In Somerville, undercover cops walk in crosswalks to catch Massholes

This site has video of a Somerville cop who just walks back and forth in a crosswalk, signaling drivers who don't stop for him to a uniformed cop in a nearby cruiser, who then pulls the Massholes over and issues them citations. For some reason, the site thinks trying to keep drivers from plowing into pedestrians who have the right of way is wrong.

Via Matt Karolian.

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Cops do the same thing on Dot Ave

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I have mixed feelings. Sometimes a pedestrian (or undercover cop pedestrian) steps into the crosswalk and it's not safe for the driver to slam on the brakes. On the other hand this video shows several cars and trucks totally ignoring a man trying to cross. And the cop car speeding through the intersection while the cop pedestrian is still crossing is violating the law too.
On Dot Ave near Fields Corner, they have another cop ready down the street a bit and a cop steps out and stops you after you are targeted.

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No evidence of entrapment in this video

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The undercover cop clearly waits a couple of times when it would be unsafe for the car to stop. The police only go after a car that blatantly violated the crosswalk (and then only one of several seen doing so). I also suspect rules are different for police vehicles when running with lights and sirens. Besides, I'm willing to bet that the undercover was in communication with his colleagues and knew to get out of the way if necessary. ;)

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Straight out of

.central casting.

I didn't know this version of masshole was still in production.

It was as if I was teleported back to the Paddock, circa 86 with a bunch of junior torpedoes pounding bar bottle buds.

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I believe he severely injured

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I believe he severely injured his hand from all the pearl clutching he did. Full recovery might not be possible. Keep him in your prayers.

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Why do it this way?

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Why don't the police just go to a busy intersection where there are actual pedestrians, and where they can do the most good without making people feel like they are being set up?

If cars ignore the crosswalk, then ticket them. Enforce the law in the places it needs better enforcement. Making a "trap" out of it just pisses people off, and doesn't do any better a job of making people safe, while needing more officers to do the same job.

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Because usually people don't

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Because usually people don't break the law in plain view of the police. Lawbreakers are sneaky that way. Yes, un marked cars might work, if the police didn't insist upon using only navy blue Crown Vics with a half dozen radio antennas on the roof. And for what it's worth, I don't think the video shows revenue fishing. They let several cars go that could have been cited, instead going after only one egregious violator.

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This crosswalk in particular is a problem

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I think it's very much needed at this particular crosswalk. I live nearby and I can assure you that in this area, cars are much better behaved at busy intersections with lots of pedestrians. This particular crosswalk is quite dangerous as the road is especially wide, car traffic routinely speeds through here, and drivers routinely fail to yield to pedestrians trying to cross.

Worse, there is no better alternative for pedestrians here. The next closest opportunity to cross is at a multi-stage crossing, and it adds about 1/4 mile to your journey. The next closest after that is an easy crossing, but it adds almost 1/2 mile to your trip. So, although this crosswalk isn't very heavily used, it is very important to the people that do use it.

My guess here is that the police department has received specific complains about this crosswalk from people who were tired of almost getting killed while trying to cross the street here.

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GLX

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Just wait for the GLX to be built. This crosswalk will be VERY busy having people cross Washington Street from the neighborhood on the opposite side where Washington Street Station will be.

And I second this.. this cross walk is the easiest way to avoid the whole McGrath/Washington/Elevated Mess that is a 1/4 block away.

writing tickets with a lot of other people standing by

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doesn't always go well. sometimes the cops are better off doing this in a less crowded spot, usually a busy neighborhood intersection where people have been hit by cars previously. nothing like writing tickets in downtown Boston with 200 people standing around ready to give their opinion while you're trying to increase safety.

got a warning for running through one of these stings in Brighton several years ago and it has definitely made me more aware of crosswalks and whether or not people are standing in them.

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somerville crosswalks

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They are there to protect pedestrians. My experience has been that they are a very professional departement

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We can only hope

Hopefully, "very professional department" means that they will very soon start properly training their officers on the laws governing cycling in the Commonwealth.

Note that it isn't very professional to pull over a cyclist for leaving the bike lane and passing an illegally parked/stopped car that was blocking it, lecture him on how "the same laws apply to cars and cyclists", and then hand him a $20 ticket for "passing on the left" (exact ticket wording!) and citing a state law on the ticket that says very specifically that such passing is, indeed, legal when it does not involve crossing a double yellow line (he pulled into the empty left-hand traffic lane to pass the illegally operating motor vehicles).

It doesn't matter if the car is illegally parked.

You can't pass/change lanes if it isn't safe, it doesn't matter If there are any lines, lanes, or bike lanes there.

And many judges actually like and ask cops to put specific wording on citations, especially if the statute/bylaw doesn't specifically mention the actual violation, but case law does. You find this a lot with Ch. 89 s.4A, which doesn't have a title, but encompasses dozens of lane violations, including unsafe passing on the left or right.

Nope

Not the case. Car pulled over in front of him to illegally use the bike lane as a drop off. He changed lanes to get around it, and was cited for "passing on the left". There was plenty of room, and no impeding other vehicles, no crossing the yellow line.

The wording on the citation was "passing on the left" because Officer Fool thought the law that says that cyclists are allowed to pass on the right meant that cyclists are ONLY allowed to pass on the right in the bike lane and not use the travel lane.

The cop was untrained and ignorant. End of story. We are handling it through the city and the Mayor's office so that the officer and his brethren are properly trained and the problem of ignorant police officers is solved.

Sounds ignorant the way you explain it.

I'd like to see the chapter and section the officer used, and what happened during the appeal process and what the officer said during that process. Complaining to the mayor/chief about traffic tickets that Rent appealed never go anywhere.

Another spot in Back Bay is

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Another spot in Back Bay is the Clusterfuck at Dalton and Belvidere by the Sheraton. There are always busses blocking sight lines and drivers treat this as a speedway. Plus, the intersection itself is confusing already.

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Newtonians

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I wish Newton PD would do it, oh, anywhere.

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Walnut @ Austin Street in Newtonville

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Sad thing is when the police have one car pulled over for doing it a dozen or more cars continue to do so right in front of them!

Don't Walk signals

Are regularly ignored by pedestrians with ZERO enforcement efforts by police. Also consider it takes very little to kill a 90 year old. Even a bicyclist or another pedestrian can do it. They just have to fall down and hit their head on the pavement, curb, or sidewalk. Many more falls in homes, hospitals, and nursing homes kill 90 year olds than on the street.

Wow, Mark

This is a new low in victim-blaming, even for Mark Kaepplein.

Also consider it takes very little to kill a 90 year old.

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Just sayin 90 yo's are fragile

Very fragile, such that home falls are a big killer of them. Want to be anti-home now?

Hey Scratchie, while scratching your ass, if you happen to find some balls, post under your real name.

Go away

Your comments range from unhelpful to disgusting -- and that's on good days.

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Very fragile, such that home

Very fragile, such that home falls are a big killer of them. Want to be anti-home now?

So what? So it's OK to kill them in the street? Seriously, what, exactly, is your point? The truck just nudged her and it's not the driver's fault that she died? It would have been OK if it had been a younger person and they just gotten some broken limbs or a fractured skull?

I was wrong

I wrote "90 year olds are easy to kill" when I should have written "90 year olds die easily". Now, unbunch your panties.

You know what is much easier?

Requiring drivers to look before they turn, and hold them responsible for the consequences of their failure to yield.

It is really very easy to not kill a 90 year old with a motor vehicle - obey the laws and don't hit her!

200+ comments

Crosswalk enforcement is the new bikes/space saving/hipsters.

I'm glad they're enforcing the law regarding crosswalks, because too many people are complete assholes to pedestrians half way out in the street. I don't see anything questionable here, as it seems that nobody was being unfairly ticketed (ie: the driver ticketed had ample time to react, etc).

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I'm not following you

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I mean, except for the guy from West Roxbury, everyone thinks the cops are doing a great job in doing this, with the minority thinking it should be done more often. If not for those comments, there'd be next to nothing here.

I suppose that in the end, we're all walkers to some extent. Now, were I to talk about some things I do while on 2 feet, hot debate would begin. So I won't.

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I could edit my reply

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But I'm going to keep it.

I didn't factor Markk chiming in. So, if you discount his posts and the various reactions to his posts, it is still noncontroversial.

Still, the git must be a pedestrian at some point, right? Right?

If it is such a terrible crosswalk area: move it.

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I didn't see anything wrong with them doing this. I was in a crosswalk just last week in Boston and three cars drove AROUND me while I was in the crosswalk.
People don't pay attention and if this is one way they can remind the general public, so be it.
Contrarily, if the crosswalk is in too bad a place, they should move it.

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They should move it?

To a place with no cars? Maybe a place with no pedestrians?

I used to have a crosswalk in front of my house. Good sight lines in both directions. Lots of families with children using the Xwalk. Maybe 15% of drivers would stop, at best. Often people had to just stand at the curb until all the cars went by. They did move the crosswalk, after some new sidewalks were put in. I can't see it from my house any more, but I seriously doubt that drivers respect it any more than the old one.

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When I lived in the South End

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When I lived in the South End there was a crosswalk on Columbus Street like you describe. NOBODY would stop, it was like the lines didn't matter or drivers didn't understand what they meant. Some drivers would angrily accelerate at you, or worse honk at you to get out of the way, it was crazy.

Driving around is legal

Drivers and bicyclists only have to yield to pedestrians, allowing for going around them. I wonder if Somerville cops ticketed any bicyclists for failing to stop.

I don't know the location, but it looks to be near a traffic signal because traffic in the lower side of the video came in a flow after a pause. It looks like the cop timed his crossing to be the most annoying and pollution causing possible. He didn't try to cross when the traffic light was red providing him a gap in traffic, but waited for the light to turn green and make the stream of traffic stop again right away. Pretty obnoxious, not what most pedestrians would do, and bad for the environment.

Just fucking stop

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So, the cop was wrong to enforce traffic violations by using a crosswalk trap because...pollution? Pollution?? You don't realize how dumb you sound when you say this crap do you? I don't actually think you troll here. I think you actually believe that you've found a righteous justification for why drivers uber alles.

Get bent, man.

Also, consider this a test of these drivers' ability to follow the rules of the road. Those rules state that you have to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks that aren't at traffic signals if they're on your half of the road or within 10 feet of you if you were to drive into the crosswalk.

MGL 89, Ch. 11:

When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk marked in accordance with standards established by the department of highways if the pedestrian is on that half of the traveled part of the way on which the vehicle is traveling or if the pedestrian approaches from the opposite half of the traveled part of the way to within 10 feet of that half of the traveled part of the way on which said vehicle is traveling.

If you can't follow this law when it's a cop in the intersection, then you probably can't follow it correctly when it's not a cop and there's nobody to make you follow it. Cops can trap all day long for speed, for crosswalks, for red lights as a test of your ability to drive correctly or get a ticket. In the grand scheme of driving around Boston, stopping for crosswalks costs you zero time because of the next signal/merge/backup that you were headed towards anyways not being able to let you through the 15 seconds earlier you would have arrived by not stopping correctly.

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You should hear bicyclists

and their sanctimonious bullshit about saving the planet by not driving and how bicycles are the salvation of the world. Sorry, but the pollution argument isn't a one-way street.

Pedestrians can do their part to save the planet by being courteous to drivers who share the road with them and try to not inconvenience 5, 10, or 20 people who would have to stop for them because they didn't want to wait another 20 seconds for a clearing. This is how I cross the street. I don't push the walk button unless traffic is so heavy I can't get a gap. Otherwise, why inconvenience 10+ people with a walk cycle and extra CO2 production?

If people are on foot, waiting 20 seconds for a walk signal or traffic clearing is very little time in order to not be selfish. If I were in a hurry to get somewhere an appreciable distance away, walking usually isn't people's first choice. If people have the time to walk, 20 seconds isn't much. The cop was clearly an asshole, deliberately timing his crossing to be rude and inconsiderate to all other road users so that they have to stop for him. Surprisingly, it was a white guy.

Read the law closely, "slowing down or stopping IF NEED BE so to yield". That doesn't mean always stopping. Count how many cyclists stop at crosswalks occupied by a pedestrian and not, and get back to us, please. Any one of them can easily kill a 90 year old.

Go away

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Sorry, but the pollution argument isn't a one-way street.

No but its a pretty stupid argument.

I'll chime in like everyone else has done. Go the fuck away Mark, you're comments are.. nuttier than mine. You aren't winning any friends here, so why don't you put your tail between your legs and walk away from the computer. Go out and get some sun. Seriously, you aren't winning here, so why don't you throw in the towel and realize your argument just won't work.

Re-writing your useless replies get you NO WHERE. Make a note of it. Hell, even I know when to walk away (and do so often on here)

Counterpoint

Do you [edit] like a homogeneous mutual admiration and masturbation society? Ever seen a debate club where everyone takes one side? That seems to be what you are asking for.

What you lack is prospective from multiple angles to better understand problems.

Reducing vehicle pollution with fewer stops and less idling is valid. It was used in the 1970's gas crisis to allow right on red, thus reducing fuel waste (and excess greenhouse gas production). Its the secondary reason why trains have the right of way - one stop& start for them uses as much fuel as traveling 100 miles. Ask bicyclists why they don't stop at red lights and stop signs - its to conserve energy. Its simple physics that you seem to have missed out on.

junk science

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Because its based on junk science. I know ALL about physics, my friend, and I know all about dwell and pollution levels. Your whole argument is all based on junk science.

But thanks for trying!

And as far as your difference of opinion.. there's a fine line to arguing a point home and just coming across as an idiot. Any good debater will know the difference and understand when to walk away because you won't win. Walk away Mark. The smarter man always does.

I don't think you actually walk anywhere

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If you did then you'd know that pushing the button doesn't give you a walk signal straight away but rather just tells the controller to display a walk sign the next time the cycle gets around to you. Which could easily be another 80-90 seconds or more. At least, that's how it works at almost every intersection in Boston (and most other towns too).

And in Boston, walking is often the best way to get somewhere.

Keep diggin MK.

I do walk

I enjoy living just a few blocks from Arlington center, Spy Pond, the Minuteman Community Path, and dozens of stores and restaurants. The nearest walk button to me sets a scramble phase (all directions red for vehicles, green for all pedestrians), an inconvenience for drivers not even in conflict.

Cambridge has a growing number of signals that quickly turn red for drivers so pedestrians get walk. Its a problem especially around Fresh Pond Circle where idiots put two lanes of Concord Ave entering the circle and only one leaving it! Joggers, dog walkers, and others cross into the park with the crosswalk green activating too frequently. The crosswalk on Concord Ave (Belmont side) is too close to the rotary so when traffic gets a red, the rotary gets backed up with Concord Ave exiting traffic and everything locks up. Its gotten worse with the construction of two new apartment complexes. When finished and occupied, Cambridge Planners will have created yet another disaster.

The Cambridge Disaster

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Cambridge Planners will have created yet another disaster.

Yes... those rascally Cantabrigians. What a disaster that city is. Nobody likes it. That's why it's so cheap to live there!

Not sure why the Cambridge hate by driving addicts

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I drive into Cambridge fairly regularly. I never have any problem finding a parking spot within easy walking distance of my destination. Once parked, I have no problem getting around the area where I plan to shop, pick up kids, eat, etc.

What's the problem with how they have configured the city for human movement for the purposes of those who pay taxes there? Even as a driver, I have no issues. Then again, Cambridge is my destination - not some traffic sewer that I feel entitled to blast through at high speed, damn the people who live there!

Use I-93, Memorial or Storrow Drive, or 128 if you have that mentality.

Washington Street at Tufts Street

near Buddy's Diner. To really make this safe, the city should probably install a short median barrier at the crosswalk, and generally narrow Washington Street a bit.

Taking down the McGrath overpass, while desirable, won't really affect this intersection.

At least two of the crazy 'f

At least two of the crazy 'f the police' people in the comments on that site were friends of mine on facebook, suffice to say, not anymore. Also love how the comments show the place of work. Count all the "unemployed" and high school/community college students there are raging about this.

I'm profoundly uncomfortable

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I'm profoundly uncomfortable with "real name" based comment sections even for perfectly banal subjects, so it's weird that a website which explicitly takes an adversarial attitude towards existing society would go with Facebook.

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I have experience to the contrary!

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How about the time I was crossing Broadway at Trum Field and somebody almost took me out running through the stop sign. Sitting at the crosswalk was a Somerville cop in his car who just looked at me like I was the one breaking the law.

Am I the only one who doubts this is a long term plan?

At the light at Cedar?

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Because then you might have been if you didn't push the button to request the walk signal.

At the other end of the field is an non-signal crossing where they have to stop and you'd be in the right to walk out in front of them and complain if they don't stop.

There's the crosswalk right

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There's the crosswalk right across from the field next to Woody's Liquor with the nice YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS sign right in the middle of the road. I live right on Broadway there, so please don't try to act like you know the intersection more than I do.

Also, since when is a stop sign necessary at a crosswalk?

I see it from both sides, as

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I see it from both sides, as a driver and a pedestrian. Sometimes people don't stop for me, and it sucks.
Far more often I see unsafe pedestrian behavior - walking without looking, walking on green, jaywalking, stepping into crosswalks when it's unsafe (due to cars not being able to stop in time).

If there's traffic coming and you want to cross, it's always safest to let them pass and wait for a break in the action. Remember, it takes then a split-second to pass the crosswalk, and it takes even young, fit people 5-10 seconds to cross. Most of the time, some nice person will stop and wave you along, and you won't have to worry about whether the approaching vehicle sees you or not.

I'm not saying the police should be there with stings to catch jaywalkers instead, but when someone is blatantly breaking the law in front of police, they should at least be stopped and given a warning. Since police started educating (and yes, sometimes ticketing) cyclists, I've noticed safer riding habits around town.

Bullshit from both sides

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Far more often I see unsafe pedestrian behavior - walking without looking, walking on green, jaywalking, stepping into crosswalks when it's unsafe (due to cars not being able to stop in time).

Bullshit. Drivers break the law almost constantly. When was the last time you didn't drive 5+ mph over the speed limit? Probably never. And if you did drive the speed limit or less, then the person behind you was likely laying on the horn.

You may think that the pedestrians are acting unsafely but in reality they are quite well aware of what they are doing. After all, they have the most at stake.

Your attempt to blame the pedestrians is just you passing judgement on people you think are stupid because they are not in a car. I see this attitude quite commonly from drivers.

"Oh, the pedestrian didn't look, he must be irresponsible!"

Actually, most people are quite capable of peripheral vision and a normal adult can judge a car's direction and velocity without looking directly at it. Or, you may have not even noticed them quickly turn their head.

In fact, personally, I try to be discreet about looking because I WANT drivers to think I'm crazy enough to step out in front of their car without looking. Sometimes, that's the only way to get Massholes to stop and respect your rights in a crosswalk.

If there's traffic coming and you want to cross, it's always safest to let them pass and wait for a break in the action. Remember, it takes then a split-second to pass the crosswalk, and it takes even young, fit people 5-10 seconds to cross. Most of the time, some nice person will stop and wave you along, and you won't have to worry about whether the approaching vehicle sees you or not.

More bullshit. Pedestrians have the right of way in an unsignalized crosswalk, guaranteed by law. They do not "have to let them pass and wait for a break in the action." The very first car that is capable of stopping in time to let the pedestrian cross MUST DO SO.

It does not take "a split second" for a car to pass the crosswalk when there's a line of 5-10 or even more cars right behind that one, each one of them unwilling to yield the right of way.

I see it every day: oftentimes I am the ONLY PERSON who stops for the pedestrian in a crosswalk. And I'm on a bike. The other day I shamed a bus driver into stopping with me at the crosswalk. He was just going to plow right through while a family waited and waited while all the cars in front of us kept going. Really sickening.

I'm not saying the police should be there with stings to catch jaywalkers instead, but when someone is blatantly breaking the law in front of police, they should at least be stopped and given a warning

And I say that the people with the most power should be held to the highest standards. That means people who wield the weapons with the ability to easily kill should be regulated more closely. Pedestrians cannot kill; drivers can. Case closed.

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