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The Driver’s Guide to Traffic in a New York Minute

August 17, 2016 / New York City

Jerry Seinfeld once said about rush hour traffic: “There is no ‘other way’ in New York. Everybody goes every way all the time.” This is often true, and at certain times, there are plenty of people trying to go every way on certain roads, bridges, and tunnels. But that doesn’t mean Uber partners need to avoid Manhattan thru-ways between the rush hours of 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and again between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. In fact, it’s accepting riders whenever you have the opportunity is the best way to maximize your earnings.

Remember that most of the traffic snarls occur on Manhattan’s outskirts, not in Midtown or in the city’s many neighborhoods. By knowing these common traffic hotspots, you’ll be better equipped to spot trouble before it happens and listen to traffic reports to find an alternate route.

Here are some tips to steer clear of common New York City traffic snarls:

Avoid Roadways Surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge–Even Going to Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Bridge has been under construction for many years, resulting in traffic in the surrounding area—most notably FDR Drive in both directions. If you’re not trying to get to Brooklyn and want to avoid traffic, steering clear of  the FDR during peak traffic times and using nearby side streets is the smart way to go. If you are heading to Brooklyn, the Manhattan Bridge or heading north to the Williamsburg Bridge will help you avoid traffic. While you may add mileage you’ll also save time, resulting in a happier ride.

The good news? The project is close to completion, and will result not only in a safer bridge, but two lanes of free-flowing traffic directly from the southbound FDR Drive onto the bridge—and smoother roadways all around.

Steering Clear of the Lincoln Tunnel

The Lincoln Tunnel is one of the few bad traffic spots actually located near Midtown Manhattan. You can avoid the tunnel or jump over to the Henry Hudson Parkway for a straight run uptown or downtown by taking any other nearby avenue to.

To get to New Jersey, it makes sense to check local traffic reports to see if the Holland Tunnel or George Washington Bridge will get you and your rider there faster. If you happen to be heading back into New York City from Jersey during rush hour after dropping off a rider, consider taking a break, grabbing a meal, and filling up your gas tank. New Jersey has lower fuel prices and full service without paying a premium. If you leave after 6:30 p.m., you’ll hit less traffic on any of the roadways into the city.

Checking for Seasonal Street Closures

Spring, summer, and fall bring street fairs to Manhattan neighborhoods, often resulting street closures on weekends. To avoid those kinds of street closures you can consider checking the New York City Department of Transportation website for a full list of events—from parades and festivals to construction—that will close city streets on Saturdays and Sundays. Fortunately, most of these temporary closures don’t last for more than a few blocks and are easy to circumvent.

Remember, Uber partners are paid for both time and miles, so if you do wind up sitting in traffic, feel free to strike up a conversation and turn your drive time into the kind of New York experience that you and your rider will remember.