How to Drive Chicago: Merge Guilt

27. Drive. When merging into thick expressway traffic from an on-ramp, pick out a car in front of you that’s trying to do the same thing. Let them do your dirty work for you. Once she’s fought her car into traffic pull in front of her and do the same thing. She just did it so chances are she’ll let you in no problem and you don’t need to deal with all the angry drivers behind you. Let’s call it merge guilt. 

How to Drive Chicago: No Texting in Turn Lane

14. Drive.   Ok. We are all going to check our phones when stopped at a red light. Better than doing it while moving. Listen for the honk behind you to let you know the when light goes greeen again. 

There is, of course, one exception. Waiting in the turn lane for the green, left arrow. There is no texting allowed in this lane EVER. 

EVER! 

The Chicago, left, green arrow is fleeting and like soldiers kicking in a door and entering homes in Kabul, we need to get as many troops through it as possible. Go. Go. Go. Any delay will result in several cars not making it through the light and I just can’t bear the thought of that. 

Do not grab your phone when stopped in the turn lane. 

How to Drive Chicago: Road Rage

IMG_3431

Rendering by Owen

13. Survive.   All of this city driving can be exasperating.  Emotions can run high. I’ll admit I have been prone to verbal altercations in the past. Maybe even some road rage. I’ve changed. I’ve watched enough “First 48” to know that innumerable murders occur during heat of the moment exchanges. Last December in Arkansas, 3 year old Acen King was shot and killed when a man fired into a car that he thought had been following him too closely. Holy shit !

Throw a bird to someone and they could absolutely get out and shoot you in the head. It happens. Holler at somebody for tossing trash out the window and you never know if they’re packing a Glock and having a bad day. Just let it go. It’s not worth it. Meditate or something.

Nevertheless, if you absolutely must express yourself physically and/or verbally to a moronic motorist, pedestrian or elected official, instead of the trite “fuck you” and tired middle finger try blowing them a kiss. Get creative. “Jesus loves you” is way more weird and amusing and usually gets under your foe’s skin just the right amount. You’ve been warned, however. You may be shot in the head. 

How to Drive Chicago: Gapers Duh-lay

12. Gapers’ Duh Lay

Gaper. You are the scum of the earth

dregs of society

the lowest form of being

vermin

if you could just accelerate. keep pace. and look to the right

do 2 things at once

but you can’t

card carrying moron

distracted by a shiny coin

woof. woof. tongue wag

45 minutes of crawl.

totally worth it because you peeped a crooked fender

oh sweet crooked fender

perhaps a neck collar

so worth it

rubberneck

look look an ambulance

shiny ambulance

gaper.. i hardly know… smack you in the face you piece of trash – er

don’t you do it

don’t you dare do it!

brake

break!

We should all be accelerating past this accident

I will slap the gape out of your face

your lucky I’m a pacifist


Stay tuned for next week’s topic … road rage. 

 

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!