When it comes to commuting, less red is better

We’ve all been there -- stuck at a red light, anxiously awaiting the signal change, finally getting the green. And then going through the same ritual a half mile ahead.

Thanks to new technology and some intuitive sleuthing, many commuters are enjoying shorter waits and quicker trips through Scottsdale.

The city is wrapping up a two-year project that analyzed traffic flow to reduce both red light waits and commuting times in 15 high-traffic corridors. 

Here’s a sampler of the successes:

  • On a section of Hayden Road between McKellips and Indian Bend roads, travel time was reduced by 17 percent, or about 2.2 minutes
  • The commute along Scottsdale Road between Frank Lloyd Wright and Shea boulevards was reduced by 19 percent
  • A section of Scottsdale Road between Pinnacle Peak Road and Frank Lloyd Wright saw travel times drop 12 percent 

Traffic analysts looked at a variety of factors to adjust signals for those routes. Once they understood traffic patterns and conditions, they customized patterns like lagging or leading left-turn arrows to minimize wait times.

“It’s like making a new recipe,” said city ITS Traffic Engineer Leslie Bubke. “You may have one for chocolate cake, but you change up the ingredients from time to time always looking for the best taste.”

Bubke said the city should complete the traffic corridor analyses in May. The goal is to reduce travel times in those areas by 10 percent; so far, they are beating that mark.

A few of the corridors ended up with slightly longer commute times to allow more significant reductions in other corridors. It was a tradeoff to generate the most travel benefits.

“Ultimately, we want to give more people more green lights at the right times,” she said -- arecipe most commuters will indeed find tasty.

Learn more about this project and view the data.

 

 

 

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