Horning in

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.


  1. Terry »

    17 June 2009 · 12:52 pm

    I can definitely vouch for Portland. My eldest went to college in McMinnville, on the other side of the city, so every time I went to visit her, I went through town. Parts of the freeway are looping nightmares, but I never had trouble making an emergency lane change to get on or off – drivers always let me in without a honk. Another shocker – they stop for pedestrians. After taking my life in my hands crossing WITH the light in Spokane, this was a pleasant surprise.

    And how can you not love a city that includes Powells’ Books?

  2. fillyjonk »

    17 June 2009 · 1:14 pm

    Based on my (admittedly limited) experience, I am surprised Chicago is not higher on the list of “rude cities.” When I’m traveling up in that area, I warn whoever is driving that my eyes WILL be closed for the duration of the time we are on the Expressways.

    Dallas I can believe based on a very few outings, and based on some of the near-Dallas experiences I’ve had.

  3. Lisa Paul »

    17 June 2009 · 7:16 pm

    I’m throwing San Francisco into the ring here as, at least, most laid back about traffic. I have an LA friend who comes up here, he says, just to watch people jaywalk. And see how drivers stop, smile and wave them across. He’s always amazed as he says similar pedestrian actions would get you shot in LA.

RSS feed for comments on this post