jeudi 13 mars 2008
Every morning, I leave a little before 7 am, wait in lines of cars to go up and over the Passerelle (rhymes with "Make my life hell") the overpass which is one lane in each direction. The purpose is to provide a direct connection to/from the interstate, as opposed to the people who live in that quartier.

Sometimes though, it is so incredibly slow to get up onto the MakeMyLifeHell.

I find the French to be much more of "Get the hell outta my way" drivers.

I have never had so many cars flash their lights (get out of the left lane because I am coming through and I am not slowing down) or the more subtle left-turn blinker in the left lane (also meaning, move the heck over please). It irritates me so much. I am usually pretty good about not lingering in the left lane. If I am there, it is because I am actively passing or planning to within the very near future. I don't just cruise along for miles.

I only had this happen once (lights flashing) in the US. I find American drivers to be much more of the clueless, "I'm gonna poke along and talk on my cellphone and not notice that you would like to merge" type. But perhaps that is just because I didn't do much rush hour highway driving in the US?

What are French/American reader's opinions on this?

Anyway, another thing that really irritates me is that whenever there is a long line of cars waiting to merge together into one lane (such as to go over the MakeMyLifeHell) there will always be the ones who don't want to wait in line for FIVE WHOLE MINUTES and go right up to the front and expect to be let in. Why do people let these people in? If these drivers would just learn that they are slowing the entire process down. But of course, they don't care. They don't want to actually have to wait.

Such as the reasoning on why there are no 4-way stops in France- two or more French drivers who arrived at the stop would always insist that they be the first one to go through, so they would just probably stop in the middle, get out, and start yelling at each other.

So I eventually get to one of the four commuter parking lots on the outside of town (because in-town parking is expensive and/or non-existant). It is 25€ per month or 2€ per day, and includes the bus to/from the centre ville. Luckily, my office is close to the bus stop. Get on the bus, get off several stops later, walk to office. Arrive around 7:35.

5 p.m: sprint out the door so that you can get the bus that passes around 5:07 to get on the highway by 5:20 so that you can get to the MakeMyLifeHell by around 5:40, sit in line for 8 minutes before actually going up and over it, wait on the most poorly designed street in Marseille (more about that in the next installment), finally begin searching for a parking spot around 6 pm. The funny thing is that if you get back too early, such as before 6 pm, there are no spots either because people haven't left from work yet to go home. So the ideal time is between about 6:15 and 6:45 to look for a spot.

Oh and why I can't park in the courtyard spots behind our apartment- because those are closed in by a gate, because otherwise, believe me, people would park there.

5 commentaires:

Ksam a dit…

OMG, I totally agree with you on everything - driving is so frickin' stressful here! And the whole "I don't want to wait in line so I'm just going to keep driving and try to merge at the last minute" thing really pisses me off - don't they get that if everyone just stayed in that lane, traffic would move freely because the people at the front wouldn't have to be slamming on their breaks to let all the cheaters in? It's my absolute biggest pet peeve of all time, and the reason I hate driving through Nantes so much.

It's funny, cuz I used to sit in traffic jams all the time in the US sans problème, but I've developped some major road rage since living here.

Unknown a dit…

Yeah I agree with you.
French drivers are energetic or even aggressive in their driving, while Americans are more relaxed to the point that they are often clueless.

And like you, I can't stand people that will just pass the line, I actually with I had a bazooka mounted on my car just for them.

And I assume that driving in France for an American is much harder than driving in the US for a French.
From experience, I think it is a piece of cake, even driving in DC and Philly which are -I heard- the craziest places to drive in the US...
And in Florida, I really owned the road, while still being careful and respectful of others.

The one thing I can't stand about American drivers though is that they don't seem aware there are pedestrians and bicycles around...

I don't know how many times I almost got killed by people (very often by a sorority girl talking on her cell phone, but that's another story) who just didn't know what to do when facing the pedestrian or bike rider that I was.

I blame it on... well... certainly stupidity first, but also the fact that one doesn't really learn how to drive in the US, driver's licenses are given out way too easily.

Anonyme a dit…

My french husband has been in the US for seven years now and for him driving between the two countries is about the same (by the way, he was born in Aix and grew up around there). We used to live in Los Angeles, where you do have to be aggressive sometimes, so maybe it just depends on the city itself.

Xavier's theory is the more southern the country is, the worse the driving will be. Apparently, Italian drivers are crazy too - while it's a pleasure to drive in Germany, where it's more disciplined.

The Late Bloomer a dit…

I haven't had the "pleasure" of having to drive in France yet (given my lack of permis...) but I do admit that I dread it... I know that French drivers tend to be aggressive, and I hate how they try to "cheat" rather than patiently waiting their turn as well, as if it's their due -- but I think that's in line with so many other aspects of the culture!

Then again, I totally agree with David on driver's licenses in the U.S. -- even though I think it's ridiculous to charge SO much for a permis here in France, and make it SO difficult, I think it's far too easy in the U.S. to get a driver's license, and like they're pretty much handed our like candy. There needs to be some kind of happy medium...

Anonyme a dit…

I always find it interesting to partially block the lane that is trying to cheat up to a merge once I see there are no other options for someone to turn. Suprising that the line starts to move after a bit:-) Notice in long backups that truckers will do that on occasion.

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