Columbus Ohio: City of Red Lights

I’ve lived in Columbus for almost 13 years. Driving here is different than around the New York area, where I grew up. There are some reasons why driving is easier, but there are a number of other factors that make it more difficult and aggravating.

While most of those reasons have to do with other drivers, there’s been one that’s annoyed me particularly lately: the fact that most of the city’s traffic lights are not synchronized. It’s a simple concept: if you’re driving one direction down a major street, the lights turn green one after the other so you don’t get stopped by red light after red light.

I work downtown, so I deal with this everyday. But yesterday afternoon it really got to me as we were driving home from COSI, a simple drive down Broad Street to Fourth Street to I-71. On that drive, we went through ten intersections with lights. We were stopped at red lights at seven of them. I’m not talking about drive to the light and come to a rolling stop and wait the two seconds for the next light to turn green. What happened with most of these lights was as soon as one light would turn green, the next would turn yellow, then red right as we got to the next light.

Downtown Columbus is not the most hopping place, especially on a weekend. There’s no reason for a quick ride to be punctuated by stops at seven red lights. There are small towns able to synchronize their stoplights. Why can’t Columbus?

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