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Crazed by your commute? There’s at all times Bismarck

Editor’s observe: Mr. Roadshow needed to share a few of his favourite columns and tales from greater than 30 years of informing, entertaining and getting issues modified for Bay Space (and past) drivers. He’ll be again on the highway with new materials quickly. Within the meantime, please hold sending Mr. Roadshow your feedback or inquiries to mrroadshow@bayareanewsgroup.com.
This story initially was revealed on Feb. 2, 1997.


That is it. Commuter heaven.

The fewest site visitors issues of any important metropolis in your complete U.S. of A. No site visitors reviews each 10 minutes. No carpool lanes. Metering lights? Bah, humbug. Triple left-turn lanes? Not right here. Driver rage? You gotta be kidding.

Locations Rated Almanac ranks the capital of North Dakota No. 1 within the nation with regards to the shortest and least disturbing commute. Individuals right here truly dwell 5 blocks from work. In comparison with us, they acquire an additional three weeks of trip a 12 months in time they save motoring to their job.

“Driving in North Dakota is a time for reflection and contemplation,” stated Beryl Levine, a retired state Supreme Courtroom justice who final summer season moved from North Dakota to Palo Alto. “It’s an exquisite respite out of your cares of the day.”


We gotta – simply gotta – test this out. A spot to truly get in your automotive and relax.

And, I do imply chill. In Bismarck, it’s a BIG one.

Like minus 22 levels (that’s proper, 22 under zero) on Monday night time when Mr. Roadshow landed. In three days it by no means warmed above zero. That’s chilly. The Eating regimen Coke I left inside a rented four-wheel-drive Ford Explorer was a cup of black ice inside minutes. That’s actually chilly. I used to be freezing – regardless of carrying snow boots, a full-length down-filled coat that would heat a grizzly, gloves and each turtleneck I may scrounge up. Man, I seemed geeky. Actually, actually chilly and geeky.

Then the bitter, bitter wind blew, bringing tears and sniffles to crusty Mr. Roadshow.

Some commuter heaven.

“We actually don’t have site visitors right here,” smiled Lenor Dollinger of Bismarck as she ate at a north aspect breakfast scorching spot, Perkins. “And the climate isn’t often this dangerous.”


Ah, Bismarck. Second-largest metropolis within the state, the place the mighty Missouri River roars by . . . when it’s not frozen over to a glacial state. The place almost 60,000 folks dwell – a 7 % enhance since 1990. The place a brand new intersection on the north aspect is the engineering speak of city. The place site visitors lights flip inexperienced as you method. The place, regardless of claims this winter, it’s not a blizzard 12 months ’spherical.

Oh, my cynical Californians.

I can hear you all now: “Nobody lives in Bismarck. That’s why there’s no site visitors. . . . Do they depend snowmobilers? The nice life is the Bay Space, not the place the wind chill hits minus-60 levels.”

Hey, Bismarck ain’t excellent, however it’s snappy behind the wheel.

You may drive from the north finish to the south finish of city in 14 minutes. Years in the past, sensible site visitors engineers turned drawback streets into one-way thoroughfares. They even have an expressway . . . that’s one expressway.

What’s the push?

When the drive isn’t any sweat (in a North Dakota winter, there isn’t a sweating), would-be lunatics behind the wheel are remodeled. They drive slower. Why pace when your vacation spot is seldom greater than 5 minutes away? Some look out for older drivers (there are many ’em). That could be the town motto.

“You may’t survive right here with out your neighbors,” Dollinger stated. “It’s important to rely on them.”

When energy went out this winter, drivers approaching clean site visitors lights all stopped (which is what the regulation requires). When the ability went out in San Jose final summer season, so many drivers blew via darkish intersections that site visitors cops pleaded for a newspaper story to inform ’em they needed to cease.

“If you end up not in your automotive for an hour a day every means, the drop in stress is unimaginable,” stated Almanac co-author David Savageau. “You even have time for different issues.”

Like consuming, sleeping or chatting with the spouse and youngsters.

Bismarck drivers spend 27 minutes going to and from work every day; we spend almost 50 minutes. Depend these poor souls commuting from Tracy or Hollister or Santa Cruz or another comparatively far-off spot and our common time soars to almost 1 1/2 hours a day. Whereas we stew in site visitors, Bismarck drivers are house cooking stew for dinner or ice skating.

Grass isn’t greener

Few of them would transfer to California. “Your site visitors stinks,” stated Gayle Schuck.

In fact, few of us would transfer to Bismarck, the place that terrible climate makes us shudder.

We’re speaking trade-offs, of us. Nice climate (even with the rain), the 49ers, seashores, mountains and tradition to burn vs. no site visitors, low price of dwelling, Norman Rockwell life and, as North Dakotans at all times say, an amazing place to lift children.

However what do you do when it turns chilly?

“We placed on a coat,” stated George Schempp, a parking zone attendant on the state capitol.

And when it hits 60 under?

“We zip it up,” he stated.

However, come on. Is all of it smiles behind the wheel? Does nobody right here ever get mad at a silly driver or sluggish site visitors mild?

No, they don’t get mad, two dozen of us replied with figuring out smiles. They’re fairly good folks, they claimed. Even when one other driver does one thing dumb, they will’t get mad. Heck, we most likely know the opposite man, they are saying.

Pure because the blowing snow . . . effectively, not fairly. Vicki Voskuil, a reporter on the Bismarck Tribune, confessed to operating a crimson mild as soon as. “I’m not used to ready for lights,” she stated, “and I ran one.”

Naughty. However, jeez, is that this the worst you are able to do? One scofflaw. Are you of us excellent or what?

“The drivers listed below are horrible,” stated one.

Day trip.

Who is that this lone voice from the frozen plains?

Why, she’s (nearly) one in every of us. Karen Zahn, a Southern California native who moved to Bismarck three years in the past. She as soon as did the L.A. commute, so she is aware of site visitors California fashion. We are able to belief her.

“Nobody in Bismarck even bothers to make use of their flip indicators,” an exasperated Zahn virtually yelled within the American Vehicle Affiliation workplace.

“They don’t know how you can drive. They’ll come to a cease in the course of an intersection even when the sunshine is inexperienced as a result of they’re on the lookout for a flip,” she railed.

“And in the event that they wish to make a proper flip, do they pull into the far proper lane? No. They’ll flip from the far left lane. Drives me nuts.”

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