Archive for the ‘Driving’ Category

Green means go, no light means… what again?

Philly drivers are crazy to begin with, but what happens when a traffic light ceases to be a traffic light?

There’s been a signal at Broad and Jackson for who knows how long, but last Friday on my way to the subway I noticed that the light was out, and the intersection was a free-for-all. The cars on Broad Street seemed to think they had the right of way (being on a wide four-lane state highway with parked cars for a median), while the cars on puny little one-lane one-way Jackson Street just tried to sneak through across the intersection. The ones turning right from Jackson onto Broad had it easier. Woe to the driver insane enough to try a left turn onto Broad!

Even though Chapter 2 of the PA Driver’s Manual, “Signs, Signals and Pavement Markings”, clearly states that “[a] non-functioning traffic signal should be treated as though it were a four-way STOP sign”, does the city of Philadelphia really expect that drivers remember those silly rules from their learner’s permit days? Apparently not! Sometime over the weekend, big bright red stop signs were installed at each corner of Broad and Jackson.

Did this help the situation? Watch and learn!

The poor woman yelling “stop sign!” at all the drivers had been walking her dog and made several attempts to cross the street. She’d been waiting for about five minutes when she finally got fed up and marched right into the intersection. I myself did the same thing, because no one—seriously, no one—was stopping for pedestrians.

Adventures in PennDOT

Renewed license

After two and a half hours and several back and forths, I now hold in my hand my renewed Pennsylvania driver’s license.

The adventure started several weeks ago, when I sent in my renewal application form online with my payment of $26 (plus an extra $1 for Organ Donor Awareness). PennDOT promptly sent me the camera card to get my new ID, and I promptly lost it.

Today: adventures.


Morning bike rant

Here we go! I got the beep today, while riding my bike to work. It wasn’t much, but is enough to set me off.

Yes, I was in the middle of the road. Yes, I am there so that drivers of motorized vehicles and non-motorized vehicles see me. No, I am not putting myself there to be an obstacle to you, rude car driver. I am following the rules and getting to work, just as you are. I’m trying to do it safely. Buzz off. Look out for other drivers. There are thousands of bikers in Philly! I wish I had statistics on them.

Last week, my friend with a beautiful smile was “doored.” She was wearing her helmet, as all bikers should be, and still suffered a concussion, and has a nasty scab on her chin and up the front of her face. She is lucky that it wasn’t worse. I’m so glad her teeth weren’t ruined! Perhaps the driver should have looked before opening the door. Shouldn’t he have been looking, in case a car was coming his way? What if it had been a car?

This is just my little plea for drivers in Philly to watch out for the bikers (and pedestrians, for that matter). I know, I know – it works both ways. Bikers – wear helmets. Follow the rules. Get off the sidewalks! Go the correct way on a one-way street. Make drivers aware that you are on the road, too. Here are some links: for prescribed “safer” routes in the city and the Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver’s Manual.

In a city that is trying to start a bike-share program, don’t you think we should make it safer for bikers? (I’m talking to you, city government and law enforcement officers!) On top of that, I recently heard that Philadelphia is number one for bike thefts. Let’s change this! My friend who just returned from Japan said that there is so much respect there, you don’t even have to lock your bike. How about implementing this?

Spring Garden: a no flip flop zone

This is serious.

Especially given the high temperatures.

Are you wearing flip flops while traversing the mean Philly streets? Well good for you. But you must heed this warning…DON’T WEAR FLIP FLOPS ON SPRING GARDEN ST.

Thanks to the joys of routine city maintenence, Spring Garden is a disaster zone for cars and flip flops alike. They’re repaving the street, but currently the street is all dug up, with raised sewer covers and large divits.

So please, if you’re walking around and come to Spring Garden and you look down and remember that yes, you’re wearing flip flops…call a cab.

Trust me. Your toes will thank you.

Parkway Emergency Drill, Fairmount, Art Museum, Alert

What if there was an emergency on or around the Parkway while an event was happening? Amost every weekend something is going on in and around the Parkway, Art Museum, or Drives. The city in an attempt to be prepared is having an emergency drill tonight.

This Monday night drill will impact driving, Septa lines, and give you cause to wonder, “What’s going on?”

The following is from the READY PHILADELPHIA site about tonights exercise.

Road Closures and Detours
Road closures and detours will be in effect from approximately 6:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. The Police Department will barricade these locations:

Fairmount Avenue and Kelly Drive (inbound only)
Traffic will be detoured onto Fairmount Avenue. Right onto Pennsylvania to 21st Street, right onto 21st Street back to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

25th Street and Kelly Drive (inbound)
No traffic permitted into Eakins Oval.

25th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
Access to the Art Museum and Spring Garden Street Bridge will be through the Spring Garden Street Tunnel ONLY.

Spring Garden Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
Spring Garden Street traffic will access the tunnel for travel to West Philadelphia.

Eakins Oval at the outbound Kelly Drive entrance
No traffic permitted into Eakins Oval. This closure will allow outbound Parkway traffic to go north onto Kelly Drive.

Monday, August 6, 2007
Road Closures:
6:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Exercise: 8:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Eakins Oval, Benjamin Franklin Parkway

This is only a drill – there is no impending threat to the citizens of Philadelphia or the region.

During this exercise, residents should expect to see a large number of Fire and Emergency Medical vehicles, as well as private ambulances, responding to Eakins Oval, Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Residents should understand that there is no actual emergency.

Jury Duty in Philadelphia…more stuff

Each year, summonses are mailed to Philadelphia residents using a combined list of all registered voters and adult licensed drivers.
In order to qualify for jury service, you must meet the following requirements:
You must be able to read, write, and speak the English language.
You must not have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.
You must be physically and mentally able to perform the functions of a juror.
You must be a United States citizen at the time you are summoned.
You must be a Philadelphia resident and at least 18 years of age.

If you are not mentally or physically able to serve as a juror, provide medical certification in the remarks section of the questionnaire. If you are requesting to be excused for a job related reason, your employer should certify the hardship in the remarks section.

If you are no longer a resident of the City and County of Philadelphia, please indicate your new address in the remarks section. You are not be required to report.

Q. How often must I serve?
A:If a person serves for one or two days, they need not serve again for a period of one year. If service is for three or more days, the exemption period is three years.

Q. Why have some people never been called for jury service and I’ve been called more than once?
A:As mentioned earlier, selection is a random process. As such, there is always the chance that a person may never be called while another may be called several times. It is truly the “luck of the draw”. However, if your name appears one way on the voter list and another way on your driver’s license, your chances of being called increase. The court is not permitted to make changes to these lists.

But the point being made by Sherri W. is. If you must speak English in order to serve on a Jury why would there be a question in Spanish asking you if you speak English with a box for you to check YES? A box for NO makes sense but not a box for YES.

Smart Card getting Smarter

The Philadelphia Parking Authority is hoping to expand the Parking Meter Smart Card to include Taxi fares and Garage fees soon, as well as Septa and Patco fares sometime next year.
Presently to pay for parking with Smart Card, you simply insert it into the slot on the parking meter. The meter will read the tiny microchip embedded in your card and show you how much money is left on your Smart Card.

Your card will automatically begin adding time to the meter in 25¢ increments, deducting that amount of money from the remaining value on your card. When you reach the desired amount of time on the meter, remove your card from the slot.

Cards will not add time beyond the meter’s pre-set limit, or if purchasing additional time would carry you into a time when parking is prohibited on that block. For example, if your meter is zoned for two hour parking, you will not be able to pay for more than two hours. Similarly, if you park in a space at 3:30 PM that is zoned No Parking 4 PM – 6 PM, you will only be able to pay for 30 minutes using your Smart Card.

At this time, Smart Cards are not to re-loadable; when your Smart Card runs out, please discard it and purchase another.

Have any ideas for other ways the Smart Card can be used?

Gobble, gobble!

Saturday afternoon I was driving south on Route 55 to visit my cousin in Cape May. It’s usually a fairly boring if pleasant drive through South Jersey—less scenic that Route 47 but a hell of a lot quicker. Now I’ve seen my share of interesting things on the side of the road, but this was just awesome!


This wasn’t the first time turkey have graced the shoulder of the highway, but it still amuses me each and every time.

Philly Charm (Not So Much)

Yesterday my friend and I were driving on the Baltimore Pike to Clifton Heights (to go to a formal dress shop so I could try on bridesmaid’s dresses for my sister’s upcoming wedding). At one point along the way, I didn’t get in the long line of cars in the right lane and I quickly realized that the left lane was only for turning left, which I didn’t want to do. But I also didn’t want to sail on up to the front of the line of cars though as if I was just trying to cut to the front, so I stopped and tried to get in where I was.

Of course, the one car behind us started honking. And the people to our right appeared to have no intention of letting us in. I know I could have given up and just gone on and turned left and gone around the block, but I wasn’t really familiar with the area and it really seemed unnecessary if someone would just let me in. So my friend called out the window to the driver next to us and asked if she would let us in. Now, really, I think it was pretty clear I wasn’t trying to cut the whole line or I wouldn’t be trying to get in at the end of the line, but in spite of this the woman turned with anger and said, “No way, you’re not getting in here. Try someone else.”


Comebacks went through both of our heads, but neither of us actually said anything out loud. We just sat there with our mouths agape. And then the light turned and I made it obvious that I was going to get in that lane, so I inched over and the car behind the angry woman reluctantly allowed me to get in.

I can’t say this experience improved my impression of Philly drivers.

Free parking bites the dust

Every time I’ve been to the art museum, I’ve looked out over the the lines of cars parked behind the building and wondered about the parking rules. There never seemed to be anyone minding the lot and it looked pretty much like a free for all system. I always had a hard time believing that though, because it’s the art museum. Parking couldn’t possibly be free.

Well, it turns out it was, at least on weekdays, although according to the art blog, it isn’t any longer. They say that the PMA will now charge $5 for parking 7 days a week, although starting April 1st, members of the museum will be eligible for $1 discount.

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