(transcribed (sometimes poorly) from musings while I was driving a few months ago)
Each city has its own characteristic type of driver. And these types of drivers are created out of the geography of the roads they drive on. For example, a New York City driver, due to the grid patterns and the very businesslike nature of the place, and the timing of the lights, a New York City driver is very aggressive, completely unforgiving, but will generally fight fairly. An alternate merge is an alternate merge. When the light turns red, you stop. People in NYC don’t bust through a light 10 seconds after it’s turned because they know that if they do, they’re dead. A Boston driver is insane because a Boston driver has to be insane. The rotary system and the one-way nature of the roads create that kind of driver. For example, when you drive into the rotaries in Fresh Pond, you pull up to the intersection and you just have to GO at some crazy random interval because there is no way that you’re ever going to get to go on your own unless you push the pedal and just hope you don’t hit something. That’s insane… but that’s what’s needed in Boston. There are some patterns to how the Boston roads work and similarly there are weird patterns to how Boston drivers work. For example, TJIC almost got in an accident the other day. He was driving along and came to a Stop sign. On the other side of the intersection, three cars came to the Stop sign. One car went and then TJIC started to go and he almost hit the second car in the lineup. The guy from the other car jumped out of his car completely irate. He shouted, “In Boston, when three cars come up to a stop sign.. when the first car starts to go, all three cars get to go through!” TJIC retorted, saying, “They might, but the second two are illegal.” And the Boston driver just didn’t understand this. He kept saying how three cars go through a Stop sign together.
You see, TJIC has remained in some parts a NJ driver. NJ drivers have big roads, they can’t parallel park (because they never have to in NJ), random grid structures, gotta follow the map. They’re kinda middle of the road drivers. They don’t know how to do city driving. That stresses them out to no end because, out here, you drive 10 miles and then come to a light. Another 10 miles and then another light. They aren’t really trained for the exciting world of big city driving.
Philadelphia drivers make me a little uncomfortable. For example, they drive backwards on major roadways! In two hours of driving in Phila, I saw four people inappropriately backing up in the middle of the road. But I kind of understand why they are doing that. Kind of like Boston, there are all these little subdivisions… villages that grew until they touched each other. So the roads are a bit topsy turvy. You’ll be driving along and you’ll come to a light, another light, another light, a Stop sign, and a light. Don’t you miss that Stop sign! And the roadways in Phila are all rough. So Phila drivers go a little slower and have to drive more carefully. They have to be very attentive or they’re gonna get themselves killed pretty quick. There is parallel parking everywhere. So you have to really strain your neck when pulling out one of those Stop sign intersections. Phila drivers are slow… I’m not going to say “careful” but they are all aware that their roads are slow… more like bumper cars than superhighways.