NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sat, Aug 28, 2004
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
By ROY NAKANO
Yours truly spent the last week in The Big Apple. Make no mistake about it, New York City may very well be the greatest city in the world. It's truly the metropolis of the nation. San Franciscans refer to their town as The City, but the real city is on the other side of the country. The bay city may be beautiful, but it's no New York City.
Notwithstanding its greatness as an urban center, New York City drivers as well as pedestrians are anything but great. NYC pedestrians, by-and-large, have no regard for traffic lights. If a car's not coming, that means you can cross - even if the light's red and the don't walk sign is up. Drivers are up to the same task. If you're a driver, you use the horn to express your frustrations. Never mind that it makes absolutely no difference in your traffic progress. If pedestrians are on the street, it's okay to proceed so long as you don't run over anyone.
In contrast, Los Angeles drivers and pedestrians seem to believe that traffic laws should be obeyed. Don't walk signs mean don't cross. If a pedestrian attempts to cross, drivers usually stop. Acts of kindness are usually acknowledged with a wave. Of course, the operative word is usually. Road rage still rears its head at times during rush hour traffic, and police chases still make for good TV coverage. But coming back to LA, there is more to look forward to than the great weather. Two days later...
As often happens on these pages, VWVortex.com members from New York, Jersey, California, and elsewhere had plenty to say on the topic of drivers and pedestrians from these two great cities.
The Vortex's E30325i lives in New Jersey and observes, "Driving in NYC is like going into battle. You need to tie up loose parts of your car, and gather your courage because NYC taxi drivers are like the Titan's defensive line. When your goin' slow, they'll either swarm around you, or run you off the road."
As for pedestrians, says E30325i: "There are two kinds of pedestrians in NYC - The ones that live there and know how to cross streets with red lights and crosswalks, and the ones that are tourists who have no idea how to safely navigate a red light situation. Uusually you can spot these people by their sunglasses, flat brim hats and the Cannon or Nikon SLR camera strapped around their necks and their constant glances upward and bumping into things."
"Driving in NYC, which I've had for years is like Rallying. You have to know the streets and terrains really well. Then it is about timing and which path you can take to navigate around congestion and avoid trouble spots. Madison Avenue, for example, once you get into the right timing, the light keeps changing green as you go down on it at the right time."
"Night time is the best time to drive in the city, also most dangerous because many people race on the west side highway, it's like a F1 race track with the tall dividers and walls. If you don't have good reaction time and good knowledge of NYC streets, you better off walking and taking the subway."
Nolongerlow in Baltimore adds, "I was damn near ridiculed for crossing crosswalks despite the sign not saying 'walk'. People in LA will sit and wait for however long it takes for that magical box to give them permission to cross the street. Everyone I was hanging out with out there thought I was crazy. No cars and I'm walking, I'm from the east coast we are always in a hurry even when we have no where to go."
VeeDubChick03 concurs: "After living in California and driving in LA traffic, and just being in NY traffic a few weeks ago there is NO comparison. NYC traffic is about 100 times worse then any traffic in LA. I thought that I was going to get rear-ended, t-boned, ran off what little street lane I had, or hit a person walking within the three blocks and three hours it took to get to our hotel. I'd take LA traffic over NY traffic any day of the week!"
Steveatvwdriversclub observes: "One thing I noticed in LA was that people don't honk. It's almost eerie being stuck in traffic for 3 hours and not hearing a single horn. I just assumed, from reading the newspapers out there, if you really piss someone off, they just shoot you. Cars don't come with turn signals in LA. People do jaywalk; had one hotshot Hollywood guy walk out in front of me, talking on a cell phone, and point at me to stop. It's also the only place I've been where police actively ticket jay-walkers."
AK Mabe lives in New York and loves it. "I grew up around NYC and always spent free weekends in Manhattan since I was 14 or so. I never thought twice about going across the street if there are no cars. In NYC you watch the traffic lights to decide when it is safe to walk, not the cross walk signs. Half the time, they will have you walk right in front of a taxi making a turn at 30 mph. I love it when pedestrian traffic takes over an intersection...the can be green and cars are inching forward trying to go but people keep walking."
"When I went to San Francisco two years ago I would come up to a street corner with 10-15 people standing there, look for cars and start walking across while everyone else just stood there. I even had one woman yell, "hey! w there was not a single car coming that way for a solid two blocks."
"LA is a cake walk compared to NYC," says Nolongerlow. "LA does have that weird 'it's 2 a.m. and the freeway is completely jammed" thing going for it, though."