D*&mned Pittsburgh Drivers!

It's tempting to tell the author of this little screed, complaining about Pittsburgh drivers, that Minneapolis isn't quite the big city that she thinks it is. For a taste of real rude driving, move to New York. Or Boston. Pittsburgh is positively genteel by comparison.

But I won't tell her that, because I re-read this phrase from the piece: "After recently moving here from Minnesota to work and attend the University of Pittsburgh, . . ."

She moved here from another state? Welcome! Hope you like it! Glad to have you here! Have any friends who'd live to move in, too?


5 Responses to "D*&mned Pittsburgh Drivers!"

jet said... 9/21/2007 12:11 AM

"Film at 11", as they say, but Pittsburgh is home to significant numbers of really, really bad drivers. It's not hostility, it's just basic ignorance or trying to second-guess bad civic planning.

Boston and NYC have hostile drivers. That's not the same as "bad", that's just a matter of competitiveness.

But Pittsburgh? Let's see, we've got stopping on on-ramps, even when there's clear line of sight to traffic and plenty of room to merge. We've got jumping the light for a "Pittsburgh Left" even when oncoming traffic is moving at speed. We've got massive numbers of senior citizens who do things like drive 5mph with the flashers on and ignore stop signs or stop at a green light "just in case". We've got ignoring right-of-way and getting pissed off if the other person doesn't immediately jump at the chance to ignore right of way.

Or how about bus drivers that can't make their turns even with extra "stop here" clearance, or bus drivers who drive with their emergency flashers on then scream/honk at you when you get in their way? (I've been yelled at by bus drivers for not guessing which way they were going to turn when they were driving with their emergency flashers on.)

And don't get me started on driving BELOW the speed limit in the #1 lane while traffic is zipping by in the #2 or #3 lanes, or STOPPING ON THE PARKWAY to let someone who's stopped at an onramp get into traffic or possibly worst of all..

...slowing down in a tunnel FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER.

There's lots of good things about Pittsburgh one could hype for people considering moving here, but the driving skills of the born-and-raised types is not one of them.

Get on your bicycle or motorcycle and do a bit of riding around town, or go spend a few months driving in a modern city if you think I'm wrong.

Mike Madison said... 9/21/2007 12:28 AM

Jet, you're absolutely right. Here's an analysis that I developed years ago:

For purposes of driving comparisons, I've lived in coastal California, and in the Hub (Boston), and in Pittsburgh.

In California, people drive like maniacs. 75 miles per hour on the freeway, more or less bumper to bumper. And they get away with it with a relatively modest level of hostility and damage, because on the whole people out there are pretty fine drivers, and the highways are pretty well-designed.

In Boston, people drive like maniacs. 75 mmiles per hour on the freeway (and in the rotary!), more or less bumper to bumper. And they don't get away with it, because there are a lot of really bad drivers, and a lot of the highways are badly designed, which lead to high levels of hostility and damage.

In Pittsburgh, you get the worst of both worlds. People drive like turtles. 45 miles per hour on the parkway, and they stop for no reason when tunnels appear or when they decide randomly to let someone turn in front of them. There are a lot of really bad drivers, and the highways are miserably designed. So Pittsburghers shouldn't get away with only a modicum of hostility and a modest amount of damage, but unaccountably they do. Pittsburgh seems to like life in the slow lane.

Jefferson Provost said... 9/21/2007 11:25 AM

Ack! Not the "Pittsburgh Drivers Suck" thread. Please make it stop!

RichW said... 9/24/2007 11:22 PM

I've been to CA a few times and it seemed pretty rare to be able to get to 75mph within 20 miles of a major city. The one exception going from SF to San Jose, but that was merely 60mph bumper-to-bumper. LA? Happy to get to 15mph.

Having driven a panel truck in NYC and lived in Boston and Mexico City, I often tell my wife that driving in those cities is like blood coursing through veins or watching an ant colony move. Nobody stops for anything if they can help it. People are expecting others to merge into the tiniest of cracks instead of stopping cold in whatever lane they're in. It works - and I wouldn't even classify it as "hostile". I'd use something like "offensive-minded".

As far as the "Pittsburgh left" goes, if you can pull it off without slowing anyone else down, more power to you. In Mexico City, cabbies would routine do the same left hand turn from the second lane of a four-lane road without thinking about it.

I'm wondering why I keep hearing these commercials for "aggressive driving" on local stations when very little true dangerously aggressive driving actually exists. Instead, they should take the other tact and arrest people for "passive-aggressive driving".

Mike Madison said... 9/24/2007 11:28 PM

In the SF Bay Area, get out on 280 between SF and SJ, or on 580 headed towards Livermore or Stockton, or on long stretches of 880 between southern Oakland and Union City. Just for starters. In LA, get out of the area more or less defined by Pasadena/Burbank/Santa Monica/Anaheim, and you can find stretches when you can put your foot down. And outside of central San Diego, there's good fun to be had.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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