My first encounter with the famed one way streets of downtown was probably similar to many people of my generation: driver's training. At 15 I had mastered the art of properly accelerating onto the expressway. I learned all three hundred points on my pre-departure inspection checklist, and I was a pro at adjusting my rear view mirror. But there were a few aspects of moterism that one could not experience while practicing on the back roads and cul-de-sac neighborhoods of Swartz Creek. It was because of this, that the last place that my driving instructor took us was the terrifying, complicated, infamous streets of downtown.
There were three major reasons for the dreaded downtown driving session. First was to learn how to safely drive with the presence of pedestrians. The fact that "driving in the presence of pedestrians" was only possible in an Applebee's parking lot and downtown could be its own post. I didn't end up doing my training until the evening, however, and as it was at that time, there were very few pedestrians to avoid hitting. The second goal of the session was to learn how to parallel park. This was perhaps the most dreaded of all tasks, and even though I had set up a mock parking spot in my driveway to sharpen my technique, the outcome had been hit or miss at best. So after a few misses , my instructor took the wheel for me, pulled into the elusive spot in one smooth elegant motion and said "there, that is how you do it." (Which may explain why I still have a hard time properly parking on the side of the street) Lastly, we had to learn how to navigate, and properly turn onto one way streets. While this task wasn't exactly difficult, we had all heard horror stories of people driving the wrong way, and turning at the next street only to once again realize that they were going the wrong way. Eventually they would just be stuck in a vortex of wrong turns until they were 18, and could take their driving test without completing training.
It was commonly argued among those of us waiting for our turn behind the wheel, that these one way streets served no purpose. That they were just there to confuse us corn fed, mall shopping suburban kids. But we didn't think too much of it once we passed the test, it wasn't like we would be heading back downtown anytime soon.