Friday, December 30, 2005

Winds and poorly timed lights

Heavy winds. Luckily I'm traveling at a 90 degree angle to the direction. So half the trip is a headwind, and half a tailwind. I tried to stick to slow local streets for the headwinds, and fast streets for the tailwind. Not sure how well that worked.
Ended up going down Wolf for a good chunk of time. The timing could definitely use some work. After crossing El Camino, the first light just turned green as I got there (however it caught all the faster-moving cars.) Then the Old San Francisco light was reaching the end of its red cycle as I got there. Extremely long cycles, yet red for the through traffic. Evelyn was the weird one. It turned red for both directions as I got there - but didn't really give any of the cross traffic a chance to go before turning green again.

Congestion by design

Last night I discovered another 'great wall of Sunnyvale'. On El Camino between Wolf and Fair Oaks there is a wall separating the businesses on El Camino from the houses on the other side. You wouldn't dare want to let people walk 20 yards to get a gallon of milk when they could drive two miles instead. Lovely way to increase traffic congestion.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The light timing hall of shame:
sunnyvale-saratoga at Remmington
Wolf at Old San Francisco. (Wolf at Evelyn also seems really bad - but I'm almost always going down Wolf.)
Both seem to have rediculously long light cycles. The traffic moving through these long cycles does not justify the long length. (The traffic actually sputtered through in a few minor bursts - caused, to a great extent by the shorter cycles of other lights. The cycles could easily be shortened without any negative impact on travel throught the areas. If the lights were shortened and the other lights synchronized, traffic capacity and travel time could both be improved - while at the same time providing improved cross-street access.
At Wolf and old San Francisco, I saw a man easily cross Wolf against the light. Traffic was low and there was not a problem. I've also seen people cross streets like Lawrence in areas where there are not lights. Its dangerous, but the 'real' pedestrian crossing could be a mile detour - a long distance on foot. Why not give the cars an easy mile detour? Or just add lights for them. Freeways are there to provide long distance travel. Local roads should be the domain of everyone that doesn't travel on the freeway.
Alas, they don't seem to get that here. Expensive public transit projects never seem to make a dent in congestion. And why should they? They attempt to attract passengers with free parking at the origin. However, that means that they must arrive at a new parking lot at the destination. Hmm... And then the solution is to have buses at the destination. However, they don't necesarily go where or when people want to go.
Even if there is a stop close to the origin and destination, there still is the slow speed of transit, and the high cost make it less appealing: If you have to drive to the transit station, you still have all the fixed costs of car ownership, and are only saving the incremental costs of driving a few extra miles. (And because most of car emissions occur during the 'cold start', the transit usage may not to much at all to reduce air pollution.) And then there is the matter of walking the short distance to and from transit. Sidewalks may or may not exist, routes meander, and long lights favor cars. And then there is the long parking lot that must be traversed to get there...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Biking in the rain

Today I got soaked during the bike ride in to work. The rain was actually worse before I left. It let up before I left for home. Now I just need to remember to keep an extra pair of shoes at work (rather than bop around in socks all day.)

On the bright side, I had good luck with lights, and seemed to hit mostly green lights (except, as luck would have it, on some minor side streets like Manet - luckily they have really short cycles.)

On the way home, I took Lawrence to El Camino. You just can't go slow on Lawrence.

In the morning I ended up doing Central from Commercial to Oakmead. I just missed the Oakmead left turn. However, by the time I moved over to the lane for a pedestrian style left turn, I got a green. A short cycle on an expressway. What a blessing.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The server is down here at work. So, it's time to start creating something.

A nice bicycle ride through the cold weather does a great job of clearing up the sinuses. The cold and physical activity work together well. Unfortunately, an hour after stopping, congestion comes back.

I was planning on going slow today, but, the red lights ended up leading me down El Camino to Lawrence. And once on the expressways, you just have to pedal hard.