Monday, August 9, 2010

Austin Road System Rant (The Solution)

I've lived a good portion of my life in the Detroit, Michigan area which has a population of about 200,000 more people than Austin. While the road quality is horrible in Michigan because of the drastic weather changes, they have perfected the road system and traffic congestion problem. They time their traffic signals so that if you go the speed limit, you don't hit many lights. You literally see the lights turn green in a sequential order. In Austin, it seems like they WANT you to sit at every light. The lights turn red as you get to them. Large amounts of traffic have to stop, sit (too long), and re-accelerate repeatedly. Sometimes 50 cars stop to let five go by. Timing the lights would no doubt be costly and require lots of man-hours, but in the long run getting people off the road faster will decrease gas consumption, get the city greener, get people to follow the speed limit, and make things run fluidly. Many birds with one stone.

Lastly, left turn lanes (suicide lanes) do nothing, but create backups and congestion on a side of the street that doesn't need it. In addition, lights are longer because they have to have extra time for those turning left. What Detroit and most of Michigan did was create what is commonly referred to as the "Michigan Left" where you turn right, hit a U-turn about 500 feet down from the intersection and head the other way. It keeps traffic flowing by taking cars off the left side and all the cars heading in a certain direction go on ONE green light, instead of waiting for a separate green arrow. Perfect.

Austin has a serious issue with their backwards road system and they need to take a page out of the book of other cities that have solved it. Trying just a few of these things could be a solution over adding more lanes. From time to time, I occasionally cannot be my lovable self with issues. I'm sorry. It's frustrating, so I created a blog to create a cathartic vent. I'm sure many feel the same. I see you cussing the lights! I just want everyone to be happy drivers!


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