Q: I find it very frustrating to wait and wait for a traffic signal.
We’re collectively wasting more gallons of gasoline and more time because of the antiquated electronics in our traffic signal systems. To me, personal waste is a simple matter, but multiply by the number of damaged cars and we’re referring to a large amount of waste and pollution.
Perhaps your widely read column will interest a state authority or agency in soliciting suggestions for a reliable upgrade to the current traffic control system that would allow traffic signals to become electronically “smart.”
Ron Johnston, Santa Clara
A: Bay Area cities are experimenting with ways to make traffic signals responsive to traffic.
In San Jose, the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) team evaluates new technologies once in a while. “This has been proven by our pilots in vehicle detection using thermal and AI-based video cameras, safety analytics using lidar-based cameras, and traffic signal enforcement. Using connected vehicle technology based on GPS tracking, mass-sourcing, web-based analytics tools and transit Pilots are there to collect data using signal priority,” said Misael Milan, signal operations transportation specialist at the San Jose Department of Transportation.
The technology you mentioned is in the early stages of R&D. San Jose will review it when it becomes available for regular use.
Q: When it comes to the gauge lights that come on at non-carpool hours, is it okay to use the shorter carpool route if you’re a solo driver?
At that point, most solo drivers use single passengers, and I think those using short carpool routes are cheating.
What is the law (if any)?
Al Ludlow, Morgan Hill
A: Carpool hours apply 24 hours a day at almost all ramps. If the ramp carpool lane is free for individual drivers to use at times, carpool hours will be posted.
Q: Steve Rempel’s letter regarding the “Bicyclists may use full lane” signs added to Skyline reminded me that I have always been confused by these signs.
It’s my understanding that bicycles are allowed to use the full lane always and everywhere (except on roads like freeways) because they have a shoe horn in the “vehicle” category. Of course, this is subject to the same restrictions that cars have, such as generally keeping to the right except when passing, not unnecessarily obstructing the flow of traffic, and so on.
Is my understanding wrong?
Gary Brainin, San Jose
A: Yes, your understanding was incorrect. As for these special signs, they are posted to warn motorists that cyclists may need to move to use the normal lane.
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