I work for Minnesota Connected as an Intern, and I come to the actual office twice a week; to do that I have to drive from Bethel University in Arden Hills, all the way to Eagan. This commute has been my first in a large metropolitan area. It took some time to get used to driving in the Twin Cities, but I still don’t think it’s possible to ever enjoy driving in the cities.
While I now better understand how the roads here work, how to actually get places, and how people drive, I still fear for my life every time I get behind the wheel. I may be just a bit too paranoid about this, but I have some foundation to it. Here’s why I hate driving in the Twin Cities.
1. The Speed Limit is Always a Suggestion
I learned long ago that every Minnesotan speeds. Usually though it is just up to five miles over. That’s fine with me, especially when there are so many stretches of road with 50+ limits. Going just five miles over isn’t going to have near as much effect. But when you get onto any road named 35 or 94, regardless of sign posting, people try to drive 70 or more.
2. Stoplight Etiquette
The town I come from has only one stoplight, and I still count it as one of the most annoying stoplights I have to deal with. But for me, the problem is not so much the light, as the people waiting for it. It always makes me nervous when I’m waiting at a light and the person in the lane next to me is edging forward: just every now and again pulling up one more inch. Edging forward at a stoplight is entirely unnecessary; the light isn’t going to change any faster. But nudging up to the line like that gives other drivers the impression that you’re about to bolt, which never works well when there’s a constant stream of cross traffic directly ahead of you.
The other thing I find people don’t realize is that you shouldn’t block the intersection. Sometimes you just can’t judge if there’s enough space ahead of you, but having a whole line of cars across an intersection? That’s unacceptable. I know it’s annoying how many every intersection has a stoplight, and sometimes you just get caught between them, but that’s no reason to block another person that’s just waiting for their stoplight to change so that they can get to the next one, and are unfortunate enough to be traveling perpendicularly to you.
3. Road Design
There are some stretches of the Twin Cities where the roads are just nightmares. Minneapolis is all one-way streets, and there end up being these nests of connecting major roads that all tangle into each other. I always end up in one of those nests when trying to follow my GPS back to Bethel. You see, the better entrance is on an unnamed private road, which the GPS assumes is illegal for me to drive down. So it tries to send me all the way around campus so that I can connect to 51 South.
But there are many other great design flaws, many of which I haven’t personally encountered, but I’ve heard others complain of.
This one is pretty simple: some people just don’t know how to use their signals. I have seen too many cars merge and weave about traffic without giving any indication of their intent to the other drivers. Almost unfortunately this ends up not being much of a problem, as the people that do this are paying attention to the space provided them.
No, the real worst thing about signal lights in the Twin Cities is when they get ignored. Most often there is one nice driver who will actually let you into the lane before you have to make your turn, but it always sucks to be driving on those days where not a single person is feeling like being reasonable.
So, there you have it big city people: why I am so glad to be going home for the summer, aside from being free of class.
Photos via: Fredrik Skold (Alamy) — Google
The personal views expressed in this post are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Minnesota Connected or its sponsors.