News

Traffic-light changes speed up University Avenue traffic

Commuter travel time decreases after signals are synchronized from Middlefield Road to the Dumbarton Bridge

A traffic-light synchronization project along the University Avenue commute corridor in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto is speeding up traffic on average by 28% and decreasing travel time by 13% for all of the peak travel periods, according to a consultant's report submitted to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The report measured the results of synchronizing 19 signals starting last May along the corridor from Middlefield Road to the Dumbarton Bridge during the weekday peak traffic flow and midday on weekends.

Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Caltrans applied for a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Program for Arterial System Synchronization in July 2018. The $126,275 project was designed to improve often horrendous commute conditions along the arterial roadway. The June 19 final project report with a benefit/cost analysis was created by transportation planning consultants TJKM.

An average of 24,000 to 33,400 vehicles use this section of University Avenue during weekdays, according to the report. Donohoe Street in East Palo Alto, which funnels traffic from Embarcadero Road to northbound U.S. Highway 101 and to University Avenue to the Dumbarton Bridge, has an average of 10,000 to 25,400 vehicles during weekdays.

The commute corridor was not only slow but also unsafe in certain places. Five intersections also exceeded the statewide average collision rate prior to the synchronization along University Avenue: Lincoln Avenue, Chaucer Street, Guinda Street and Middlefield Road in Palo Alto and Woodland and Scofield avenues in East Palo Alto. The signals now have updated green, yellow and red light minimum times so that traffic can clear the intersections. Insufficient yellow-light timing can sometimes cause rear-end collisions and inadequate red-light timing can cause right-angle crashes, according to the report.

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The study looked at morning, midday, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. afternoon commutes during the school year and midday weekend traffic.

"University Avenue showed significant decrease in stop delay, travel time and increase in speed during the weekday a.m., midday and p.m. ... and weekend midday peak periods for northbound and southbound directions," the study noted. There was an approximately 25% reduction in stop delay, a 21% reduction in stops per vehicle and a 13% decrease in travel time with a 28% increase in speed for all of the peak periods since synchronization.

Studies before and after the synchronization measured intersection improvements and "floating" car runs. The latter covered a vehicle's one-way trip of the entire length of a study corridor. The study captured travel time, speed, stopping time, number of stops and other delays.

"Before" data along a 2.31-mile stretch of University Avenue between O'Brien Drive in East Palo Alto and Guinda Street in Palo Alto found that during afternoon commutes at 2 p.m., drivers heading north experienced an average stop delay of 67 minutes and 5 seconds. Total travel time was 70 minutes and 55 seconds with an average speed of 3 mph.

An "after" study found the same corridor at 2 p.m. had a stop-delay average of 13 minutes and 38 seconds and a travel time of 18 minutes and 43 seconds. Average speed increased to 8 mph.

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Southbound commutes along the same stretch also improved. Vehicles had total stop delays of 4 minutes and 44 seconds at 2 p.m. before the synchronization, which improved to 52 seconds after the changes. A total travel time of 10 minutes and 6 seconds before synchronization changed to 6 minutes and 12 seconds. Speed rose from 14 mph to 22 mph, the study showed.

The study also looked at synchronization along a 0.31-mile stretch of a problematic intersection in East Palo Alto, at Donohoe Street between University Avenue and the Ravenswood Shopping Center. Donohoe Street showed an average 64% reduction in stop delay, 50% reduction in the number of stops per vehicle and a 56% reduction in travel time. Speed increased 120% for all peak periods, the consultants found.

Westbound traffic at 1 p.m. was Donohoe's busiest time, with stop delays of 6 minutes and 7 seconds and an average speed of 3 mph. After synchronization, motorists experienced stop delays of 2 minutes and 11 seconds and traveled at an average 11 mph.

The synchronization program has benefits for pedestrians at crosswalks. "Walk" and "Don't Walk" clearance timing was updated to allow pedestrians to safely cut through intersections based on the state's transportation standard of a current walking speed of 3.5 feet per second.

The report also looked at the average savings in dollars over a five-year period, which is considered the project's "lifetime." The project is estimated to have a travel-time savings of approximately $45,187,857 (calculated as 50% of the wage rate for off-the-clock travel or $20.09 in 2014) and $2,455,618 in fuel-consumption savings. The synchronization also will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles by 13.2 tons.

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Traffic-light changes speed up University Avenue traffic

Commuter travel time decreases after signals are synchronized from Middlefield Road to the Dumbarton Bridge

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Dec 23, 2019, 9:32 am

A traffic-light synchronization project along the University Avenue commute corridor in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto is speeding up traffic on average by 28% and decreasing travel time by 13% for all of the peak travel periods, according to a consultant's report submitted to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The report measured the results of synchronizing 19 signals starting last May along the corridor from Middlefield Road to the Dumbarton Bridge during the weekday peak traffic flow and midday on weekends.

Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Caltrans applied for a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Program for Arterial System Synchronization in July 2018. The $126,275 project was designed to improve often horrendous commute conditions along the arterial roadway. The June 19 final project report with a benefit/cost analysis was created by transportation planning consultants TJKM.

An average of 24,000 to 33,400 vehicles use this section of University Avenue during weekdays, according to the report. Donohoe Street in East Palo Alto, which funnels traffic from Embarcadero Road to northbound U.S. Highway 101 and to University Avenue to the Dumbarton Bridge, has an average of 10,000 to 25,400 vehicles during weekdays.

The commute corridor was not only slow but also unsafe in certain places. Five intersections also exceeded the statewide average collision rate prior to the synchronization along University Avenue: Lincoln Avenue, Chaucer Street, Guinda Street and Middlefield Road in Palo Alto and Woodland and Scofield avenues in East Palo Alto. The signals now have updated green, yellow and red light minimum times so that traffic can clear the intersections. Insufficient yellow-light timing can sometimes cause rear-end collisions and inadequate red-light timing can cause right-angle crashes, according to the report.

The study looked at morning, midday, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. afternoon commutes during the school year and midday weekend traffic.

"University Avenue showed significant decrease in stop delay, travel time and increase in speed during the weekday a.m., midday and p.m. ... and weekend midday peak periods for northbound and southbound directions," the study noted. There was an approximately 25% reduction in stop delay, a 21% reduction in stops per vehicle and a 13% decrease in travel time with a 28% increase in speed for all of the peak periods since synchronization.

Studies before and after the synchronization measured intersection improvements and "floating" car runs. The latter covered a vehicle's one-way trip of the entire length of a study corridor. The study captured travel time, speed, stopping time, number of stops and other delays.

"Before" data along a 2.31-mile stretch of University Avenue between O'Brien Drive in East Palo Alto and Guinda Street in Palo Alto found that during afternoon commutes at 2 p.m., drivers heading north experienced an average stop delay of 67 minutes and 5 seconds. Total travel time was 70 minutes and 55 seconds with an average speed of 3 mph.

An "after" study found the same corridor at 2 p.m. had a stop-delay average of 13 minutes and 38 seconds and a travel time of 18 minutes and 43 seconds. Average speed increased to 8 mph.

Southbound commutes along the same stretch also improved. Vehicles had total stop delays of 4 minutes and 44 seconds at 2 p.m. before the synchronization, which improved to 52 seconds after the changes. A total travel time of 10 minutes and 6 seconds before synchronization changed to 6 minutes and 12 seconds. Speed rose from 14 mph to 22 mph, the study showed.

The study also looked at synchronization along a 0.31-mile stretch of a problematic intersection in East Palo Alto, at Donohoe Street between University Avenue and the Ravenswood Shopping Center. Donohoe Street showed an average 64% reduction in stop delay, 50% reduction in the number of stops per vehicle and a 56% reduction in travel time. Speed increased 120% for all peak periods, the consultants found.

Westbound traffic at 1 p.m. was Donohoe's busiest time, with stop delays of 6 minutes and 7 seconds and an average speed of 3 mph. After synchronization, motorists experienced stop delays of 2 minutes and 11 seconds and traveled at an average 11 mph.

The synchronization program has benefits for pedestrians at crosswalks. "Walk" and "Don't Walk" clearance timing was updated to allow pedestrians to safely cut through intersections based on the state's transportation standard of a current walking speed of 3.5 feet per second.

The report also looked at the average savings in dollars over a five-year period, which is considered the project's "lifetime." The project is estimated to have a travel-time savings of approximately $45,187,857 (calculated as 50% of the wage rate for off-the-clock travel or $20.09 in 2014) and $2,455,618 in fuel-consumption savings. The synchronization also will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles by 13.2 tons.

Comments

Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2019 at 9:40 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2019 at 9:40 am
12 people like this

Additionally, what would be useful is to make some of these lights peak hours only. There is no reason why many lights could not be altered to flashing red late at night until early morning commute time. There is no reason for traffic to be made to stop and wait for a green light when there is no other traffic. Flashing red means treating the intersection as four way stop and can make more sense than waiting for a red light to turn green at midnight.es


Common sense
Registered user
another community
on Dec 23, 2019 at 10:46 am
Common sense, another community
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2019 at 10:46 am
61 people like this

Synchronizing traffic signals on a Bay-Area arterial roadway at peak commute times is, like, 1965 technology. Familiar literally generations ago.

The real story and marvel here should be why a town that so often congratulates itself on being a high-tech hub didn't do this decades earlier, as a matter of course!


Duveneck
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2019 at 10:50 am
Duveneck, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2019 at 10:50 am
24 people like this

The traffic lights on Embarcadero are a nightmare. Please coordinate those, too. Traffic backs up for blocks due to the Paly/Town&Country/El Camino bottleneck.


Dave Ross
Portola Valley
on Dec 23, 2019 at 11:15 am
Dave Ross, Portola Valley
on Dec 23, 2019 at 11:15 am
19 people like this

This post is partly in reply to @Common Sense.

I lived in Palo Alto from 1976 through 2002, and one of the committees I participated in was the Traffic Signal Timing Study Committee. A grand name for a small group of us, including the City's chief Transportation Engineer, Ashok Aggarwal. Our mission was slightly different from the current effort, balancing pedestrian needs with driving efficiency. For example, on University between High Street and Middlefield Road our focus was to minimize pedestrian wait times at stop lights. Other corridors, such as ECR had more of a vehicle priority.

But even though our subject are was limited to Palo Alto we quickly realized a major constraint - not all of Palo Alto's traffic signals (83 at that time) were controlled by the City. CalTrans had jurisdiction over ECR, so anything we proposed had to pass muster with them - and they had their own priorities and concerns.

The University Avenue corridor from Middlefield to the Dumbarton Bridge has much more significant jursidictional issues - Palo Alto only controls about one third of it. It passes through at least one more city and a different county. And once it leaves Palo Alto it becomes State Highway 109, putting it in CalTrans' territory as well. And while knowledge of signal coordination is ancient by Millennial standards, when the various signals were installed the infrastructure for connecting and syncing the control devices was not a thing. Many of these signals were installed with purely analog inputs or timers, not connected to a central control system or across "ownership" boundaries.

So the "real story and marvel here," as you put it, is not about technology at all. It's about inter-agency cooperation and how difficult that it to achieve even for such an obvious benefit. It's fine to get snarky about Palo Alto, but at least get better grounded with your subject matter first!


Digma
Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2019 at 11:22 am
Digma, Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2019 at 11:22 am
21 people like this

Doesn't this go against Palo alto dogma - you need to hinder traffic and then it magically disappears.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 23, 2019 at 11:40 am
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2019 at 11:40 am
18 people like this

When will they fix Oregon Expressway? Used to work fine until they installed new stop lights a few years ago and reset the timing. Now, at 2 PM, traffic is bumper to bumper from El Camino to 101.

Who are these brainiacs ?


Common sense
Registered user
another community
on Dec 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm
Common sense, another community
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm
18 people like this

Replying to Dave Ross --

1) No "snark" intended earlier -- just citing some relevant background facts.

2) I remember 1965 in the Bay Area, and the availability THEN of synchronized signals on arterial roads (often under mixed jurisdictions, as such roads frequently are). Using what you dubbed "purely analog inputs or timers" (actually, US metropolitan traffic signals have usually been digital, in the real [engineering] sense, since even before then -- operated by electromechanical relay arrays in cabinets, a technology I have built for other applications). Similar technology created the historic Harvard-IBM "Mark I" electromechanical programmable digital computer of the early 1940s, for anyone who didn't know that basic computer history.

3) Thank you for filling in some of the historical details on this local case. In the longer focus, that history supports my wider complaint that something demonstrably feasible 50+ years ago is only *now* being implemented (with some fanfare, as though it were innovative). Similar public-works culture on a larger canvas has long afflicted Bay-Area "public transit" systems -- where Balkan-fiefdom agencies in adjacent counties, or even cities, don't talk much to each other, use incompatible ticketing and schedules, and when they at long last implement fare systems that work across different agencies, they hold parties and press conferences as if this were a brilliant idea. (Rather than, more sensibly, apologizing to the region for not having planned that way since the beginning).


Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2019 at 1:02 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2019 at 1:02 pm
7 people like this

I asked the transportation guy a few transportation guys why the traffic lights could not be times so that we drivers would not have to stop at practically every light. He said that it was not an easy job, or it was complicated, or something. Well, San Francisco would and still does it, why cannot Palo Alto not do it?


Bike commuter
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 23, 2019 at 3:25 pm
Bike commuter, Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 23, 2019 at 3:25 pm
12 people like this

I generally never see delays on my commuter. Things currently seem about normal.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Dec 23, 2019 at 4:42 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Dec 23, 2019 at 4:42 pm
2 people like this

They are just now looking at and changing this, after decades of making people stop and wait for no reason at these stoplights? Same thing on virtually all our roads - El Camino, Alma, Oregon, Embarcadero ...

I'd guess that a lot of these accidents are not because of the intersection but because we have gotten to be like SF already was 30 years ago ... when the light turns yellow people just keep going often well into the red light.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Dec 23, 2019 at 4:49 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Dec 23, 2019 at 4:49 pm
8 people like this

> There is no reason why many lights could not be altered to flashing red late at night until early morning commute time.

Yes there is a reason ... seems like about 1/3 of drivers are completely mystified as to what to do when they see a flashing red light, a flashing yellow light, or as we had a few days ago in the power outage a dead intersection. Do it late at night and that proportion probably goes up along with the number of inebriated drivers.

Maybe some signs could help with this.

Thanks to Dave Ross for a better explanation of the difficulties here.


smooth rider
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 24, 2019 at 10:02 am
smooth rider, Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 24, 2019 at 10:02 am
3 people like this

"There is no reason why many lights could not be altered to flashing red late at night until early morning commute time. "

DO NOT DO THIS. I can currently cruise down University at 45mph until I hit Middlefield. Why would you want to force me to stop at every other block? It would end up being like Lytton where you can't get from Middelfield to Alma without having to stop for at least 3 lights.

If you want to spend money, fix up the pavement. It's in an appalling state. Why are they resurfacing minor roads for a few and leaving this expressway that everyone uses in such a poor state?


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2019 at 11:11 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2019 at 11:11 am
5 people like this

Posted by smooth rider, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> DO NOT DO THIS. I can currently cruise down University at 45mph until I hit Middlefield. Why would you want to force me to stop at every other block? It would end up being like Lytton where you can't get from Middelfield to Alma without having to stop for at least 3 lights.

This is exactly why the light synchronization needs to be congestion-driven, so that, at most, you can proceed at an average of 25 MPH at 3 AM. 25 MPH happens to be the posted speed, as well as California law for a business district.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 24, 2019 at 11:36 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2019 at 11:36 am
11 people like this

The city evidently supports having us waste time at unnecessary red lights at midnight, during weekends, school holidays etc. Just look at the track record of the last 2 heads of transportation in failing to sync the Paly light near Town and Country for lo these many years.

No doubt they'll get around to addressing the El Camino / Embarcadero light in another 10 or 20 years. You'll recall Mr. Rodriquez defended his inaction because he needed to "survey" the "stakeholders" -- critical work that's still evidently ongoing under his 2 successors and all their consultants ...


Carl Jones
Palo Verde
on Dec 24, 2019 at 12:25 pm
Carl Jones, Palo Verde
on Dec 24, 2019 at 12:25 pm
5 people like this

I believe that the "flashing red/yellow lights" that several posters mentioned are intended to operate as follows: after a certain time (at night, e.g. say 9pm) the traffic light blinks yellow on the 'through street' (University or Middlefield or ...) and blinks red on the 'cross street' (Guinda or Channing). This effectively turns the intersection into a stop sign for the cross street and warns traffic on the through street to be particularly alert for possible cross traffic. Such signals are still used effectively in the greater Boston area.
However, when I suggested to the Transportation Department that the new/proposed signal at the intersection of Charleston and Louis be set that way for non-commute hours I was told that there was a CA law (?) prohibiting the use of that type of signal. I did not get a reference to the statute or regulation - if anyone can get it I would like to see it.


Carl Jones
Palo Verde
on Dec 24, 2019 at 12:40 pm
Carl Jones, Palo Verde
on Dec 24, 2019 at 12:40 pm
2 people like this

Also, while we are talking about traffic light timing, I'd like to see the following be done to get commute traffic off downtown University Ave and flowing better around it.

For traffic coming from Stanford or El Camino Real onto NE-bound University:
Time the lights to facilitate a right turn onto High and a left turn onto Hamilton. Time the lights on NE-bound Hamilton (toward 101) for 23 mph to Middlefield.

For traffic coming from 101 or Middlefield onto SE-bound University:
Time the lights to facilitate a right turn onto Webster and a left turn onto Lyton. Time the lights on SE-bound Lyton (toward Stanford) for 23 mph. Then a left onto High and a right back onto University and under the train tracks.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2019 at 12:47 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2019 at 12:47 pm
9 people like this

This town has an overabundance of stop signs and stop lights. During commute hours, we are in stop and go traffic. At midnight, we get stuck at red lights waiting for non-existing pedestrians or cross traffic to cross and the lights to change.

How come almost anywhere outside the Bay Area (with the possible exception of LA traffic) at night all the peak lights are turned off and it is possible to get around town without 30 second waits for lights to change?

The inefficiency of traffic is slowing traffic up during the day and not allowing the one or two vehicles outside the downtown area to efficiently get from the highway to home without long periods of waiting at red lights.

There has to be a better system. This is silicon valley. We invent things the rest of the world uses but our city won't allow them or use them. Whether they are smart traffic lights, peak lights, electronic parking signs on garages, real time information on where the shuttles are and how long they will get here, or be able to pay for parking on our phones.

Pathetic.


Carl Jones
Palo Verde
on Dec 24, 2019 at 11:03 pm
Carl Jones, Palo Verde
on Dec 24, 2019 at 11:03 pm
Like this comment

In the 3rd paragraph of my prior post, I should have said SW-bound.


pedestrian
Downtown North
on Dec 27, 2019 at 10:32 am
pedestrian, Downtown North
on Dec 27, 2019 at 10:32 am
14 people like this

All these projects to speed up car traffic make our streets more dangerous and slower for pedestrians. I now have to wait 3 times longer to get a pedestrian crossing light and higher car speeds make cars more likely to run the red lights. The city needs to work harder at reducing the number of cars on streets that are heavily used by pedestrians. Making University Ave less friendly to pedestrians is going to hurt local retail businesses in the long run.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 27, 2019 at 11:59 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 27, 2019 at 11:59 am
17 people like this

If you want to reduce the number of cars, tell the pro-development CC majority to stop approving yet more offices which brings yet more commuters.

The number of commuters in the Bay Area rose 24% this past year at a time when the same area saw a net population OUTflow of people disgusted by what's happening here.


NeilsonBuchanan
Registered user
Downtown North
on Dec 27, 2019 at 1:08 pm
NeilsonBuchanan, Downtown North
Registered user
on Dec 27, 2019 at 1:08 pm
1 person likes this

Thank you, Sue Dremann,

The update is helpful. The new Office of Transportation and your newspaper can provide more depth by outlining next obstacles and solutions such as navigation apps which change traffic politics. Here is an excellent basis to start a community conversation.

Web Link


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2019 at 3:27 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2019 at 3:27 pm
8 people like this

Posted by pedestrian, a resident of Downtown North

>> All these projects to speed up car traffic make our streets more dangerous and slower for pedestrians. I now have to wait 3 times longer to get a pedestrian crossing light and higher car speeds make cars more likely to run the red lights.

I have to point out that, correctly done, optimized traffic signals can "speed up" -- that is, reduce end-to-end, elapsed time, car trips, AND, simultaneously, reduce top speed of individual cars. No magic involved -- just correct light synchronization so that, e.g., cars can travel at 20-25 MPH for long periods. In order to work, the signals have to be "smart" and the system has to behave differently when heavily congested vs when traffic is light.


silence
Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2019 at 7:14 pm
silence, Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2019 at 7:14 pm
Like this comment

@Anon, if that's the case, why are cars still traveling at 45mph down University?
Seems a better solution is switch to the same model as the lights at Channing & Waverly. Instead of sitting at green, they sit at red but let cars through as they arrive and will let a stream of cars through if they arrive together.


Brad
Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2019 at 7:56 pm
Brad, Crescent Park
on Dec 28, 2019 at 7:56 pm
3 people like this

Welcome news: Lights may be bad in Palo Alto but at least the City is making an effort.

What is more critical is reforming the much worse State- and County-run lights on area highways. The inefficiency at lights on El Camino is especially egregious. It's as if the many expensive sensors are never activated. Several times this holiday, I've sat for minutes on the sensors at red lights perpendicular to El Camino while almost no traffic passes. There is no excuse for this type of lazy, inefficient engineering on the part of the State and County.

This is really basic stuff—we're talking about improving timing and using the already installed sensors, not even expanding our public transit network or deploying smarter traffic light systems that are being developed right here on the Peninsula.

So many people live and work here (or have to travel far distances to work because of the town's refusal to allow affordable housing). Sitting for no reason at lights sucks time from millions of people's lives that could be spent with their families.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 29, 2019 at 9:09 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 29, 2019 at 9:09 am
6 people like this

"Welcome news: Lights may be bad in Palo Alto but at least the City is making an effort.

What is more critical is reforming the much worse State- and County-run lights on area highways. The inefficiency at lights on El Camino is especially egregious."

Our last 2 transportation czars have both blamed their mistakes on the county and/or the state rather than fixing their mistakes. Mr. Rodriquez was "waiting" to fix the mess near Paly and El Camino until he gathered input from "stakeholders." Mr. Mello blamed the fact that cars were getting stuck in the middle of Oregon on the county traffic lights when the backups started after he made such s mess with the lane reductions and obstacles at Jordan. After they removed the passing lane at the Jordan lane, I've had friends arrive shaking at my home because they've been stuck ON Oregon with 2 lanes of traffic barrelling towards them because traffic unexpectedly backed up onto Middlefield.

City managers and the CC refused to admit there were problem with narrowing the lanes so much that Middlefield traffic had to BACK UP to let in turning turning traffic.

I'm not defending the county or the state but PA let our highly paid bureaucrats scapegoat them while doing nothing concrete because preaching and scapegoating are so much easier.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Dec 29, 2019 at 4:59 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Dec 29, 2019 at 4:59 pm
6 people like this

I needed to drive to San Mateo and back in the middle of the early morning 2-3am ... this morning. I was completely baffled how I stopped at every single traffic light.

If at a light and the light turned green and I accelerated up the the speed limit as fast as I could and then drove at exact posted speed limit I would catch every single light.

This was just too perfect to be by chance, there must be some kind of design spec. that calls for this.

Perhaps police want to increase the cross-sectional time a given car is in their jurisdiction for ticketing or observational purposes, or slow cars down in acknowledgement that there will be more drunk drivers or nefarious activity going on at night or maybe to be sure the traffic cameras get a good shot of everyone's license plates. Are people with cruise control on likely to fall asleep if they don't have to stop at lights? What is going on with that? And a lot of them just sit there until you think they are broken with zero traffic and then finally change.

Can anyone comment on this, it was pretty uniform from Palo Alto to San Mateo. Slowing down or speeding up would merely draw attention.


musical
Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2019 at 8:06 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2019 at 8:06 pm
6 people like this

^ @CPA, puzzling description. Were you on 12 miles of El Camino Real the whole way?
Or referring to the lights getting to and from 101 on each end of your trip?

I've noted that our El Camino Way/Los Robles traffic signal is often red for El Camino for no apparent reason during those wee hours (visiting my favorite 24-hr Happy Donuts) while I idle watching the walk-light count down its 30 seconds or whatever with no pedestrians in sight. Same with our Churchill intersection on Alma.

And on Oregon Expressway I've yet to decipher our Middlefield signal cycle, sometimes left-turn green first, then straight green; and sometimes straight green first, then left-turn green.

Also why do rush-hour drivers stacked up in a left turn pocket leave more than a whole car length between themselves so their queue quickly extends back into the through traffic lanes? E.g. Charleston trying to cross San Antonio.

Are oncoming high-beams and seriously misaligned headlights a bug or a feature?
Traffic articles always get fun comments.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2019 at 8:41 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2019 at 8:41 am
Like this comment

Posted by silence, a resident of Crescent Park

>> @Anon, if that's the case, why are cars still traveling at 45mph down University?

As I said, IF correctly done. I'm not sure how the lights are set now.


Marc
Midtown
on Dec 30, 2019 at 11:09 am
Marc, Midtown
on Dec 30, 2019 at 11:09 am
2 people like this

Why does the city spend time in the "rich" part of town speeding up traffic, but down here in the "poor" part of town all the efforts are on traffic "calming" that reduce the traffic flow?

/marc


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Dec 30, 2019 at 5:41 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Dec 30, 2019 at 5:41 pm
2 people like this

musical of Palo Verde
> ^ @CPA, puzzling description. Were you on 12 miles of El Camino Real the whole way?

I took El Camino the whole way and did not miss one stop-light. I prefer to go on El Camino in the late night or early morning especially in the holiday season because now people on 101 drive like maniacs at high speed. At least if someone hits me on El Camino it will be a fender bender and no one else will pile on from behind.

> I've noted that our El Camino Way/Los Robles traffic signal is often red for El Camino for no apparent reason during those wee hours

Yes, exactly, that is a big part of my point. It's been that way for as long as I can remember, so it must have been a design decision for some reason. When I think of all the gas wasted by cars sitting at stoplights for no apparent reason it boggles my mind.

Marc of Midtown
Where is this alleged poor part of Palo Alto? ;-)


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Dec 30, 2019 at 5:44 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Dec 30, 2019 at 5:44 pm
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Idea for an enterprising soul. Create a traffic adhesive strip with embedded super bright LEDs in it that blinks at the speed of stoplight synchronization so that anyone who wants to be guaranteed to hit the green light merely has to keep their car moving at the same speed of the blinking LEDs and they will hit the green lights all the way to their destinations? Is that possible?


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2019 at 5:53 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2019 at 5:53 pm
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Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park

>> > ^ @CPA, puzzling description. Were you on 12 miles of El Camino Real the whole way?

>> I took El Camino the whole way and did not miss one stop-light.

It has been said that ECR lights are under the control of Caltrans because it is State Highway CA-82. I'm not sure if that is really true. Anybody know for sure if Palo Alto can change light timing?

I don't see why more segments of more streets are not synchronized for the desired traffic speed (limit) when congestion is low, such as at 2-3 AM. Lights on Sunset Blvd in SF were synchronized back in the 60's (anybody remember the year?) so that the traffic front flowed along at 30 MPH. It wastes fuel to constantly stop/go/stop/go.


Nad Jella
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2020 at 9:47 am
Nad Jella, Old Palo Alto
on Jan 2, 2020 at 9:47 am
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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.

"I needed to drive to San Mateo and back in the middle of the early morning 2-3am ... this morning. I was completely baffled how I stopped at every single traffic light.

This was just too perfect to be by chance, there must be some kind of design spec. that calls for this."

If your car has OnStar or you had your Android or Apple phone along, then Google et al knew it was you. Using Palantir AI, they determined that you are on a state agency's penalty list (also placed there by an AI algorithm) and that you should be punished by having CalTrans trigger a red light at every intersection as you approached.


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