Thursday, April 28, 2011
Driving in New York
After visiting New York City I continue to believe the worst part of the greatest city in the world is the traffic situation. Driving is not for the faint of heart. Luckily I never realized my horn was broken until I got back to Roanoke. I had my thumb poised at all times on the steering wheel, ready to blow loudly as a back-up in case my quick maneuvering failed. I never had to use it.
In New York, the driving horror begins before you even enter the red-headed stepchild boro -- Staten Island. No matter how much great time you'll make zipping through many states you can always count on coming to a standstill in the worst state of the country, New Jersey.
We enter New York via NJ and have to crawl through the smelly parking lot known as Staten Island before we escape via the majestic Verrazano into Brooklyn.
Every time we drive to New York traffic seems to get heavier. I blame this on the genius who invented the EZ-Pass. The majority of toll booth lanes accept EZ-Pass with a mere single lane left open for cash customers. The EZ-Pass lanes are always empty. The Cash lane had a 6 mile back-up just to get through the Outerbridge Crossing. One lane open for Cash. Five lanes open for EZ-Pass. The EZ-Pass lanes do not accept cash. If they did there wouldn't be six mile back-ups. These are the bridges we crossed and the latest tolls -- $8.00/Outerbridge -- $13.00/Verrazano -- $6.50/Bklyn Battery Tunnel -- $6.50/Triboro, all using EZ-Pass which makes driving anything but easy.
At every bridge and tunnel we encountered, the situation was the same. Doesn't NY and NJ realize they attract tourists, and some locals, who do not own an EZ-Pass? Why are cash carrying folks treated as second class citizens? I got tired of hearing, "Dontcha have anything smaller?" every time I handed over a bill. I could understand a hundred or fifty, but a twenty? And I don't own a MetroCard either. You can't get on a city bus without one. They no longer take exact change. You know where you have to get a MetroCard for the bus? In the subway. I have to find and walk to a subway to get a card so I can ride the bus that I'm taking because I don't want to walk. And for the record I miss not being able to pay cash to a man sitting in a glass booth and getting a token in return to plop into the turnstile as I rush to catch a train. Inserting a card is so cold, and awkward for me. But I digress. This is about driving in New York.
Once you finally enter the city the next driving debacle ensues...trying to find a parking spot. My parents never jumped on the whole "cut out a driveway to the front of my house to stop my life from being a living hell" bandwagon years ago, and now it's "illegal" and impossible to accomplish. So many other houses spent their money wisely, and with all the older homes knocked down and made into multi-family units, there's not enough parking on the block. And why, oh why, do people who do have driveways and garages keep their freaking car on the street instead of in them hoarding a precious spot?
I'm actually luckier in finding a parking spot in Manhattan than I am in Bensonhurst. Naturally you have to already be aware of the parking regulations. Sundays are pretty wide open. You gotta get there right after 7:00pm when parking is allowed during the week. Certain neighborhoods will be easier to find than others and always be prepared to walk. I could only imagine how much worse the congestion would have been those days if it wasn't for the Jewish holidays. And the reason I knew there was a Jewish holiday going on was because alternate side of the street was lifted. Good thing the Jews have a lot of holidays.
It's always an adventure when we drive into the city. This trip we hit four out of five boros in one day -- road and bridge construction everywhere.
We weren't supposed to hit Queens coming from the Bronx, but wound up lost there on Randall's Island after crossing the Triboro which I think has been renamed the RFK Bridge, adding to the confusion. We had Miss Garmin with us who got us up to The Cloisters (pics in a future post) and into the Bronx and luckily nowhere near Yankee stadium's night game. She attempted to get us to the Village, but she's only as good as the driver who knows his left from right. We eventually got back to the mainland and I was able to put my mace away.
At Union Square we found a spot very quickly. As we walked through the Village I forgot about what I hated about New York City and remembered what I loved about it...New York City itself.
...to be continued.