Sunset Boulevard Traffic

08/25/21 - posted by Denny

A number of letter-writers to the Chronicle have pointed out that the closure of Upper Great Highway resulted in increased traffic on Sunset Boulevard. In the “olden days” there was a method of smoothing out the flow of traffic on Sunset Boulevard. I refer to the signs that said: “Signals set for 30 mph”. It worked! If you drove exactly 30 miles per hour, you would be guaranteed to encounter a green light at Taraval, Noriega and Judah streets, and thus could drive without interruption all the way from one end of the boulevard to the other. What a concept!

I think the signs were removed a few decades ago, but real-life experimentation shows that the timing of the lights is still in effect. While driving on Sunset, I have observed the presence of “leadfoot” drivers who, after having stopped at a red light, will floor the accelerator the moment the light turns green, and then roar down the boulevard, only to be stopped two blocks later at the next traffic signal. I’m not sure if this is because (a) they are unaware of the 30 mph timing, or (b) they cannot resist their leadfoot tendencies. Sunset Boulevard would be able to handle an increased traffic volume if everyone drove exactly 30 miles per hour. An impossible dream, I know, but it’s nice to fantasize.

There once was a time when Sunset Boulevard had no lane markings whatsoever, even into the 1950s. I remember that people treated it as a two-lane street in each direction, and people didn’t seem to have any difficulty with the lack of lane markings. But I don’t think that would be a good idea today!

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