By Dan Curran   Published Jan 29, 2003 at 5:20 AM

Many drivers are desperate to shave time off their trip to work, even when they're not in a hurry. Consider the case of a typical commuter. In the morning he may eat a sit-down breakfast while reading the paper, then leisurely stroll to his vehicle. Yet as soon as he gets behind the wheel, that same person will do anything -- pass at a stop sign, dart into the oncoming lane, he'd jump over parked cars if he could -- just to get in front of the next car. The car that he passes may catch up to him at the next light. But it doesn't dampen the driver's instinctive need to race.

We at cannot condone such risky maneuvering. What we can do is recommend a list of alternate routes that might save you a little time when you're in a hurry. These are routes that tend not to have traffic tie-ups during rush hour.

Here's a list of Milwaukee's best shortcuts:

  1. Need to get from the Third Ward to points west? When the Marquette interchange is packed, and Wisconsin Avenue is crawling, take Michigan Street/Clybourn Street as your westward escape. At 35th St. Waukesha County folks can hop on to I-94 (it should be less congested at this point). Those headed towards Wauwatosa should avoid going north on 35th Street, which can take forever in rush hour. Instead go a block south to St. Paul Street, which you then take west into Pigsville. At 41st Street turn north, snake through the Miller Brewery grounds until you run into State Street. Now you're a short drive from downtown Tosa.

  2. It's 5 p.m. on a Friday, you're on the northwest side, and you need to get to Happy Hour on Water Street. Don't spend your time waiting on the metered ramp from the 41-North freeway to I-94 east. Take the back door approach to downtown -- Lisbon Avenue. Once Lisbon becomes Walnut Street, it's a four-lane road into downtown. Walnut will deposit you safely onto Water Street, just a few blocks north of Milwaukee's nightclub district.

  3. It's a lesson in unintended consequences. The city's plan to encourage development on Commerce Street has created new sources of property tax revenues. It has also added some sparkle to our town's urban landscape. What was the unintended consequence? It ruins one of the best shortcuts in the city! You can still save some time getting from Water Street to North Avenue via the Commerce Street route. But now you have to contend with condo-dwellers and Lakefront Brewery patrons on the once desolate street.

  4. Leaving UWM in the late afternoon and you need to get to Locust Street to head towards I-43? Oakland Avenue is busy with buses, cars and pedestrians at that time of day. Avoid the hassles and take Cambridge Street south from campus down to Locust. No stop signs on Cambridge make this a quick ride.

  6. Residential displacement aside, couldn't they have built a freeway directly linking Menomonee Falls to the North Shore suburbs? Well they didn't, so we suggest taking Bradley Road east until Range Line Road before heading north to Brown Deer Road for the rest of your trek.

A natural follow up to this article would be Milwaukee's best parking spots -- hidden spaces to ditch your car when attending events at the Bradley Center or Miller Park. But giving those away would probably irk a lot of in-the-know Milwaukeeans. It seems as bad as the guy who reveals how magic tricks work on that Fox TV special, and he gets to wear a mask. We'll tackle that issue another day.