Traffic results for many reasons. One of the reasons for increased traffic in San Rafael is the current upswing in the economy (more people are working and shopping). Another is increased construction activity (both public and private). A lot of the construction activity in Downtown right now is to prepare for the arrival of the SMART train. We are currently upgrading all of our signals so they can communicate with the train (so when the train arrives, red lights will stop traffic and also prevent queuing on the tracks). Also, the train itself is a new element to our transportation network.
Another major traffic influencer is how we all drive. Following the car in front of you too closely and hitting the brakes hard can cause a ripple effect on all the cars behind you. Changing lanes frequently also adds to traffic. Distracted driving, in addition to being extremely dangerous, is also a huge culprit for how well we drive out on the road.
Trip planning can help during congested times. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and check the traffic ahead of time. A helpful app for this is Waze.