I heard that traffic is something like 90% to 95% back from lower levels earlier in the pandemic, but the patterns are different. What the hell are the patterns now? I want to be able to slice through the city like a hot knife through butta. —Nerd
Oh, sorry, Nerd, didn't see you there—I was just putting the finishing touches on my new all-singing, all-dancing, all-tire-changing Wrestlemania mega-event, "Les Miserables vs. Les Schwab." (It even rhymes!)
Anyway, don't oversell the new traffic patterns. It's true that some things have changed, but it's not like I-205 completely empties every day at 12:49 as people rush home to watch Michelle Obama's blog post drop.
Here's what we know: At this point, Portland's average weekday vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has rebounded to about 91% of what it was this time last year.
That's the bad news, both for the planet and for your butta-slicing fantasies.
There is good news, however. (Not for the planet, of course; there's never good news for the planet.) Give a small huzzah as I announce that the little-lamented morning rush hour is dead.
According to "COVID Transportation Trends," a riveting e-potboiler from the transportation number-crunchers at Streetlight Data, "There is no such thing as 'peak AM' anymore.
"Instead of the typical sharp increase in morning travel, followed by a drop and then an afternoon peak, our August 2020 VMT analysis shows weekday traffic building gradually toward a more sustained afternoon high."
I can certainly relate; I've spent my whole life building gradually toward a more sustained afternoon high. In any case, as long as all the bureaucrats, lawyers, journalists and other layabouts who check their email for a living keep working from home, the formerly jam-packed 7-9 am hour will be smooth sailing (trafficwise, if not hangoverwise).
All you need to do to slice through the city is get up an hour earlier than normal, drive to the building you used to work in, kiss it, and drive home. Not only will the trip be gratifyingly traffic-free, you'll confuse the hell out of the FBI agents surveilling you.
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