According to the P-I, Seattle has synchronized its downtown traffic lights:

Seattle officials said Wednesday that they’ve synchronized signals at 258 downtown intersections for the first time in more than two decades and promised quicker, less polluting trips through the central business district will result.

Drivers will still encounter red lights between Jackson Street, Denny Way, Boren Avenue and Elliott Bay, but the city predicted a 12 percent reduction in stops and 40 percent shorter travel times through the 1.25-mile long district.


The new downtown signal changes will slightly favor north-south travel during rush hours, with 55 percent of traffic cycle time open to traffic in those directions and 45 percent regulating east-west travel, Sheridan said. The cycles also can be changed to reflect events at Seattle Center and the sports stadiums.

I’ve heard arguments against synchronized traffic lights, as synchronized signals tend to encourage faster driving — which makes walkability and pedestrian safety a problem. However, no one could possibly speed through our downtown, so this sounds like a win for everyone. Hopefully buses will see a nice speed increase as well.

4 Replies to “Seattle Synchronizes Downtown Traffic Lights”

  1. Don’t forget that a deviation of most speeds up or down beyond the speed limit will cause bunching. And since nobody drives the speed limit here…

  2. If the timing is done right, it rewards driving at a particular target speed, and makes anyone driving faster than that slow down because they keep hitting red lights.

  3. You have got to be kidding, right? Seattle has gone all this time without synchronizing its lights downtown?!

    Not to get into a versus debate, but we have had synchronized lights in downtown Portland for as long as I can remember – although they are synch’d for speeds of 12 mph, which keeps traffic at a pretty slow – and safe – pace. In fact, I can easily keep up with traffic on my bicycle, even going uphill, with hardly breaking a sweat.

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