Dear readers, it's time once again for Etiquette Week. Last year we brought you such rulebook gems as How to Conduct Yourself Like a Human in a Bar or Club and How to Behave on Public Transportation. This year, we have some marvelous new dictums to share with you on a variety of topics near and dear to all of us. Today we kick things off with a little driving lesson.
If you do not understand which streets are one-way, you should perhaps be using Siri, or another GPS.
There's a famous old chestnut attributed to a certain sort of born and bred Vermonter that goes, "You can't get there from here." Well, that is often the case in San Francisco, at least when it comes to the logic of a normal grid system, or trying to speed directly downtown via Market Street. Market Street, as most of you should know, is technically verboten for civilian vehicles east of 8th Street. If you haven't followed the instructions and turned right by then as you drive down it, you will be asked to do so once and finally on 6th Street. Also, to get from anywhere on Upper Market to, say, Union Square, you actually need to turn off much earlier and make a loop through SoMa or shoot up Franklin because Franklin is your final opportunity to turn left off of Market. Got that? Also, Ellis is sometimes a two-way street and sometimes a one-way street, and it goes one-way in each direction at different points. Anyway. We won't go on with specifics, but if any of the above things are news to you, we don't ever want to be in a car with you, and you should really have Siri on speaker guiding you at all times.
You are not allowed to wait for a parking space to clear out in the middle of a busy side street like it's the Best Buy parking lot.
We've seen it time and again. You're a newbie to the city and you think that just because you saw someone get in their car, you can pull your Mini Cooper up behind them and sit there while they check their messages/fix their hair/connect their iPods and eventually pull out of the spot. If it's the dead of night, sure, maybe you can do this. But this isn't goddamn San Bernardino and those electric wires over your head mean that the 5-Fulton is going to be bearing down on you within seconds, so no, this is not your personal parking lot, and you will need to circle around again and hope the spot is still there. That is all.
Now let's talk parallel parking.
Parallel parking can be scary... if you're 16. For the rest of us, it's time to step up and park in a decisive, efficient manner. Don't pull up in front of a spot and then dally for 20 minutes: you're blocking the lane for cyclists and other drivers, and it's just embarrassing for everyone. If you come in at the wrong angle or it's a tight spot, you should feel justified in pulling out and trying again, but don't get flustered. It'll just take longer if you do. Motion for people to pass you if they think you're leaving and are waiting for your spot. You're not leaving, you're just... getting comfortable.
The BMW quandary.
If you drive a Beemer and consider yourself pure of heart, you must strive to be even less of a dick than everyone else on the road. Same goes for Lexus owners.
Learn to turn right on a red the right way.
That thing where you're making a right on a red and you don't look. Because you never look? Because the entire world revolves around you and your Prius? Don't do that. You need to look at pedestrians and cyclists coming in from the left and right.
Use turn signals, people.
We are not animals. And do not flip that shit on mere seconds before you slam the breaks and hang a hard left.
Bumper Sticker ideology needs careful curation
It's the vehicular equivalent of putting stickers on your AirBook. You've got our attention, but you're also kinda sad if you can't produce serious thought or a good chuckle. Unless you've exceptionally clever, few can get away with a good bumper sticker or Jesus decal. Proceed with caution, wordsmiths of the road.
Do not fight with cyclists.
Leave that behavior to the commenting sections of popular, award-winning blogs. You drive what is essentially a death machine. Do not pick a fight or fan the flames with a cyclist. Besides, more often than not, you were in the wrong.
Groups of four or more men in a car at night.
This should be banned universally. Nothing good can come from a gaggle of hormone-infused sausages in a car late at night. And God help you if you pull up next to them at the signal. Look, if you are a dude and find yourself in a car with three or more fellas, try to be the calm, levelheaded one.
Learn how to merge.
You go, then I go, then you go, then I go. It's like a zipper, not a pair of tear-away pants.
Jay Barmann, Andrew Dalton, Rose Garrett and Brock Keeling all contributed to this report.