When I began sharing the news that I had taken a new job near Atlanta and was moving . . . spreading my wings. . . opening myself to new horizons. . . without fail the first comment from almost everyone was, “OMG. You know about the traffic there, right?”
Yes, I am aware of the traffic. Thank you for your loving concern and support.
So how bad is it really? Having lived here now for three months, I can tell you that the 12-mile drive to my office from home can take anywhere between 22 and 43 minutes, depending on day of the week, schools being open or closed, and if Mars is aligned with Saturn. (Seriously—some days are just totally random.)
But for all the fear of God that was put into me about traffic congestion before I moved here, it really hasn’t been bad. Here’s why.
Why Atlanta Traffic Is Not as Bad as You Think
1. You’re Always Moving. Given the horror stories, I expected to be trapped in gridlock traffic, inching forward every 10 minutes or so. Nope. Most of the time, I’m riding steady. It may be 30 in a 55, but we’re still moving. What causes more of the delays are a lot of stops for traffic lights. But I have rarely been “stuck” in traffic.
2. Atlanta Drivers are NICE. Like, scary nice. Maybe it’s because traffic is such a big, hairy deal around here, people are super calm and helpful. If you get stuck in a lane you didn’t realize was a turn lane, or need to cross three lanes of traffic to turn left, people stop, smile, and wave you on. No one seems to get upset and the only person I’ve seen exhibit even minor road rage or honk a horn is me, just because… yeah. I do that.
3. You Always Have Something to Talk About. There is a certain glory in being the office worker with the longest commute, or having your normal 40-minute drive turn into two hours. No one doubts you. People nod and commiserate. You get to tell your story three times at lunch. And we all gaze upon those in our office who commute a solid 90 minutes each way (and there are many of them) with a kind of God-like reverence.
4. The Traffic Goes Away On Weekends. While due to heavy traffic I may not want to leave my house at 5 pm on a weeknight to run to Target, there are absolutely zero issues zipping around on weekends or even after about 6:30 on a weeknight. Traffic is no worse here than anywhere and much better than crappy Battleground Avenue in Greensboro. (That’s right, I said it.)
5. Ed Sheeran / Perfect. Ed Sheeran’s ballad “Perfect” gets a lot of radio play. On a good day, I can listen to it 3-4x by the time I get to work. Totally makes the time fly by.
Don’t get me wrong. There be cars here—lots of them. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at, overall, how easy it is to get around.
And so to answer your question—yes, I know about the traffic.