Traffic Lights (8/20/06)

The following is a letter sent to the town of Brighton and the city of Rochester:


My name is Derek Mendes and I am a current resident of the Town of Brighton. I enjoy living here; not only is the town beautiful and well-maintained, but there are many things to do within walking distance of my apartment. It's not often that one comes by such circumstances.

However, I have to file a complaint. I was driving home late last night, around 2 AM. I took the detour around the construction on Elmwood. As I arrived at the light at the corner of Monroe and Brooklawn, it turned from yellow to red. I sat there for thirty seconds waiting. There was no one else around. I then drove to the light at Elmwood and Hollywood. It turned from yellow to red. Once again, I sat there for thirty seconds waiting for the light to turn, despite the fact that there was no one waiting to pull out of Hollywood. Once I get past that light, I don't go another 500 yards until I reach (what I believe is) Westland where I go through the same ordeal.

While I realize that the difference between a trip that takes 13 minutes and one that takes 15 minutes is rather trivial, I can't help but marvel at the illogic of these traffic lights. What's the point of having a timer on those lights at 2 AM? I'd be shocked if more than ten cars made a left-hand-turn out of the forementioned streets all night.

What I would like to see as would be most logical and most conducive to good traffic flow would be the following: determine whichever hours traffic dips to below, say, ten cars a minute. For the sake of argument, let's say that happens between 12 midnight and 7 AM. For those hours, the lights would change to flashing yellow on the main streets (Elmwood and Monroe) and flashing red on the side streets (Brooklawn, Hollywood and Westland). Traffic stops would be minimized not only on the major streets (they wouldn't have to stop at all) but also on the side streets (they wouldn't have to sit and wait for a green light).

Thank you for your time and consideration


P.S. I realize that it's incredibly naive to expect such a drastic change in the traffic system in the area. So if you would kindly forward this email to whomever is in charge with making those decisions, I would greatly appreciate it, so at least I can understand the logic (or lack thereof) behind adding timers to those traffic lights.