Argh, this is a mess. The beltline, as it is called here, between 5pm and 6pm is a disaster if you are trying to commute or if you are an innocent bystander stranded in the midst of it. I'm sure the traffic isn't as bad as say DC or NYC but it's bad enough to warrant a tip telling you to avoid it during these times. If you're good with maps, buy one of the area and try to find ways to avoid the major highways during these times. Also to be avoided is Hwy 70 between Durham and Raleigh.
I have gotten lost SOOOO many times in Raleigh, and it's all because of this stupid outer loop/inner loop thingy. Even now I am confused as to how it all connects, with I-40 and I-440 and the inner and the outer crap. Why doesn't I-440 just go AROUND I-40 like all the other cities in the USA?!! Make sure you know where you're going before you end up getting lost like me! :-)
Most of Raleigh is a great city to raise a family in but there are some very ruff neighborhoods such as Chavis Heights, Walnut Terrace, South Saunders Street and just about any neighborhood in South-East Raleigh, Southern North-East Raleigh, and parts of South West Raleigh. In some of these neighborhoods they will rob just as quick as theyll look at u and the police take forever to respond in these neighborhoods like there is a police sub-station in chavis heights and a girl who works at the pool in chavis heights was robbed and the polie took six hours after being called to arrive at the scene and walking on the wrong side of the street can get you beaten or possibly killed drive by shootings and armed carjackings are nothing out of the ordinary for some neighborhoods in south east raleigh the main areas to stay away from are SOuth Saunders Street in South West Raleigh,any niehgborhood u dont live in in south east raleigh, Boylan Heights in South West raleigh, Blount Street in North East Raleigh, Method Road in West Raleigh and there are more but i cant list them all any time u ride through a nieghborhood with people on the corner, run down houses, grafitti, and shoes hanging from power lines keep on driving and dont stop unless that is where u were headed
Traveling in Raleigh can be very daunting to a first timer. Instead of East or West you have Inner and Outer loops on the I-440 Beltline and local roads have a nasty habit of changing names on you. Here is a list of some tips that will hopefully make it a bit easier to get around town.
1. I-440 Beltline - Instead of East or West the Beltline has "Inner" and "Outer" Loops. If you are heading west on 40 from Wilmington you would take the Inner Beltline to continue towards Downtown, Chapel Hill and Durham. The "Outer" will take you to north Raleigh. If you are coming East on 40 you do the opposite and take the "Outer" loop to reach Downtown, NC State and on to Wilmington. The "Inner" takes you to North Raleigh.
Confused? Well since it is a giant circle you will get to where you need to eventually :)
2. Main local roads that change names - These are the main roads that change names, Millbrook turns into Duraleigh, Wake Forest turns into Falls of the Nuese, New Hope turns into Buffaloe Rd.
3. Capital Blvd. - avoid at all costs unless you absolutely have to. Traffic is terrible and it is dangerous driving it.
Okay here's the important thing to know about Raleigh. Driving in it is a pain. Roads change names with little warning (like Millbrook and Duraleigh, or Wake Forest Road and Falls of the Neuse). The roads aren't bad but if you can manage to travel with someone who knows the city do it by all means. And don't try to get around during rush hour, especially if you don't know where you are going.
Pay attention too. A lot of roads will be two or three lanes and all of a sudden lose a lane. My brother said it best when he said about 90% of the accidents that happen in Raleigh are a result of people not knowing where they are going.
Oh yeah and don't try the public transportation system. It just isn't very convenient.
One last tidbit. If you got directions off of MapQuest or Yahoo! Maps or even just a regular old standard map, your directions might say to take the Raleigh - Chapel Hill expressway. While this is the official name of the road, there is NO sign that refers to it as that. Most of us just call it Wade Ave. Just look for the Wade Avenue exit or something that says North and West Raleigh.
The queues were unbelievable. I defy the media to tell me how folks aren't flying anymore. It looked like a lot of folks were ready to fly. The only reason I wasn't able to go straight through to security was the change in flight number had to be reflected. Security wasn't anything out of the ordinary. My biggest problem was trying to convince the security guard with an I.Q. of about 17 that my bag would fit into the overhead bin of any standard aircraft. The question of whether a bag fits into an allotted space is an airline concern, not a security concern. I felt like it was none of his bloody business, so, I shoved it through the machine when he wasn't looking. If he had given me any more lip, he would have been the next thing through and, I'm guessing, the x-ray would have revealed nothing but bone between the ears. Trust me, folks, if I was going to get in trouble on that day, it was NOT going to be at the hands of this officious jerk!
Watch out for the
Homeless. I know I will tick a lot of people off about me not being a "kind person," "good Christian" etc., etc., But most of the homeless are seemingly mentally ill, there is a mental hospital that seemingly turns out their "cured patients" out on the street, (they get off their meds and go nuts again), a prison is practically next to NC State and they wander around downtown after released, drug and alcohol addicts are abound on the street and will often seek 24 hour Laundromats as shelter, they will accost you and hinder your day, prevent you from using your gym club, bother you in a restaurant, etc., etc., and last but not least the roving bands of the "semi-street" people that seem to make it their life's goal on "preaching the word." They will accost you, interrupt you, will have no problem inviting themselves into your conversation and TELL you that you are wrong while spraying you with I-haven't-brushed-my-teeth-in-ten-years-smelling spittle while they are obviously under the influence of alcohol, drugs, some-sort of huffed chemical or any of the combination of the three. Watch out for all the "street-Vets." There are a lot of people that like to pose as vets to evoke your sympathy and or respect. For example, there is this one that drives a small, blue, beat up Chevy pickup truck that likes to claim that he is a Viet-Vet. If you encounter him, and ask some questions about his service, his answer is very vague and he tells you a story that is evokes a picture of something out of "Saving Private Ryan" and that his proof is "old enough to be a Viet Vet."
A lot of escorts live in and work out of Raleigh. So there is a chance you might run into a woman that makes her money going out on 'dates.' These women are not at all well in the head either. Unless you are into escorts, avoid at all costs.
Traffic sucks everywhere but you do need to know where you are going because locals are not very forgiving.
Not being a native Raleighite, I sometimes feel that in this city you only have to memorize the alphabet to get a license. Changing 4 lanes, pulling out in front of cars moving at high speeds, etc., things I'm sure happen everywhere to some extent, but I am constantly appalled by the stunts that people pull on the roads here. I've been lucky to avoid a few accidents. And if it snows, all hell breaks loose on the roadways.
Some roads change names and the beltline is confusing at first, but eventually you get used to it. Morning rush hour on 40 West is something I am happy I am not part of.
Like any city, Raleigh has it's fair share of homeless. The main areas I've noticed are Hillsborough Street (across from NCSU campus) and downtown (mostly in the parks). They will ask for money, but I've never had a problem. Many of them seem to talk to themselves a lot so don't get thrown off if someone starts cursing at the bears. (Yeah, I've seen it)
I recently moved here from Atlanta. I remember watching the morning news and the local Raleigh station would be talking about the terrible traffic and they would show the traffic cam. I thought to myself, that's not traffic. I can be on the other side of Raleigh in about 20 minutes as opposed to 2 hours in Atlanta. I worked 12 miles from my home and every day I would spend 2 1/2 to 3 hours in travel time. I think Raleigh is GREAT! However, I do have to agree about the road signs. For example, taking 40 east from Durham, I wanted to go around 440 to the east side of Raliegh. I ran across a sign that said 440 east, but it didn't go east, it turned me right back around the way I had come.