How long will it take at rush hour?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at 10:27 AM

Let's say you want to leave from Berkeley to catch the sunset from the beach at Half Moon Bay, to relax on the sand and watch the sun sink into the Pacific. We all know Google Maps will tell you how to get there. Now it's better at helping you decide when to leave to catch your sunset on time. When you ask Google Maps for driving directions, the directions say "about 59 minutes". But they also say something new: "up to 1 hour 50 minutes in traffic".

Google Maps now lets you know how long a drive might take in rush-hour traffic, for a limited set of metropolitan areas. Of course, if there is an accident, the drive could take even longer. But more likely than not, your drive to Half Moon Bay will take between 59 minutes and 1 hour 50 minutes.

If sunset today is at 7:00, then you figure you'll catch the tail end of rush hour. You might try a different route to dodge traffic. Drag the blue line off the Bay Bridge and onto 880 instead. Now the estimate is "up to 1 hour 20 minutes in traffic" -- that sounds better.

So be sure to leave by about 5:40, bring some warm clothes for after sunset, and with luck, maybe you can catch a green flash.