CHOKEPOINTS

WSDOT joins zipper merge crusade in new video

Jun 11, 2019, 9:43 AM | Updated: 11:48 am

I have been pushing for adoption of the zipper merge for years. It’s one of the few things that drivers can do to improve congestion for themselves. The lack of merging understanding in our region is mind-boggling, but when the driver’s manual only dedicates less than half a page to it, what should I expect?

Drivers: You’re still doing the zipper merge wrong
New bill requiring education on zipper merge headed to Olympia

It is a simple maneuver: When traveling at lower speeds and faced with the ending of a lane, you should use both lanes until the end and then take turns.  Early merging, say, right when you see the sign informing you that a lane is ending, creates unnecessary congestion. Don’t be an early merger.

The Washington Department of Transportation just released a new video for a daily chokepoint west of Olympia, where Highway 101 merges with Highway 8. There are daily backups there, often caused by unnecessary early merging where two lanes become one.

Most drivers merge when the sign says the second lane is going away, which is about a mile from where it actually does.

“Drivers use the left lane well before the area where two lanes become one,” the video states. “At the same time, the right lane goes mostly unused, which contributes to the congestion.”

The zipper merge is easy and it works.

“Merge late and cooperate,” the video continues. “It’s okay to take turns.”

Drivers using that right lane are not cheating or cutting you off. You are doing it wrong by merging too early.

New signs will be installed at this spot later this month.

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WSDOT joins zipper merge crusade in new video