Saturday, June 24, 2006

DC Cab Drivers, For My Safety, Please Drive Aggressively

By taking a more downtown-centric route to work these days, I often get to enjoy the near demolition derby obstacle course comprised of metro buses and DC cabs. Coming from the "city", or really just one of its suburbs, I have driven around Manhattan enough times to know the cabbies know what they're doing and to know that if you can drive well in the city, you can drive anywhere. They know their cabs' width and length to the millimeter so when they make a quick move around a car that looks close, I know they'll make it through. They know the traffic lights, the traffic patterns, and which pedestrians actually won't cross when the sign says "don't walk" (only tourists don't). Most importantly, NYC cabbies know everyone wants to get to wherever they're going as fast as possible - not only the people in the backseat, but every driver around them. Unfortunately, DC cabbies don't recognize this mindset and are the most passive paid drivers in the history of livery service.

I never knew this movie existed either.

Outside of Sunday joy rides, most everyone with a pulse is trying to get wherever they're going as fast as possible. When you ride in a cab, you expect the cabbie knows his implied job is to quickly get you where you need to go. DC cabbies skip that class in cabbie school like college seniors skip their last class in phys. ed. Whatever the reason, the cabbies around here stop at yellow lights and don't turn right on red when they're allowed. If DC wasn't operating under a zone system, they'd be trying to glean that extra quarter from the customer by making the trip last longer, but even without customers they'll still drive like your grandmother.

NYC cabbies...the best of the best.

If a cabbie and I are in the right lane and waiting for a driver to make a right turn in front of us, the common sense (aggressive) move for us is to briefly turn into the left lane and get around the turning car. I want to show courtesy to the cabbie and let him/her make the move first, but they never do, so I'll turn into the left lane first and head down the road. All a DC cabbie has to do is make a decisive move around the car and all of DC's traffic issues would go away. Well not really, but it'd be a start.

As far as I know, finding the gas pedal in a cab can't be this hard.

Outside of not blocking the box (that's the center of an intersection) and getting stuck in no man's land (I mean no person's land to be PC and all) on a red light, my continuous traffic engineering internship (gained from 10 years of driving) has taught me that traffic would improve faster than a NJ K-turn once cabbies drive aggressively and faster than 2 miles over the speed limit. In other words, like the rest of us who didn't growup in DC, MD, or VA.


DC Cab Rider said...

I haven't ridden in a NYC cab in YEARS, so can only say that when I did, it was a truly frightening experience that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Who knows, maybe they've gotten better.

Mad Cabbie said...

Since we have a zone flat system in Washington, DC cabbies can't make more money because they drive slow.

And we don't have to rush because we are not slaves like NY, Boston, Montgomery County MD, LA, Arlington, Fairfax etc....cabbies who have to pay $100+ a shift to rent those cabs and have to hustle their asses off, all most all the cabs are owner operated in DC. You should be thankful that you ride with a cabbie who obeys the law and keep your ass alive instead of ending up in a wheel chair for the rest of your life.

Does it make sense?

B and T Crowd said...
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B and T Crowd said...

Seeing as how the traffic flows in DC, rather aggresively, it's slower drivers that are more dangerous for not keeping up with the flow of traffic. I appreciate the correction in how DC cabs function, but if they don't have to drive slower to pump their meter rates up, it's all the more reason to keep up with traffic and get more customers.