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Chicago Traffic
Steven Vance/Flickr

24 things you will definitely see driving in Chicago

Written by
Brent DiCrescenzo

While driving in Chicago is not a renowned clusterfuck like Los Angeles traffic, it's still no walk in the park. For starters, we have far more pedestrians to dodge, not to mention highways confusingly named after dead politicians, and that Mad Max stretch of the Dan Ryan as it zips past downtown. Our city streets are a grid and they often get locked, which gives us a lot of time to observe. Here, then, are 24 things that always encounter while traveling the roads, expressways, alleys and tollways of Chicago and the 'burbs.

1. People cruising in a convertible when it’s 50 degrees… with the windows rolled up.

2. Guys selling cotton candy off a giant pole in Logan Square and off Cicero. And pickup trucks loaded with watermelons on the side of the road in the summer.

3. Pickup trucks precariously overloaded with scrap metal pulling out of alleys.

4. Someone "pulling a Sloane"—flirting with people in other cars. Though usually it's some creepy douche.

5. The plastic smiles of Eric & Kathy gleaming at you from billboards.

6. People just casually walking out into the middle of the street, oblivious to oncoming traffic.

7. Fireworks firing in the middle of the road (on the Fourth of July, mostly).

8. Some out-of-towner or rookie completely unable to parallel park on a busy street, holding up traffic with their endless attempts to fit their car in a spot. 

9. Or that parking ace pulling off “The Chicago Kiss,” that maneuver where a car parallels into in a spot the exact width of the car, via a few nudging love taps.

10. A line of vehicles that looks like traffic, but is actually a backed-up queue for the car wash. Are those things fronts or what?

11. Cyclists going faster than you.

12. People walking up to your car late at night thinking you’re their Uber ride.

13. Junker American cars from the 1970s totally eroded by winter salt, falling apart before your eyes.

14. Some stupid dude crossing four lanes at the last second, jockeying for position in the "fastest" toll booth line. We always pray he's stuck behind someone like…

15. That poor soul who stopped too far away from the toll, door open, leaning horizontally to reach the change basket.

16. Or that person with the dead I-PASS backing out of the automatic lane to get into a cash toll.

17. Rahm’s motorcade running red lights… while you slam on the brakes to avoid getting a robotic ticket. 

18. Giant flags hanging out of cars on foreign independence days.

19. Okay, it's a a scent, not a sight, but that potent, sulfurous smell of scrambled eggs that hits you when entering Indiana on the Skyway.

20. Cars suddenly jerk-swerving on LSD, trying to avoid the giant potholes. 

21. Did we say "potholes?" Perhaps "sinkholes" is a better term.

22. Bucket boys drumming off the Dan Ryan.

23. BASS. So much bass coming from a car stereo you not only feel it in your bowels, but you lose your vision from vibrations.

24. Dibs.

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