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Fatal intersection re-paved and now re-striped

New lane markings at Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street in the Back Bay

Penny Cherubino at BostonZest shows us the newly re-striped intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street this morning.

Electronic signboards now warn motorists to "BE ALERT FOR CYCLISTS."

The intersection is where Anita Kurmann was struck and killed by a semi while bicycling earlier this month.

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Comments

It looks great so far, but there's still a bit more work to come. One of the most welcome improvements will be moving the "inbound" MBTA bus stop that sits on the corner of Mass Ave and Beacon (the stop for buses coming across the bridge from Cambridge). It'll be moved across Beacon Street, closer to Marlborough Street.

Right now, buses have to block the bike lane to pick up/drop off, which is causing some issues. It'll be good to see that addressed soon.

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Is that actually a bike lane? I always thought it was just a T stop that motorists also use to turn right, and there's been a bike lane symbol painted in the "middle" lane for quite some time.

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That's how it was. Now it will be a bike lane all the way to the intersection at Beacon, and the bus stop will be farther south. Unfortunately, the bike lane doesn't go PAST Beacon heading south on Mass Ave....

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As I've argued at length, Mass Ave is given over to cars, even though they are a minority of users on the street (not vehicles, users; or for the mathematically inclined: car occupants/(car occupants+bus passengers+cyclists+pedestrians) =<50%), yet the majority of the street is set off for cars. Bike lanes and bus lanes would make so. much. sense from Cambridge to the South End.

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I agree that it will never happen.

Bike lanes and bus lanes would make so. much. sense from Cambridge to the South End.

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When they first put bike lanes on Mass Ave, they marked the third lane (where the bus also stops) as right turn only with arrows and sharrows for through bicyclists in the center of that lane. (The bus would also stop there and temporarily block the lane.)

Then, when they repaved that small stretch in the last year or so, they left the third lane unmarked and put a few sharrows in the middle lane, which in my opinion is worse than what they had there before, since many people no longer used the right lane to turn right, turning right from the middle lane instead.

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But we still don't know the name of the driver or company involved in the incident.

I've yet to see any change in BPD presence along the major bike corridors (ie. still none at all) and the Mayor's Office hasn't said much of anything, now 3 weeks out from the incident.

Its almost like they want to just put some fresh paint on the road and slowly start forgetting about it, until the next cyclist is hit of course.

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I doubt the driver even gets a ticket. Apparently claiming ignorance works for drivers who kill cyclists and pedestrians and drive off. Anyone who drives a huge vehicle with large blind spots into a crowded city should face the repercussions when they crush someone to death.

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Lock that driver up for life!

How dare he operate a vehicle, on a road, in a city, and miss a single blip or bump*.

* I'm certainly not calling any person a blip or bump, but rather trying to imagine how a big-rig driver must feel.

I am curious to see the full report before rendering any further judgement about the driver or cyclist.

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Trucks need to move, move far, and move fast.

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we have no information whether the truck driver in this horrific accident is at fault. And again I say, if a cyclist, a motorcycle or a car is in the truck driver's blind spot, the truck driver can't see you (that is why it is called a blind spot as the bumper stickers on many large vehicles attest to).

Here is an excellent tutorial for you and your friends:

http://www.wikihow.com/Stay-Out-of-a-Truck%27s-Blind-Spots

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The victim blaming in your post isn't as subtle as you might imagine.

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it is difficult to read the bumper sticker on the rear of said truck, as was the case in this latest tragic crash. Trucks shouldn't be allowed to execute a right turn across multiple lanes of traffic in the city without a flagger. It's wreckless.

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Intersection and see a tractor-trailer positioning to make a right turn, which normally entails encroaching onto multiple lanes, why would you even think about passing them on the right?

MGL 90:14 is idiotic and needs to be repealed. If you can't pay attention to what's happening in front of you, then perhaps you shouldn't be on the road, be it by bike or car.

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1. The cyclist was probably not paying enough attention to the truck. (No, cyclists, I'm not victim blaming here: the cyclist was probably paying attention to the bus stop, the horrid pavement and merging traffic going right.) One of the good things about the new lane is that cyclists won't have as many things to worry about. If you haven't cycled in the city (Markk, that's you!), you have to be aware of a lot of things; more than driving (pavement quality, pedestrians not looking for bikes, nails/gravel, etc). Riding a bike makes you a better driver.

2. On the other hand, I call BS on the whole "the truck drive didn't see the cyclist" argument. At the point of impact this may have been the case. However, the cyclist was likely moving across the bridge at 12-16 mph, and the truck at 30-35. So at some point on the bridge, given the time of day (7:05 a.m., little if any traffic) the truck passed the cyclist. For the driver to not have the situational awareness that the cyclist would be coming up along the right side of the road is inexcusable. He should have been extra careful about checking his blind spots and making a turn slowly knowing a cyclist would be passing on his right. If you want to get in to statute, read MGL 90.14: "No person operating a vehicle that overtakes and passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction shall make a right turn at an intersection or driveway unless the turn can be made at a safe distance from the bicyclist at a speed that is reasonable and proper." Blatant violation, there's no clause in there about "… unless they were in your blind spot." Come on.

Think about it this way. You're driving out the Pike on a sunny weekend morning (let's imagine it's one of those special weekends without gridlocked traffic) in the center lane. As you pass an entrance ramp, you see a Corvette accelerating to merge in to the highway traffic at about 50 mph, but going faster as they approach the mainline. (You're a good Masshole, so you're doing about 78.) You are behind a slower moving vehicle (with out of state plates, natch) and pass in the left lane. After the pass do you immediately move back in to the center lane without checking your mirror and blind spot? No, because you realize that the accelerating 'Vette is likely to pass the other car on the right and might try to make the same move that you are, so you look out for it, even though it might be in your blind spot.

That's basically what the truck driver didn't do.

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Riding a bike makes you a better driver

This is absolutely correct. I say this as a driver (with a sparkling clean record of over 20 years in multiple states) and a cyclist (now occasional - I used to get out more often).

I was always really vigilant when driving, but after being out of the "cage" for over a decade, my anticipation and other skills have been enhanced.

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I don't think you're watching closely enough if you're saying the mayor's office hasn't said much. They expedited this project specifically as a response to the accident.
http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2015/08/walsh_ex...

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We have to take a good look at that intersection to see what we can do in the short term to improve it. Ultimately, it's going to be a long-term fix,' Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Like I said, they haven't said much of anything, except this short bit that I've so far seen broadcasted by the Herald and WCVB. No press conference. No press release. Great about expediting but honestly, make some noise about it too so people know?

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It's unrealistic to think that this type of event warrants a press conference. That's not how city government works. What you want is for the city to get to work. Here's just a sampling of what's happened lately where the city was involved:
--Boston police Captain John Danilecki addressed the crowd at the memorial/ghost bike installation held for the cyclist on 8/20, noting some of the work being done by the city, saying there's more to be done, and encouraging cyclists to be vocal about what other changes are needed. This was covered by the Globe.

-The Globe just yesterday published an article detailing improvements to the intersection.

-City officials also talked with WBUR in an extensive article about the improvements.

Again, if you think the city is being silent on this -- or has been silent since the accident -- you're incorrect.

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Exactly, and I've been wanting them to "get to work" for several years. All they do is talk, the fixes to this intersection being the only real action taken.

2 cyclists have been killed along the Comm. Ave. corridor that I ride daily and nothing has been changed to the situation there. Nothing. No police, the bike lanes are blocked everyday and we get treated as obstacles for cars.

In the few weeks since this incident, I've seen zero BPD along the Comm. Ave corridor. I have seen BUPD drive by and ignore blocked lanes. So if the city is talking about making changes, I'm not seeing it, beyond the fresh paint and paving they expedited at Mass/Beacon.

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At minimum, this should be every major intersection in the city striped like this. The fact that it took a fatal tragedy to get basic road painting done does not bode well.

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NYC has been striping "the box" for years (maybe even decades) to prevent gridlock. It's not a common sight in Boston - maybe we were trying to conserve paint?

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maybe we were trying to conserve paint?

No, Boston, just doesn't give a fuck. It doesn't make any difference to put down paint if nobody is going to write tickets.

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It doesn't make any difference to put down paint if nobody is going to write tickets.

Exactly. This is why traffic in Boston is a free-for-all. There is no enforcement of traffic laws so people feel free to ignore them. You'll have meter maids on you in a heartbeat for the slightest parking infraction. But speeding, blowing through crosswalks, blocking intersections... No problem!

BPD should be citing people for this stuff. I've seen them camp a no left turn sign before but their time would be better spent citing dangerous drivers.

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Its the state law in Massachusetts that cyclists don't have to pay any tickets for violating traffic laws. And yet, some still manage to obey them. So, letting people know what to (not) do on the road does accomplish something in that some will take the guidance.

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Every other year or so they target the Longwood Medical Area for this and will have cops at the intersections of Huntington writing tickets to people who block the box. It gets better for a couple days. Then it goes back to the same old Charlie Foxtrot.

I really wish they would enforce this more often, especially Huntington and Ruggles. That intersection is a mess.

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NYC has been preventing gridlock by giving out fines and points for blocking the box. Don't hold your breath if you're waiting to see that happen in Boston.

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They do it on occasion. But it never makes a lasting effect. I saw them do it for a week or so on the Greenway, in that little bit where Seaport Blvd turns into Oliver Street.

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Block the box in NYC? It's a hefty fine AND points on your license. Block the box in Boston? Maybe you get honked at. That's it.

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I've found you're actually more likely to get honked at for NOT blocking the box.

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I was once in a limo where the last 2 feet did not clear the box, and the driver got a ticket on the spot. I was impressed!

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The painting is great IF the police enforce the law here (and all over the city) and ticket people who block the intersection, block the crosswalks and drive in the bike lane as well as the speeding. They don't now for some reason (they seem to pick and choose which laws they agree with to enforce).

Also, all intersections in Boston should be no right on red as they are finally proposing for this one.

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They don't now for some reason

The reason is that they don't give a fuck. Hope this helps.

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You must be new here. Professional drivers think nothing of getting tickets -- they just chalk it up to the cost of doing business in the city and pass the costs to the consumer. Have you heard of FedEx and Sysco? Double-parked in bike lanes, at bus stops and in travel lanes all of the time. Welcome to the city!

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going straight. If motorists are allowed to turn right, cyclists would have to stop or get right hooked.

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If motorists are allowed to turn right, cyclists would have to stop or get right hooked.

Like Anita Kurmann?

You are a waste of skin, MarKKK.

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I never claimed she was running a red light.
Here is the image:
http://www.universalhub.com/crime/20150807/bicyclist-killed-back-bay-hit...

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This is a VERY high pedestrian environment. It's a crying shame that DCR doesn't have EVERY SINGLE INTERSECTION they own as No Right on Red. Most intersections in Cambridge are signed NROR and yet somehow the city doesn't devolve into gridlock. This should be SOP for intersections in Boston: every light should have NROR signage and we should remove it on a case-by-case basis.

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Traffic congestion in Cambridge is horrible! By MIT on Mass. Ave., Central Sq., Kendall Sq., Inman Sq., Harvard Sq. -- all of the pollution from the stop and go traffic from the overly numerous traffic signals makes it so nasty to breathe that I've pretty much given up walking around for any length of time in Cambridge during the summer.

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Bicyclists should not be running red lights. If you don't follow the traffic laws, then no one can really anticipate what you will do. In that case, it really is your fault if you get hit.

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Because right turn on red encourages drivers to turn across the path of bicyclists to their right who are filtering forward up to the intersection. It also endangers bicyclists proceeding straight ahead on the cross street because the driver turning right on red might not be able to see them until they are already in the intersection.

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From the Harvard Crimson, as right on red was about to become legal:

When it becomes legal to make a right turn on a red light this January 1, the law will not apply to 90 per cent of the state's intersections.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Works will spend approximately $358,000 to place "No Right Hand Turn on Red Light" signs at intersections, a source said yesterday.

Ninety-six per cent of Boston's intersections will need signs, Robert Drummond, an official in the Boston Traffic Department, estimated. An employee at the Cambridge Traffic Department said Cambridge would need signs for over 90 per cent of its intersections.

Drummond said right turns will not be legal on a red light where there is an exclusive pedestrian cross-walk, or where large numbers of pedestrians are normally present.

Didn't quite work out like that, did it?

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in the first place almost forty years ago. When RTOR (Right Turn On Red) was introduced as a Federal standard about 1976 or so, the original Massachusetts RTOR law was written such that drivers could make a RTOR maneuver ONLY where a sign was posted (similar to the current MUTCD standard for red right turn arrows). As a result, very few intersections were signed as such.

Of course, the Feds came along and chastised Massachusetts for not adopting the national standard of allowing RTOR unless a "No Turn On Red" sign is posted. The law was changed to be consistent with the Federal standard, and the 'No Turn On Red (NTOR)" fairy magically appeared and festooned nearly every intersection in the state with NTOR signs.

Note that the MUTCD and UVC RTOR standards allow for RTOR (without a No Turn On Red - NTOR - sign) where the red signal is a full "ball" indication - if the red signal is a red arrow indication, both the MUTCD and the UVC state that RTOR is supposed to automatically prohibited UNLESS there is a sign permitting it. And, of course, Massachusetts RTOR law only specifies a 'red indication', and does not distinguish between a ball and an arrow. Not only does this obvious conflict unnecessarily confuse drivers, but it creates yet another loophole that defense lawyers can use to absolve drivers who are involved in crashes.

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It looks like the protected bike lane will be to the right of traffic. If I'm riding my bike straight through this intersection, which I do 5 evenings / week, I'm going to be reticent about being to the right of traffic, since so many cars are turning right.

I'll be interested to see how this plays out, but am skeptical.

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I ride through this intersection on my way to work every day. I saw the bike lane to the right of the right turn lane and immediately thought "WTF? This is a right-hook collision waiting to happen. Who thought this up?"

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here's your clearly marked right-hook lane! step right up!

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What they need is a no right turn for motor vehicles without a right arrow light, and lights for the bike lane a la Europe for going straight when there is no right arrow for motor vehicles.

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no right turn for motor vehicles without a right arrow light

Because Boston drivers will *definitely* respect that!

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I have found myself in the second-to-leftmost-lane (4 lanes, two left-turn only, one straight, one right), waiting to turn left, and been hit BY THE GUY ON MY LEFT who thought it was a good idea to go straight. By my calculation, he would have needed to ignore 3 signs, an arrow stoplight, and the giant letters on the ground showing a prominent "Left Turn Only." Signs ain't gonna cut it if there's no police enforcement.

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Will just be another excuse for car and truck drivers to yell at you when you do the proper thing - take the lane when going straight to be left of right turning vehicles.

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But it will be a boon for the cab and delivery truck driver demographic, so we've got that going for us.

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What is the solution? There is none.

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Here's what you have to worry about now:

People turning right from the right lane.
People turning right who forget and swerve in to the right lane.
Buses stopping.
Trucks making wide rights from the left lane.
Terrible pavement that will throw you in to traffic if you're not careful.
Splitting the right and center lanes, if you even can, to go straight and stay on the left of the traffic.

Here's what you will have to worry about once the flexiposts have been installed (this is happening soon):

People turning right from the right lane (assuming the posts go to the crosswalk, they'll have to do so more slowly than they do today).
Buses pulling in to the stop beyond the intersection.

I'd much rather have to worry about two distractions than six.

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And there was a beer delivery truck on the south side of Mass right after Beacon, blocking the bike lane and half the right hand travel lane. I was in a car, and I almost got crushed by the truck behind me as I swung around the beer truck.

I don't think that this one is quite figured out yet.

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This intersection is on my commute, and it is a rare morning when there *isn't* a delivery truck parked in the bike lane exactly where you describe.

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Seems like that would be an easy ticket to write every morning then, if the city gave a damn

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But the city doesn't give a damn, and nobody gets ticketed, and if they did the drivers wouldn't care because they don't pay 'em.

I'd really love to take all that shiny new paint and apply it to the windshields of the double-parked trucks.

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How will the businesses around there get their deliveries?

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Dedicated loading zones and the public alley system which was designed for deliveries!

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Smaller (city-appropriate) trucks, non-rush hours delivery would be a good start.

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Lots of traffic issues would be relatively easy to fix if the city gave a flying fuck.

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If they wanted easy tickets like that, there are plenty to be had. For example, in front of the Intercontinental down by the greenway - usually one or two "professional" drivers (uber/black car/valet?) blocking both the bike lane and a fire hydrant, under a sign that says "no stopping anytime"

Also, around 4PM everyday in front of "Cheers" by the public garden, there is a lineup of 4 or 5 cars double parked.

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In front of Hotel Commonwealth in the bike lane. Every day, all times of day - valets, cabs, double-parked guest vehicles, groups of guests standing, luggage.

On Sunday, a car was stopped on Kenmore St entirely blocking the crosswalk/ramp. The driver got out, went over to the valet and said "My car's there." The valet said "that's fine, leave it there." I stepped in between and said "Well, he's entirely blocking the crosswalk and ramp and endangering pedestrians." As you can imagine, I got dirty looks and not much else.

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IMAGE(http://a.abcnews.com/images/US/HT_lakemaid_beer_drone_delivery_sk_140131_16x9_992.jpg)

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Should of did some color coding if you ask me. In some areas I've seen a green bike lane and a blue cross on some intersections with "DO NOT BLOCK" written across. What happen here?

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IMAGE(http://www.rectorstriping.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2011-07-12_14-46-02_562.jpg)

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I think there may still be some green paint pending

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I don't see how this will help truck drivers see pedestrians and cyclists who are in their blindspots, which is supposedly what happned to the doctor who was struck and killed at this intersection.

If suburban and out-of-town drivers are already frazzled and incapable of safely driving through Boston and Cambridge, this is only going confuse them more. Probably the safest option for cyclists is to walk your bike at the crosswalk when traversing dangerous and congested intersections.

I'd like to hear the opinions of those who frequently cycle through the city as to how these painted lines will improve safety conditions for cyclists. I hope it does! These senseless deaths are a tragedy.

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Don't you know, suggesting one walks across an intersection to keep from getting hit by trucks is victim blaming. It's also futile because at best it will allow you to keep your bike pristine by throwing it away from you right before the truck runs you down on foot instead since this city likes to allow vehicles to turn through walk signals.

Really the best method to remain safe in the streets on a bicycle is to carry around nitroglycerin and let everyone know you have it with DOT approved hazard signs, like trucks themselves use:
IMAGE(http://cdn.compliancesigns.com/media/DOT/explosives-truck-placard-DOT-9853_300.gif)

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I don't see how this will help truck drivers see pedestrians and cyclists who are in their blindspots, which is supposedly what happned to the doctor who was struck and killed at this intersection.

"Supposedly", as in, "This is my supposition"? I'll give you that. Other than that, I don't think there's any actual evidence to support this any more than "Just couldn't be bothered to look".

Probably the safest option for cyclists is to walk your bike at the crosswalk when traversing dangerous and congested intersections.

That's a good approach for a pedestrian, not so much for a vehicle, because it leads to unpredictable behavior, and that IS dangerous.

I'd like to hear the opinions of those who frequently cycle through the city as to how these painted lines will improve safety conditions for cyclists.

My opinion is that they won't, because drivers know there will be absolutely no consequences for violating them.

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They'll keep traffic in the traffic lanes and bikes in the bike lane so traffic won't be merging in and out or using it as a handy standing zone.

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I think the first one will go down within a fortnight. I suppose they all have to come up by the first plowable snow.

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crackhead board game.

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Are they simply to confuse? Somebody on crack? Tic Tac Toe?
Where are they defined in the MUTCD?

Lines won't be visible by spring and not repainted for years anyway.

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They mean "don't block the box." As someone who drives so often and claims to be such an expert at road safety, you should know that.

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Contrary to what you may think. Plus they get shit wrong like bump outs which do not reduce collisions. They probably increase them, but drivers and cyclists don't go reporting solo crashes.

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Bump outs are supposed to slow turning traffic, which they do.

I bike every day and I've never even come close to running into a bump out. If you are, you're doing something wrong.

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I don't keep MUTCD on the table either. I just googled "don't block the box MUTCD"

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...you ever got out of your little cabbage patch.

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Why not use option B or D? Because writing in English would be too easy to understand?

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It may astonish you to discover that not every person in the city of Boston speaks English.

And even for native English-speakers, a symbolic representation like cross-hatching is a lot easier to recognize than giant letters painted horizontally across the width of an intersection.

That's why traffic engineers use big arrows for "Right Turn Only" lanes rather than writing the words "Right Turn Only" on the asphalt.

Amazing, isn't it? It's almost like people who are much smarter than you are paid to solve these problems!

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Say only 80% of drivers/cyclists have enough basic English reading skills to understand simple words like "Don't block the box". I still think that is far higher percentage than ones who see diagonal crosswalk lines and can figure out WTF they are supposed to mean!

A right arrow is much clearer than diagonal lines which are get a FAIL in communication.

There are only so many icons that are simple and intuitive. Use of them has gotten out of control and most no longer enhance communication. Words do a better job.

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And what happened when you explained to the city's traffic department how stupid they were being and how badly they had FAILed?

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Lines won't be visible by spring and not repainted for years anyway.

This I agree with. They might as well use plaster of paris to mark the roads.

Don't forget that when they finally get around to repainting the intersection in 5-10 years, they'll just paint whatever they feel like instead of referring back to the original specifications.

(I'm thinking of the Eliot Bridge, where the right-turn lanes weren't even painted to match the posted sign a few feet away, or one-way streets that get double-yellow lines painted down the middle and then scraped off or covered over a few months later).

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What do the intersecting diagonal lines in the center of the intersection signify?

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They represent the box thou shalt not block.

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This matters zero if nobody's ever there to write a ticket.

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I regularly get honked at and sometimes aggressively engine-revved-at even after I point to relevant signs like "don't block the box" or "red light stop here." I got flipped off and harassed by a woman with UMass Law stickers all over her Mini when she almost swerved into me because a left-turn-only lane clearly shouldn't apply to old lawyer ladies in giant bug-eye glasses. They have oh so very many important places to go, after all!

Cops need to ticket these people because I'm sick of them threatening to rear-end and side-swipe me for daring to obey the law.

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Everybody's favorite columnist says bikes just don't belong on Boston's roads. The title of the opinion piece - "Urban roads aren’t meant for bicycles" - says it all. Not sure if this link is blocked. Just when you think Jacoby has said all the stupid things a human could possibly say, he comes out with this.

I wonder if bike-hater McGrory put him up to this.

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