How Not To Be A D*ck While Driving In Montreal

It's not actually all that difficult.

Staff Writer
Pedestrians cross a busy street in Montreal during winter.

Pedestrians cross a busy street in Montreal during winter.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

"Oh Jesus Christ! What was THAT?!" I interrupt my new friend Aiden for the sixth time in one 15-minute walk along rue Sherbrooke. I've been desperately trying to follow our conversation, but every few minutes I'm wildly distracted by the worst driving maneuvers I've ever had the misfortune of witnessing. Welcome to Montreal.

Driving here is an exercise in desperation and treachery, with foolhardy speeding as common as the stop signs people barely acknowledge on their way through the suburbs. It's expensive and time-consuming to own a car, but somehow the worst drivers in the world are able to afford and maintain their own vehicle in this public transit-powered city.

If you're going to be driving through slush or rain, stuck in traffic downtown or white-knuckling through the tunnels of Montreal, here are eight things to keep in mind so the people around you don't wish death upon your head as soon as you take the wheel.

Step out of the fast lane

Okay hotshot, it's time to calm down and let other people use the passing lane (yes, that's what it's for). You don't need to hog miles of prime passing territory just because you're five minutes late to pilates.

This even holds true when there's no traffic — it's about the principle of the thing: behaving respectfully even when you're on your own. You wouldn't fail to put back your empty grocery cart if no one was watching, would you?

...Would you??

Signal, signal, signal

When you're leaving the passing lane at a reasonable speed, please (please) PLEASE use the little lever that shows everyone around you exactly what you plan to do. Don't blindside your driving peers with maneuvers that come out of nowhere — cars are DANGEROUS, y'all, it's not GTA V.
Use your signal when you're turning, but also, and this one matters double: signal while passing.

Pass like a person

Signal when you pass someone, giving them a chance to slow down and let you over. Don't cut them off, don't squeeze into a gap so small your cat wouldn't dare slip through. It's not only safer for them but also safer for you!

The corollary here is to let people in when they're trying to merge. It's really easy: just slow down and allow your neighbour to slide in front of you. Will you get to your destination marginally, infinitesimally slower? Perhaps! But you'll have the comfort of knowing that you don't drive like a d*ck.

Listen to the lights

Now that you're staying in your lane, you're unbothered and flourishing, and oh no the light is yellow but you're SO close to being able to cross the intersection — okay, well, not that close, but you can totally make it if you just step on it and— STOP!

Stop DOING that! When you see a yellow light, slow down and carefully stop at the line, not over the line, but right at the line. We all know not to turn right on red, but rushing a yellow is nearly as cardinal of a sin.

This includes rushing on crossing lights, which is a problem because you really need to:

Yield to pedestrians, for crying out loud

Let's read that again together: yield to pedestrians. We can all see you sneaking around the corner over the crosswalk, and the pedestrians just trying to walk across the street do actually care about the teeny tiny scooches forward that threaten their safety.

They're still people, they're just walking instead of driving. This is not that hard. Even when there are no lights pointing out how to behave, use your best judgement (no, not your quickest judgement or your most impatient judgement) and allow people to cross the street without worrying about where your car is nosing in.

Keep your trash to yourself

While you're waiting for the slowest person on planet Earth to plod cautiously across the icy street, you might be tempted to eject some waste materials out of your window.

Hey, don't do that!

Cigarettes, food waste, wrappers and bottles, all of it should remain firmly embedded in the inch-thick layer of debris that coats your passenger-side footwell.

It's your trash, so don't make it anyone else's problem. It doesn't just disappear when it leaves your hermetically sealed rolling dumpster. I mean, your perfectly nice car. Sorry.

Pay attention to cyclists

When you finally make it home after a painstaking journey of behaving respectfully and not like a loose animal, be sure to check your doors for incoming cyclists. They deserve better than to die by your hand, and that's literally what can happen if you're not careful.

Cyclists don't benefit from a protective layer of metal and plastic around them, which means, unfortunately for you, it is in fact your responsibility to care about their safety, even if you don't want to.

So don't crowd cyclists, don't steal their lanes, and remember that everyone on the road is just trying to get home at the end of the day. Don't we all deserve that much?

Think outside the car

While we're imagining that space outside your vehicle where cyclists exist, let's remember that this space is actually not just occupied by cyclists.

In fact, the space outside your car is where the rest of the world lives, and it's worth remembering that most of the time, we aren't operating as car-people. Although plenty of people require their car to survive, plenty more are surviving without relying on this space-hogging, polluting machine — and don't think that electric cars are that much better: you're still buying a new car, and it takes fossil fuels to make that happen.

When you're not driving, pay attention to the role cars are playing in your life. Do they make the air easier to breathe, or do they cause hundreds of deaths annually? Does car-centric infrastructure improve the lives of people living near those developments? Are parking lots a net good for society?

Listen, I'm just asking questions.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Willa Holt
Staff Writer
Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused on apartments for rent and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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