Monday, May 11, 2009

Rules for Driving in Chicago

Having lived here almost eight months, I can now say that I know what it takes to drive in the big city. I thought it was a stereotype, but city driving definitely follows a different set of rules than driving in Montana. If you plan on driving in a city, you should be aware that the locals follow their own rules of the road. So far, I have been able to discern seven rules for driving in the big city.

All of these rules have come from careful observation. Some are actual events I have witnessed. Let me warn you. These rules are no exaggeration! Here they are:

1. Drive fast. Drive 30 miles an hour over the speed limit on highways. Be more careful on surface streets. For a posted speed limit of 30 mph, driving 45 mph is the maximum acceptable speed. Under no conditions, obey the speed limit.

2. Honk your horn. If you observe a pedestrian at a crosswalk, that's your cue to honk your horn to warn them against crossing the street. If you observe someone driving 30 mph in a 30 mph zone, honk your horn to tell them to speed up. Do so even if they are not in your way!

3. Dispense with the turn signal. City drivers are environmentally conscious. They even save on their turn signal light bulbs!

4. Use your headlights creatively. Suppose you are driving at night and you come upon a vehicle that is only going the speed limit. As you come up behind them, turn on your brights. This should be annoying enough to induce your fellow driver to change lanes. You will have a clear path until you encounter the next slow driver.

5. Create your own lane. If the stoplight is red and there is already a car waiting for the light to turn green, it is appropriate to use the biking lane as a way to pass the waiting car. When the light turns green, just be sure to accelerate quickly enough to beat your fellow driver into the intersection.

6. Use your cell phone. Big city drivers know that time is money. If you're a city dweller, your phone calls and text messages can save lives. Therefore, all of the time spent driving should be put to productive use. More cell phones on the road equals more lives saved, right?

7. Park in the middle of the street. Parking is hard to come by in the city, but city drivers know that's why our cars come with those emergency flashers. If your car is flashing yellow, people won't mind that you're blocking the only available lane.

Do you drive in a city? Have you noticed rules of the road not mentioned here? If so, please share in the comment box below.


  1. I think you should consider riding the subway.

  2. 8. Create your own parking space through the liberal use of your bumpers. A couple little kisses while doing a parallel job never hurt anyone.

    9. The "One Way" signs only dictate the orientation of your vehicle, not its direction of travel. Feel free to drive in reverse for entire blocks.

  3. I'm from North Dakota and I've been living in Chicago for nearly a year now. You're generally pretty spot on, but I'd like to correct you on #5: vehicles aren't creating their own lanes, per se. The rule of city driving is actually that if a vehicle can fit in it, it is a lane and should be treated as such, regardless of signage, markings, or other vehicles. Hence, the middle of the road is a lane, the shoulder is a lane, the bike lane is a lane, a particularly wide two-lane street (i.e. Elston) is actually 3-5 lanes, etc.

    Rule #10: A red light is effectively the same thing as a green left-turn arrow. A minimum of 2 vehicles must complete a left turn after the light changes in all instances, even if there actually is a left-turn arrow at said intersection.

    Rule #11: If you not activate a red light camera, then whatever you're doing is not only legal, but also socially and morally acceptable. No camera at the intersection? Then no traffic laws apply!


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