Gasoline & Traffic Signals

Even as gasoline prices continue to fall, I am furious about the synchronization of traffic signals in my part of the world.

Once upon a time, municipalities synchronized traffic signals so that a vehicle moving at or about the speed limit would be stopped by a red light very infrequently, usually once while on that particular road. Apparently, St. Louis County, Missouri has abandoned that practice.

Last night, I had to stop for 7 of 9 signals in a 4 mile stretch approaching my home.

From my house to the nearest supermarket is 1.1 miles. There are 3 signals between them. These signals are sychronized so that each car must stop at each one for up to 3 minutes each, making the typical commute for a gallon of millk about 30 minute affair. The next-closest supermarket is 2.3 miles away, but by making a right onto highway 100 at the first signal, I can get to the more distant store and back in less than 10 minutes.

My SUV is equipped with a built-in gas mileage meter. I have determined that driving on Manchester Road in West St. Louis County stopping about every 8/10th of a mile for a signal, I get about 11 MPG. Driving the same stretch as the same speed without the signals (don’t ask how I accomplished this) I get 22.8 MPG.

If we really want to reduce our gasoline consumption, perhaps we should spend a little money on traffic light synchronization. Then again, St. Louis County would lose a lot of money in gasoline taxes, as would the federal government. Until governments do little things to double my gasoline mileage, I’ll be damned if I’ll cram into a hybrid deathtrap.