Affordable Auto Service - 952-933-0735 HOURS Affordable Auto Service - 952-933-0735 MAP Professional Auto Repair, Maintenance & Customization Services

Zipper Merge: A Rude Move That Speeds Up Traffic Flow

Zipper MergeMinnesota is in the midst of construction season, and with construction comes lane closures. As if driving in the Twin Cities around rush hour wasn’t painful enough, the presence of construction often means that some lanes may be blocked off.

Odds are you’ve ran into this situation before, either because of construction or if you’ve tried heading downtown during rush hour when the carpool lanes are flowing out to the suburbs. Up ahead you can see that three lanes are becoming two, or worse, two lanes are becoming one. You’re then faced with a choice: Get in the lane that will remain open and wait in line, or zip up the closing lane and cut in 100 feet from the orange barrels. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, you’re actually doing the people behind you a favor if you speed ahead and cut someone off at the merge point.

Ok, so maybe the verbiage of “zooming up” and “cutting off” another person make you seem like a bad guy, and you’ll likely endure a few evil stares and the occasional horn if you appear to budge a row of patiently waiting cars, but the Minnesota Department of Transportation said this style merge – called a Zipper Merge – can reduce backups by 40%.

The Zipper Merge

According to MN DoT, when preformed successfully, the Zipper Merge can greatly reduce wait times for all parties involved. If cars evenly fill the lanes and begin merging alternatively at the point of construction, drivers can continue without hitting the breaks.

“I’ve been amazed at how consistent the flow is,” said Ken Johnson, a Minnesota State Work Zone, Pavement Marking, and Traffic Devices engineer . “You don’t have to put your foot on the brake at all. You just coast ahead and take turns at the merge point.”

That said, if traffic flow in constantly flowing in one lane, motorists will want to merge over earlier to avoid being the one that sends brake shockwaves to all the drivers behind them.

Minnesota first began openly advertising the Zipper Merge in the early 2000s, and it’s recently found another advocate in Washington. Advocates for the Zipper Merge in Washington said that it’s not easy to get drivers to view those in the closing lanes as allies, not line-cutters.

“There can be a weird idea going through people’s heads of, like, ‘Oh, these people are cheating, cutting in line!'” Washington State Department of Transportation representative Travis Phelps said. “Well, it actually lets traffic flow if you can let folks in. Play nice. Treat traffic like a team sport. You gotta play the assist role. It’s gonna help lessen the backups.”

Related source: ARSTechnica


  • What is my Timing Belt & When Should I Replace it?
    Aug 7, 2013

    Everyone knows the simple fixes to keep your car in top shape, like getting routine oil changes, regularly changing your filters and fluids, and maintaining your tires, but some of the most important maintenance habits are the least well known. One such service is making sure you take care of your timing belt. What is […]

  • When Should I Replace My Car’s Shocks?
    Oct 9, 2013

    Shocks are an essential part of any vehicle. They are designed to help absorb wear and tear on your car, and shocks also help keep you comfortable while on the road. Everyone loves driving on a smooth road, but odds are your car will travel over thousands of cracks, holes and divots during your commute. […]

  • Minnesota Among Safest Driving States For Your Wallet
    Jan 21, 2015

    A recent study conducted by WalletHub found that Minnesota is one of the safer state’s to drive in, in terms of keeping money in your pocket in the event of a crash. For their study, researchers analyzed three factors: State requirements for liability coverage, related types of required insurance (like medical payment coverage and personal […]