Truck driver helps Storrow Drive regain title as world's longest parking lot

A driver with impaired reading skills plowed his truck into the ceiling of the Storrow tunnel eastbound this morning. The ceiling refused to yield, forcing the top of his truck to peel back like a sardine can and backing up Storrow Drive onto Soldiers Field Road way back by the Harvard Business School in Allston and causing similar delays on Memorial Drive when Storrow refugees flooded that road, lord!

Michael Nichols tweeted shortly after 9 a.m.:

Just drove past it. Box truck stuck with most of its metal roof bent back from colliding with underside of tunnel.

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I can't wait

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To see how commenters blame this on a bicyclist.

I can't wait

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for cyclists to realize the world, and on a smaller scale each story on Uhub, doesn't revolve around them.

Do you want a shiny gold star because you ride a bike? Lots of us just ride without the desperate need for a steady stream of accolades.

WHOOOOOOSH

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JOKE

^
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approximately 40,000 feet
v
v

you
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I'll explain this for you and the other 12 people who didn't get the joke: cyclists are universally blamed for everything by assholes like you. Their injuries, for example, despite the fact that 80%+ of injuries and deaths involving motorists are the fault of the motorists - but because you see one asshole on a bike go through a red light (MY GOD THE ASSHOLE! CAN YOU BELIEVE?), you think that some significant percentage do it, you think that must be how we're injured, and you further think that we deserve it. Or pedestrian injuries - despite being involved in less than a third of one percent of injuries and deaths, and that figure includes people who walk right into the path of a cyclist on the street.

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If bicyclists weren't

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If bicyclists weren't blocking so much automotive traffic on city streets by taking over car lanes for bike lanes, then fewer people would be using Storrow Drive!

if you weren't an ignorant fool

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IMAGE(http://images.greatergreaterwashington.org/images/201007/spacecomparison.jpg)

I'll keep it in mind the next time I'm biking through 6 blocks of gridlock by fenway (negotiating the entire area faster than anyone is getting through one traffic light) and squeezing past the idiots in cars blocking intersections...that it's my fault as a cyclist. Zipping through the gridlock. That I caused. Blocking traffic.

Since you're an ignorant fool, I'll explain this to you very slowly:

When a bike lane goes in, it helps encourage the 50-60% of city residents who want to bike, but don't because of safety concerns. Safety concerns being: assholes like you who feel threatened by anyone on two wheels.

You can pass a cyclist - often without slowing down because many of the lanes in Boston are enormous. You can't pass a car.

So, which would you rather have? Yet another person sitting in front of you, blocking your way, taking up your parking? Or someone you can pass, and who can pass you?

earnest anon...

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...you do know that that person you're responding to is satirizing a regular poster on this blog who is very car-centric and bike-rider-in-the-streets-made-for-cars-hating, right? I have no idea if they themselves are bike-fans or they are just annoyed by that other person's posts and take joy in ridiculing him. I do it from time to time too. It's kind of addictive. Like popping bubble wrap. But at any rate, "Crank from Arlington" flew high o'er you head.

too soon?

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IMAGE(http://ridingthirdrail.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/hitler-youth.jpg)

(Hint to fixieiests: it's a (poor?) joke!)

yeah, srsly

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Municipal planners categorize cyclists into different bins - for example, there are the die-hard cyclists who will ride anywhere and anytime regardless of infrastructure. They're 1-2% of the urban population.

The bin for "people who want to commute by bike but don't because of safety concerns" falls in around 50-60% of the population in a typical US city.

Shocking, huh? They see people zipping by on bikes, their friends who bike tell them how awesome it is, their workplaces and the city are trying to encourage them to do it.

If only the other 40-50% of you weren't such flaming assholes when you got in your cars, looked in your mirrors before flinging your doors open, gave people on bikes a bit of space, and kept your eyes on the road instead of on your iPhones, we'd be set. Even more people would bike instead of trying to own and drive cars.

In the words of a Boston Police detective investigating someone who attacked me: "Hey, I'm born and bred Bostonian. I love bikes. The city can't handle all these cars. Every person on a bike is a person taking up less space on the road and one less person I have to compete with for a parking space. Power to ya."

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Count me as one

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I live 2 miles away from my job and although I love walking to and from work most of the time, I would love to bike instead. There's a dedicated bike lane for only about a 1/3 of the way to my work. Call me a giant wuss but I'm just too afraid and don't trust Masshole drivers to use the street for the other 2/3 of the way that doesn't have a dedicated bike lane. I guarantee there are many others like myself.

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I'd like to lose 5 lbs too!

If the 50-60% statistic was what percentage of non-cyclists claiming to want to ride if a bike lane goes in, actually do, I might believe it, say if it were going from no trips per year to one trip per year.

If you claim that 50-60% of all people would ride when bike lanes go in, that's fantasy. Its like asking people if they would like to lose some weight, get more exercise, eat more fruits and vegetables, and win the lottery. Most people will say yes, but the reality is that few actually do.

Urban planners (again) demonstrate disconnect from reality and having little understanding of human nature if they think over half of a population will join the 1-2% diehards. That or they live in Amsterdam coffee shops.

I can't believe I'm typing this...

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...but I'm not sure our sunshiney friend from Arlington is that far off the mark here. Speaking for myself, yes, if it were more convenient and safe for me I would like to bike to work. I used to bike exclusively in Madison, WI where the winters are just a little more rigorous than here (I wouldn't do too much in the thick snow, but in the cold, yes). But there were dedicated lanes physically separated from the traffic and trails off the roads that would get you to where you needed to be.

In Boston we're just never going to see all of that (unless you really want to wipe out a lot of historic architecture to make room or completely remove all cars from city limits). So we can get bike lanes, but it won't be as safe as some would want and I don't think it'll ever be as convenient. Even if it were, that 50-60% figure is not supported by the citations you link to. Bicycling may increase by that percentage, but that doesn't mean 50% of the CURRENT residents of the city will suddenly find vishnu and jump on a bike. At least not the people that I know that don't currently bike. Some of them can't bike, some come from far further away than practical and others need to be moving around quite a bit distances and time frames that are not amenable to bike transport. And some of us are just lazy sods, set in our ways.

This is not to say that we couldn't promote bike infrastructure, discourage car traffic downtown and corrupt the next generation to be responsible people towards the environment, their health and each other. Sounds like a plan.

OK, One study had a significant boost

The last one at Tulane. It was done over 9 hours, so a 57% increase in trips is likely 30% more riders taking round trips. 91 to 143 in absolute numbers were recorded, an average of one rider every 6 minutes to one every 4. How many motor vehicles passed for every bicycle? Another problem I see with many studies is not simultaneously counting on alternate paths. We know absolutely that cyclists prefer having bike lanes to not, resulting in riders being drawn from other roads. How much of the increase was more total riders or more riders drawn from other roads? A great thing about this study was that it was for the same road before and after the project. I wish that was done more often for other things too like corner tightening and curb extensions - did accidents decrease?

Bike lanes are a safety placebo, but most of the US won't get above 2% bicycle mode share, and 7% in some college towns. More people car pool than that. Just human nature.

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...meh.

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The first part of the post was insightful (cars will take the route that is quickest, safest and most enjoyable to drive, why wouldn't bikes do the same? how does that affect the counts and statistics?), but that conclusion was a bit yanked from the nethers. I think the Metro Boston area has the potential to get far above 7%. I just don't think 40-50% of the commuting population is realistic.

"Just human nature?" So those people in China and Copenhagen and other places are inhuman? People adapt to what they have to. If for a variety of reasons it makes more sense for people to commute by bikes, people will do so, when and only when we start really bringing the costs associated with single occupancy, petroleum-powered, planned-obsolescence consumer economy-based vehicle transport to bear on the people who use it. Gas taxes really don't cover it when you look at the big picture.

Count me in this group as

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Count me in this group as well. I live 5-6 miles from work, and would love to bike, at least in the good weather, but the cars and the generally cluster fuck that is Boston's roadways scare the crap out of me!

Thank you

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For making my day with both the description of the incident and this haiku.

Is there any way to get to

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Is there any way to get to the tunnel in that direction without being warned by a low-hanging CARS ONLY sign, which would smack the truck?

Right in the face

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No there is not and the signs will literally obscure the entire trucks windshield when it smacks/drives through it thus making it very obvious one is going the wrong way.

Nope. Now, if the signs read

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Low Clearance instead of Cars Only, then truckers might be less likely to ignore them.

Fixing the signs to heavy steel beams (instead of the chains they use now),so that the overheight vehicle doesn't go past that point, would also help.

Yes, some signs say

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Low Clearance, but they're aren't the ones that get "in your windhsield" if you ignore them. And, as Mr. Newman kindly pointed out, the majority of those signs do not state the actualy clearance, are too small (or the wrong colors) to be easily noticed at a glance, and/or use cryptic symbols that bear no relationship to any standard highway signs truckers see in other states.

Also, there are many truck restrictions on streets and roads within the Greater Boston area. However, unlike Storrow and Memorial Drives, the vast majority of said restrictions were placed because self-centered residents decided thay didn't want truck traffic on their streets, and not because of legitimate issues like clearance restrictions. So, I'm sure some drivers may believe the DCR is "crying wolf", especially at locations where the low clearance isn't immediately obvious when you see the rubber signs that bounce away.

The underlying problem here is that Storrow and Memorial Drives are overseen by an agency that, princpially for asthetic reasons, doesn't believe in following long established size and design standards for highway warning signs.

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Truck traffic is costly

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Even if you ignore quality-of-life issues, the fact is that trucks cause heavy damage to roadways. The main reason to ban trucks from a street is to save money on the expense of constructing and maintaining a roadbed which is capable of withstanding the extreme forces from heavy trucks.

One of the reasons we have crummy roads is that they were not built to sustain the level of trucking that is conducted on them, therefore they fall apart long before expected. The taxpayer funds which go towards repairing this damage constitute an enormous subsidy of trucking, which is not currently recaptured even by the increased taxes and fees on trucks and commercial vehicles.

WIth respect, I've heard all sorts of

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"justifications" in support of decisions made largely for political reasons. But this one takes the cake.

Yes, trucks do cause more damage than cars do. However, the majority of streets and roads I've observed with truck restrictions (that are not due to low clearances) were designed and built to the exact same standards as adjacent roads that don't have such restrictions on them are.

As such, by arbitrarily forcing that traffic from streets that can otherwise handle that traffic then we're accellerating the decay of those other streets. And avoiding restricted roadways usually entails driving longer routes - hense, increased time for deliveries and greater fuel consumption and pollution. Real good for society - not!

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Some of them are built to the same standards

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But that's due to cheapness, misguided thriftiness, or laziness. The fault is not of the existence of "truck routes" but rather the lack of will to properly reinforce those roads designated as truck routes.

When bridges are involved, people tend to take the truck route issue more seriously.

The same thoughtfulness should be applied to surface roads as well.

I would say most streets intended for

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through traffic are built to the same standards. Yet, in many communities (Dedham is a good example), you have some streets with truck restrictions, and identical streets (both in design and purpose) without them. Why? Because so-and-so living on street X contacted a local politico and demanded they get the Town DPW to post a truck restriction on that street.

This is why I use to tell people

That it's not a real traffic jam until the cop knocks on your window and tells you to turn off your engine you will be there for a while.

We need to bring the cowbells back!

Ever ridden in large trucks

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like box trucks or tractor trailers? I have (on more than one occasion).

Due to the ambient noise present, the cowbells won't even be noticed by the driver.

Well then...

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Let's attach grenades to those signs. We'll make sure they're standardized with all the other explosives we use on our highway system to ensure driver compliance.

I spent a few summers working for a mover driving up and down the east coast in a sizable box truck. Before he put the truck into gear he referred to his atlas (no GPS in this era) and looked up all the restricted roads and figured out his path to and from distribution warehouses and the actual households we were moving. That's what professionals do. These people who are plowing into bridges that are marked (regardless of whether it is a standardized sign or not) are not preparing themselves before they hit the road. Frequently they're not professionals (re: any of UHub's annual betting pools for an Allston Christmas surprise on Storrow or Memorial Drives). It's not like low bridges on Storrow Drive are a new thing.

Like it or not, most truckers concern

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themselves with only one thing - how to get from A to B in the quickest and least expensive way possible. That's why we need to have things like low clearance signs.

And, guess what, there are estabilshed standards for highway signs for low clearances and the like. Drivers are taught to look for and expect to see those standard signs, especially in stiuations where a hazard might not immediately be apparent - like signing for a low clearance on Storrow Drive that's a half-mile or so from the on-ramp. It's a little thing called expectancy.

So what if somebody thinks those standard signs make a highway less pretty. Subjective reasoning (like asthetics) is not a vaild argument to place sub-standard traffic controls on any highway.

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truckers

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Ok, I'm up for that. Put some additional signage up that warns people who are supposed to know it already, that there is a low bridge coming up and that they shouldn't be on that road. We can even do it like the Wall Drug signs in South Dakota -- "50 miles until Low Bridge!"

But I have to take issue with the idea that "like it or not" truckers are going to endanger and inconvenience everyone because all they care about is getting from A to B as quickly and cheaply as possible. Guess what, there are established standards for how they are supposed to conduct their business. There are steep fines and potential license lost (meaning losing your profession, basically) if you fuck up. There are many, many responsible professional truckers who really do follow the rules and we don't notice them because they're not stuck under the bridge on Storrow Drive. For the ones that don't drive like a professional, I don't think standardized signage is going to make much of a difference, but what the hell, if it stops this bullshit from happening, hold the DCR's feet to the fire and make them do it.

(I still prefer the dangling grenades.)

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But does Storrow have it's own crash website yet?

I think we're being outdone by some Yankees who have migrated south of the line [1]:

http://11foot8.com/

A website devoted to truck crash videos from a single low-hanging railroad bridge. I like how they have a "crash bar", a big i-beam in front of and slightly lower than the bridge itself, which does the can opening. Leads to some spectacular jumps when the trucks crash.

- Shane

[1] the Mason-Dixon line.