Traffic Lights

I don’t take the tollway much any more. I don’t like the idea of spening 25¢ for the privildege of doing 35MPH in stop and go traffic. Call me cheap. So I take surface streets to and from work most of the time and that means I have too much time to think.

As I move from stop light to stop light I began to imagine a ribbon traveling above the road. The ribon is red, green and yellow. It represents the next light. If I am traveling under the green portion of the ribbon, when I get to the next light I will go through on the green. If I’m under the yellow band, I’ll get there when the light is yellow. Under the red and I’ll be stopping.

Today it hit me that it would be kind of cool to have a display in your car that showed this. It could be tied in to GPS so it knows where you are and either get the traffic light pattern from the government or from other cars and then form estimates.

Why? Because you get folks who race from light to light weaving in and out of traffic only to get to the next next light when it turns red. They think they’re getting there faster but all the rushing only gets them ahead by about a light. So imagine one of those Speed Racer types getting a clear indication that they’re racing to a red light. The indicator on their dashboard fads from green to red as they race ahead. Suddendly they throttle back to just below the speed limit and the indicator fads back to green.

Where you’d get people racing ahead would be at the back end of the pack. But they probably wouldn’t go racing through the entire pack, once they got the green indicator they’d want to cruise in the “green zone”.

Better option: I’ve started taking the train on non-school days. This gives me an extra 2 hours of reading time each week. The train ride is 1/2 hour each way. I take it twice a week. During the break I’ll probably take it every day. With gas prices where they are the cost is pretty much the same. But I like makeing up some time during the week. Instead of sitting in traffice listening to NPR, I can sit on a train and read. I’m cutting back on traffic on the roads, saving gas and producing just a little bit less pollution.

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