Taxis, New York City
Even after huge drops in the mid- and late 90's, the overall crime rate has continued to drop : New York has the lowest overall crime rate among U.S. cities with more than one million people. In 2003, crime dropped 7.4 percent in New York City, the statistics show, compared with 3.1 percent in the nation as a whole. The city's crime index ranks 194th out of 200 cities with more than 100,000 residents, making it one of the safest.
Here are some tips :
-Be aware of your surroundings at all times; walk assertively and confidently, close to the side of the street. Pay attention to traffic and give taxi drivers the right of way when you're crossing the street.
-Avoid deserted streets. At night, walk on the avenues or major streets where there are more people and lights. If you think you're being followed, duck into a restaurant, shop, hotel, "doorman" apartment building, or other place along these lines and wait until the person you suspect passes.
-Don't go into the parks after dark.
-Subway : stay away from the edge of the platform, during off hours wait in the spot where you can be seen by the staff (this is indicated) and board the train in the middle where it's busiest.
-Avoid making eye contact and confrontations with down and outs - anywhere, anytime.
-Never stop to count your money on the street; don't keep your wallet in your back pocket; and wear bags with clasp facing towards you.
-Have some cash and change handy so you don't always have to take out your wallet for small purchases.
-Always have enough cash on you so you can take a cab back to the hotel, but try not to carry too much cash and keep most of your money and credit card in a pouch or money belt.
-Have a spare wallet with $20 or so handy in the unlikely event you would get robbed... and IF that would happen, don't resist or try to be a hero.
-Don't let anyone other than hotel personnel carry your luggage. Store valuables in a locked case or hotel room safe.
-Above all, use common sense and trust your gut feeling. It is usually right.
Tipping - Yes the American government do not believe in minimum wage for all workers like in Good old UK so restaurant staff rely on your tips. The rule of thumb is to double the tax which gives around 16+ with fifteen percent being the minimum probably to 20%. Tip 10% for a taxi fare or round it up.
American measurements are also different take a pint for example 20% less then in the UK. 1lb is equivalent to 450g metric or 2 cups Ameriacn
12oz is 340g metric
1 gallon is 4 litres
Mens clothing sizes are the same as in UK
Shoe sizes in America are a size bigger then the UK equivalent size for men & 1.5 sizes bigger in womens shoes ie: a size 6 is a 7.5 in USA
Womens dresses are 2 sizes down therefore they can have a size zero which is uk size 4
To clarify the other post about the lights on top of a cab:
-If ALL the lights on top are on (i.e. including the "off duty" on either side), the cab is off duty (although this is more or less at the driver's discretion and he might at least pull over to ask where you're going, and decide to take you if it's not out of his way).
-If the medallion number (e.g. J7VP) in the middle of the rooftop light box (where, in many cities, it just says "TAXI") is lighted, the cab is on duty and no one's in it yet.
-If the lights on the roof are OFF entirely, there's already someone in the cab. At least three times a week I see some schmuck getting upset because the cabs with people in them aren't picking them up, so I thought this could stand to be clarified.
*Look where you step, we have potholes and manholes(Openings for people to access the underground) and some weird stuff lying in the sidewalks from time to time.
*Chinese phone order's takers and the ones in the service counter, speak chinese not much english at all, so stick to the menu and always tell them if small or big(Orders come in two sizes).
*Hard Rock Cafe is a great place but the food stinks(If still there)
*Don't rent a car if you're going to stay in manhattan, you can get to any place in minutes using mass transit, and taxi.
*Don't buy anything from the street, like watches and stuff (it's fake and they just rip you off).
*If you're going to use the train (Subway) and bus a lot or in a daily fashion, buy a one week pass metrocard, you can use it for as many times you want every 20min or so, but don't try to pay for two rides at once, it won't work!
New Yorkers have a bad reputation, but most of the people here are really nice. You should keep in mind that even though you're on vacation, other people still have to go to work, ie, try not to stand in the middle of the sidewalk! This is a very fast-paced city. If you're not going to move, step aside and get out of the way. Also, feel free to ask for directions or help, just be polite like you would be anywhere else. Don't wear your backpack on your stomach and walk around looking at everyone like they're going to rob you. Just use common sense. And please tip taxi drivers, waiters, etc. Relax and have fun. People are nice here, just really stressed out.
During rush hour, New Yorkers tend to be a bit stressed. I would strongly suggest that as a tourist, you avoid public transportation between 07:30 am to 09:00 am and between 04:00 pm and 6:30pm. Avoid the trains and buses during these hours. If possible take a cab or walk. You may get stuck in traffic with a cab but at least your not surrounded by 200 people.
I usually round cab fare up to the next dollar and add a dollar and thats how I tip.
Restaurants is 15 to 20%.
As for people, they pretty much keep to themselves, the ones that approach you are usually the ones you don't want to be talking to.
When hailing a cab in NY, please use the proper form for best results. See picture and follow as closely as possible. Accompany with a whistle if you'd like to try a more advanced technique but don't get ahead of yourself cowboy, learn to crawl before you walk!
lights on = off duty
in other countries like UK, the lights mean the cab is open to pick ups.
Just remember that before you spend 10 minutes hailing a cab and wonder why!