How to Surf the Green Wave

Synchronized green lights are designed to enable streamlined traffic flow in major traffic arteries. When you hit the green wave you know it – it feels like all the ­lights are turning green just for you. Nice as this may be for your ego, it’s just a coincidence. After commuting on a such a road for a while, I found a way for making this work almost every time. If you follow the simple explanation below, you’ll save a lot of time and boost your ego at the same time.

The trick is to pass each traffic light in the “middle of the green”. If you have, say, 60 seconds of green light, you want to pass through the intersection at the 30 second mark. If you manage to do so and go at the maximum speed allowed afterward, you are almost guaranteed to hit the next light in the middle of the green as well. Hitting the middle of the green takes some practice and experience. If you have to slow down, make sure to balance it out by speeding up. Here’s the perfect green wave traversal pattern:

Serious green wave surfing in action

If you don’t go fast enough, it can really hurt. You’ll hit many a red light and your trip will become much longer:

Too slow to surf

Speeding up might actually hurt you as well. While you may end up hitting a similar time overall, your trip will be a miserable stop-and-go experience, not to mention possibly getting cited. Here’s how it looks:

Too fast to surf

If the traffic is very heavy, no trick will help and you’ll eventually hit a red light. Another factor that might thwart your mastery of the green wave is road sensors that change traffic light patterns based on car presence. Barring these factors, surfing the green wave by trying to hit the middle of the greens is a fun commute activity that can actually save you time, so go ahead and start practicing!