Letting pedestrians cross with turning traffic? That's not a bug, that's a feature

In response to a complaint about how the lights at Atlantic Avenue and Summer Street downtown now require pedestrians to cross with traffic rather than all alone, the city Transportation Department's engineering team optimistically says drivers will yield to walkers:

Walk signals at this location allow pedestrians to cross while the light is green for vehicles. Turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians. This type of signal phasing is widely used throughout the country. BTD is in the process of converting signals to this type of phasing where feasible as it allows for more time when pedestrians are allowed to cross.

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

Free tagging: 

Comments

Coolidge Corner is the one of

By on

Coolidge Corner is the one of the worst for driving. The way the crosswalks are set up makes me nervous because not all drivers yield and people tend to just walk straight out into moving traffic.

Also unrelated, but that Trader Joe's parking lot is a total nightmare.

The more nervous you are in

By on

The more nervous you are in an intersection the safer it is for everyone because you are paying more attention

Oh yeah totes, thats exactly

By on

Oh yeah totes, thats exactly why they should'nt even use traffic lights which are too predictable and make people complacent ... imbecile

Guess what

By on

Oh yeah totes, thats exactly why they should'nt even use traffic lights which are too predictable and make people complacent

Yes, that is a common criticism of traffic lights. The green light gives people confidence to speed through the intersection. Normally it works, but if something goes wrong, then the resulting crash is usually quite vicious (e.g. a T-bone, a flipped car, dead pedestrian. Like what happened in the Back Bay recently, where a driver sped through a red light and killed two people).

One of the main advantages of roundabouts over traffic lights is that they force you to slow down and negotiate your way into the intersection. Thus, crashes at roundabouts may still occur but they tend to be softer, lower speed and more of the fender-bender variety.

Also roundabouts can handle higher traffic volumes than traditional 4-way traffic lights or stop signs, and you don't have to sit and wait, you just keep moving for the most part. Unfortunately, roundabouts require a lot more space than is usually available. And they're generally not suitable for intersections where one street is much more dominant in traffic flow than the other(s).

So roundabouts are not always applicable. But the dangers of traffic lights are well known.

Mass Ave and Boylston

By on

On the same side as the Hynes T stop/Berklee auditorium. Pedestrians cross Boylston as cars are right-turning onto Boylston inbound. Sometimes, it's impossible to cross because so many cars are turning. Because of it, when the light pauses to let cars turn left off of Mass Ave southbound, a lot of people think the light's broken and start crossing.

In my experience, it's

By on

In my experience, it's actually sometimes impossible to either take that right or continue straight on Mass Ave (you need to be in the right lane to go straight) because there are too many pedestrians. The light there should be separated for pedestrians and cars.....

This intersection (and the

By on

This intersection (and the one south at Mass Ave/Belvidere+Haviland) used to be timed much, much better, then the city came along and screwed it all up in the name of "traffic flow."

The unintended consequence was that pedestrians get screwed or confused, and walk when they're not supposed to. Which, in turn, holds up traffic. They are stubbornly refusing to admit their error, and the residents and people who work around here suffer dearly every day.

Some lights in Cambridge have

By on

Some lights in Cambridge have their timing tweaked to show the pedestrian signal crossing first to give pedestrians about a 5-seconds start. That way, cars can't simply jackrabbit through as soon as the light turns, forcing pedestrians to wait.

up
13

these work great!

By on

Yes, I'm a frequent pedestrian at some of the intersections timed like this in Cambridge. Coupled with a no-turn-on-red, they actually work amazingly well to ensure any pedestrians are already in the street before cars have a chance to nose in. Its probably only a 2-3second delay, so it hardly has an effect on traffic throughput.

up
11

And yes, it works on some

By on

And yes, it works on some corners and intersections. But crossing Atlantic is never easy, and as I visualize this intersection-- where cabs picking up from the side of South Station are turning right onto Atlantic-- not having a dedicated pedestrian light seems like a nightmare.

Yield?

By on

Yield? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Good one!

up
34

I cross this

By on

intersection daily and most driver do yield. However cyclist routinely blow red lights and weave in and out of large groups of pedestrians trying to cross.

up
44

YES!

By on

I just won "anti-cyclist crank bingo"!

up
23

Its funny because

By on

right when i read your comment i looked out my office window and saw a cyclist blow through a red light crossing 5 lanes of traffic.

What iv noticed is their are two types of cyclist who run red lights. Those who blatantly do it. And those who are biking in the street but decide to become pedestrians and utilize packed crosswalks when approaching a red light.

up
21

Light-running technique

By on

I saw a pretty advanced technique by a bicyclist who didn't want to stop on Mass. Ave. eastbound when he encountered a red light at Inman Street in Cambridge. While moving at speed, he dismounted as he entered the intersection, ran through the intersection pushing his bike, and hopped back on once he reached the other side without slowing down much. So I guess technically he was a pedestrian when he disregarded that traffic signal.

up
21

Was the walk light on? if so,

Was the walk light on? if so, this is perfectly acceptable and he even properly dismounted to cross which is in line with the rules. AFAIK the real world is not grammar school and there aren't any "no running" rules.

up
20

he dismounted as he entered

he dismounted as he entered the intersection, ran through the intersection pushing his bike, and hopped back on once he reached the other side

Which is exactly what you're supposed to do if you want to cross the street in a crosswalk with your bicycle. What's your complaint, that he didn't ask your permission first?

up
14

I do this

By on

Walking (or running) the bike is the legal way to cross an exclusive ped signal with a bike. It looks ridiculous, but that's how it's written. I think it highlights how stupid it is to exclude bicyclists from the crossing phase, but if that's what they want, so be it. The law really needs some reworking to fix some of the various vagaries and absurdities.

  • The law is ambiguous about unmarked, unsignaled crosswalks. This needs to be clarified. If every corner has an implicit unmarked crosswalk, then MGL Ch89 Sec11 should be rewritten to apply to it.
  • It doesn't make any sense to exclude bicyclists from proceeding during a four-way walk. That's why this law is often ignored (by other people). The four-way walk is also the safest time for bicyclists to perform difficult movements like left turns at certain intersections, and the law is clearly at odds with common sense safety by forbidding this movement. Of course, a rewritten law should also make clear that bicyclists must yield to pedestrians during such a phase.
  • There should be some provision that combats the tendency of departments like Boston Transportation to deny pedestrians walk signals when all common sense says there should be one. So, for example, during times where concurrent traffic is moving and everyone "knows" that it is safe to walk, the display of a "don't walk" signal should be regarded as invalid. I'm not really sure how to word this one, but I think that everyone who walks in this city understands how stupid the signal programming is.
  • The whole crosswalk law w/regard to bicycles is vague and unspecified. Are you allowed to ride a bike in a crosswalk and entitled to the same protection as a pedestrian? It's left unsaid. This becomes a problem when community paths intersect with surface streets. The usual treatment (for example in Somerville) is to stripe a crosswalk at those intersections. Bicyclists are encouraged to use those paths, but then they reach the intersection and it's unclear what to do. The common sense thing is to look both ways and ride across, but the only thing the law provides for is walking across the intersection. As more and more paths are built, this needs to be worked out.
up
10

Riding cautiously through a 4

By on

Riding cautiously through a 4-way walk is safe. Blasting through a crowd of pedestrians without slowing down is not. It's too bad laws and their enforcement can't reflect these facts.

I agree

By on

If and when they ever get around to fixing the laws to be more sensible and reflective of reality, I think they need to find a way to distinguish between a bike ridden at pedestrian speeds and one ridden at higher speeds. Because to claim that a bike is like a pedestrian is patently absurd. But to also claim that they are like a motor vehicle is obviously not working either. It's more like something in between, and really, it all depends on speed. I can ride my bike at 1 to 2 mph, slower than most people walk, while being completely unobtrusive. Or I can ride it at 15-18 mph, which is clearly much too fast to mingle with pedestrians. Same vehicle, different behaviors, different effects.

The other day I saw a guy on a Segway rolling down the sidewalk at a tremendous rate of speed. Is he a pedestrian? Or a motor vehicle? I really don't know. I know that I'd rather not run into him while turning a corner. On the other hand those things were supposed to be nimble and crowd friendly. Go figure.

If the cops were trying to be helpful and protective they'd be looking to catch those folks blasting through a crowd (on whatever vehicle) too fast. But instead, they just sit there and gleefully write tickets for people who are going cautiously through the exclusive phase. What's the point of doing that? I see that as a complete waste of police resources, and it's generating ill will too. Why attack the people who aren't harming anyone, when there's so much actually dangerous behavior out there to stop? Well, that's police for ya. No thinking. It's really a shame.

Try this some day: in the

By on

Try this some day: in the course of your commute, make note of every moving violation that you see committed by a motor vehicle. This would include (but not be limited to): speeding, failure to signal when changing lanes, failure to signal when turning, failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign or signal, failure to stop for a red light, failure to yield right of way to a pedestrian, failure to yield right of way to another vehicle, opening a door into traffic.

Then post about each and every single instance here.

Alternately, you could get a sense of proportion and stop your anon whining about cyclists.

up
42

Sense of proportion

By on

Considering there are significantly more MV's than bikes, you would get a sense of proportion. Difference is, for bikers many of these decisions could be life and death.
You gave anon homework.... How cute.

the comment you were replying

By on

the comment you were replying to was talking specifically about running red lights. are you saying that you think the percentage of cyclists who run through red lights is the same as that of people in motor vehicles?

while every moving violation has the potential to lead to a serious problem, i don't think that you can seriously say that failure-to-signal and failure-to-stop-at-a-red-light are at the same level of danger. failure to stop at a red light is also much more of a flagrant "fuck you" to everyone else, whether you're doing it in a car or a on bicycle.

cyclists seem to be constantly harping about the importance of obeying the rules of the road, so when they so egregiously violate one of the most important ones, people are going to resent them for it. they're also going to have much less sympathy when a cyclist gets hit by a vehicle, as they appear to be inviting it by running red lights.

is it really that hard to understand human psychology?

up
16

Have you even been in morning

By on

Have you even been in morning rush-hour traffic? I see multiple cars run red lights almost daily. Yellow in Boston is a "speed up" sign.

Per intersection

For proportion, try recording per intersection on a trip to work or through town. Just as there are more motor-vehicle operators, they cannot call get to an intersection between lights as cyclists can. Thus, the number of law violators at a moment per intersection is deceptively low, but the likelihood of car drivers driving badly at any given intersection is high.

If you (as I have) go to some intersections and record (on foot with a pad, for safety) how frequently scofflaw break laws and put everyone's life in danger, you'll surely find that the vast majority of intersections have one and many times multiple motor-vehicle operator offenses per light cycle. We can only imaging fi cars were bike width and more of them had access.

Yeah, yeah, that time, no one was killed or maimed at that cycle. Yet record, lane changes without signalling or yielding, turning without signalling or yielding to pedestrians or cars, blocking the crosswalk, not stopping or even slowing for a red light, and on and on. I found figures in the mid-80% to high 90% violations when I watched.

There are a few, very few intersections, like around BU, that have many aggressive scofflaws on bikes, but motor-vehicle operators are everywhere, all the time with their recklessness.

I bike and walk, and less frequently drive or take the T. I watch carefully for all modes of maniacs. Yet, I have no doubt I am in much greater danger from crazy car drivers than cyclists...per intersection.

I actually did this one time

By on

If you (as I have) go to some intersections and record (on foot with a pad, for safety) how frequently scofflaw break laws and put everyone's life in danger, you'll surely find that the vast majority of intersections have one and many times multiple motor-vehicle operator offenses per light cycle.

Out of curiosity, on a nice day with some free time, I counted 114 moving violations in an hour at Brighton & Harvard. By automobile drivers. And not borderline cases like yellow light running, but actual red light running or illegal turn on red. Drivers that had plenty of time to stop but chose to enter the intersection when the signal clearly displayed red. I did not count speeding because I did not have a radar gun but that most certainly would have added to the total. One incident that stands out from that hour is when a red light running driver in a small sporty car nearly crashed into U-turning minivan, but screeched to a halt at the last second. I guess he had good brakes on that thing.

Crazy car drivers are indeed a much greater danger. Why just about a week ago I was nearly killed by a car blasting through the red light on Comm Ave. I'm alert for such things to happen so I was able to hold up about a foot away from where the vehicle passed through the crosswalk showing the walk signal, but if I hadn't noticed...

Of course the police don't care about red light running by cars. According to them, it never happens.

On my old bike commute, there

By on

On my old bike commute, there were I think three spots where I could safely "blow through" a light, due to either a four way walk sign or a T intersection. I'm sure some driver complained about me doing this, despite it being safe (and yes, I looked for peds before running the walk lights, too).

You're right about that

In my experience turning cars DO NOT YIELD to pedestrians, even when there are signs saying to do so. I've even yelled "I have a walk sign!" only to be told "I DOUBT it" by someone who almost hit me, when the white figure was clearly visible in the walk sign.

up
20

Best signaling is Cambridge

In Cambridge, all lights will turn red, pedestrian signals will say "go" in one direction, then cars in the same direction get the green light a couple seconds later. This way, pedestrians get a head-start, forcing the cars to yield, and also making the pedestrian's intentions more obvious before traffic starts moving.

up
63

Leading Pedestrian Interval

By on

This is called a "leading pedestrian interval" and Cambridge is a leader in implementing it. As you point out, it is a safety feature, since pedestrians are able to enter the crosswalk and the vision fields of the drivers before the light changes to green. If the lights change at the same time, quick-turning drivers can enter the crosswalk at the exact same time as a pedestrian they might not be able to see. LPIs help quite a bit.

In Cambridge, nearly every intersection has a 3 second pedestrian interval. There are a couple of exceptions in wider intersections with particularly heavy pedestrian traffic which have five second LPIs (Central Square in particular). And there are a few non-standard intersections (i.e. intersections which don't have two roads crossing, or with diagonal crosswalks and the like) which don't have any LPI. And of course the DCR-maintained roads (Mem Drive, Fresh Pond) and MassDOT roads (O'Brien Highway, etc) have no help for pedestrians, because as we all know, the purpose of the Department of Recreation and Conservation is to move as many cars as quickly as possible, safety be damned.

Boston would do well to reengineer their lights to this standard. Here's the difference between Cambridge and Boston. 0 seconds is when the cycle changes and the walk signal begins.

Cambridge:
-4 seconds: opposing light turns green to yellow, "DON'T WALK" flashing continues
-1 second: both lights red, all pedestrian signals solid "DON'T WALK"
0 seconds: both lights red, pedestrian signals change to "WALK"
3 seconds: concurrent light turns to green

Boston:
-4 seconds: opposing light turns green to yellow, "DON'T WALK" goes from flashing to solid
-1 seconds: all lights red, all pedestrian signs at "DON'T WALK"
0 seconds: concurrent light turns to green and "WALK" sign illuminates

The additional phasing in Cambridge allows more time for pedestrians to cross (since the "DON'T WALK" ends when the light goes to red, not to yellow, since there are a few extra seconds with the leading pedestrian interval) and allows them to do so more safely. Boston should adopt these measures as well.

up
40

Yup.

By on

Boston has the additional problem that some ped lights hit zero a full 10 seconds or so before the cross traffic gets the green.

One of my faves (and by "faves" I mean least faves) is the intersection of Bromfield and Tremont. The light to cross Bromfield counts down and changes to a solid red hand many, many seconds before the Bromfield traffic get the green. This is a narrow street that takes about 3 seconds to cross.

Peds will only respect the timers if they are meaningful.

up
39

This

Peds will only respect the timers if they are meaningful.

This. A million million times this.

up
33

This is a problem across

This is a problem across Boston, not just with Walk lights. I never really noticed it so much until I moved to NC, but in Boston, it seems like the traffic "engineers" (sic) set the traffic light timers once and then never give them a second thought (or a first one). Thus, you get major arteries where left-turning traffic backs up for a half-mile while the green arrow gets enough time to let one or two cars through on each cycle. Since moving to Raleigh a year ago, I literally don't think I've ever waited more than two light cycles to get through any traffic light, even if it's the middle of rush hour, even if the traffic was backed up for a quarter of a mile, even if I'm on a secondary road turning left onto a main road, etc., etc., etc. (And lest you think I'm claiming that Raleigh is some paradise-on-earth for perfectly-tuned traffic engineering, it isn't even close. It's merely competent, which puts it light-years beyond Boston in that regard.)

up
11

Density

By on

Another contributing factor:

Raleigh: 3,023.4 people /sq mi
Boston: 13,340 people / sq mi

up
15

Sure, that's a factor as well

Sure, that's a factor as well, but the combination of incompetent traffic engineers and alpha-douche drivers has a lot more to do with it, I'd reckon.

Don't forget lazy

.dog shit upkeep by someone's useless cousin.

Boston traffic signal stuff often seems to be broken or only working to tell motorists when to go.

Pedestrians have been a sloppy afterthought for decades.

Ah The Phantom Walk Button

By on

Those new walk buttons that talk to you are hilarious. But I recall fondly the old "mechanical" ones that often did not actually do anything as if there was a walk cycle it was built into the normal traffic light programing. Pushing them just made you feel better. And I wonder if any of the newer versions are still just for show.

Yeah, Boston has so many layers of

...dysfunction.

The elements seem to work in concert. The neighborhoods have a quality edge and less activity density but the urban core is like something invented for and by motorized shop-aholics with attention span problems.

Leading pedestrian interval

By on

This is called "leading pedestrian interval" or LPI. It gives walkers a chance to get into the crosswalk first, and makes drivers aware that peds have the right of way.

up
15

Great.

By on

With a few exceptions, the exclusive phase pedestrian signalling should go away. Peds shouldn't need to hit a button to trigger a walk light, and then wait up to a full cycle to cross at every intersection.

Cars also have to spend less time waiting as well, because this drops an entire phase from the light cycle. It's really win-win for everyone.

up
23

Exceptions

Important exceptions: any intersections with obstructed views (for example, Harvard Avenue and Cambridge Street in Allston, where cars turning onto Cambridge Street eastbound can't see pedestrians at the crosswalk across Cambridge Street, since it is set well away from the corner) and any intersections involving more than a 4-way crossing (for example, Brigham Circle, which is a 5-way intersection which many pedestrians need to cross diagonally.)

Sure.

By on

But going block-to-block in downtown Boston having to hit the button and wait for a special phase (which may be 3 minutes out), is just plain ridiculous.

up
14

My complaint about this

By on

My complaint about this intersection: pedestrians only get 8 seconds of walk + flashing hand. That's not nearly enough time, even for people who walk fast.

up
16

The worst is the Summer

By on

The worst is the Summer/Purchase crosswalk, where in a pretty long light cycle, pedestrians get exactly one second (ONE SECOND) of white walk signal before a flashing don't walk. This is with turning concurrent traffic as well.

I can't remember if it was reported on this site or just tweeted, but a few weeks ago someone was hit by a Silver Line bus at this crosswalk.

up
18

Funny you mention that crossing

I was crossing here this morning and the white walk signal flashed for literally 1 second before the 8 second countdown started. I thought to myself that something must be wrong with the signal, but I guess not.

Cars Red Light

By on

And there are usually cars running the red light to make the left turn from Summer onto Surface Road which means the walk sign is flashing by the time pedestrians can safely cross

I believe something is wrong.

By on

I believe something is wrong. If my memory is correct, fed guidelines require something like 3 seconds of white signal at minimum.

Mass. Ave. at Commonwealth

When I worked in the Back Bay and occasionally walked to Kenmore to catch the 57 bus, I had to teach myself to avoid the pleasant walk up Commonwealth to Mass. Ave., because the pedestrian light across Mass. Ave. (crossing towards the Eliot Hotel) was too short to safely get across the street.

LPI in Boston

By on

Actually, the Mass Ave/Comm Ave intersection is one of the few Boston intersections with leading pedestrian interval, for the last few years that I can remember. It's helped.

I don't remember when it was installed. Probably well after you stopped commuting to the Back Bay.

I will typically walk from Hynes to Kenmore rather than go down to the Green Line, because (a) it's the Green Line, and (b) all the steps to go downstairs in Hynes make my knees hurt.

Change is good!

Actually, the Mass Ave/Comm Ave intersection is one of the few Boston intersections with leading pedestrian interval, for the last few years that I can remember. It's helped.

I don't remember when it was installed. Probably well after you stopped commuting to the Back Bay.

I worked on Boylston across from the Pru 1984-1999. The light was definitely changed after then!

I did take the Green Line more often than not - the 57 at rush hour is no prize either - but it was a hellish commute. I do not miss it one little bit.

I lived at Comm/Mass Ave up

I lived at Comm/Mass Ave up until a month ago and those lights were awful. Always long waits to cross, always problems with traffic in the intersection. So broken.

Go ahead,jump!

By on

Don't worry, there's someone there with a net to catch you.

I'm familar with the lights in Cambridge, and don't like them. It's li

Finally!

By on

It drives me nuts that Boston doesn't do this -- all of NYC works on this principle.

I suppose it's dangerous in some ways, since Boston drivers aren't used to it yet (am I wrong to think they're trainable?). However, it's also dangerous when there's no traffic turning, but the pedestrian signal also says don't walk, and everyone (including the people in the cars in the non-turning lanes) just waits around an empty intersection -- nobody knows what is going on, and it makes people (both drivers and pedestrians) do stupid things out of frustration.

The light cycle in Cambridge with the tiny head start described above makes a lot of sense.

NY also has no right on red

By on

NY also has no right on red throughout the city, which helps pedestrians a lot to make crossings. If Boston would implement that it would improve life for pedestrians, but Walsh is even more anti-pedestrian than Menino, so its unlikely.

up
19

Montreal Does It One Better ...

By on

... Traffic parallel to the crosswalk gets a straight-ahead green arrow during the pedestrian "head start" phase, so they don't have to wait to proceed. Several seconds later, it changes to a solid green, and then cars can turn right. Like New York City, right turn on red is prohibited everywhere.

answer

By on

"Boston drivers aren't used to it yet (am I wrong to think they're trainable?)"

Yes. Yes, you are.

If I'm not mistaken this is

By on

If I'm not mistaken this is the same way the lights operate along Newbury, Boylston, Beacon and Arlington streets.

Cars should stop for the pedestrians and most drivers reluctantly do so. Those ones that don't are the ones that you have to worry about because they just have no regard for pedestrians. Unfortunately, there isn't always someone around to ensure that those drivers are ticketed for disobeying the law.

If I'm not mistaken this is

If I'm not mistaken this is the same way the lights virtually everywhere in the country, and across the world.

Fixed that for you.

Stupid fucking Masshole drivers can go fuck themselves sideways.

up
15

Exactly

By on

Given that most cops don't seem to know the traffic rules, I'm not surprised this is problem around here.

But go even to that car-loving paradise of LA, and see how much better people are about yielding to peds in crosswalks.

A little enforcement goes a long way.

up
13

Pedestrians Too

By on

And peds much better about crossing in cross walks.

I don't argue that many drivers don't look and yield to pedestrians enough...

But people need to look up when the cross the street. Look at where cars are going to be coming from. Make eye contact with the driver. Your oblivious, heads down, earphones in walking is going to get you hurt not the driver.

The number of people who don't even look up astounds me.

City buses

From what I've seen city buses are the worst offenders. I ride the bus to and from work in downtown. At least once on the ride in or home the bus will blow through a walk sign, coming dangerously close to pedestrians crossing in the crosswalk. At the very least the bus will inch into the crosswalk to the point where people can't safely cross anymore, and then drive through when they stop for fear of being hit. It’s at the point now where I’m surprised when the bus waits for people to safely move through the cross walk without inching up on them.

up
11

I had a T bus accelerate at

By on

I had a T bus accelerate at me and honk it's horn while I was crossing Washington Street in the South End. This was in a dedicated crosswalk. I had to run to get out of it's way.

That's like betting that we

That's like betting that we get rain between now and Christmas. Taxis are gonna run the lights and clip people even if there are four red lights and a "No Turn on Red" sign.

up
11

Whut?!

By on

As a Boston cabbie, I truly hate these signals. They're bad for traffic, and make oblivious pedestrians at risk for oblivious drivers. I always yield to pedestrians when they have a white walk signal, or at a non signalled cross walk for a few reasons: 1) it's the law and I don't want a ticket regardless of how I feel about the intersection, 2) it's better for safety so you don't hit or clip a pedestrian, and 3) I'm sympathetic to pedestrians who have to wait a while to cross.

In all honesty though, the pedestrian/driver/cyclists relationship is fucked up.

up
10

You should know

By on

You should know that we're not all thieving bastards. I never talk on the phone when I have a fare, never smoke in my cab, never refuse fares no matter where they're going (including Eastie because tacos), don't drive too wrecklessly, and my credit card machine was only broken once, and that night I told every potential customer that it was broken.

We've gotten a bad reputation because of a few bad seeds, and because people blame us for the actions of out of town and gypsy cabs.

I'd say more than a few.

Either that, or I'm a magnet for the shitty ones. Regardless, glad to know there are "good" cabbies out there. Never doubted it, but you're kind of like bigfoot-oft talked about, allegedly spotted from time to time, but you never see it yourself and would be in awe if you did.

Do you work the day shift by chance? I feel like I remember that Globe expose last year talking about how the difference in drivers, habits, and attitudes was just as big as the difference in clientele between day and night, and how each affects the other.

Yes.

By on

Yes, I cut my teeth on the day shift, now I work doubles three days a week.

It's quite true; the culture of day drivers and night drivers are very different. Day drivers are used to credit cards and city traffic, while night drivers have a mantra of "drive fast and make cash."

Well

The next time I play "I just want to get home" roulette, hopefully I catch you on a double.

Though I don't think I've needed a cab home since the T started late night service, it's nice to know I may have a 1/1000 chance of not having the driver roll up the window and drive away without saying a word when I tell him where I'm going.

I know you're always supposed

I know you're always supposed to yield to peds but if I'm understanding this right, there's no way to know if someone is jaywalking on a DNW side or not now and would make it so you have no idea if you're about to slam into someone running across the crosswalk while you have a green.

OK.

By on

But this has absolutely nothing to do with light timing.

up
11

Some peds just dart out

Some peds just dart out without looking, seen it happen several times before.

If they're in a crosswalk, and they have a "Walk" light, they shouldn't have to look. It's your responsibility to look out for them.

up
24

Sure it is, but it seems

Sure it is, but it seems crazy dangerous for a pedestrian if drivers also have a green. How do you know they're looking? This sounds like it just functions like a x-walk without a light at all.

Did you miss the part about

Did you miss the part about how this is how it operates almost everywhere in the country, and across the world? It works when drivers don't assume they have a God-given right to go wherever the fuck they want, whenever the fuck they feel like it.

up
30

That's true, obviously, but

That's true, obviously, but completely irrelevant to gotdat's complaint that you can't synchronize walk lights with green lights because it's too hard for drivers to figure out whether there are peds in the crosswalk or not.

Are you crazy? It's everyone

By on

Are you crazy? It's everyone's responsibility to look! As a pedestrian I ALWAYS look before crossing a street. Get a grip, we live in a busy and congested city!

In civilized cities,

In civilized cities, pedestrians with walk signals can safely step into crosswalks without checking over their shoulders. Obviously that doesn't apply in Boston, but it doesn't mean that cars have the right of way, either.

up
13

Scratchie, please tell me in

By on

Scratchie, please tell me in which cities you routinely do not look both ways before crossing the street? I'm only familiar with Boston, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Manhattan and Chicago, and I can assure you that it is essential to look before crossing regardless of what a crossing signal tells you in these cities. Enlighten me, please!

Do you need to look up and down too?

By on

It's pretty hard to see out the back of your head and at the same time use telepathy to know if that car coming up behind you is going to right turn through the crosswalk without slowing down for potential pedestrians.

I wish BTD would...

By on

I wish BTD would do a complete audit and adjustment of each and every walk signal in the city. I would guess that 95% of them suffer from one of the following:

- A walk signal when it's actually UNsafe to cross, because of turning cars that can't see the crosswalk etc (this is by far the worst, and there are quite a number of these)

- A Don't Walk signal when it IS perfectly, absolutely, 100% safe to cross, with no potential conflicts (in my mind this is the second-worst, because it completely has eroded my - and many others' - trust in the walk signals... and there are so many of these I can't even tally it)

- Walk signals that offer completely inadequate crossing time

- Walk signals over complex intersections that are so mistimed that pedestrians must wait through multiple signal cycles to cross completely - for example, crossing on Dartmouth from the Westin Copley to the BPL, and going only on walk signals! Similarly around Dewey Square, Charlesgate, Cleveland Circle, and many other places

- Walk signals that respond only to push-button - these should all be eliminated except for a few rare occassions where necessary, and which should be very clearly and prominently marked as such

- Combined with the above:
- Many new curb extensions/bump-outs
- New turn-on-red restrictions
- Dedicated bike signals where they can enhance safety for all street users

And finally, a bit of a utopian idea here, but... wouldn't it be nice if the Walk sign - as opposed to the Do Not Walk sign- was actually the default? So that, especially in dense walkable areas, pedestrians approaching a crossing would have more than a 50% chance of already having a Walk sign?

up
27

Dewey

Crossing around Dewey Square is a nightmare. Not sure how someone doesn’t get hit there every day.

up
10

You forgot a couple:

-Walk signals that respond only to request button, but the request button is broken (as the corner of Cummins and Washington in Rozzie was for weeks)

-Walk signals that respond only to request button, but the whole damn pole where the request button is supposed to be was knocked down by a snowplow in January and the city/DCR hasn't bothered to replace it in the last eight fucking months, and now there is no way to request a walk signal to cross four lanes of traffic in each direction with staggered greens and turn arrows, so there is no safe time to cross against the light. And for good measure, the city marked a Citizen's Connect complaint about it resolved months ago. (specifically, the northeast corner of the intersection of Washington and West Roxbury Parkway)

up
16

I wish BTD would do a

I wish BTD would do a complete audit and adjustment of each and every walk signal in the city

I'm sure they'll get right on that.

Is BTD listening?

By on

I really hope someone from the city is reading these comments. We're so far behind other cities when it comes to pedestrian traffic management. I think most locals know to actually watch the signals for the cars if you want to know if it's safe to cross otherwise you'll grow old waiting for the signal to be in your favor. Then all you need to be concerned with are the 3-4 drivers who simply don't stop for a fresh red signal.

Great info above about LPI

By on

Great info above about LPI and the use of it in Cambridge. The consistency is what I think is key - all users (autos, transit, trucks, cyclists, walkers, runners) know what to expect when they approach an intersection.

I'm sure they are taking notes, but happy to try and help push for changes if they aren't. Drop a note to [email protected] with concerns about specific intersections.

-Brendan

Burying the lede

By on

This type of signal phasing is widely used throughout the country.

BTD is looking outside of Boston for examples of how to do things! That's major progress!

Don't worry

I'm sure they'll implement it in a half-assed manner and never enforce it anyway.

During my last visit to

By on

During my last visit to Canada not only do the have signals for cars and pedestrians, but they had signals for cyclists. What was more shocking was that Canadians actually obeyed the traffic signals AND didn't blow through their stop signal while pedestrians were crossing the street. It was MIND-BLOWING! Would love to see that instituted in Boston and Cambridge.

Someone make sure the cops know that...

By on

The traffic lights/crosswalk have been set up that way on the corner of Huntington and Belvidere for a while (near the entrance to the pru). I cross that street multiple times every day, so am very familiar with the setup. It is a bit annoying, but the only time I run into issues is when the cops refuse to yield. Recently, I was crossing the street, and a cop refused to yield for me. I had to jump out of the way to avoid getting hit and threw my arms up at him. He then pulls over, gets out of the car and comes running up to me yelling. He claims I was illegally crossing the road and he should arrest me - I point out the crosswalk sign which is still on and the "yield to pedestrian" sign that he ignored. He calls me a liar (he claimed that the crosswalk is never on at the same time as the green to turn right.. which is obviously not true) and continues to yell and harass me until multiple other people nearby join in to point out he is wrong.

If they are going to be changing more crosswalks to be like this, someone should inform the cops, because they seem completely unaware and are the worst offenders of this.

You're lucky

By on

No matter how right you are (and you are), most cops would probably go all Ferguson on you. Which is terribly wrong, but we've trained our police in this country to be absolute animals, rather than thinking human beings. It's a big problem.

Did you get his info? There's supposed to be retraining for police officers. Money allocated, last year, to help educate on these kinds of transportation issues.

I think that a lot of the

By on

I think that a lot of the problems in Boston come from the shortness of the pedestrian signals vs the length of Green Lights for cars. It takes far more than 15 seconds to cross Comm Ave and Harvard, or Huntington and Belvidere, but very often that's all we've got, while it's ages before the cars have to stop again -- which I don't understand because people in cars are in climate-controlled bubbles and their drivers don't get tired from the distance they travel.

The other big thing is that Boston drivers have no idea what yellow lights are. They know a yellow means it's going to be red soon, so they speed up or end up stopping in the crosswalk, forcing pedestrians into the intersection. I've heard that a New York second is the time between the light turning green and the car behind you honking; a Boston minute, I've found, is the time between the light turning red and cars stopping. When the light has changed and the cars and cyclists don't stop -- that can eat up most of the crossing signal right there and when the light turns green again, there are still loads of pedestrians trying to stop. I see this all the time on Harvard Avenue.

As for cops. I think they'd be better off on foot. They'd interact with the communities they were patrolling more, as opposed to being isolated in a cruiser.

Definitely safe...for vehicles.

By on

Remember this horrible accident? http://www.universalhub.com/2014/bus-hits-woman-uphams-corner

It was with one of those lights. The woman was crossing during the walk signal. The only way to be hit by the 41 bus on that part of the street is when the bus turns left from Dudley Street, on its green light that gives a simultaneous walk signal to people looking to cross Columbia.

I remember reading something about how the crossing signals were going to be investigated. I walk through that intersection nearly every day and the only thing that's changed is that sometimes the red light for cars on Columbia is a little shorter. Pedestrians still have to cross with the threat of vehicles potentially mowing us down.