I recently had reason to travel to Halifax, Nova Scotia for a single day. I usually go a few times each year to pick up my son and bring him back to Newfoundland for a visit. I lived there for a long time, and am used to the roads, the traffic, the hustle and bustle. Or so I thought.
The Cape Breton drive was quite nice, as I waited for an hour or two before heading up the Trans Canada Highway to let traffic get away. Once I got to the Canso Causeway, the highway improvements were really noticeable. The entire drive is now just a sliver over 400 km.
However, once I made the turn at Truro to head south and directly to Halifax, my blood pressure shot up through the roof of the car. The level of traffic probably quadrupled. The speed of cars all around me probably went up by a fifth. And the space between cars went from 10 or 15 car lengths down to maybe two, if that.
It was legitimately frightening. I tend to maybe jump the speed limit by 5 km/h. I’m just never in that big a hurry. But cars were tailgating me, passing me and then cutting me off very quickly, so they could get out of the way of the guy tailgating them. I was stressed before I even got anywhere near the city itself.
I watched one car pass me at an extreme rate of speed, and then from the left-most lane, cut off the car in front of me, shoot three lanes over to the right, and barely make the right-handed exit he shot for. It was scary as hell.
In town, despite a posted speed of 50 km/h, it was apparent that if I wanted to not get rear-ended, I would have to drive 65 or 70. The aggression and impatience of the majority of drivers in Halifax was shocking.
When did everyone get themselves in such a big hurry? What is so important that you would take so many insane chances just to get to your destination maybe 10 minutes early? And that’s not even accounting for the fuel you waste by driving like your hair is on fire.
Halifax has a lot of roads and a lot of cars. It’s only common to miss the light and have to wait twice through an intersection. When so many people are so blatantly reckless, it not only makes the average driver (me) more nervous, it gives the city itself a bad reputation.
It puts me in mind of Corner Brook multiplied by 100. We know that Port aux Basques has no street lights, so when we go to Corner Brook, it takes an adjustment to lights and increased traffic. Halifax is like that, but on all the steroids.
I have to take my son back in two months. I might take the day boat so that we get there at midnight. It ought to be a teensy bit less scary at that time.
Next time, though, I’m probably going to face my fear and just fly instead. It can’t possibly be any more frightening.