So, you’ve decided to head to the big city, and you’re planning to travel by car – that’s great! New York paves the way for many great driving routes, especially if you’re looking to stop off at some inviting districts and neighborhoods like Harlem. New York can be a tricky place to navigate, however, if you’re not used to driving in the USA or in significantly busy cities. A lot of tourists – and locals – prefer to use the subway or hop in a yellow cab. Don’t let that put you off, though: here are some tips for driving in New York City.
You Should Drive Slowly and Carefully
This goes without saying in a new place, but New York City doesn’t offer the opportunity to drive significantly fast in built-up areas. The main streets are full of pedestrians, cyclists, public transport, and street vendors, meaning you should always be on the lookout for people stepping into the road, as well as other traffic and traffic lights.
The speed limit averages at 30 miles per hour, so keep an eye on that speedometer!
Pedestrians Have the Right of Way
At intersections in New York City, you will have to wait for all pedestrians to cross the street before you can set off driving again. This doesn’t always mean that pedestrians will cross the road at the appropriate intersections, however, especially when it comes to hurried commuters and seasoned locals, so make sure you pay attention to anyone crossing the road, at any time.
Take Care with Cyclists
There are designated bike lanes in New York City, but you can’t guarantee all cyclists will be using them. You should always keep an eye out for cyclists when making a turn, and also check your mirrors for any approaching cyclists if you have parked up and are ready to open your door, as many bike-users may weave in and out of parked cars and appear from nowhere.
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Parking Can Be Tricky
There is, believe it or not, free street parking available in various areas of New York City – but, due to the advantages of this, you’ll find that many free spaces are usually already occupied, especially during peak times. New York also offers spaces where you can pay at a parking meter – just double check in advance whether you need cash or whether you can pay on credit card – and you also have the option to use a parking garage if you need a space for your car for a longer period of time.
Traffic Jams are Commonplace (Unfortunately)
There isn’t a depiction of New York which doesn’t show a traffic jam or two! You should expect to be caught in busy rush hour traffic between 7 and 9 am, and also later on in the afternoon between 4 and 7 pm. This can be particularly bad on bridges and in tunnels. It’s important to take your time and try to relax, as rushing through intersections and getting caught in the middle of a crossing could mean you become an obstruction.
Photo credit: 125th Street photo in Harlem.