Thursday, October 13, 2005

Some gentle suggestions for drivers and pedestrians

No pictures today as I’m not working, nor will I be around much until next week. So I figured I’d just post this list I’ve been compiling of suggestions for how to walk and drive in New York City. It’s a work in progress, so I will probably add to it as more issues arise.

1. Use your turn signals. I promise you, this is not the hardest thing in the world. Simply locate the little lever to the left of your steering wheel and push it down if you’re turning left, or pull it up if you’re turning right. It takes the most minimal amount of energy, and when you get good at it (after only a few days of practice, or even just minutes if you’re a precocious learner), all you need is a quick flick of the fingers.

2. If you’ve almost missed your turn and are in the middle lane of a busy avenue, do not stop and try to turn from where you are. It’s not worth the accident you will probably cause. Since most of Manhattan is a grid, it is all too easy to drive two more blocks and make that left you were originally after, or simply turn right at the next block and box around (this means, make three rights to get back to the block you wanted), making sure this time around to position yourself in the proper lane for your desired turn.

3. Do not cut off a yellow cab.

4. If you must cut off a yellow cab, at least try to warn the driver by using your turn signal (see number 1 above for instructions). This really does make it better as it gives the car you’re cutting off time to hit the brakes.

5. Additionally, if you cut off a taxi, and the driver honks at you, DO NOT give him or her the finger. Remember, YOU were the one at fault and a good angry honking was only in order.

6. If there is space in front of you and you see a taxi signaling to get over into that space, do not speed up so as to not let it in. I will never understand why people do this, but if you do it, you are an asshole. What, do you really need to be First? Does it affect your ego that much to be driving behind a yellow cab?

7. The speed limit on most New York City Streets is 30 mph. Do not drive slower than this unless you have a good reason. And, no, having an important conversation on your fucking cell phone does not count as a good reason. Which brings us to:

8. Do not talk on your cell phone, hands-free included, while operating a vehicle in New York City. People who do this drive worse than most drunk drivers. I know this sounds hypocritical coming from a taxi driver, since many taxi drivers are on their phones throughout an entire shift, but, perhaps because of the amount of time they spend on the streets, these drivers seem to be able to handle it. Personally, I am not good at talking on the phone while driving, so I avoid doing it. Civilian drivers are not good at it either. They weave and swerve and go too slow. They try to turn from the middle lane of an avenue without using their turn signal because, whoops, their conversation was just too important to think about actually paying attention to how they are driving and where they are going, not to mention what the other cars around them are doing. Either pull over or hang up. Thank you.


1. When waiting to cross the street, wait on the sidewalk, not three feet into the intersection. You never know when a car may have to swerve to avoid something on the other side, which might cause that car to hit you instead.

2. If you see a car coming, do not cross in front of it against the light. It’s just rude.

3. If you are crossing in the middle of the street (i.e. not on a marked crosswalk), do not get angry at a cab for actually driving on the street where you are crossing. Also, do not give the finger or threaten to punch the cab driver in the face for driving on the street where you shouldn’t be crossing. Can you handle that, tough guy? You won’t be so tough when the brakes don’t work or the driver doesn’t see you (because you shouldn’t be there in the first place) and you get hit. Despite what you may believe, cab drivers really don’t want to hit pedestrians, so let’s all work together on preventing that, okay?

4. Do not point or wave to your friends while standing on the edge of the sidewalk. This is the universal signal for “I want a cab.” If you must point or wave while standing on the edge of the sidewalk, do not look disdainfully at the cabs that stop in front of you expecting you to get in.

5. If a car gets stuck in an intersection due to heavy traffic, do not cross in front of it, thus not letting it move safely to the other side. This puts both you and the car you are crossing in front of in danger until the light changes.

6. If you must cross at an intersection against the light (see number 2 for pedestrians above), please hurry the fuck up. Also, do not run halfway across and then slow down to a walk for the rest of the distance. Lackadaisical pedestrians are selfish and stupid and are likely to either get hit or cause an accident.

Like I said, it’s a work in progress. I’ll probably have more to add when I get back next week. In the meantime, study this list carefully and be nice to cabbies.


Tigress said...

I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog. It's a very humorous insight into the world of the New york cabbie. As for these rules, common courtesy is very important to the drivers and the pedestrians but also to some of the cabbies too. In a previous blog you've said some of them are maniacs too. common courtesies all around. :D

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you get comment notification so you'll see this, but here's one from the other side:

If you're turning, don't try to fit yourself in a barely big enough space between two pedestrians crossing the street with the light. Wait until everyone finishes crossing. If I can reach your car while I'm walking at a normal pace (or I have to slow down), I will hit it to let you know you almost ran over my goddamn foot.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with Pedestrian #5!

All cars (cabs included) need to anticipate that they wont make it across the intersection. Its not hard to see that traffic is moving slowly and youre not going to make it. I only get a little time to cross the street, so when that light changes Im walking!

Anonymous said...

I, as a pedestrian, almost got hit by a cab today (I'm in Pittsburgh, PA). I approched the crosswalk, and saw that there were a few cars turning onto the road I was attempting to cross. There was a small gap before a cab was about to turn, so I stepped into the crosswalk, and the cab starts to turn anyway. I had to stop to let the cab drive in front of me to avoid being hit.

Yes, the cab had a green light, but pedestrians also had the walk signal, so I had the right of way. Unless a vehicle is rushing someone in desperate need of a kidney transplant to the hospital, I expect it to pause for the 1.37 seconds necessary to let me cross the street- when I'm perfectly justified in doing so- before they turn.

I'm certainly not knocking cab drivers- I've never had a problem with them- but this one was a jerk. I also love it when people turning (at that same intersection, usually) don't use their turn signals then seem upset that pedestrians step off the curb. Pedestrians have the right of way, but if I see that someone is turning, I respect their need to get through the intersection to keep traffic moving, so I usually wait and cross when there's a break in traffic. Most drivers can't even obey the right of way, let alone provide a courtesy.

Lexx428 said...

I have mercy for cab drivers as it is a pain in the ass job, Bottom Line....They have to deal with everyones attitudes when it doesn't even concern them. If someone has a hair across their ass they take it out on a driver, being just outright rude. SALUTE!!! to the drivers of America.......

Anonymous said...

M.P., I believe in [1] "up" should mean "steering left" and "down" should mean "steering right", would you consider correcting the original?

Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to let you know that I find your blog superbly written, witty, astute and relevant.

Ciaran said...

Run those bastards over .. especially the young you know wannabe's . Yo Man I got ht light Yo!!.
Yea I drive a cab in Beantown . Don't come up here it's full of massholes

Anonymous said...

Riverbend Inn Niagara on the Lake

David Rogers & Ben Cole

kaji said...

It is a very important sites and I enjoy and learn a lot reading your blog. I'm a NYC yellow cabbie driving since 2000. I don't have any points on my license. But recently I got a ticket. I was driving west to east on 42st. I made a right turn going south bound on 2nd Av, where I was pulled over and ticketed for not yielding a pedesterian. when there was no pedesterian crossing the crosswalk.Iwould greatly appreciate if you could suggest me to defend myself.
Thank you Kaji

Mau Jaxa said...

I remember how much I use to hate "cabbies" and by that I meant cab drivers. Now I AM one, or at least learning to be one, lol. I guess I just drive fares, yet. I really appreciate your blog, as it's now my career research! Good job!