After royally screwing my first city up I decided to start anew following a couple of guidelines:
1. Build all roads as avenues from the beginning. This saves you time later on demolishing swathes of developmemt to improve traffic and RCI density. Plus, you can upgrade them later to include streetcars to further alleviate traffic.
2. Zone all industry at the edge of town following the upwind. This way the air pollution doesnt bother your residential and commercial districts so much.
3. Rush the utilities add-on for your city hall to build the waste treatment plant quickly. This will keep you from stinking up too much land with the sewer runoffs.
4. Build straight roads to make squares and rectangles. I do this to use every possible tile for RCI development.
5. Use bus stops sparingly. I had like 20 of them and a ton of busses and the traffic was probably worse off for it.
I'm still a pretty big newbie at this SimCity (I played 3000 and 2000) though, so i would appreciate any SimCity wisdom you guys can impart. Who knows, maybe we can spare a few first time mayors some grief.