14 things you’ll know if you have a car in Leeds

When Olivia Rodrigo said ‘red lights, stop signs’, she was talking about driving in Headingley


You’re waiting once again for the N1 bus outside Parkinson’s. It’s cold. It’s wet. You’ve just spent two hours in the library. Now you’re enviously looking at cheery punters on Otley Runs en route to Terrace or Fruity. For a brief, fleeting moment, you wonder whether your life would be a little bit easier if you brought your car to Leeds. You have a brand-new full driving licence card, after all. You imagine grabbing a coffee from a drive-thru and sitting in your warm car, your own music playing on the aux, relaxed in the knowledge that home is just a five-minute drive away.

Well, you’re wrong. Driving in Leeds is at best vaguely convenient and at worst an absolute nightmare, and I’m going to tell you why. From passive aggressive petrol money texts to the deranged cyclists on Otley Road, here are 14 things you’ll know if you have a car in Leeds:

It’s expensive

Like, really expensive. And you have to care about big-boy problems like the fact that there’s no fuel after Brexit instead of blissfully taking the bus like everyone else. Which leads me on to…

You have to be that person who asks for petrol money

I’ve sent more “hey hun xx” messages in my short time driving in Leeds than in my entire career on Depop.

EVERY TIME.

Parking in Leeds is grim

Bring your car to uni, they said. It’ll be so convenient, they said. Until you’re late for your seminar and trying to find a parking space in the midst of what feels like the apocalypse. Just walk, honestly. You don’t need the stress.

Driving in Leeds is very confusing, especially if you’re new to it

Why does that turning go that way? Why are all the white lines so faded? Why are there traffic lights in weird places? Why does one say stop and the other says go? Why am I sweating?

I CANNOT read this

Someone in a van will shout at you for being too slow/too fast/too inconsiderate

Not a great one to contest if you genuinely are being too fast/too slow/too inconsiderate, unless you somehow enjoy the feeling of arguing while being in the wrong.

Cyclists on Otley Road are VERY fast

The only knowledge you’ll need as a driver in the general Leeds area: cyclists on Otley Road are afraid of literally nothing and it’s terrifying. They’ll whizz past your car like some weird lycra-clad ghost, meaning you’ll hyperventilate at the thought of accidentally hitting them and have to pull over for a bit to calm down.

People literally never use the crossings they should

The people of Leeds are too tough to use zebra crossings and would prefer to walk in front of your car as if they were immortal. Please stop doing this. It ages me about five years every time.

Driving past Parkinson’s Steps gives you fear

You have to always be on high alert driving past Parkinson Steps for fear that someone you know will see you stall or accidentally drive into a bus lane. If they do, you’ll hear about it for the rest of your uni career and/or life.

Your non-driving friends will make fun of your car

If you show literally anyone – course friends, society friends, housemates –  your car they will, without doubt, make fun of it. It could be a BMW and they would still call it a “clown car”.

Your non-driving friends will give the worst direction you’ve ever heard in your entire life

“Right past the traffic lights. No. Left. Sorry. Stop. No, I meant the next left. Well, I said I was sorry?” EVERY TIME.  Bonus points if they don’t know Leeds at all and are relying on Google Maps.

Every time I have to drive past this turning my soul momentarily leaves my body

You still have to call one or both of your parents when a light comes on

If you haven’t had this conversation, you will: “Mum, I know you’re on holiday but this weird light came on and I don’t know what to do. It looks like a fork with waves? Hang on, I’ll send you a picture.”

Having to go somewhere in the morning so you can’t drink

Any general feeling of pride you get from being able to drive is absolutely shattered by the realisation that you can’t get hammered the night before. About five minutes into a sober night at Mischief you’ll realise that there’s a reason why sports societies drink so much. The next night out involves way too many shots and a new respect for Uber drivers.

Having to defend your music taste to whoever’s on the aux

Good luck if your mate likes experimental jazz, because you’ll spend the next 40 minutes explaining to them that you’ve had a very difficult day and just want to listen to Britney Spears and/or Shania Twain.

Something will break and you’ll have to explain yourself to a mechanic

Great fun if you have no idea how your car or your insurance works. Probably the most stressful twenty minutes of your entire life.

Hot girls don’t know anything about cars x

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