would…… fuck off. Just stop doing it please. 

How to Drive Chicago: One Way Streets

35. Drive. Chi-town is brimming with one-way streets. Busy one-way streets. Populous cities come with loads of crime. This means police chases. Always look in both directions when crossing a one-way street in your vehicle. Peering only in the direction traffic is supposed to be coming from won’t get it done. Drivers fleeing the po po will take any route possible which means all bets are off on one-way streets. They could blow you up in an instant if you’re not looking for them.

How to Drive Chicago: Get Right

34. Drive. There is no standard street width in Chicago. Some side streets are as wide as the Ole Mississip. Others seem to defy the laws of 2 way street physics. Many are so narrow that you and oncoming cars must take turns advancing. You drive a half block then pull over into the gap that leads to the ally. They drive half a block then pull into a gap on there side. Repeat. I have no rules for those types of streets other than just try and be fair. Don’t be the boob that never pulls over and takes his turn waiting. I think as a rule most people are good at this. 

This post is more about the side street that is narrow, yet still wide enough to accommodate fluid 2 way traffic at the same time. It is on these streets that I get a bit perturbed. Scientific studies reveals that 9 out of 10 people are so fearful of clipping their right side mirror with that of a parked car that they would rather drive over the midline of the road and risk colliding with an oncoming car. 

Yeah. No. 

34. Move as far right as possible on narrow, two-way side streets. Better to rub a parked car than one moving towards you in the opposite direction. Refer to the laws of deceleration.

#leaveanote

How to Drive Chicago: Do Not Swerve into Oncoming Traffic to Avoid Potholes

31. Drive. There are 1.8 million potholes in Chicago proper. Do not swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid them. Come on. I’m astonished at how often I see this. If you need to avoid a pothole or any obstruction in your lane, slow down and do it cautiously . You may actually have to wait for oncoming traffic to pass before you maneuver around your pothole. Do not swerve to the left into approaching traffic at full speed causing the driver opposite you to hammer on their brakes. That is just acutely ignorant. The issue is on your side of the road. You’re the one that must yield. 

How to Drive Chicago: Zipper Merges 

23. Drive. All merges are zipper merges. Think about that phrase “zipper merge” and act accordingly. One car from the left. One car from the right. Do not deviate. Left, right, left, right. Whether you are entering the expressway, merging from 2 lanes into 1, or being redirected by construction, do it. It will speed everything up. 

Let people merge in front of you. It won’t ruin your life. 

How to Drive Chicago: Speed Cameras

10. Drive.  Speed cameras… I can’t help you. They bust me every couple of months. They’re set up in random locations at parks and schools. I’ve seen them in front of post offices. I’ve seen them where absolutely no school or park or post office exists. I’ve seen them behind trees. I’ve seen them adjacent to viaducts where you can barely spot them at all. My point is that their placement seems indiscriminate. The cameras themselves are narrow and gray and very difficult to identify against the ever-present slate backdrop of our winter sky, even from a close distance. At least paint them yellow or something to give us a fighting chance. I have yet to turn up any data citing children injuries at schools or parks due to speed. It’s an obvious money maker for a city that desperately needs the dough.

One strategy…use the Waze navigation app.  Keep it open when driving around and with fairly good accuracy it will warn you when a speed camera is ahead.

How to Drive Chicago: Red Light Cameras

Welcome to February (best month of the year).

5. Drive.  Want to avoid every red light camera ticket for the rest of your life? Simple. When approaching an intersection turn your attention to the oncoming pedestrian crossing sign. Almost all intersections now give you a giant orange countdown to when your traffic light will turn yellow. Ideal for knowing when to gun it and go for it or when to hit the brakes.  If your car’s front tires enter the intersection (which is usually designated with a thick white stripe) anytime before that light turns red, no ticket can be issued. Watch those timers and you’re welcome.  

No timers at your intersection? Then quickly look to see if there’s a red light camera. They are big and black and in the same location at every intersection. Don’t see them? Then breeze on through wary of cross traffic commencing.

Warning, this is where that karma thing may come into play.

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