I know, I know, we think we have the worst traffic in the world. But while congestion is a huge problem in Toronto, the overall traffic picture in New York makes our city look almost rural. In New York, the driving style is much more aggressive and well, asshole-ish. As a result, there’s way more honking, traffic lights and signs are often treated as just suggestions and double-parking is super-common. The latter leads to all kinds of crazy, unpredictable maneuvers (I saw one woman drive down the sidewalk to get out of her blocked in spot) and even more honking. Combine all of this with the fact that jaywalking in legal and the norm in NYC and you get all kinds of chaos.
But wait, it gets ever crazier because the physical condition of the roads in New York is bad. Maybe it’s just because it’s pothole season but driving from Penn Station to the Upper West Side where I was staying was about as bumpy as driving in Honduras. Even walking through certain intersections can be dodgy as the pavement level can change multiple times.
I know that with the Gardiner construction, we think we’ve discovered a new level of traffic hell but seriously, we have nothing on New York.
I have mixed feelings about its proposed expansion but other than that, I love Porter and how easy it makes it to get to Manhattan. Yes, yes, it flies into Newark but that’s not a big deal. Just hop on the train (ok, trains) and boom! Thirty minutes later you’re at Penn station.
But even better is the Toronto side of your trip. From security to customs to actually getting in the air, everything happens much, much quicker than at Pearson and with less stress. On Monday, I landed shortly after 9 and by 9:40, I was home. It’s hard to make an international flight much more convenient than that.
Regular New Yorkers are quite nice people who will happily provide directions or turn in that shopping bag you left on the floor of DSW. The same cannot be said about too many of New York’s retail workers, who seem to have to pass some kind of surliness test to get their current positions. In Toronto, poor customer service is usually associated with bored teenagers or new Canadians who are struggling English. In New York, it’s usually adult women who are clearly angry that life has led them a place where they pay the bills by selling Frappacinos or folding jeggings.
New York is the only city is the world where I’ve seen a store manager swear at a customer (Century 21); heard a store employee openly swear, in an angry way, at another employee (Starbucks); been told that I wouldn’t be allowed to buy a pair of jeans unless I found the missing price tag (Century 21 again) and, my personal favourite, nearly been kicked out of a change room for taking too long, a threat that was not just levelled at me but at everyone who happened to be in the change room at that moment (Uniqlo). While Toronto retail workers don’t always seem happy to be at work, they never come across as hostile.
Our Homeless People Have Limbs
I feel that both cities have roughly the same proportion of homeless who generally behave the same way. But in New York, there’s a surprising number who are missing limbs, usually one or both legs. At first I was puzzled by this but then I saw a limbless-homeless guy who was holding a sign that explained that he was a veteran. And then I saw a different guy with a similar sign and it all made sense.
While I have no doubt that some of our veterans are out on the street, the quantity isn’t like in the US, where they have Iraqi vets in addition to those who toured through Afghanistan. Also, while we might fail our veterans when it comes to mental health issues, we seem to be able to keep the amputees from begging for change. So yeah Canada on that front!
Want to feel better about Toronto real estate prices? Then check out what $500,000 will get you in New York City. Oh, there are places, but are they in a good neighbourhood, with public schools that you want to send you kid to and streets that you feel comfortable walking around in at night? Nope, no they’re not.
But in Toronto, such real estate offerings do exist (yes, they’re condos and no, there’s nothing wrong with that). With very few exceptions, neighbourhood safety is a non-issue in Toronto. And while some public schools are certainly better than others, all of them deliver a reasonable level of education. Neither of these statements can be said for NYC.
While New York City is easily one of the best cities on the planet, in terms of liveability, Toronto has it easily beat. From finding a home (owned or rented), to paying the bills to educating kids, it’s just easier to do it here.