I am Seattle Traffic
Spread the word by printing up a FREE poster or purchasing an attractive and informative bumper sticker. It will lead to more enlightenment.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
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
- "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
Thursday, May 24, 2007
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
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
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.
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 email@example.com
Don't forget to visit DriveNiceDay.org to learn more about the event.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Take a look and let us know what you like/don't like/what you learned from their site.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
- Road Side Assistance
- Natural Disasters
- Sport Events
- Police pulling people over
- Planes flying overhead with advertisements
Monday, May 14, 2007
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
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
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.
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
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!
Monday, May 7, 2007
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
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.
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 discover 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.
"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.
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
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.
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.