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Old 01-06-2013, 06:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Encountered a fellow urban coaster yesterday

Occasionally, I'll be coasting toward a red traffic light and notice a driver in the lane beside me is clearly also off the accelerator earlier than you'd expect from a typical driver. Usually I find they're just trying to "out decelerate" me in order to tuck into my lane behind me to make a turn or something.

That's what I thought was happening yesterday as I coasted along in Vancouver, many hundreds of meters before the intersection (nobody behind me at the time). But the driver of the silver Corolla next to me never tucked in behind. We paced each other right up to the group of cars stopped at the light as it changed to green, and then carried on down the road to the next intersection, facing yet another red light.

Again I backed off very early, and to my surprise, so did the Corolla driver, who was now a little ahead of me.

He even changed into my lane in front of me as we approached the knot of cars moving away at the green light, because my lane happened to have the best flow.

I think that's the first time I've met another driver (other than truck drivers, who do it regularly) timing the lights to that extent in urban traffic. (Outside of an economy rally!)

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Old 01-06-2013, 07:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There is a very small minority of drivers who realize that the reason I start coasting so far before I get to a light is because I only care about getting there after it has changed green and the intersection is clearing, so I never have to touch the brake pedal.

Of course in the pickup truck with the cap and smooth wheel covers some know early I am interested in high mileage.

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Driving with the fiancee earlier, a hot rodder shot into the other lane & roared past us, whipping back in front of us before the light. Of course, when that happens, I'll usually say "hurry, hurry - you'll be late to that red light up there!!", and the fiancee has taken to saying "maybe he's gotta go to the bathroom!!!" So we're going along like that, making wise-ass remarks to each other about this guy's fuel-wasting, and then it dawned on me - - there was a red light up ahead, and I could use him as a "rabbit".

Now, I should explain - I have no trouble getting off the gas early & coasting. The trouble, especially in the fiancee's car, (a '97 Buick Riviera with the supercharged 3800 V-6) is it will coast FOREVER!!! I don't know what makes it roll so well, but it does. So what usually happens is I'll start coasting "early" all right (as soon as I notice I may need to), but then this car will only slow down a couple mph after a quarter mile or more (even if I pop it into neutral - doesn't matter).

So I was reading somewhere - on Wayne Gerdes site, I think - how you might want to apply the brakes EARLY so you'll slow down enough to give the light time to change & be able to carry a higher speed through the intersection. My problem is I always try to avoid the brakes like the plague, so it's very difficult for me to to kill momentum by hitting them early in cases like this. (Which often results in my having to hit them hard at the last minute, often coming to a complete stop moments before traffic starts moving again.) But I forced myself to brake early this time, and did, the light turned green, the "rabbit" got out of the way, and - well - I actually misjudged and was going slower than I needed to. Fortunately, with a little gas, we got through the intersection before the light turned yellow again, so maybe I'm learning.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Fun game, eh?

Yeah, I think Wayne called that one "rabbit timing" (letting someone else trip sensor at the light). And early braking is sometimes a help. With the few ecodriving sessions I gave this fall, I can tell you that it definitely takes some experience for a driver (new to ecodriving) to gauge when to get off the gas, and how far his/her particular car will coast. Most people over-do it at first (letting go too soon -- sometimes it even backfires and they miss green lights).

One way I can tell winter is going away is when I start to find myself coming in "hot" -- coasting up to transitions faster than usual -- as rolling resistance starts going down with the ambient temps coming back up.

But it was definitely nice to see another eco-minded driver in the wild. I would have liked to talk to the guy if we'd be going the same way.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I've yet to see such a rarity.
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I'm not coasting, I'm shifting slowly.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I've obviously got some more learning to do. I find it fascinating to look at the fuel logs of some of the long-time cars on here and see the average mileage go up with time. I'm sure that's due to a dedicated effort to keep improving. In my dreams I'm hoping to one day do that too!!
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:36 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The Riviera is heavy and it has relatively low drag; if I am remembering the right model.

I think that on occasion drivers around me do notice the advantages of coasting.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I had one of those Riverias (95 supercharged 3.8) and it took a while to get good at anticipating the coast initial point since it was almost twice as far as anything else I had driven to that point.
Very tall final drive gearing (1700 at 70 MPH) and I think the torqe converter unlocked when you let off the gas.

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