Man on foot dies trying to get across turnpike onramp in Allston

A 26-year-old man tried getting from one side of the Cambridge Street turnpike onramp to the other last night but didn't make it, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

The man was hit by a Camry whose driver remained on the scene and showed no signs of impairment, the DA's office says. Although state troopers continue to investigate the crash, no charges have been filed at this point.



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Poor design

There's no need for Cambridge St to have ramps designed to peel off/merge as if Cambridge St is the Mass Pike itself. Hopefully the project to realign the Pike in the area will address this major failure in planning.

I wouldn't call it a "major"

I wouldn't call it a "major" failure in planning, although I suppose it's less than ideal. There's literally nothing on that side of Cambridge Street for a mile in each direction, so it's hard to imagine what would entice a pedestrian to walk down that way in the first place. Obviously if there are sidewalks, there should be a safe way to cross the entrance ramp but even as a former Allston resident and long-time pedestrian, I would question whether sidewalks are even needed on that side of Cambridge Street in that area.

Doesn't specify

Adam doesn't specify which ramps were involved. I think all of the ramps suck, on both sides. But either way, there's sidewalks on both sides of Cambridge St. If he's walking from the Packards Corner area to the area near the Doubletree, then he'd be on the ideal route by being on the "vacant" side.

I was thinking of the ramp on

I was thinking of the ramp on the eastbound side of Cambridge street, obviously. You're correct that Adam doesn't specify, but your comment about the ramp "peeling off" like a highway ramp seemed to be describing that one.

As for the entrances on the westbound side, those are not particularly good -- it looks like they lack crosswalk markings per Google satellite imagery -- but at least there are traffic lights at that intersection. It's been a long time since I lived in that neighborhood but it seems like there might be a portion of the light cycle when it's safe to cross.


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Both sides of the sidewalk have ramps with no light/signal control and no crosswalk.

The ramp where the man was struck was the entrance ramp according to the news footage I saw this morning. The light at North Harvard St is the closest control, but regardless of the point in the cycle, there's likely to be people attempting to use the ramp from any of the green lights.

The "Allston/Brighton" side of the exit off the Pike takes you to a ramp for the other side of the road that has no crosswalk, a horribly wide merge/lane area where 2 lanes of ramp traffic are expected to become one lane as well as move left a lane if they intend to stay on Cambridge Street, and no control signals (it comes into Cambridge St after the ugly signal in front of the hotel that controls the exit ramp for "Cambridge/Boston" and the Storrow ramps.

Such a crazy place to ride a

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Such a crazy place to ride a bike or walk. On a bike, you have to either take the inside of the right lane as it splits into the onramp, with cars passing fast and close on both sides, take the entire middle lane and hope cars speeding down the bridge or turning from the light at North Harvard onto Cambridge St. will notice you as they speed up behind you (I know of someone who was hit from behind here), or give up and walk on the sidewalk, where there is no signal or crosswalk and this poor person was killed.

And of course, down the road as you approach the river is a whole other onslaught of merging and turning cars from several directions that you need to navigate from the center lane to cross the Charles into Cambridge, as both right and left lanes are turning lanes but drivers don't seems to respect bikes taking up the space of the middle lane.

Coming from the other direction, from Cambridge into Allston, you need to bike uphill (i.e. slower) while cars pass you on the left and cars merge off the highway at high speeds on the right--into your lane!-- so you're again getting passed by speeding traffic on both sides, with low visibility. This area also lacks pedestrian crossings though it gets a lot of ped traffic.

This is the only route to the river paths from this side of Allston, and it is a major bike and ped route for service workers who live in Allston to get to Central Square, traveling in the low-visibility very early morning and late night hours, among many other uses.

What entices people to use Cambridge St

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I used to take Cambridge St all the time to get from Lower Allston to Whole Foods and Central Square.

This area is another scary-ass, hell-hole and 10x scarier in the Winter, when the sidewalks aren't shoveled, forcing pedestrians to walk in the road.

Layers of "improvement"

..seem to have made a terrifying hash of it.

It was sorta awful when I was a renta cop in the warehouses there in the mid 80s but just eraserhead awful, not particularly dangerous.

I was there last fall doing a photo/video look at the former csx yard and related rail stuff and walked back to Central Square on that thing.

It's as if malevolent ghosts of cows butchered when George Washington had an abattoir there laid some low curse on the strip to make it another version of Frogger for humans.

Boned either way

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If you walk down Cambridge St to get to the river paths, Cambridge, the DoubleTree, etc. from Allston, you're boned no matter which sidewalk you take. The side he died on has the entrance ramp, the other side has the exit ramp with no clear way to cross over.

Reasons for walking down the side he died on include: the bus stop 50 feet away for the 64 bus heading to Cambridge and the DoubleTree hotel.

This would be perfectly acceptable to cross IF they painted a crosswalk and put up the yellow diamond warning signs. I've walked that part of the street before. If you're already coming from Allston, you feel it's a lot of wasted time to go across Cambridge Street, especially since you'll have to cross at the exit ramp to the Pike. Over there, people are coming out of an extended turn and attempting to merge onto Cambridge Street. At least at the entrance ramp where he was struck they should be able to see you from up the street as well as have time and room to slow down because they're approaching the toll booths. However, nobody does slow down there and I've even had people speed up to try and jockey for East versus West lanes and to race each other to the toll booths after leaving the lights behind.

The eastbound 64 bus stop

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The eastbound 64 bus stop near the Doubletree is one of the worst places to wait for a bus in the MBTA system. You're balanced on a narrow island between two wide roadways.

That intersection is bad for transit riders, bad for drivers (scroll to the right and look at that massive jam on the offramp, when the other roads are totally clear), bad for pedestrians, and bad for cyclists.

Totally disagree

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I lived there for years on Hooker Street. That section of Cambridge Street is the only way to walk to:

-The riverfront paths
-Central Square
-Whole Foods/TJ's

from anywhere in Lower Allston close to Cambridge St and even from Allston Village (Ashford/Linden/Pratt/Gardner area) on the other side of the Pike. Going around to Western is over a half mile out of the way.

I'm of two minds about this - I think in general drivers get off way too easily when they kill, and in such an obviously dangerous area I think that drivers do have some extra obligation to be careful. There are plenty of bikes and pedestrians on that stretch at all times - it's not like this person was walking on the Pike itself or somewhere where they wouldn't be expected. People always treat that section of Cambridge St like their own personal racetrack and it wouldn't surprise me if the driver in this case was exceeding the posted speed limit (as almost everyone does).

But on the flip side, the intersection design is atrocious and borderline criminal. The liability really sits with the city. They can't fix that corridor fast enough - hopefully nobody else dies in the meantime.

Howdy Ex-neighbor

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I lived on Sorrento Street for about 6 years in the late 80's.

Without all the details, I'd be inclined to blame the victim (sorry.) The streets have issues, but there are enough breaks in the traffic from the lights at North Harvard St and Windom St to make it safe enough if you are paying attention.

Cambridge St IS like a mini-Mass Pike. So why would you cross the pike on foot when a car is coming?

The ramps curve around and

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The ramps curve around and bring cars to you moving so quickly that both you and they may not see each other in time. But crossing those ramps is the only way to get between the river and Allston along Cambridge Street.

So quit your victim blaming.

For the record, the city was supposed to fix these issues this summer...

Details missing...

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As I say, without the details, it's hard to tell. It sounded to me like this was at the ramp near Windom St, but if it was over the hill near the hotel, then there is no way for me to say who is at fault.

I would disagree there

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The Mass Pike entrance across from the Hess is wide. Google Maps measure (cool feature) says over 35m. Even running across that will take 10 seconds or more. If you're heading towards the river, you're doing that with your back to any oncoming cars. Cars on Cambridge St are cresting a hill with no visibility, often at over 40mph.

Add to that the fact that cars do not slow down as they enter the Pike from Cambridge St, there is no crosswalk, and there is no time in the light cycle when you aren't in danger of being hit (either Cambridge St has the green or North Harvard, no pedestrian signal, there are always cars coming). You can easily start crossing at what seems like a safe time, and realize by the time you are halfway across that it is not in fact safe. I was careful every time I crossed but there were still plenty of close calls. Luckily there is plenty of room for a driver that's paying attention to slow down/go around a pedestrian. I also ran across every single time and looked over my shoulder the whole way. That is not how people should live.

Where there's a sidewalk...

there should be an expectation of pedestrian use. Also worth noting, the ramps present similar problems for cyclists, and that is (for lack of better options) a major bike route for travel between Allston and Cambridge.

That's a really common

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That's a really common pedestrian route between Allston and Cambridge. It's also a major bike route.

A very simple design solution

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Would be to add a bike-friendly pedestrian overpass over Cambridge Street, similar to what they have over Storrow near the Esplanade. Because it feeds to/from the Pike, cars are often going extremely fast on Cambridge and drivers aren't always expecting to see pedestrians. Or for that matter, cyclists. It's a dangerous situation for everyone.

It's hideous.

I know of an attorney over there through G Plus and her crew of citizen advocate/planners have put their hearts into coming up with very thoughtful and useful traffic calming game plans for that mess.

They go to neighborhood meetings regularly and really want to see the two broken parts of Allston rejoined to the greatest extent possible.

The ped/bike overpass is one of the critical elements they are trying to get installed right at the top of the hill where people commonly walk or bike.

A woman got hit and injured there last winter.

It seems to be a typical multi jurisdiction puzzle and the officials seem to have the attention span of gnats.

Simple but expensive...

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Anyone driving down Cambridge St can figure out how much a priority the Allston neighborhood is.

The Cambridge St bridge starts falling apart... we'll just close down a lane and ignore it for what 3 years???

Same held true with discussions about sound barriers along Lincoln Street. We'll widen the westbound turnpike, but you can forget about any sound barriers. We need to do Newton first.

The entrance where the pedestrian was killed is nothing more than a sprint to getting on the Turnpike. Does it really need to be 2 lanes wide?

There's a lot of discussion and meeting about redesigning that area, but I've lived here long enough to know that whatever makes the commute easier for our western suburban "friends" will be the priority. That and whatever grand plan Harvard decides... you know like moving the turnpike for better river views on their Allston Landing properties.

Let's see if Marty can figure out that Allston/Brighton is not part of Cambridge and needs support from the City. Menino certainly couldn't.

The onramp

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I have heard that back in the 1960s there was no mass pike connection on cambridge st and drivers were a lot safer back then and did not speed as much. I really think we should go back having cambridge street be like that again.

I have a buddy that hit

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I have a buddy that hit someone similar in March.same deal not his fault. No impairment..and the guy was drugged up possibly did it on purpose..they suspended his license pending investigation and he still hasn't gotten it back..Is this legal for police to drag there get like this? Common practice? I'm sure they are not investing any more time to that case.just lost in paperwork somewhere

most likely he was punished

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most likely he was punished since he himself is not a criminal nor has a poor driving record. he would have gotten his license back right away if he was a massive jerk or gotten off the hook from a sketch lawyer if he was impaired or had a drinking problem

Let me get this straight. You

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Let me get this straight. You claim the pedestrian your friend hit may have done it on purpose, but you don't say how. I'm having difficulty imagining how a pedestrian causes the driver of a car to hit him and how being drugged up or not might be relevant. Please clarify.

Exactly.he tried to commit

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Exactly.he tried to commit friend was driving in the middle lane and he ran out and faced the car.police on the scene saw no wrong doing yet he still can't drive

You don't get around a lot

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I've seen a guy at the same intersection, twice (perhaps not the same guy, but the same intersection- Bridge Street at VFW Parkway in Dedham) running in front of cars in an attempt to get hit- probably high, drunk, or generally not in their right mind. I've also seen people start to cross streets without looking almost get hit by cars several times. Lastly, I once almost got hit by a bus while engaging in the latter behavior. I cannot explain it, but had I been 1 second quicker a city bus would have creamed me. I also once got hit by a car while running along the Southwest Corridor. I was crossing Mass Ave, and a box truck was in the left lane of the far side was good enough to stop at the crosswalk to let me by. Unfortunately, the car coming along in the right lane had her view of me blocked by said truck until the last possible moment. Scared the shit out of both of us, but we were fine.

So yes, sometimes in incidents like this the pedestrian might have the majority of the blame. I don't know what happened in this case, but I do know that it is possible.

Double threat

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I was crossing Mass Ave, and a box truck was in the left lane of the far side was good enough to stop at the crosswalk to let me by. Unfortunately, the car coming along in the right lane had her view of me blocked by said truck until the last possible moment. Scared the shit out of both of us, but we were fine.

This is a classic example of a "double threat" situation. According to Massachusetts law, at an unsignalized crosswalk, it is not legal for a car to pass another car that is stopped to let a pedestrian cross. Therefore, the driver of the car that hit you is at fault. Plain and simple. Don't blame yourself.

Yes, I'm aware that she might not be able to see you, but the law is very clear on this point. She is at fault.

The lesson here for drivers is this: when you come to an unsignalized crosswalk, always be ready to stop. If you cannot see the entire crosswalk clearly then you need to slow down. If you see another car stopped at the crosswalk, consider that they may be stopped for a pedestrian, and that they are not stopped just to piss you off, causing you go into a road rage and gun it while you pass them. Don't do that.

It's got a signal now

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My guess is that the driver thought there was a left lane backup for either St. Botolph or Huntington.

The signal should have helped, except for that poor guy the ex-cop hit. As far as my thing went, no harm no foul.

Wrongful death lawsuit

Would the man's heirs have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit based on the poor design? Would it focus the states "mind" to loose a few suits? I've thought the state might be more willing to propose good designs so as to avoid lawsuits.


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A wrongful death lawsuit,really!? His/her family should pursue this, with all their savings, time and energy, only to find that personal negligence/common sense was the major issue. Its thinking like this that embodies the moniker Taxachusetts/not a place to make a life!

IIRC from the public meeting,

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MassDOT was supposed to restripe Cambridge St and but up bollards to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists at the "start of the summer".

Meanwhile we're halfway through July and someone's dead.