FROM: Helga Mohammed el-Salami
SENT: Mar 27 2010 8:11AM
SUBJECT:Rules of the Road, Chicago Style
Changing Lanes - Never signal lane changes. Ever. Signaling alerts people where you want to go, which is always in front of them, making them speed up to prevent it. When you want to change lanes do as the bus drivers and make the cut fast and menacing.
Pedestrian Right-of-Way - If pedestrians were given the de-facto right-of-way Chicago traffic would never move. No one follows walk signs. So when a crowd is crossing against the signal gun the engine. In nearly 20 years of driving, NEVER have I had anyone stand their ground. Something about 2 tons of metal hurtling forth at 40+mph evaporates all the right-of-way bravado. All thats left is the reflex flight response. Youre doing them a favor. Its the most exercise theyll get all week.
Turning left off of Michigan Avenue - If you are the first car in line for the green arrow, floor it the instant the arrow appears. Inevitably there will be a half-dozen people who immediately begin to cross and will begin to run when they hear your tires squeal and motor revving. Your goal is to discourage the 5000 people behind them from following suit and forming an unbreakable mass of pedestria leaving you blocking Michigan Ave. If youre not the first in line see below.
Turning left behind a coward - If drivers in front of you are not getting out in the middle of the intersection or are too timid to dash through small gaps in traffic-flow your turn should create a hypotenuse to their two sides of the right angle. This is accomplished by turning left into the oncoming perpendicular lane and then righting yourself by veering right and cutting off the slowpoke from their left. This is actually safer than passing on the right because 1.) they wont be looking to the right if they do decide to turn and 2.) you wont get t-boned if they decide to go straight which happens uncomfortably often.
Blocking Crosswalks - Never leave space between you and the car in front of you. Ever. Pedestrians are like water. Theyll seep through the tiniest space so if youve just dashed through an intersection and are now blocking people make damn sure that your front bumper leaves no room to walk or youre frozen until the next light.
Avoiding a huge left turn queue - Right turn + U turn = left turn. If youre good, youll even be able to do this without getting caught at the red. Unlike LA where U turns are encouraged, Chicago cops hate them for some reason. But as with most offenses, they usually wont say anything unless youre a brazen brownhole right in front of them.
Speeding - Chicago Police are mostly a bunch of party guys so unless you do damage to person or property there is little chance of getting written up. Just be nice to them, admit youre stupid, laugh off the verbal abuse they heap upon you and youll be fine. (The nicer your car the nicer you have to be) A notable exception is Lake Shore Drive. Even fellow cops get tickets from the hard-boiled old-timers patrolling this lovely stretch of scenic road. Like with the other LSD and Speed: Just dont do it.
Undercover Cops - These guys earned the right to wear baggy jeans and sports jerseys and to ignore reckless idiots like you. However, if you cut them off, lay on the horn, mid-finger salute or otherwise behave like an ahh-noose you wont just get pulled-over and delayed but might also catch a thumping for your trouble. So - if the irritating vehicle is or has any combination of: Ford Crown Vic, green license plates beginning with M(unicipal), antennae, search-lights, MADD stickers or large burly men with moustaches the chances of it being "on-the-job" is high. Bite your tongue and give that horn hand a rest.