Q: The time wasted when stopped at traffic lights should not be the concern. What should be a concern is the fuel wasted. This state burns roughly 14 billion gallons of gas per year. For each gallon burned, 20 pounds of carbon go into the atmosphere. If we could reduce the amount of fuel burned by just a little more than 7 percent, we could save roughly 1 billion gallons of gasoline and keep 20 billion pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere. At 5 bucks a gallon that is also $5 billion in savings to motorists each year. I say this could easily be done by adjusting traffic light cycles. We don’t have to wait for smart lights.
I know one intersection that constantly seems to have changing cycles, Los Padres and El Camino in Santa Clara. One recent morning at 7 a.m., the complete cycle took about a minute and a half. No cars went through the intersection for roughly one minute of this cycle, Southbound Los Padres was green for 30 seconds so one car could go through. Multiply this by the thousands of traffic lights across this state. I don’t expect a green light at every intersection, but I do expect the state to try to reduce car stopping and idling.
William Ortendahl, Santa Clara
A: These would be significant savings from seemingly small changes.
Q: The timing of the light at Coleman Road for crossing Almaden Expressway has changed for early morning hours, i.e. before 6:30 or 7 a.m. Months ago, the light would change to green within a few seconds when approaching on Coleman at this time. Now, you typically have to wait minutes before it turns green, even when there is no traffic on Almaden Expressway, which is typical at that time. I am usually there around 6 a.m.
I feel for James H. in his recent comment as it makes no sense for the traffic signal to delay this long at this time of day.
A: I’ll forward your suggestion to the city.
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Q: As a followup to the question on sign visibility from your Tuesday column, could the intersection of South 11th Street and the 10th Street off-ramp from northbound 280 be looked at, too?
A right turn on red is not allowed at this intersection. However, rather than a light with a red or green arrow stoplight, a sign is posted above a regular stoplight. Many people either ignore or fail to see the sign, so they make a required stop and then turn right. It makes sense to me that simpler directions would be not only better, but the best design for this intersection.
A: I’ll forward your comment to the city, too.