Zipper merging onto 99N from the bridge….

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    With all the talk of zipper merging in the news lately, I’m curious about everyone’s merging habits onto 99N during rush hour. (Moving left from the far right lane that turns into bus only.)

    How/when do you merge?



    I merge when there is an opening while driving N or at the end of the lane before it turns bus only and then it’s every other car – like a zipper. I do not stop at the entrance to 99 nor up a bit further and clog up traffic waiting for someone to let me in as so many Seattleites do. I have been honked at, flipped off and had more than one car swerve in front of me to make sure I don’t get ahead of them and this is all before the bus lane starts! I am so happy I don’t have to commute regularly up 99 N any longer.


    I’m the same as you! I used to have the mindset that waiting until the end was “cheating,” but I’ve learned the error of my ways!



    I use my indicator only AFTER the solid white line ends and I match my speed to the traffic on my left. Most drivers if you give them some reaction time will give you the space to zipper merge. But I am totally at the mercy of the merger in front of me. It is very frustrating for me when I have to try and merge after the driver in front of me crosses the solid white line ASAP and usually causes the traffic on 99 to have to break. The 40mph speed limit is pretty dumb also but once the tunnel is finished everything will be $uper



    I’m with you 100% on waiting until the end. We paid for the roadway, use it!

    I use 99 coming home and always ride the Columbia merge lane all the way til the end (like the busses do!). More often than not people merge in even BEFORE the solid white line goes away!

    Use the lanes people!



    Yep – I move ahead both there, but more so onto northbound I-5. I can’t believe that people will get to the top of the ramp at I-5 and slow down to merge when there is a mile of open road ahead of them. Particularly when you consider that there is almost always a good, at-speed merging opportunity available if you just move forward. Compounding the problem is that some people are in that lane to get to eastbound 90, and are held up because somebody has decided they have to merge RIGHT THERE at the beginning.



    I’m glad they’re trying to do some public education. If we can all merge while keeping both lanes moving, it makes the commute better for everyone. What throws me off is that people are afraid of the curve in the road when the old lanes hit the new stretch. You can watch the whole thing backing up as everyone taps the breaks, even though the traffic on the new part of the road is moving fine. The “need” to slow down is usually all in people’s mind. You can do that curve at 40, so there’s no need to slow down when you’re only going 20! Keep it movin’! As soon as you break, every car behind you breaks and you create an artificial slow spot. Ditto for when the road curves again to climb back up onto the viaduct. Unless you’re going to hit someone or lose control of your vehicle, keep going!



    The key to making this work smoothly is for everyone, in every lane, always to leave plenty of merging distance (not just a car length–you don’t want people to have to “parallel park” into the merging space) in front of their car. This will allow people to change lanes smoothly, and keep traffic flowing. You won’t have to tap your brakes, then, when someone merges–just leave your foot off the gas very slightly to ensure you’re still leaving plenty of merging space–that eliminates the effect quesera is describing. When the whole lane slows down, you slow down, too–don’t let your car close that gap! With plenty of merging distance between cars, the whole “fluid” can flow smoothly, people won’t have to slow down to wait for people to let them merge, and we can use the whole road! This behavior does, of course, require close attention–if you’re on your cell, you’ll unconsciously close the gap with the car in front of you. But you should be paying close attention when driving, anyway.



    A very interesting web site regarding traffic and merging, and how one car can break up a traffic jam.



    This web site was created by William Beaty, a local electrical engineer in Seattle, and I recall seeing him on one of the local TV stations a number of years ago.


    I have tried some of his techniques, and they DO work!


    Make sure to check out the “zipper” link.




    I commute to Ballard every day and by and large folks have gotten pretty good at the zipper. Still plenty of folks that merge too early or tries to jam in at the end but it’s gotten much better. When you match speed and leave at least a little room others do the same. Overall though its much better then in the past.



    I agree with Julie in that its key that we stop crowding each other in traffic, let cars have the room to merge.

    I’ve found it to be rather nightmarish sometimes when I enter the bridge from Admiral and need to get over into 99N. People just won’t let you in sometimes. I’m glad to hear that its gotten better though.

    Sometimes I wonder if everybody knows the difference between merging and yielding.

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