One of the biggest dilemmas when travelling to any city is how to get around. While the primary mode of transportation for most people is by car, it doesn’t mean it’s actually the best way to get around, especially if you are visiting a city for the first time.
When it comes to driving in New York City, one of the best pieces of advice is this, don’t. Getting behind the wheel in New York City and especially Manhattan can be brutally exhausting, even for locals. If you drive to New York City, leave your car wherever you are staying.
Driving in New York City can be complicated at times, especially if you don’t know where you’re going. Every State has their own driving laws and in most of them making a right hand turn at a red light is fine. In New York, there is no right turns on red lights, it’s simply illegal so don’t.
While not being able to make right hand turns at red lights seems inconsequential, once you add in the fact, most streets in New York are one way, it just adds to the frustration. If you miss your turn, it can be a challenge to find a way back around. Even if you have a talking GPS system, you might not be able to get into the turning lane as New York streets can get quite gridlocked during certain times of day. Also, due to the large buildings in Manhattan, the GPS can have difficulty working properly. There is no worse feeling than driving in Manhattan and having your GPS stop working.
Even worse for new and unaware drivers in New York is reverse directions. During peak rush hours, some lanes are closed or reversed, so a street you took one way in the morning, can go the opposite direction later in the day. Not being aware of these switches can get you an easy traffic ticket or worse, an accident.
Friday’s and long holiday weekends are considered grid lock days, they also happen to be when tourists like to travel. Parking law enforcement will be out full force those days and being stuck in the middle of an intersection will get you a ticket instantly. Lastly, good luck finding decent parking spots.
The beauty of Manhattan is, once you’re in, there’s no need for a car. There are plenty of other ways to get around. While it’s advised not to drive, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid all cars.
Another disadvantage of driving is the tough enforcement the New York Police Department take on DWI drivers. Enjoying Manhattan should be the main focus, not having to worry about how much you have had to drink. The beauty of New York is that you just don’t need to drive, and that is one reason why the drunk driving arrest rates are so low in comparison to the overall population of the city. DUI Attorney Sacramento Michael Rehm, who practices in both Sacramento and New York, states that Sacramento County gets nearly the same amount of drunk driving arrests every month as NYC. Considering that New York’s population is much greater than Sacramento, one can quickly see the value in public transportation overall.
While their reputation may precede them, New York taxi drivers can get you anywhere you need to go in Manhattan. They know the area and drive without fear. It might cost you a little more, they certainly are efficient, assuming you don’t take one during rush hour. A taxi driver can also provide you some insight about what to see or where to go in Manhattan.
At night, taking a taxi could be the best choice to get home or back to your hotel. If you’ve been out painting the town, walking or taking an alternative could get you lost or a victim of crime.
Walking throughout Manhattan might actually be the best way to explore it. As long as the weather is nice, taking a stroll through Central Park can be sublime. Since the size of Central Park is massive, there are also bicycle rentals that you can take advantage of. It’s the perfect way to explore most of Central Park at a pace faster than walking.
Outside of Central Park, walking is still one of the best modes of transportation, especially during rush hours. Manhattan is a densely packed hub of happenings, there’s so much to see, so much to try and photo opportunities on just about every single block.
Buses outside of peak traffic hours can be the best method of transportation. If you are trying to get cross town, meaning east or west, a bus can do it cheaply and in a reasonable amount of time. Although, you will need to be more vigilant, so that you don’t miss your stop.
If you are trying to take a bus uptown or downtown (north or south), you’ll need to be aware of “limited,” stop busses. They have orange or purple cards that indicate, the bus only stops at major cross streets.
It’s been said that, all true New Yorkers take the subway. The subway runs 24/7 and is by far the quickest way to travel. The New York subway system is iconic in its own right and must be used at least once by anyone visiting. The subway system is quite extensive and can get you practically anywhere.
While the subway can get packed during peak hours, it’s still much better than gridlocked traffic. However, since the subway system runs 24/7, extra caution should be taken when using the subway late at night. While crime isn’t as rampant as it was before, there is always a chance of being a victim.