There's something about Portland's traffic lights in certain areas of the city that just doesn't make sense to me. It seems like a simple setting for these lights could make things go a little smoother for people driving early in the morning.

I get that this a minor inconvenience for a small group of people, but waiting for two minutes for a red light at 4 in the morning when there isn't a single car on the entire length of Park Street seems unnecessary. It's 2019 and traffic lights have the ability to know where cars are at an intersection and adjust their timing accordingly either through cameras or sensors in the road.

On my short drive to work down Park Street, up Preble Street and down Congress to One City Center, there are at least four lights I come to that I might have to stop at if they are red and wait for a complete cycle like it was during rush hour traffic. But it's 4 AM and as I sit at these lights, not a single car approaches the intersection. I've thought about just going, but I still feel that's wrong and if I did, a police cruiser would magically appear.

Townsqaure Media
Townsqaure Media

There's a simple solution to all this that has been used with traffic lights for decades, and is actually used on a few lights on Park Avenue. Set them to flash red in all directions during these extremely low traffic volume hours. Now you've got a four-way stop and those of us driving into work at a time when most people are still sleeping can shave several minutes off our drive. Set it to switch back to normal operation in time for the morning commute and you're good to go.

It probably isn't this simple, but it seems like it should be. For now though, I'll still sit and wait as I ponder if this is the time I roll the dice and run the light and continue to chicken out.




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