Bad Idea: Extended Green Lights

Los Angeles has allegedly synced its traffic lights, but now the city has another problem to fix — extended green lights.

On the surface, it seems like a good idea — make the green lights longer on major streets where they intersect with little-used local streets in order to keep traffic moving. But it does just the opposite, making traffic worse.


On Wilshire, for example, lights remain green for up to a minute and a half at Dunsmuir, Burnside and Ridgeley, but then the light reverts to the usual 30 seconds or so at busy Hauser. So what happens is that all of the cars back up at the red light at Hauser instead of being evenly spaced out over the previous three blocks.

When the light at Hauser finally turns green, it takes a while for all of those backed up cars to get moving. If the cars had to stop at red lights at the previous lights, traffic would actually flow better.

This system also discourages pedestrians, who have to wait a very long time at red lights before being allowed to cross. The city should be encouraging people to walk, especially on commercial blocks like Wilshire.

Someone at the transportation department thinks this green light system is a good idea for Los Angeles. It is not.