Would a few signs on Highway 248 lower Park City’s collective blood pressure and make traffic more efficient?
This morning I drove Highway 248 to get to Deer Valley. As usual, traffic had backed up and the road rage was starting. What’s the problem? The merge from two lanes to one lane right before the narrows going into Park City.
You had some people getting in the left lane way before the merge. You had some people zooming down the right lane, passing by all those who had moved to the left lane. In order to “fight” this, drivers from the left lane began moving to the center of the road, blocking drivers on the right from getting by. Then there was what looked like a small city bus that used the shoulder on the right to fly by the “road blockers.” It wasn’t exactly the safest maneuver you’d want to see from a bus.
It’s frankly a mess, and you can feel the collective blood pressure of all people involved rising. Unsurprisingly, this problem isn’t unique to Park City. There are plenty of places in the world where two lanes merge to one. If you’d like to get into mathematics and queuing theory, we’d recommend reading this New York Times article called Urge to Merge.
If you don’t geek out to 0 = α0 1n (C2/kj), here is the gist. The most efficient way for traffic to merge from two lanes to one is using a “zipper merge.” Traffic uses both lanes as they approach the merge. Then cars in each lane take their turn merging.
So what would we suggest, three electronic signs on Highway 248 (the temporary orange variety). Two signs among 248 would ask motorists to use both lanes. This serves the purpose of educating EVERYONE that both lanes are OK to use. This should reduce road rage as the people on the left (called “Lineruppers”) don’t get enraged as people fill the right lanes (called “Sidezippers”). Park City has TOLD people to use both lanes, so it is OK that people are using the right lane.
Then a third sign is added near the merge that asks people to take turns merging.
Would it work? It looks like it has in other areas. Perhaps Park City has tried this in the past and it hasn’t been effective. If not, we won’t know unless we try.
It seems like both a way to improve traffic flow and make people happier. That would be a good combination for Park City.