Monday, September 05, 2005

Rules of the Road -- Boston Style

I was forced to learn the rules of the road here in Boston from Day One. Terrified as I may have been, Jay and I wanted to see Fenway Park for ourselves, so we started out to find the ballfield. Five minutes and 5 honks of the horn (not mine, other drivers) it became clear that I had some basic rules-of-the-Boston-road I would have to learn if I was going to survive. It's been 3 weeks since I arrived, so I've got some basic rules that Bostonians would want visitors to their city to know:

Rule #1 -- The car horn is a multi-facited communication device. For instance, at a stoplight that's just turned green: "Please go now" tranlates into honk-honk. "What are you waiting for, you idiot" is hoooooooonk. "That's some nice driving but your too close me right now" might be honk-honk, hooonk.

Rule #2 -- It might seem like this lane can only fit one car, but really 2 cars can use this lane side-by-side just fine. Get used to tight driving spaces.

Rule #3 -- Red lights are only a suggestion.

Rule #4 -- Yellow lights are your sign to gun it. In fact, I think you're expected to make that yellow light just out of courtesy to the guy behind you.

Rule #5 -- You'll have to turn left across oncoming traffic at some point. Therefore, it's not uncommon for people turning left to gun it as the light turns green to beat the oncoming lane. Nice and safe.

Rule #6 -- Boston has these driving cirlces called rotaries. In theory, a car already in the rotary has the right of way. In practice, the best advice is to yield regardless to the bigger vehicle, because he'll probably kill you otherwise.

Rule #7 -- Just cuz your on Washington St now, doesn't mean it's the Washington St you're thinking of....there's 3 different Washington Streets, 2 different Boylston Streets and approximaley 2 dozen different South Streets. Good luck with that.

Rule #8 -- The city emblem might have an outline of a person crossing the street. Jay-walking is a city pasttime in Boston. No one waits for the signal.

Rule #9 -- Just cuz it says 7 miles from your destination on Mapquest, doesn't mean it's close. Thanks to 17th Century designers who thought anyplace was a good place for a street, it is impossible to go in a straight line from Point A to Point B in Boston. The city is a jumbled spider web of streets. We just found the quickest route to BU and it involves an endless list of lefts and rights.

Finally, you can't take a horn, a steely glare, or a shout from another motorist personally. It's all just part of driving in Boston.

-Ed

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