Thursday Sep 04, 2008

Changing Traffic Patterns

For the past 15 years, I've driven into New York City the same way: up the New Jersey Turnpike, off at Exit 16E, a stop and go skip-hop from the Turnpike tolls through the Route 3, US 1 & 9 and southbound ramp merge, and then through the Lincoln Tunnel. I park in the same garage because I'm assured of a spot and the guys there are genuinely careful with the cars. I am a severe creature of habit.

Today, for the sake of experimentation and in an attempt to get into the city in less than 90 minutes, I took a longer mileage, toll-free and more scenic route. Cut through Montclair and Upper Montclair, picked up NJ Route 3, and instead of being the merger, I was in the left lane of the mergee (?) road. What was normally a 20-30 minute jam was navigated in less than one short jam track on Burnin' For Buddy (truly a great way to endure a morning drive). I think I cut my average rush hour ride down by at least 30 minutes of pure wasted gas, wasted time, and excessive carbon footprint.

The whole difference was not being stuck in the five-to-one lane reduction that hits you coming off of the Turnpike. It's Jersey legend that gracious merging is a sign of weak driving, but that attitude is just as eco-harmful as using our beaches as giant ashtrays.

The obvious question is why I don't take the train or bus, since I live relatively near both modes of public transportation. I use my car (when required) so that I can escape before the afternoon rush, again saving time and gas, and use the time productively to make phone calls from the private and polite confines of my car. You don't want me in the same bus or train car with you when I'm on the phone, especially when the commute is worthy of a shout chorus.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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