Dear Drivers on Main Street: No U-Turns Please, and Other Safety Suggestions


Dear Wonderful Readers:

It's time to have a heart-to-heart with ourselves about driving, especially on the narrow streets of Beacon. I know that some of you live in Beacon, some in other river towns, and some in NYC. If you live in NYC and are visiting us up in Beacon, your regular city-driving habits may stick with you when you get here. Namely: driving fast (you have to in NYC, otherwise you'd get get eaten by other cars), making U-Turns in the middle of the street, or swerving around cars who are parallel parking or turning left. The thing is, those driving habits don't work in Beacon, and will cause you to crash into another car. It's time to leave this habit on the curb for no one to pick up.

If you've migrated to Beacon from NYC, and even if you've lived here for 10+ years, those city tendencies may be ingrained in your brain, and the habit is hard to kick. You may have already had spousal or partner fights about this while taking a hard left out of nowhere in order to snag a parking spot. Does. Not. Work. That. Way. In. Beacon. In Beacon, there are lots of one-way streets heading the opposite way for you to go, and you just need to go down one of those roads in order to get back to where you want to be.

The U-Turn Epidemic - It's Real

There's been chatter about the growing number of U-turns. I'd heard it, but figured it was nothing more than disgruntled Road Ragers. Normally I avoid driving on Main Street because it's so narrow, and there are so many ways to have accidents: grazing car doors as people open them before looking, hitting jaywalkers who pop out between parked SUVs, or just having a hard time parallel parking, unless you've got skillz (which I do have, I just don't like to use them unless I really really have to). So I don't see the crazy driving on Main Street much. Until I drove a friend to The Dump last Saturday. A very short cruise down Main Street - about 300 feet - was packed with crazy drivers. There's no other way to put it.

First there was the guy who was driving west down Main Street, saw the free parking lot on Cliff Street, rubbernecked it, and made a U-turn in Cliff Street in order to veer back east into the parking lot (which was little did he know he would be stuck in that parking lot because it's very narrow and hard to get out of once you're in, if you do not score a parking spot). He was so focused on the parking lot, that he didn't see the two cars behind him who had to hit their brakes, fast. Those two cars had just passed me as I turned right out of Willow Street (already a very hard turn because of the way parked cars hamper visibility), so I almost drove into these cars, who were almost driving into the Party Foul U-Turn guy. (If only Party Foul U-Turn Guy had checked our Parking Guide ahead of time for more lot options...)

This is only one day after a local store's van did the same thing. So it's safe to say that everyone is doing it.

Driving Around Parallel Parkers - Not OK or Legal

Next, after the U-Turn Guy, there was a stream of cars driving east around a Parallel Parker down near Bank Square Coffee. These people had driven into the other lane, oncoming traffic - crossing the double yellow line - in order to get around the Parallel Parker. This, coupled with the sharp bend in the road, when they don't see oncoming cars like mine until it's too late.

A few months ago, I committed a party foul jaywalk on Main Street in front of the Mountain Scout Survival School storefront. I was almost run over by a car driving around another car who was parallel parking. First off, I shouldn't have been jaywalking, I know, but I did so because the crosswalks by Bank Square and by Hudson Beach Glass feel very unsafe to me. One is at a three-way intersection where not everyone stops while coming off of 9D, and the other is on a major bend in the road. So I had been opting to cross on my own without a crosswalk. Needless to say, I don't do that anymore.

Bad Idea when someone decides to go around a Parallel Parker, and isn't expecting to see a pedestrian, and almost hits them. Yes, if you're reading this, that was me, and you (and I) were wrong, despite you shouting that you did nothing wrong. I called the Beacon Police this morning to ask about the rules on this and here it is:

If there is a solid yellow line on your side, then you cannot go around a car who is parallel parking.

Done. So we all just need a little patience. Use the extra few seconds to look around and spy the latest storefront.

Going Around Cars Turning Left Into Driveways

Also a bad idea. If a car in front of you has put their blinker on and slowed down to turn left into a driveway, then you also need to stop until they have turned left. It's common sense, as why would you want to drive into a car who will almost certainly drive into you? But it happens. My street is a bit wider than other streets, and when I slow to turn left into my driveway, it inspires the car behind me to go around me on the left. Just odd.

Patience. Patience. Patience.

That is what small towns are for. Slowing down, looking around, and being kind to one another. If you don't, then the cops are likely to come out, and take their time Party Fouling everyone for these silly traffic violations that are so easily avoided. You don't want a ticket. Police have better things to do. The tickets really aren't a revenue generator because just think about the number of tickets you haven't paid. It's just an administrative clog. So slow down, and think it out. And that goes for all of us. Me, you, everyone.