I live 2.5 miles from work. I don't take the freeway. Yet, it still takes me the better part of 20 or so minutes to get to my internship. There's one street that encompasses most my drive, Ponce de Leon Ave. This street does not have timed lights and so it never fails that every 2-3 stoplights, I hit red, even at 6am, which I found out on the way to the gym this morning. I've learned that if you speed, I can actually hit most the lights and get to work much faster. Lately though, I've seen police on the side streets of Ponce, typically already conducting a traffic stop, which leads me to be a bit more careful. It makes me wonder however, about the behavior not having timed lights cultivates. Yes, I expect not to make every light, but it'd be nice if I could go past more than one.
There are streets in San Francisco that are known for traversing the city. They have timed lights all the way and you can cut minutes off of a commute. South to North, Franklin is a perfect example. Once you hit one green, if you drive the speed limit, odds are you can venture from the freeway to the Bay quickly with no red lights. I'm not sure what the drawbacks of timed lights are, but if they're going your direction, they help immensely with a commute. Other sets of timed lights in SF – Fell/Oak, Gough is the counterpart to Franklin (they like their one-ways in SF), and Pine/Bush. I'm sure there are more, but that's what I remember off the top of my head.