How come during rush hour the slow lanes are faster than the fast lanes?
-- Y.F., the net
First of all, because the fast lane is fast in name only. In a finely tuned gridlock, the number one lane is no more fun than any other. But through some goofy faith, people often figure if they're in the number one lane, eventually they'll be speeding along. The secret to the "slow" lane is to find a stretch of freeway where there are more exiting cars than entering. The more cars that leave the freeway, the more room you have to zoom. This generally happens during 5:00 traffic on a stretch of road going through principally residential zones, where you're not picking up an equal amount of leaving-the-office traffic to compensate for the homeward bound bailing off the f'way. Reverse is true for morning traffic. This theory would work all the time if it weren't for the acres of Caltrans construction and pointless exit-onlys (West Bernardo/Pomerado Road? What's up with that?) and "Lane ends, merge left"s. Just when you think you've got it figured out, somebody throws a few miles of K rail in your way and you're back tying to psych out the road builders.