Getting Around

California Drivin'The more I travel outside of Seattle, the more I am convinced it exists in the Dark Ages of transportation. We all may hate urban sprawl and the cement swaths of freeways it creates, but building an infrastructure to handle the population makes everyone’s life more livable.

When my dad first moved to Seattle from Southern California he complained about how slow everyone drove. I don’t think I really understood what he meant until this week when I’ve spent a significant amount of time driving around. Seattle’s roads are narrow and have disruptive traffic patterns. One cannot just GO on a Seattle freeway or surface street, but must merge, stop, wait, or cross.

The roads here are wide, the lanes are wide, and stop lights are few and far between. Many ‘expressways’ parallel one another through the Silicon Valley allowing for fast alternatives to the freeways system. I’ve been toodling up and down roads like The Central Expressway and the El Camino Real, which has three lanes in both directions, few stop lights, and a speed limit of 45 mph. Yet, there are still thriving businesses on this route thanks to a strategically designed system of U-Turn routes. There is no center ‘turn lane’ like we have on major streets in Seattle that creates a dangerous situation of random cars crossing traffic at random points in the road.

We’ll see if I am still optimistic about the Bay Area traffic system once I get out to places like Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco later in our trip.

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