From parades to street festivals to downtown rallies, Chicago has learned to cope with its fair share of traffic interruptions. The most recent of commuting hiccups is the high-security entourage of President-elect Barack Obama.
Whether he's headed for an important meeting or just going out to lunch, Obama stops traffic wherever he goes. Literally. The line of Chicago police cars and intimidating black SUVs demands respect throughout the city.
It should seem obvious, but some drivers need reminding: the Secret Service does not mess around. Motorists who attempt to speed past or drive alongside the Presidential motorcade are immediately pulled over and dealt with accordingly.
"The security of the motorcade is paramount for us, so drivers should take these suggestions to heart: slow down and avoid aggressive maneuvers, such as not acting courteously and attempting to get close to the vehicles and gawk," Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren told the Chicago Tribune. "The challenge that driving in an aggressive manner poses to us is that we don't know if it is intentional or just curiosity."
Chicagoans should be somewhat grateful though. Here, traffic is merely paused for a few moments. In Washington, D.C., streets are completely closed off to all traffic when the President is using them.
If you haven't seen Obama's caravan yet, you likely will sooner or later. "Presidential motorcades may be a permanent fixture of Chicago's traffic routine," said Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond.
Here's an example of just how seriously the Secret Service take their job. Just a few days after the election, the impatient driver of a tan sedan attempted to drive around Obama's motorcade on Van Buren Street. "The SUV cut the car off immediately, and the security team aimed their weapons at the car," according to a pool report filed by a news reporter.
So, if you find yourself stuck in Presidential traffic, take a moment to relax and wait it out. The sharpshooters inside the black SUVs will not have any patience for motorists with aggressive driving maneuvers.