I am Seattle Traffic

Welcome to IamSeattleTraffic.org. Personal Responsibility is the Cure to the Commute.

I encourage you to read the Welcome post and to learn more about The Universal Goals of the Commute, Driving In Congestion, and Traffic Zen.

Some other fun ones are Pac-Manning, Don't Stop Moving, and The Flying V.

Spread the word by printing up a FREE poster or purchasing an attractive and informative bumper sticker. It will lead to more enlightenment.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Traffic Waves

OK, it's been a while since we last have made an update to our site, but mathematical proof [from Slashdot] has been found that supports our tenants.

Check out this site for information on how traffic wave phenomena are explained.

The author, William Beaty, even came to similar conclusions for ways to alleviate traffic that are congruent to our recommendations.

Anyways, if only we could organize around fixing the traffic situation, we could dramatically improve the situation on 520. We'll keep trying, it's promising to see that others out there are making similar findings!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just Honk!

I just found out about a new aproach to traffic reduction from a new DOT report.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dump the Pump Thursday!

Thursday is "Dump the Pump" day. As the APTA says:

The day is dedicated to raising awareness that public transportation helps improve the environment and conserve fuel. It also offers the opportunity for people to beat the high price of gasoline and support public transportation as an important travel option that helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

On June 21, public transportation agencies from coast to coast will join together to ask the public to park their cars and ride public transportation instead.

Make sure to dump the pump Thursday and don't you dare drive!

Vatican Rules of the Road

Today in the Seattle TImes there's an article about the 10 commandments for drivers from the Vatican.

They are:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

What do you think of these commandments? Does it make you want to go to confession for your driving sins?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tips for Driving in the Rain

I drove across 520 on Saturday in heavy rain, and the experience inspired me to make this post:

  • As soon as you turn on your wipers, turn on your headlights. Day or Night! This will ensure that on-coming traffic can see you, and that you can see traffic ahead of you. It's actually the law here that if you have 500 feet or less visibility, you have to have your headlights on.

  • In all sorts of rain, you can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Steer and brake with a light touch. When you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.

  • Give extra space to the car infront of you. Tailgating is always bad, but it's even worse in the rain when braking is more difficult.

  • Hydroplaning happens when water in front of your tires builds up faster than your car's weight can push it out of the way. The water pressure causes your car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between your tires and the road. If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not slam on the breaks! You will lose control of the vehicle! Step off the gas and apply mild pressure.

  • Make turns more slowly to avoid skidding.

  • Most roads are sloped so that rain falls off to the sides. So if you stay in the center of the road and the center of your lane within the road, that is the most dry position.

  • Never use cruise control in the rain. Many cruise controls, even modern ones, don't take loss of traction into account when computing cruise control, so if you start slipping, the cruise control will start to accelerate!

  • Wet roads are most dangerous the first rain after a dry period. All of the dirt and grease accumulated will combine with the water to make an extremely slick surface.

Do you have any rain driving tips of your own?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Best and Worst Driver Stories?

We all have stories about bad drivers talking on the phone, eating food, picking their noses, and generally not paying attention. What's the worst driver you've personally witnessed?

Extra points if you tell about a particular situation where you were a bad driver and regretted it later.

And how about nice driver stories (if any exist)? It's a lot harder to notice good drivers, but if you've got a story, please share!

NOTE: Please don't post names or license plates, and keep it clean.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Opinion: Don't Be a Victim of Traffic.

Something occured to me the other day and that may or may not be obvious to everyone else: Each day's traffic is new.

Think about it. Traffic isn't something that just exists and we join and leave it each day. It actually stops existing every night, and then the next morning it begins fresh again. We create repetitive traffic with our routines and jobs, so it gives the illusion of a constant problem.

We choose every day to create traffic. It is a decision we make to get into our cars (usually alone) and search for a somewhat-less-congested route to work. We are actively contributing to traffic simply by being on the road. Even if you are riding the bus to work, you are still creating traffic, albeit less than if you were driving.

Now, don't get me wrong, I believe that commuting is a necessary part of our current economoy (until we develop the technology and ethic to do our work from remote locations). But I don't believe that traffic has to be as bad as it is, even with the current infrastructure.

You can choose to be victimized by what traffic appears to be; a necessary evil of the economy that can't be avoided which some research group is "thinking about" and some government agency is spending your money to "do something about it".

Or you can see it for what it is. Traffic is the result of collective decisions people make to drive at similar times to get to places they want to go, and they try to get there as fast as possible.

Does this realization change the decisions you're going to make about how you commute?

Changing the traffic system takes time and money, and there are things you can do today to change your commute. Whether you decide to take transit, start a carpool, drive at different hours, telecommute, motorcycle, bike, walk, move closer to work, or just drive better alone doesn't matter to us. What does matter is that you think about these choices and make the most of what we've got today.

Because ultimately, it is you that decides to get up in the morning and drive to work and create traffic every day.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Carpool? What's stopping you?

This Times Opinion piece from Nicole Brodeur about Ride Share and how she made friends and saved gas by ride sharing is wonderful.

The bonding truly came, though, on the way home, at the intersection of Jackson and 23rd: the state liquor store.

"Mind if I stop in here?" I asked, somewhat sheepishly.

"You know, I always drive past here, meaning to stop in... " she said.

We really didn't need to; we were both buzzing with the sense that Doing Our Part was not at all like a term paper, or back-country dentistry, or hell.

What took us so long?

What's taking you?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

As Eddie Izzard Says... "Ciao!"

You could be riding around the city on a scooter saving massive gas mileage! This is another way to save money on gas, and have fun getting around. Scooting would let you take the HOV lanes on the freeway, but with some of the smaller scooters, I wouldnt' recommend it.

When people think of motorcycle commuting, it's important to remember that scooters and mopeds are ok too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gas Mileage Hacking

This article about people who drive a specific way to maximize gas mileage is pretty interesting. A lot of what they do are things we encourage here at IAST:

  • "avoiding jackrabbit starts"

  • "avoiding stop-and-go"

  • "anticipating lights"

  • "driving a bit more slowly"

A few we definitely don't support:

  • slightly overinflated tires to cut rolling resistance

  • drafting like race cars behind larger vehicles

The drafting idea is dangerous, because it is essentially tailgating behind the largest vehicles that have the hardest time seeing smaller cars. Tailgating is bad, but the other lessons are good ones, and with gas nearly $4 a gallon, we should all consider driving better to save gas. In the article:

“I do as few accelerations and brakings as possible to get up to speed and
maintain it,” he said. He ... avoids lane changes and coasts to red lights.

Sounds like our message exactly. Save money: Drive better!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Beware the Bear!

I hope your memorial day weekend was fabulous. If you drive to work tomorrow, be careful not to hit a bear!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Today is Drive Nice Day

Today is Drive Nice Day. You can get a sticker at several locations. If you've got a sticker and haven't put it in your window yet, now is the time to do it!

Go to Drive Nice Day [www.driveniceday.org] for more information. We'll be posting pictures and other tid-bits from the event.

Also, KOMORadio posted a hotlink to driveniceday.org.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Careful Passing and the Flying V on Seattle Highways

There is a phenomenon I have witnessed on Seattle's highways. That of people driving at the same speed next to each other. This is much akin to geese flying in formation.

Don't create the flying V. This is wrong. People should just be getting into the passing lane (that is the left one for those of you moving here from the other hemisphere) unless you intend to pass somebody. If you aren't passing, please refrain from using this lane. The space is primarily there to enable PASSING not CRUISING.

If you are being passed by cars in the right lane, you probably should not be in the left (passing) lane. This key indicator, cars passing you with people shaking their fists in the air, is a signal for you to get back into the non-passing lane.

If you do, in fact, decide to pass someone in the left lane, please return to the non-passing lane when you are done and you will be helping reduce congestion and will be helping Seattle with its traffic problem.

A final note, passing is one the most dangerous components of driving. According to IVI, lane changes account for 10% of crashes. When you're passing, be extremely careful with each lane change; signal your intentions by turning on your signal long before changing lanes; and be respectful of the other vehicles on the road. Also, be extra careful on the 24th since it's Drive Nice Day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Not Crop Circles...

Here's an article I found that shows the reduction of accidents after putting in Traffic Circles in neighborhoods. Neighborhood Traffic Calming: Seattle's Traffic Circle Program

I think it's amazing how making the right small change can make a big impact on a problem. This is how I view the traffic congestion problems in Seattle. This is a seemingly daunting problem that many people don't believe they can affect. But you can affect it.

You personally can change your driving behaviors in simple and repeatable ways to improve traffic. You must realize that traffic is created by cars, cars are driven by people, and people have bad habits. It's not fun to drive more responsibly, but it is powerful.

You created the traffic. Take a stand and change your part of the road.

Drive Nice Day - Seattle Times

The Seattle Times has an article about Drive Nice Day today.

Are you Driving Nice?

Thursday this week is Drive Nice Day. I Am Seattle Traffic is now an official sponsor of Drive Nice Day, and we've been out handing out stickers and trying to get them in the back window of as many cars as possible.

Drive Nice Day is about driving more couteously and trying to avoid accidents on the most collision-prone day of the year!

We'd also really like to get some pictures of cars with Drive Nice Day stickers. 20,000 stickers were made for the event this year, so if you spot one, get a picture and send it to us at info@iamseattletraffic.org

Don't forget to visit DriveNiceDay.org to learn more about the event.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

National Bike to Work Day

Tomorrow is National Bike to Work Day, read more about Bike2WorkDay here. Many breakfasts are being offered, including one from my employer!

If you really want to send the oil companies a message, forget about meaningless one-day boycotts where you don't buy gas built still drive. Take the bike to work once a week, or ride the bus twice a week. If all Americans did that we'd save 10 billion barrels of oil a year, costing the oil companies about $600 billion dollars and lowering the price of gas by $1.25 a gallon.

Better Driving Please!

I stumbled on this site from UK called Better Driving Please! They're taking license plates of bad drivers and trying to "help out the authorities" with improving the raods. A bit extreme compared to what we do, but we can take all the help we can get!

Take a look and let us know what you like/don't like/what you learned from their site.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


The www.DriveNiceDay.org web site is up and running! Go check it out and learn more about Drive Nice Day, May 24th, 2007.

There are stickers available, and you can get them at locations listed here.

There are also drive nice tips on the site.

Drive Nice! It's Contagious.

No Rubberneckin'

Occasionally, when people are on their commute, something miraculous, mysterious, or otherwise interesting happens on the edge of the road. These occurrences include but are not limited to:

  • Accidents

  • Road Side Assistance

  • Natural Disasters

  • Sport Events

  • Police pulling people over

  • Streakers

  • Planes flying overhead with advertisements

When an interesting event occurs, people begin to do something that I refer to as "rubbernecking". Rubbernecking is the act of twisting your attention away from the road and on to the roadside distraction. What people do not realize when they rubberneck is that they tend to slow down. This is bad. Slowing down for one person tends to cause slowing down for others and spreads the rubbernecking because people then realize there is something interesting to stare at.

Please, Seattle, try to refrain from rubberneckin' and maintain your true speed!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Put Down Your Cellphones!

At least while driving anyway. They have been officially banned in Washington. The legislature passed the build last month, and Governor Chris Gregoire signed it late Friday. The law doesn't take into effect until July 2008 (seriously, why wait?). It includes text messaging (which become banned January 2008), but not hands-free sets, which remain legal.

The offenses are secondary offenses, which mean that you cannot be pulled over just for talking on the phone, but you will get a bigger ticket if you are pulled over for something else while talking on the phone. The fine for texting will be at least $101. That's almost as bad as my providers data rate!

Driving while talking on the phone has been repeatedly shown to be very dangerous, and that hands-free is almost as bad as hands-on. The photo to the left is an actual real-life 520 driver who drove dangerously while talking on the phone. Please, for your safety and ours, hang up the phone.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Letter from Julie!

Here's a recent email I got from someone about this site. I thought I'd share with everyone since it explained the spirit of what we're trying to do here.

Dear iamseattletraffic,

Okay seriously, so this is really having an effect on me! I didn’t quite expect this, but I have been driving with the iamseattletraffic sticker in my window for about a week and I notice that I’m paying attention to my driving habit more closely. Especially in congested traffic!

I’m still working on cutting out the old habit of trying to accelerate too much and breaking, but I’m making progress, and I made a trip during commute time the other day without many stops. It made the whole drive seem less frustrating.

I find the advocating of the program has me more aware of my driving actions towards others and I’m cutting in less and being more aware and courteous overall. I’ll bet other drivers like being around me more…! :-)

Thanks for putting up this site (and to my friend for sending it my way)! Something I thought was sorta tongue in cheek actually made a big difference for a typically-unpleasant chunk of my day!



Julie, thanks for the email and keep moving toward Traffic Zen. We can do this one car at a time!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

37 miles of bike-lanes coming

Seattle is installing 37 miles of bike trails in the city, according to its Bicycle Master Plan. The Ballard News Tribune has a nice, if slightly Ballard-centric analysis. The plan includes bike trails, bike lines, "sharrows" (pavement arrows that indicate for cars to share the line), bike shoulders and much, much more. There's a real nice section about bicycles and transit. The deadline for comments on the plan has been extended to May 18th, so take a look at it here.

Hopefully, this will help reduce car-head and piss-off the old-timer haters that have proudly put this city in statis for decades. Certainly, it doesn't please The Stranger's Erica C Barnett, but she's a little, well, unstable.

Cross-posted at the Seattle Transit Blog.

Don't Stop Moving

Yesterday afternoon, I had to get to Seattle from my job in Redmond. I had to be there at 4:30, so I left at about 3:30. I wasn't looking forward to the traffic, but I wanted to use it as an opportunity to use my zen skills.

I made an amazing accomplishment: I did not come to a full stop the entire time I was on SR-520!

The way that I accomplished this was by leaving a ton of room in from of me, and maintaining a constant (slow!) speed as much as possible. The car in front of me kept speeding up and jerking to a stop, over and over again. When they were stopped, I slowly crept toward them. When they started moving I let them pull away and kept creeping at the same speed or I accelerated a little.

The car behind me didn't have to stop either. And neither did the car behind her. When I got on the bridge, I could see pretty far back because it's straight, and I watched a whole line of cars (hundreds of them) that were all flowing together in one continuous motion.

The car directly behing me didn't leave me much room at first, but by the time we got to the bridge, she realized what was going on and started staying pretty far back from me. So cars behind her were getting a double buffer of fluid traffic.

I hear from people quite a bit "if you leave a lot of room, other cars will just fill it." The reality is that it doesn't happen as much as you'd think. A few cars will zoom in and get in front of you, but it really doesn't affect you when you're further back. And chances are they would have changed lanes at some point anyway, so this way at least they have the room they need and don't cause a backup while they change lanes.

Please start leaving room in front of your car when you're in congestion. Not only will your stress be reduced (it gives you a challenge too, which is fun) but the cars behind you will thank you too.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Drive Nice Day - Update

I understand that www.DriveNiceDay.org should be up this week. I'll post another link to it once it's up and running. Check out the cool logo.

I Am Pac-Man!

Recently there has been a spot of construction on my commute that forces the right lane to be closed. It happens to be at the top of a hill, so it's hard for people who (I'm assuming) don't drive this way every day to know it's there. I, on the other hand, know it's there and usually try and get over early. This eases my stress level because I don't have to fight, but it is annoying to see the other cars jockey for position as they merge over as late as possible.

So I tried "Pac-Manning" this morning to see what would happen. For those of you who are not aware, imagine your car is Pac-Man, and the white dots on the road are the yummy white dots you have to eat in the game.

I split the lanes (and ate up the dots) and kept my left blinker on. I did this with about 10 car-lengths in front of me before the merge light. Meanwhile I kept an eye on the rear-view mirror to watch the action.

Here's what happened: Almost immediately, cars behind me started realizing they had to merge, and put their left signals on. As more cars did this, I saw the line of blinking lights move further and further back (about 20-30 cars or so) and cars started getting over when they could. The lane behind me became clear, and more cars could see further. I watched as the cars behind me smoothly merged together and proceeded forward with a nice flow.

Usually cars fight their way into the merge, realizing after they've run out of runway that the reason for the hold-up is the closed lane. I hope to keep using this technique to make merges easier for everyone, and I encourage you to do the same.

Post a comment with your merging tips!

Please Don't Drive like This!

How fast must have this guy been going?

Monday, May 7, 2007

How bad is it?

According to the PI, Seattle's traffic is the second-worst in the nation!

We need you to be a safe, conscientious driver more than ever. I'm not saying that we don't need to improve infrastructure (we do), we just need to drive better as well. And while we're waiting for people in Olympia to get their improvement plans together, there are simple things you can do every day to make the commute better. Please tell other people to drive with Traffic Zen.

Post a link to this site, tell a friend, get a bumper sticker! We're all in this together.

Drive Nice Day?

I heard a rumor that there will be a major push to drive nice the Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend (May 24th). The goal, as I understand it, is to have a collision free day. So get ready to drive safely!

I'll be posting more information as we find out. There should be lots of local businesses involved in promoting this!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Don't Block the Box!

The City has started a "Don't Block the Box" campaign in Downtown to keep people from entering intersections that they cannot exit before the light changes.

This is an important part of driving correctly. Sure, if you enter the intersection now you will exiting whether or not the light changes, but you will also be blocking traffic who will be unable to cross the intersection. This is a serious problem if emergency vehicles need to go through the intersection. Don't block the box!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Northwest Biodiesel Network - 5th Annual Forum

The NW Biodiesel Network is having an event this Sunday at Seattle Center. It's free, and if you're into alternative fuels, you should check it out.

Headline from 2004: "Seattle Praised for Traffic Efficiency"

I just found this article from NPR from 2004. Seattle was praised as having one of the most efficient programs to ease traffic flow.

Seems that it's gotten much worse since then. Roads are kind of like harddrives: the more space you get, the more you fill them up. Now we need to figure out how to ease traffic on the roads we have by better driving techniques. If everyone chips in, it will ultimately save taxpayers (all of us) loads of money.

Links Courtesy of Shawn

Here's a link to a website on Driving Psychology. And another on Driving Behavior. And one more on "Greening" your vehicle.

Props to Shawn for the links.

It's important to remember that you can reduce traffic congestion through some counter-intuitive methods. Stop the tailgating, lane-switching, and acceler-braking!

Motorcycle Transit

Like the transit man, I regularly ride the bus. When I don't, I fulfill my "universal goals of the commute" by riding my motorcycle. Motorcycles are able to use the HOV lane which keeps one less car in the high traffic lanes and also allows riders to get where they're going as quickly, safely, and under as little stress as possible. More information regarding motorcycles in the HOV / commuter lanes can be found here:

In addition to understanding HOV rules for motorcyclists, information that's great for riders and drivers, there are some great resources for M/C riders and M/C supporters out there. The general cause for this is referred to as M/C awareness and April is motorcycle awareness month. Information on M/C awareness can be found on the State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) motorcycle awareness site:

The gist of M/C awareness is right in line with the tenets of traffic zen:

  • Share the road

  • Be conscious about motorcycle riders.

  • Give space so that riders can ride safe and have enough stopping distance to react. This falls right in line with the tenets of traffic zen and true speed. This is particularly important in adverse weather conditions when motorcycle riders are directly exposed to the elements.

Another aside regarding motorcycle drivers, the counter-productive goals are readily avoided as it's very challenging to ride safe and be performing a secondary task. With that said, I'll leave you with this; make M/C awareness a part of your pursuit for traffic zen, maybe even consider taking the riding safety course (http://www.pugetsoundsafety.com/brc_info.html) and having a go at pursuing two wheeled motorized transit as your path to traffic zen.

I'm the Transit Man

I received an email this morning from a Cab Driver:

Nice site, keep it up! I am a local cabdriver and very much agree with what you have written.

Well since I am getting credit for the writing, I thought I should take a moment to introduce myself. I'm the transit man, I run the Seattle Transit Blog and I collaborate here on I am Seattle Traffic. There are many ways to take responsibility for the commute, and simply not taking part as a driver the way I choose.

I take transit to work nearly everyday. Transit has nice side-effects for others. Because I am sharing my road space with other transit riders, I am not adding to traffic. Also, I am achieving my Primary Goals because the bus is safe, rides in the HOV line so it is fast, and since I am free of driving I arrive relaxed. Finally, I can realize my Secondary Goals of the commute without inconveniencing anyone else.

If you are in a position to do so, consider riding traffic and take responsibility for your part in traffic.

What are you doing about it?

We'd love to hear from you about steps you've taken to improve the commute one car at a time.

Any tips or tricks you can share? Any recent experiences with less than enlightened drivers?

Post a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Students a good example of Traffic Zen

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is looking to improve the traffic plan for the University District through a 12-month study.

“Traditionally, it’s hard to get students involved in the more mundane
things that happen in the city,” said Casey Hildreth, associate planner for the
Policy and Planning division of SDOT.

“They’re [at school] for four years and move on, but the student population
itself will always be there, and they represent a huge portion of who uses the
transportation in the area.”
Students, more so than any other community in
Seattle, ride bikes, walk to school or take the bus, Hildreth said.

“In this unique way, their perspective is more important than anyone else
in the city,” he said.

We at IamSeattleTraffic.org encourage folks to take personal responsibility to improve traffic overall, and students are a great example of it. Walking/biking/bussing are great ways to improve traffic. But even when driving, you can share the road.
And if everyone practiced better techniques for driving in congestion, we could improve traffic throughout our great city.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Driving In Congestion

Driving Fast Is Fun...

You probably enjoy the feeling of driving your automobile at high speeds down long stretches of open road with no care in the world. And who can blame you; it's a wonderful feeling. This is the epitome of enjoyment in driving.

...Commuting Isn't

But we commute during rush hour because we have to. Not for enjoyment. If we were driving merely for enjoyment (and not for our responsibilities), we would pick a much more convenient time.

Wise Ancient Proverb: If you are driving for fun during rush hour simply stop. It is unenlightened and very selfish.

Realizing that you are not driving for fun is the first step toward enlightenment as a Zen Traffic Driver. There are new rules for driving in this state of mind:

  • The posted speed limit is irrelevent. Traffic Zen requires you to discoverTRUE SPEED LIMIT the True Speed Limit and stick to it. This may be slower than the posted speed limit, but it will usually be faster than zero.

  • Speed should be changed gracefully. A Traffic Zen driver knows that acceleration and braking should be done as little as possible. Maintaining a constant speed close to the True Speed Limit is where enlightenment lies. Brake earlier and more slowly, accelerate later and more cautiously. Treat each as a precious act; do not waste.

  • Covering the road between you and the car in front of you can wait. Despite the low True Speed Limit, you should not drive close to the car in front of you. Leave space. This will help you discover the True Speed Limit, and will let you change your speed much more gracefully.

  • You cannot get to your destination any faster than the other cars will let you. This is a double edged sword. You also decide how quickly your fellow road dwellers will arrive at their destinations. In order to maximize everyone's travel, everyone on the road must achieve enlightenment. Fortunately you are only responsible for yourself.
The divine realization: You contribute to traffic congestion whenever you go faster than the car in front you. All cars improve the flow of traffic by going the same speed or slower than the car in front of them.

Practicing Traffic Zen

traffic sensei "Alright," you say to your Traffic Sensei, "I want to achieve Traffic Zen Enlightenment, or whatever you've been blabbing about." Your master is amused by your irreverence, and allows you to continue.

"But I just need to know what to do when I'm driving and everyone else is being an idiot!"
Your sensei reminds you that the other drivers are not idiots, but simply have not reached enlightenment. You were so ignorant once, not long ago.

There are practical steps you can follow. Meditate on these rules. Concentrate deeply on executing them to highest fulfillment, and you will find your commute will be faster and less stressful. If enough people become enlightened, traffic will no longer be a problem at all, and we would have more time for other pursuits (such as putting on makeup, reading, and eating sushi).

The Tenets of Traffic Zen

  • Take Responsibility and Repeat the Mantra. Just because other drivers are setting a bad example does not mean you should follow. A true believer must stand out. You must drive by example. You should remind yourself that "I am Seattle Traffic". You should also display an attractive and informative bumper sticker.

  • Find the True Speed Limit. Find the true speed at which traffic is moving as a whole. There will be different speeds for each lane, but you are going to switch lanes as little as possible. Find a speed that allows you to brake and accelerate gracefully. Find a speed that leaves as much distance as possible between you and the car in front of you. Concentrate hard on constantly rediscovering this speed.

  • Switch lanes as little as possible. You will be tempted to switch to a lane that is moving faster now. But you should not punish your fellow travelers by causing a hold up while you take a chance on getting to your destination a microsecond earlier. We will all arrive earlier if we all change lanes less frequently in congestion. If you can change lanes graceully, with cause and conviction, do so.

  • Leave as much room ahead of you as you can. You can never leave too much, because a car from another lane will occupy it if you do. Which means you will need to leave more space. You will be surprised by the comfort you receive from the space in front of you. You will feel like you are in control of the road. You will be able to stop more gracefully.

  • Merge Gracefully. All vehicles involved in a merge are ideally traveling the same speed with enough gap to fit each other perfectly. Think of it as teeth in a zipper. If one of the teeth of a zipper stuck out and waited until a few other teeth on the side passed, it would not work. Likewise, you must not stop when merging (unless all others are stopped as well). You must let others in. They need but one car length, and you have plenty to spare. Allowing them in front of you will mean they will not have to be confronted by a less enlightened driver, which could cause you grief you have no control over. Even if the merge happens behind you, you are being selfish, and you would not wish the same upon yourself.

  • Brake Gracefully. Anticipate the cars stopping before their brake lights come on. You must use your third eye to see the third brakelight. If you have not tuned your third eye, you may find that looking further ahead than the car directly in front of you will allow you to predict the future just as well. And because you left as much distance in front of you as possible, you will be able to see better and brake earlier and more slowly. Never brake more than you need to.

  • Accelerate Gracefully. Commuting is not a race. Some treat it as such, but they ultimately are the losers. You must resist the urge to go faster than the True Speed Limit. You will find that you will not receive a paper ticket for this, but you will pay dearly with your time, which is much more valuable. Only ever accelerate to move your speed closer to the True Speed Limit.

  • Reduce or eliminate distractions. See the Secondary Goals. Just like when you learned to drive, you must have no distractions to achieve Traffic Zen. You may add them later as you become enlightened and understand the implications. You do not understand the implications yet.

  • Know your directions. If you don't know where you are going, please study a map before you leave. Pull over if you need to look at it again. It requires discipline, but you must. You do not belong on the road if you do not know where you are going. You are not driving during rush hour without a purpose, are you?

  • Be awake, alert, and aware. Get plenty of sleep before you go to work. Wake up early enough to not have to rush to the car. Pay attention to the road and be ready to respond to the ebb and flow of traffic. Know where your fellow commuters are positioned around you. Anticipate their need to enter, exit, merge, accelerate, and stop. Be thankful if they have the courtesy to signal. Be even more thankful if they do not flip you off.

  • Be Patient. You will encounter many other pilgrims that lack enlightenment. You should feel sorrow for them, but not anger. When you begin to feel anger, remind yourself to teach someone about Traffic Zen today. And then actually do it. We are all in this together.

The Universal Goals of the Commute

Regardless of job and lifestyle, there are certain unalienable goals we all have for our commute.

Here are the basic undying (and very productive) goals:
  • We want to arrive as quickly as possible
  • We want to arrive as safely as possible
  • We want to arrive as relaxed as possible
These goals make perfect sense, and can more readily be achieved through Traffic Zen Enlightenment.

The Secondary (and usually counter-productive) Goals of the commute:
  • We want to arrive entertained
  • We want to arrive fed
  • We want to arrive caffienated
  • We want to arrive groomed

While the 4 secondary goals are understandable they can add extreme difficulty to achieving Traffic Zen.

Some examples of how we try to accomplish these goals:

Entertained. Talking on the phone. Listening to the radio. Watching TV. People watching. Talking to others in the car. Enjoying the scenery. Driving fast. Reading the news. Singing.

Fed. Donuts. Cereal with milk. Bagels. Eggs. Yogurt. Sandwiches. Sushi.

Caffienated. Drinking Coffee. Steeping Tea. Downing Red Bull.

Groomed. Shaving. Putting on makeup. Combing the hair. Changing a shirt. Taking off a jacket. Putting on a tie. Putting in contacts.

These tasks all seem harmless enough. But when you realize that the person doing them is driving a car in traffic, you can see the difficulty it can add to achieving Traffic Zen. Choose wisely how you meet your Secondary Goals. Know your limit. Traffic Zen requires the utmost attention and meditation.


All Seattle Commuters have an utter distaste for the irrational traffic that plagues this city. There are enormous multi-million dollar bridges that run between the east and west metropolitan sides of the lake, and even bigger and more expensive freeways that run from the north to the south.

Why then, you ask yourself in frustration daily, do we have such a problem with traffic at rush "hour"?

The answer is very simple: It is because of you.

You are stop and you are go. You are not paying attention. You are not considerate. You are not graceful.

I am not blaming you in particular. I am asking you to simply blame yourself.

Realizing that you are the reason traffic is congested is the first step toward true Zen Traffic Driving and eventual traffic mastery and Enlightenment. You must accept that we are all on this highly conjested freeway together, we are a community of travelers, and if anyone is to blame we are all to blame, especially yourself.

Another simple truth: There is but one person's behavior you can change. Your own.

You cannot escape the fact that you can only truly and permanently affect what you yourself do. You can try to ask, plead, beg, coax, will, bargain, and brutally force others to do what you want, it is true. But this is a temporary change. You cannot enlighten anyone but yourself.

How convenient that you can change the person that is to blame!

The divine realization: You contribute to traffic congestion whenever you go faster than the car in front you. All cars improve the flow of traffic by going the same speed or slower than the car in front of them.

This website is dedicated to freely enriching your life with true Traffic Zen Enlightenment. If you are willing to accept responsibility for the traffic conditions you have created, and share this enlightenment with others, we will be able to inexpensively save Seattle from congestion, travel times, frustration, and even deaths. In order for it to work, you must realize daily "I am Seattle Traffic."

Spread the word by purchasing an attractive and informative bumper sticker. It will lead to more enlightenment.