The Art of Momentum

Maintaining momentum really is an art form. This came to me where most of my thoughts do, during my morning commute. There is a certain portion of the highway that routinely slows down because it junctions with one of the largest thoroughfares in our city. Traffic inevitably stops or slows here, but for the select few, there is a way to keep moving. Over the past two years I, and many others, have discovered that there is a specific pattern to the traffic flow.

Approaching the junction lane 1 slows because everyone is getting over to avoid incoming traffic and because people are trying to move into lane 2. Lane 2 slows slightly to accommodate movement from lane 1 and from people trying to get into lane 3. Lane 3 speeds up because people are exiting the highway and there are fewer cars. Leaving the junction the opposite occurs. Traffic in lane 3 slows down to accommodate incoming vehicles and because people are trying to move to lane 2. Lane 2 slows slightly to accommodate people from lane 3 and because they are trying to move to lane 1. Lane 1 speeds up because there is the least amount of resistance there.


The most interesting part of the traffic though is that as you pass through the junction there is a gray (bluish) area that affords drivers the opportunity of maintaining their momentum. But there is an art to it. If you move over too early you end up sitting still because you are stuck in the red part of lane 1, however if you move over too late you find in the red area in lane 3. Either way, you are killing momentum. The ability to move in and out of the gray area on a green lane truly is an art form that takes the ability to read the situation correctly and be lucky enough to be in a position to capitalize upon it.

Finding the way to maintain momentum will vary by interchange, highway, city, number of people on the road, the time of day, the day of year, whether there are a lot of schools around, and many other variables. What stays constant is that in all cases there is either a way to maintain momentum or there isn’t. When there is a way to maintain momentum the practice is often going to be more of an art form, sprinkled with a little luck, than it is to be a skill.

Sounds like business, huh?

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Jason McDonald

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