Take a polite drive in Winston-Salem

Published 10:15 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Winston-Salem Journal

There’s plenty to brag about in the City of Arts and Innovation: Rich cultural traditions, low unemployment and cost of living, a beautiful cityscape with a lot of greenery and generally friendly behavior, among other good points. We can also take pride in the results of a new rating: Winston-Salem is among the best cities in the country in which to drive in 2018, ranking No. 6 out of 100, according to the personal-finance social network website WalletHub.

These results were reached by comparing a sample of the 100 most-populated U.S. cities across four key dimensions:

1) Cost of Ownership & Maintenance,

2) Traffic & Infrastructure,

3) Safety and

4) Access to Vehicles & Maintenance.

Within those broad categories, WalletHub considered “29 key indicators of driver-friendliness. Our data set ranges from average gas prices to annual hours in traffic congestion per auto commuter to auto-repair shops per capita.

“Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area,” WalletHub says.

Before reading the report thoroughly, we might have guessed that our ranking was the result of criteria like the ease of access when moving from one area of town to another and the ability of drivers to refrain from reckless behavior behind the wheel.

Of course, there are exceptions, but our impression is that Winston-Salem drivers are particularly collegial when it comes to allowing fellow drivers to merge lanes and patient when waiting their turn to proceed through traffic lights. And aside from rush-hour on Business 40, traffic jams are almost non-existent.

Those aspects were probably factored into “Traffic & Infrastructure” and “Safety.”

We do have to wonder a little bit about our ranking when we see that Raleigh is No. 1 on WalletHub’s list. We’d rather drive here than there. For the record, Greensboro ranked No. 4, Durham No. 7 and Charlotte No. 19.

But for the most part the results seem reliable.

Of course, our standing may be challenged as Business 40 continues to suffer from a series of temporary closures of various lanes in preparation for the Big Close this fall, when main thoroughfare will be upgraded considerably. This closure is expected to extend for about 20 months into 2020. Displaced commuters will shift to city streets in residential areas, causing delays that may strain good citizenship.

This is the time to plan a strategy: Podcasts. Deep breathing. Mindful (and open-eyed) meditation on the shiny new highway that will replace Business 40.

We’ve had fair warning. Now we have a reputation to maintain.