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...

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