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Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Secrets of a transportation professional: hitting a green light every time

Among the many benefits of working in the transportation world is learning all of the guild-protected secrets of the profession.  Perhaps you'll remember our past post on how to hit all of the walk signals while ambling downtown?

image courtesy: Curtis Gregory Perry

But our most cherished and protected trade secret is how to get a green light while traveling on city streets. 

Please disregard the urban myth that you can flash your high beams at a red traffic signal to activate some secret, emergency light-changer-thingamajiggy; pure baloney (yes! I used the word baloney).  You can't use your tv's remote either, but I don't believe that any of our readers would buy that anyways.

So what's the secret? Well it depends...(What a bureaucratic answer).  Essentially, if you travel a few mphs below the speed limit many of Portland's streets, particularly our one-way streets, have signals synchronized to turn green in succession.

So, when you're in downtown Portland most of the signals are timed at 12 mph.  Go about 11 and you're golden.  Later in the evening some of the signals increase to about 15 mph - crusing!

On Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Grand Ave, travel 27 mph (just slightly below the speed limit of 30 mph) and you'll be basking in the glorious green wave of unimpeded travel. 

Have you noticed this on any other streets?  I promise you this - there are a lot more!  Portland has updated hundreds of signals to reduce congestion and air pollution and increase automobile efficiency.