A Whole New World…of Driving

1. I mentioned this when we were in early August, but man, these people drive SLOW. As in, they drive UNDER or EXACTLY the speed limit. As in, 29 mph (or 25!) on a main arterial clearly marked 30mph. I just want to car-slap them and promise them that God or police will not smite them for going a few miles over the limit, like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY DOES.


1a. Side benefit? You’ll never be cut off here–people don’t drive fast enough for that! Also, if you suddenly find you have to be in a different lane, you’ll be able to get there. With NYC drivers, that’s never a guarantee.

2. The signage. It’s awful. There are no signs at the tops of intersections. The regular street signs are really small (noticeably smaller than NYC), and offset to the side. Many or most are not reflective either, making it nearly impossible to see at night until you’re almost past where you want to turn. Even more, a good number of the street signs, especially at big intersections, are either one-sided or bleached, so that you can’t see what street you’re approaching.

For those four days we drove around Portland back in August, we literally missed every single turn except one, because it was hard to see the street signs.

3. There’s a lovely grid system in place here. Unfortunately, there’s a major flaw in the system–almost none of the streets go all the way through! We take a lot of surface streets, but we’ve learned the hard way that you can’t assume that a street will still be there in three blocks.

4. There is traffic here. It’s at rush hour times, in the appropriate directions you would expect (toward town in the morning, and heading north to Vancouver in the evening). But! At other times of day, the freeways are open and moving right along! (As opposed to the BQE, which is most likely to be at a near dead-stop even at 11pm on a Tuesday.)

5. Parking! It’s amazing! Pretty much everywhere except downtown, there is free side street parking! And downtown, it’s not difficult to find meter parking, which isn’t even very expensive. Plus it ends at 6pm. So easy!

6. How could I forget one of my favorite things? Free right turns! Hello beautiful, how I’ve missed you!

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