Dan Rather, in a moment of shining lucidity, once noted that “Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.” Residents of the City of New York, I have long believed, were quintessentially American in this regard. As I noted during World Tour ’02:
I executed a fair number of what I would normally consider to be startling moves in traffic, operating under the assumption that New Yorkers wouldn’t care what kind of crap I pulled so long as I didn’t inconvenience them in so doing. From the absence of horns sounded in anger rather than sorrow (and with WQXR on the radio, I’d have heard them had they been sounded), I must conclude I was right.
But that was then, and this is now:
New York has unseated Miami as the least courteous city, according to the fourth annual In the Driver’s Seat Road Rage Survey, commissioned by AutoVantage, a leading national auto club. The Big Apple moved up from its No. 3 ranking last year to claim the distinction. Rounding out the five worst cities for road rage are Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
The survey also named a new city as the most courteous. Portland, Ore., took the top spot, moving up from No. 2 last year. It was followed by Cleveland, Baltimore, Sacramento and Pittsburgh.
I’ve never driven in Portland, but I’ll vouch for Cleveland: despite a nonexistent road-repair budget, a baffling grid — 18th and Euclid to 81st and Euclid (which I actually drove one evening) is less than 2.5 miles — and the presence of money-grubbing enclaves like Linndale, driving through northeast Ohio was always a breeze for me.