Woman hit by tow truck in Brighton Center dies

Boston Police report the woman, struck at Chestnut Hill Avenue and Washington Street around 6 p.m. yesterday, has died. The crash remains under investigation; no charges have been issued.

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Another case of "No criminality suspected"

A passenger in the tow truck told a WCVB reporter at the scene that they had a green light turning onto Market Street from Chestnut Hill Avenue.

That's not physically possible. There is no turn from Market onto Chestnut Hill -- just straight-through. The picture actually makes it look like they were turning left from Washington onto Chestnut Hill.

No doubt it will be a sufficient excuse, though, with our lax enforcement.

Yeah, turn does look like from Wash onto Chestnut Hill

I don't know the exact circumstances of this accident, and I'm very sorry for this woman and her family.

But I do want to mention that I walk this intersection almost every weekday at around the same time as this accident. Because there is so much going on, I always press the walk button and wait for the walk signal. The walk signals always work at this intersection, just takes a minute to wait. I often find myself using discipline and continue to wait as other people walk into the intersection against the light. It can get fairly frustrating to watch as often these people end up sprinting the rest of the way, dodging traffic, or bringing traffic to a halt because they misjudged or didn't see a car who had the right of way.

Again, I don't know the complete circumstances here (and I'm judging from the angle of the tow truck in the picture), but from experience, I know that a car would have to run a very red light while taking a left turn in order to hit a person close to the middle of the road while the walk signal was on. Kinda tells me that either the walk signal wasn't on, or the tow truck was making a very illegal left turn. I just want to put out there: walk signals are worth the wait - especially at that intersection.

What the what??

The woman was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital with serious injuries.

St. Elizabeth's ER is like a block and a half away!! But they drove her all the way to Longwood...at rush hour!?

Just FYI

Neither is any trauma center in Maryland...where the first person to advocate for ending the "nearest hospital first" method of treatment started Shock Trauma at University of Maryland.

I thought in the renovation of St. E's they beefed up the ER but evidently only in terms of modernity and capacity but not to include trauma services.

So, I guess there are reasons why some places choose not to get ACS "verification" because Hopkins, Shock Trauma, and I think there are a few just north of DC too all have trauma centers but aren't on that list.

Not at all hostile

It's hostile to the impatient.

This is one of the intersections in the city where the pedestrian lights are NOT concurrent and still perform an exclusive walk period for both directions if you push the button on any one of the four corners.

When you use the button, it's one of the most tame intersections in the entire city.

100% agree

The walk signal works perfectly at this intersection and all traffic stops. I used that exact walk signal to cross that exact street 30 minutes before this accident.

Maybe not perfect?

It seems whenever I try to use the walk buttons here, it usually takes 1.5 to 2 cycles of the lights before the walk signal turns on. I find some people will be willing to wait for one cycle, but get frustrated after the second cycle starts and just cross with parallel traffic.

Walk signal cynicism

I had the same experience here. In this town, there are so many intersections where the Walk signals only work sporadically, that you start to get cynical about them in general.

And even if you do wait for the signal, doesn't mean the cars are going to stop. I managed to snap this picture today downtown while waiting to cross the street:
IMAGE(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7064/6893752703_454b6e119e.jpg)
It happened two more times, elsewhere, while I was out and about this afternoon.

Are those concurrent signal systems?

You can definitely have times when a driver is given a green signal and the crosswalk shows it is the pedestrian's time to walk. If traffic is given a generic green and the car is attempting to turn left on the green, the crosswalk may also be showing Walk at the same time and it is the driver's responsibility to be sure the crosswalk is clear before making their left, just as it's their responsibility to know there are no cars coming towards them. The reason both the driver and pedestrian are told to go at the same time is to reduce the cycle time (and theoretically forcing the drivers to be more aware of their driving situation by always wondering if a pedestrian is also going to go at the same time).

However, at the intersection of this accident, you will NEVER have a Walk signal AND a green signal at the same time. Ever. The Walk cycle is for all four crosswalks at the same time and every lane of traffic gets a red signal during that period. However, this only happens if a pedestrian pushes one of the walk request buttons. The rest of the time, traffic gets alternating greens and the Don't Walk stays permanently lit the entire traffic cycle.

Is there a crosswalk there?

There are "rules" which are meant to prevent this type of thing. It seems as though both pedestrians and drivers in the Boston area treat them as suggestions. I was almost hit by a woman while walking in a crosswalk once. I yelled at her truck not expecting her to stop at all, and she pulled over. Her defense "I had a green arrow...".

According to the MA drivers manual, pedestrians are only supposed to enter a crosswalk with walk signals when instructed to do so. It also goes on to say walkers in a crosswalk when a walk signal expires have the right of way. Further down on the same page, it states pedestrians entering a crosswalk have the right of way.

Why don't either pedestrians of drivers follow these rules?

Page 82:
http://www.mass.gov/rmv/dmanual/chapter4.pdf

Lack of consistency is the cause.

I hear you about conflicting signals. Take the intersection of Comm Ave and Babcock St . There are no walk signals for both crosswalks that cross Babcock, suggesting pedestrians have right-of-way during the concurrent Comm. Ave green light (similar lights without walk signals can be found in San Francisco and Montreal). And yet, here in Boston, there is a green right-arrow (which is on for the entire Comm Ave green light) instead of a green-globe, suggesting that vehicles actually have the right-of-way. So which is it?!

This one example of utter inconsistency (along with countless others) is the reason I believe Boston to have such a rampant problem with both pedestrians and drivers unwilling to follow traffic signals, the rules of the road, and otherwise just get along. Road users are presented with one signalization method at one intersection and suddenly, one block over, a completely different method is in use (Newbury and Boylston along Berkeley, for example).

Places like San Francisco, Washington DC and even Munich (with many curving streets) use incredibly consistent and predictable concurrent signalization throughout those entire cities. Drivers yield to pedestrians on turns and pedestrians wait for the walk signal (even when the green arrow is on).

Boston is a tough city to

Boston is a tough city to navigate both for pedestrians, drivers (and bikers) which pits them all against each other to the detriment of all.

Our streets are narrow, pot hole ridden, not in a grid layout, and poorly marked.

State law gives pedestrians right of way in a cross walk if there is no light. However if there is a light, pedestrians must wait for the walk signal.

When the cross walk does not have a light, the pedestrian has the right of way. However, the pedestrian who walks into the crosswalk is making an assumption that the driver has seen the a. crosswalk b. seen the pedestrian and c. has enough time to stop.

In many cases the crosswalk is not visible to the driver because of obstructions such as other cars blocking the markings on the road or more often than not the crosswalk markings are too worn out to distinguish. Driver is already distracted due to poor signage, pot holes, willy nilly meandering of roads then you throw a pedestrian in a crosswalk that the driver hasn't seen - well you are asking for trouble.

In more civilized places crosswalks are clearly marked with street markings, special curbs, and appropriate lighting - giving the driver multiple notifications that YES there is a crosswalk coming up so therefore be on the look out for pedestrians.

I have no idea if the tow truck was speeding etc, but I do believe that the way our roads are set up actually create a hazardous situation which results in tragic accidents such as this one. If you saw the TV report, the tow truck driver was distraught and crying.

However, the pedestrian who

However, the pedestrian who walks into the crosswalk is making an assumption that the driver has seen the a. crosswalk b. seen the pedestrian and c. has enough time to stop.

Or d. cares what the rules are.

Crossing Brookline Avenue at Pearl is a bit like frogger in that it is multiple lanes across and not controlled by a light. Being in Brookline, it has one of those signs in the middle of the street making it clear to drivers that they're supposed to stop for pedestrians, but in my experience only about half do. The other half speed up. This actually slows the cautious pedestrian down because they have to pause in all 4 lanes of traffic to make sure the driver screaming down it will actually stop.

Pedestrian-activated buttons there don't always work

The pedestrian-activated buttons at that intersection are not always in working order in my nine years experience at that intersection. Sometimes after pushing the button and waiting for the light, when the pedestrian crossing light doesn't come on I am stuck crossing concurrently with the traffic. I have no idea about the current working order of the button(s) she might have tried to use.

Note that the accident happened when the pedestrian would've been crossing the street concurrently with the traffic (assuming the truck driver was turning on green).

Sure, buttons do break

Sure, there are going to be occasions where buttons break (or are intentionally broken by delinquents). And I know you live near here, so you're familiar with whether the light is working correctly or not. But I've known people to attribute "broken buttons" to impatience still. There are two phases to the light cycle and the pedestrian interrupt is only allowed to happen after one of them and not the other. It also doesn't hasten the traffic cycle either.

Phase 1: Green on Washington, Red on Market/ChestnutHill
Phase 2: Green on Market/ChestnutHill, Red on Washington
Phase P: Red on Washington/Market/ChestnutHill, Walk for Pedestrians

If you push the button too late in the Phase 2 cycle, then you will have to wait for another 1 AND 2 to occur before P will occur.

PS - I might have 1 and 2 backwards...I'm second-guessing my recall of whether the pedestrian cycle is after which street finishes their green light. Also, I was walking there a few days ago most recently and at least the 2 buttons I used (either side of Chestnut Hill Ave) worked for me at the time.

Pedestrian hostility of signals

There are two phases to the light cycle and the pedestrian interrupt is only allowed to happen after one of them and not the other. It also doesn't hasten the traffic cycle either.

This is what we call being "pedestrian hostile." It acts as a barrier. Especially when you have to wait around for this kind of bullshit almost every single block you walk.

I can turn the "impatience" argument right around on the drivers. They are in nice warm, motor-driven vehicles. Why can't they wait for the person out in the cold trying to walk 30 feet?

Just a thought I had

There's an older woman (could easily be in her 50's) who not long ago started hanging out around the benches on the traffic island at that intersection. I'm not sure if she's homeless or what her situation is, but the past few days I hadn't noticed her around (not uncommon for her to not be there either). Has anyone seen her recently? Does anyone know if it's possible that she was the victim?

Brookline does put those

Brookline does put those boxes in the middle of the street at cross walks but brookline also allows cars to park so close to the cross walk that pedestrians are blocked from view until they are almost in the middle of the intersection.
Case in point:
I was driving within the speed limit on washington street just near the cross walk at murphy's pub.

Just before i got to the crosswalk a woman popped into my view in the crosswalk (there was a car parked on the right hand side so i didn't see her get off the curb or make her way into traffic until she was in my lane)

I stopped short causing the two cars behind me to stop short as well. They rear ended eachother. Thankfully they didn't rear end me. How is that safe for anyone? It's called creating a hazard.
AND the fed transportation authority recognizes this because they are giving states money to upgrade their roads to address these issues. To blame it on drivers, or pedestrians, or on bikers is not addressing the true problem which is bad design.

The trouble with the feds

They give money to states to upgrade their roads for safety. But their stipulation is that the roads be widened and built to highway safety standards. That might be good for cars, but it is exactly the opposite of what is needed for pedestrian safety. Hence, things get worse. And it encourages more sprawl too.

No left turn signals

I live next to this intersection and cross it daily. My guess is that this was the fault of both an aggressive pedestrian and aggressive driver. The walk signal here works just fine and never has you crossing when a driver has a green. However, this is a terrible intersection for cars trying to take lefts. It was only maybe 1.5 years ago that they even put in a left turn lane - but they didn't finish the job by putting in a left turn arrow. It's a heavily traveled road, so I see cars banging lefts in front of oncoming traffic all the time, or taking lefts through red lights because they have been waiting in the middle of the intersection and are in the middle of the road. I can only hope that now since a tragedy has occurred, that they will take second look at this intersection. (Also, I can confirm the tow truck was taking a left from Washington St onto Chestnut Hill Avenue - I saw the whole aftermath from my apartment).

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