Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Joe Frank: Unsafe at Any Speed

Joe Frank: Unsafe at Any Speed

(Portions of this post were in an email from me on Friday..)

At 8 AM Friday, June 30, 2006 I went out to Deer Creek Shopping Center and got a learner's permit. I have never had a driver's license before; so this is a pretty big deal I suppose.

So, maybe sometime in the next year, I'll actually become a licensed driver in the state of Missouri? Assuming I don't really screw up....

Anyway, I hope this doesn't diminish my pro-transit, pro-urbanity street cred.

At least I did take the 'early bus' out there. (Took the #310 I-44
at 7:15 AM, to Murdoch and Shrewsbury Aves. about 7:40, walking up Shrewsbury Ave. and Big Bend Blvd. with a stop at the McDonald's next to Deer Creek for my not-so-secret addiction: a McGriddle sandwich!)

I arrived in the Highway Patrol testing station about 8, got out before 8:30 and had to wait outside in a long line (last day of the month, ya know) at Garrett Lott's fee office down the way. So, yes, I did put $2.50 into his pocket, plus $1.00 to DOR.

My score was only 83 on the 'written' test (actually, its on a computer touch-screen), and I had trouble pressing my forehead on the eye-chart/road-sign device. But, it worked out ok.

Still, I was happy to get out of there by 9:00.

Then I walked northeast to Sutton Loop, caught the #16 City Limits to Delmar station, then MetroLink downtown by 10.

So, even to take my driving test (the written/vision/road sign part
anyway) I used public transit and my feet!

On Saturday, I practiced (with my wife Kelly bravely in the passenger seat) in the most convenient, mostly empty parking lot we could find: St. Louis Marketplace!

The western end (formerly Pace/Sam's and Builders Square) is particularly empty. Indeed, several other new drivers were practicing there, too!

On Sunday, we tried on-street driving for a few minutes anyway, starting at a (yet another) largely empty parking lot: Kenrick Plaza! That 1980s strip mall has connections to the streets behind, including several bizarre little condominium developments. Most of these streets were little-traveled, so a good place to practice, but there were some harrowing moments.

It seems that folks who cut through from Watson to Laclede Station via little Kenrick Manor Drive, didn't really appreciate it when I was driving 15 MPH in a 20 MPH zone; and actually making a full stop at (most of) the stop signs. So at least one driver did speed up and swerve around me at about Kenrick Manor and Knights of Columbus Drives.

I guess I need to go a little faster, eh?



Travis Reems said...

I aced my first written test (was actually pencil and paper back then), but failed the driving portion due to a stop sign hidden by a tree.

So, why the sudden interest in a driver's license if you've made it this long without one?

Michael Allen said...

Do you really want to the leave the non-driver urban blogger status to Claire alone?

Anonymous said...

Don't driver's licenses expire later than non-driver's or state-issued ID's? Maybe Joe just wants to vote early and often with his newly earned photo ID.

And as another regular transit rider, I know that having a license doesn't mean you'll stop taking transit. Despite having a license, I can usually count on one hand all the times I'm behind the wheel of a car each month.

Anonymous said...

I am also a regular transit rider because i do not drive. State id and drivers license are each vaild for six years according to missouri govt. website if you are under 70 years old. State ids have no expiration date if you get one after you turn 70 but drivers license still has to be renewed every six years.

Umar Lee said...

did you give up bloggibng when you started driving?

Joe said...

I'm still here! I'm in the BlogoSphere less not because of driver training, but because of being busy with other things - school/work, family stuff, etc.

I have had a 'non-drivers license' state ID since 2001, but it expires after six years, on 11/07/2007 (my 29th birthday). Plus, it still had my old home address on Indiana Ave.
Also, my U.S. passport will expire, after ten years, in April 2007.

So, I've set those expiration dates as tentative deadlines for me to get a 'real' driver's license in the State of Missouri.

Many family and friends have been quietly nudging me to learn to drive for quite a while now. It's time.

But, given the ridiculous cost of parking on university campuses, and the new free Metro pass offered to WashU-ites, I'll be sticking with public transit for commuting for at least the next two years.

I'll mainly use the license for running errands and long-distance driving.

I thought a while back Claire was looking for a driver training school?