# Reducing Congestion at Intersection of Alameda & Atherton Avenue

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Improving the Intersection of
Alameda & Atherton Avenue
Tuesday, 5/8/12
Atherton Transportation Committee Meeting
by Gary Lauder
Introduction
Who I am
• Atherton resident with 36-year fascination with traffic patterns
• No formal training in field...that doesn’t mean I’m wrong
• International travel shown what’s possible w/roundabouts
• The CA Department of Transportation is enthusiastic
- Most other states’ DOTs are too
Why me?
• Who else?
Why this is worth doing
Problem affects thousands of people each day
Avoid time wastage (time = \$, so hidden tax)
Better for the environment
Better fuel efficiency
• Another tax
• Geopolitical implications
Safer
Create a model to be imitated elsewhere
This is 8:30AM last week

This is 8:30 AM last week
This is 5:40 PM last week

This is 5:40 PM last week
Main Problem: Rush hour congestion
I measured 4.5 minutes to get through northbound at 5:30pm
Traffic was backed up to Camino Al Lago = 1800 feet
Compared to speed limit, that means delay of 3.8 minutes/car
There were ≈ 56 cars in the jam
≈ 750 cars/hour get through at rate of 12.5 cars/minute
Q: What is the cost of that lost time?
Cost of lost time DURING JAM
3.8 minutes/car
x 750 cars/hour
= 48 car hours per hour of jam (in that direction)
x 1.2 occupants per car
= 57 person hours per hour of jam (in that direction)
x \$20/hour (average wage in USA)
= \$1,145/hour opportunity cost of time lost x 260 delay hrs/yr
= \$297,818/year per direction (assuming jam is only 1 hour)
x 2 directions = \$595,636 per year
Lost time from stopping at sign
when no queue
7,000 cars/day – 1,500 cars already counted during jam = 5,500
x 10 Seconds/car = 15.3 Hours/day = 5,580 Hours/year
x \$20/hour (average wage in USA) x 1.2 occupants/car
= \$133,925 opportunity cost of time lost / year just from stopping
Add to that the time lost waiting in the jams of \$595,636
= \$729,561 of people’s time wasted
Each year wastes the equvalent of 8.5 person-years
Steve Jobs story from bio (saving lives by saving time)
Cost of Gas
> 7,000 cars/day on Alameda
≈2 ounces of gas ≈ 5¢ to accelerate
X 7,000 cars/day = \$350/day = \$127,838 /year
But that is only the gasoline cost
Other costs include pollution and wear on car
Added to the cost of lost time, total = \$857,399 per year!!!
PV of that annuity discounted @ 5% = \$17,147,970 !!!
Why have people not complained?
Why would people if they did not imagine a solution?
Not enough roundabouts here for people to realize it’s a solution
No roundabouts in San Mateo County nor SF, only one in Santa
Clara.
mentioned in this book
I bought in 1989
Safety:
Traffic Lights & Stop Signs vs.
A study of 24 intersections converted to roundabouts found:
• Crashes dropped 40%
• Injury crashes dropped 76%
• Fatal crashes dropped 90%
Main reasons:
• Slower speeds
• Lower angles
• Fewer conflict points
Capacity in cars/hour is ≈ 1,200 per direction minus cars that
turn left in opposite direction
That’s improvement of >50%, so would eliminate congestion
Cost
• Mini-roundabout can be as little as \$50K
• Standard ≈ \$100K (very approximate)
- Might require some adjacent corner land outside of fence
Even if only 10% of the people inconvenienced are
Athertonians, still worth it.
Other issues
Major source of complaints: shortcuts to go around congestion
This should alleviate the underlying congestion
Shift jam elsewhere?
• A: Neither 100% nor 0%, but have to start somewhere
Recommendations
Traffic study to quantify extent of problem
Retain expert on roundabouts to opine
Thank you
Gary Lauder
Gary@LauderPartners.com
Thoroughfare Plan Map                             Map of Carmel, Indiana, roundabout capital of America
E 146th St
W 146th St

Hazel Dell Pkwy
Carey Rd

Gray Rd
Oak Ridge Rd
W 141st St

E 136th St
W 136th St

Range Line Rd
Ditch Rd
Main St                                                                                               E 131st St

St
W 131st St

n
dia
ri
Me

River Rd
Old
West Rd

E 126th St
W 126th St

Illinois St
122nd St

Carmel Dr

S Guilford Rd
Pennsylvania St
Clay Center Rd
W 116th St                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                E 116th St

Carmel, IN map

Meridian St
111th St

showing the many
US 4
21

W 106th St
Spring Mill Rd

ll Pkwy
College Ave
installed. Only one

Gray Rd
Keystone Parkway
Shelborne Rd

Westfield Blvd

Hazel De
Ditch Rd
Towne Rd

US 31

I-465
Mi c h

traffic light left.
i g an
Rd

W 96th St

MAP LEGEND                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          THOROUGHFAREPLAN MAP
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Traffic keeps flowing
Less braking = less accelerating = less gas = less pollution
Less time wasted (time = \$)
Partly accounts for Europe’s better MPG than in USA
Better than traffic lights
Better than 4-way stop signs
Expensive to install
More expensive not to
Not applicable in all situations
Solving the problem can be worth
Cut down the shrubbery
Improve the corner sight distance
Then sell it & still come out ahead
(compared w/putting in a traffic
control to deal w/limited visibility)
Full and Complete Stop?
Few people do
The law should not compel what is bad for:
• the environment
• the driver
• economy
• and serves no one
Police know this and take advantage when they need to
raise money quickly
Cutting Room Floor: Quotations
Useless laws weaken necessary laws.
– Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking
what nobody else has thought.
– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
The world is only changed by people who are naïve enough to
think that they can change the world.
— Said by Eric Lander at the Aspen Ideas Festival 7/2/09.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the
unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to
himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable
man. – George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)
"Maxims for Revolutionists” (Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 –
1950))

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