New York City is one of the most challenging cities to drive in simply because of congestion. There are a lot of people living in the city and traveling through it every day. Physically, the city is very easy to drive; it’s arranged in a grid, with logical street rules and easy navigation. If not for the traffic (both vehicles and pedestrians), it would be an absolute dream to drive. There’s little you can do, however, about traffic unless you have a lot of control in terms of your driving schedule. When you don’t have this flexibility, there are a few other things to keep in mind to make the best of your drive through New York.
Tip #1: Go Slowly
It may be tempting to gun it as soon as you see a clearing in traffic, but avoid this temptation. Stay the speed limit (30 miles/hour) and take your time. Given that there are so many vehicles or people on the road at pretty much all times, all focused on their own route, it’s very important to stay alert at all times and move cautiously (i.e. slowly). If you take the first opportunity to accelerate, you are more likely to overlook safety precautions and get into an accident (and then you’ll really be going slowly).
Tip #2: Pay Attention To Signs
There are many areas of the city that are highly regulated to ensure the most efficient traffic during the times of rush hour. This means you need to keep your eyes peeled for road signs to avoid making illegal moves. That said, the biggest road rule to keep in mind while driving in NYC is that there are absolutely no right turns on red lights, unless otherwise stated. Keep this in mind, because there won’t be signs to follow for this rule, so it’s the easiest to forget and can lead to tickets. There are also a few streets that prohibit left turns during hours with high traffic congestion.
It’s also helpful to recognize that the city streets follow a grid. “Avenue” named roads run North-South, and the “Street” roads run East-West. The further North you are, the bigger the numbers and vice versa. Keep an eye on the street signs and building numbers if you get lost and need to know your direction.
Tip #3: Watch Out For Jaywalkers & Taxis
In most cities, the main safety concern when you’re driving is the actions of other cars. In NYC, you need to also pay attention to the actions of pedestrians entering the road and the taxi cab drivers picking up fares. Pedestrians have the right of way, and take this to extend to all times and all places. They behave erratically, so you will always have to be on the look out for people nearing your vehicle. Taxi drivers are also erratic on the road, and will aggressively move through traffic with or without a customer. Make sure to check your blindspots for both of these obstacles every time you change lanes or turn, etc.
Tip #4: Keep Eyes Peeled For Parking
When you are looking for parking, you will want to be vigilant and seize any opportunity for street parking that you can. Parking on the street is only 25 cents per 15 minutes, and so street parking fills up quickly. Drivers usually aren’t parked for very long, so there is a high/quick turnover rate, but there is a high demand, so spaces don’t stay empty for long. You can find garage parking, too, but garage parking is more expensive. Parking garages are also highly varied in terms of pricing — even within the same neighborhood. Operators know there is a high demand and they use this to their advantage. If you want the most affordable parking in New York City, you can use our long term parking lot and use public transit to get downtown.
Tip #5: Relax
When it comes down to it, the best tip for driving in NYC is to just relax. It is easy to get caught up in the stress of the traffic congestion and the aggressive driving and daring pedestrians, but if you can relax about it all, it seems much less aggravating. You’ll be amazed at how much easier the drive through the city is when you’re not in a constant state of white knuckling. If you really can’t stand it, however, remember if you hop on I-95, you can get through the city as quickly as possible.
It certainly is an experience to drive through NYC, and downtown Manhattan. Keep our tips in mind and you can have a great time. Be safe and have fun!