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Citizen complaint of the day: Goofus and Gallant get on Storrow Drive

A fed-up citizen complains:

Every day at rush hour, the good drivers wait in the right lane to go onto Storrow. The bad drivers go in the middle lane right until the bridge then try and merge into the right lane. This causes so must traffic, causing the traffic from one end of the museum to the other to take 25 minutes. Please spend some time thinking how to resolve. Signage is clear, people are just being greedy drivers. Perhaps cones dividing the right lane from the center so they can not merge so late? Sincerely, a good driver who just wants to get home without becoming a bad driver.

The city has marked the case closed because those are DCR roads, not city thoroughfares.

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Comments

There's no basis for this attitude besides misplaced morality. You should use all available space and merge at the end.

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Yes, you absolutely should use all available space to merge in a situation where a lane ends. But this person is complaining about people cutting around the line at a right turn lane. A completely different situation.

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If it's still a dashed/dotted white line, they're not "cutting." You're only not supposed to lane-change once it's a solid white line. This is like driving 101 here.

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Solid white line begins before the Craigie Drawbridge, ~350 ft before the stop line.

And true, legally you are permitted to cross the dashed line before that, and true, you are legally permitted to cross the single solid white line after that (double solid = prohibited, single solid = discouraged), but if you do you're still an asshole.

If you see a queue to turn right, and you're turning right, get in the queue. Don't drive up to the front of it and try to cut in. Is it not "cutting" to cut to the front of a queue at a grocery store if it goes beyond the end of the checkout? Is it not "cutting" to cut to the front of a queue for a ride at Six Flags if it extends beyond the ride entrance?

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Misplaced morality, right, so that's the principle most of Boston drivers fail to grasp. When there's a line of people waiting for an exit or in a 'turn only' lane, you should NOT create a dangerous situation by trying to 'merge' at the end and block traffic in your own lane.

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Nevermind the fact that the complaint is directed at the wrong jurisdiction, there's not really much they can do. Theoretically they could install bollards along the line separating the right turn lane from the other lanes, but you'd still have to have a break in them for the state police driveway, which of course people would use as an opportunity to try and get over. Plus you'd inevitably have people turning around the bollards from the middle lane, and even people cutting between or driving right through them. I see it all the time with the HOV lane on 93. Nevermind the maintenance cost (do you think DCR would actually replace them when they break off?) and winter plowing headache.

Drivers are always going to behave terribly. Always have, and always will. No amount of signage or pavement markings is going to change that, and even stationing a cop or installing a camera is only going to do so much.

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It works on Morrissey Blvd at Freeport st.

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But it's a little bit of a different setup. The plastic bollards are forcing the right lane traffic to turn right instead of continuing straight against signs and forcing a merge into the middle lane.

There is also a small island that the bollards connect with.

Isolating the right turn lane to Storrow couldn't be done as completely b/c the bollards couldn't follow thru the turn w/o blocking the intersecting travel lane for other traffic.

Drivers could just turn right from middle lane in intersection.

Could be worked out with a little engineering though I'm sure.

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You can't install a traffic camera. Drivers who don't want to be held accountable when they break the law made it illegal in MA. Its ridiculous.

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There is a police station right there. Drivers know that these things aren't enforced.

Back in the 1980s, when this was "unimproved", they had a State Cop there at rush hour making people behave.

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that, being totally automated, has no ability to use judgment in assessing the possible situation behind the apparent violation, presumes the owner of the vehicle was driving when the apparent violation occurred, where the system of administering and processing violations is totally handled by for-profit companies who get a share of the fines collected, and provides no practical means for a driver to appeal the apparent violation.

Not to mention that it is all too easy to rig systems to force otherwise law-abiding people into breaking the law (witness the "let's reduce the yellow time so people will end up running red lights" ploy that has happened in cities like Chicago).

Say what you will about Massachusetts police being lax on traffic enforcement, the Legislature's continued decision to not legalize traffic enforcement cameras is still a good one.

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Personally I don't want to deal with shortened yellow light times in an effort to raise more money. Of course, the process of selecting a company and that company's operations would be totally above board in MA.

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They should rebuild the pedestrian overpasses that used to bridge Leverett Circle, and connected with the Science Park Station.

When the new Big Dig tunnel and ramps to Leverett Circle first opened, traffic flowed through there quite well. Then, they removed the pedestrian bridges in favor of crosswalks. The additional signal phases required for this brought traffic conditions back to even worse than before the Big Dig.

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UGLY. And remember that this intersection is under the jurisdiction of the DCR, an agency that puts aesthetics above all else even common sense measures that promote safety and good traffic flow.

This is yet another reason that Storrow and Memorial Drives should be transferred to MassDOT.

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Try "has to build things according to ADA specifications".

MassDOT would also be under those mandates. Both are already under those mandates, and the mandate for HIA, too.

The purpose of the entire world isn't to make traffic flow nicely - like that is possible when so many people insist on driving alone anyway.

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down functioning structures that are non-conforming while you are designing and constructing replacements that will conform (witness Kenmore and Government Center Stations as examples). And, as I recall, when it was announced that the existing pedestrian overpasses were to be removed, the DCR indicated that the new at-grade crosswalks would be permanent. The only reason the replacement overpasses are being proposed now is because enough people protested when they found that out.

And separating pedestrian and traffic movements at a complex and high volume intersection like Leverett Circle is the SAFEST way to have both traffic and pedestrians move smoothly and efficiently But continue to both attack people who raise legitimate truths (like the DCR being principally concerned with aesthetics) that most are afraid to acknowledge, and continue to spout your tired old mantra that the only way to save the world is to make things as inconvenient as we can for motor vehicles.

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Correct. The existing crosswalks will remain since the new ped bridge won't connect every direction and not everyone will want to walk out of their way to use it. The ped bridge will mainly be a way for people to get to and from the T station without dealing with crossing the street. (This will definitely be a big advantage for all the families going to/from the MOS.)

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I forgot about those! I thought they were cool when I was a kid and I visited the MoS in 1990. Yeah, why the (expletive) is that an at-grade pedestrian crossing?

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Next up: Roadman starts bitching incessantly about the traffic "caused" by construction of the overpasses.

Rather than the real cause of traffic, of course,

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Unless there's enough transit, people will need to use cars for transportation. Most people don't live in a town with transit.

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Maybe they should have thought of that when they chose to commute into Boston?

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All of the walk signals through this intersection are concurrent with traffic flowing in the direction of the walk sign, so they have no effect on traffic. That is to say that there are always cars moving through the intersection on walk. The only exception is the 20 or so seconds of walk that stops traffic turning right onto Storrow while traffic flows from storrow to Museum of Science bridge. I commute on foot from Northpoint to MGH every day, the traffic problems result from there simply being far too many cars, and 93 south backing up and causing gridlock, not light cycles. This area is a neighborhood, the existing intersection recognizes that, while overpasses create the feel of an interstate highway.

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People will not stop blocking the box at the intersections with Land Blvd and Museum Way. Of course, the entrance to the museum itself is kept clear by a State Police detail that I have to assume is paid for by the museum. Meanwhile, the Staties couldn't care less about the gridlock forming just a few feet away.

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Land and Museum don't intersect. Do you mean Rt 28 and Museum?

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When a collision occurs during a merge, the driver who is merging/changing lanes is always at fault.
You know what to do.

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Sounds like a win in theory, but is a shit suggestion in practice if you drive anything but a beater or a 4x4 with cattle guards. Even if you're right and have the evidence, dealing with insurance, repair place, car rental, possibly lying other side, and then your insurance possibly raising rates on you just because you might be more of a risk is not worth it. You can't teach all bad drivers a lesson.

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I've been forced to turn from the middle lane on this route at times, when drivers have failed to let me merge in before the museum, whereas I'm usually in the annoyed situation of the OP. Having done it both ways, I actually think the solution should be to make the middle lane a dual straight-or-right-turn lane. Both lanes are able to turn right, and there are two lanes to receive them. The actual merge onto storrow happens further up, and that's where folks should zipper-merge. It works for the cars coming off 93 in two lanes. Just an idea.

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Haven't driven there in a while but pretty sure it's ok to merge into that lane.
When do the solid white stripes and no lane change signs start, if they do at all?

My recollection is that signs merely say right lane for right turn only.

Sure it would be nice if people politely queued into right lane early but where's the cut off? Before Kand Blvd?

That would probably just cause traffic to back up further towards Lechmere esp with that light cycle.

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Why doesn't the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or perhaps some of its agencies, have an equivalent of 311 and the online/app versions thereof?

I was pondering a situation with our local DCR park, and the best I could figure was to contact my state rep about it. There has to be an easier way (which is no slight on the state rep.)

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DCR Main Phone: 617-626-1250
E-Mail: [email protected]

I've emailed them about a lot of issues over the years, and they always get back to me.

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This is a classic Boston move because people are selfish and special. And it doesn't just happen here. Whenever there is a street where the one lane to turn backs up, people start using another one too.

Berkeley St into Storrow Drive. People use the left lane to cut off the people in the right lane going eastbound on Storrow.

Congress St at Purchase St. People use the far right lane (which is supposed to be for Purchase St traffic) to go to I-93 when the second from the right lane backs up.

Franklin St at Congress St. People use the right lane to turn left even through the left lane is actually a left/through lane. I'm always amazed there aren't more crashes here.

Cambridge St at Charles Circle. Only Middle and right lanes are supposed to be used to turn right onto Storrow westbound. When those back up, people use the left lane, which is supposed to be for straight/left traffic.

Boylston St at Dartmouth St and Boylston St at Berkeley St. When left lane backs up, people use the middle lane to turn left as well.

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As Swirly pointed out, they know that they will never be punished for breaking this law, so what's the downside?

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Or the " Left lane for Left Turn Only" (or etc) signs are totally hidden in heavy traffic until you're on top of the intersection. So even with good intentions, drivers can be forced into odd maneuvers".

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It sounds to me like natural adaptation to different traffic conditions at different times of the day.

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It's a bad thing in the sense that people expect each other to follow the signs/lane markings.

It's also bad if you're a bicyclist going straight across to Martha Rd. You would certainly not be expecting someone to be turning right from the middle lane.

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THIS!

As a bike commuter I see another example of this every day - turning from Chelsea St to Rutherford Ave toward the Charlestown Bridge there are three lanes: a left turn lane, a through lane, and a right turn lane. Every morning at least one person turns left from the through lane, which is dangerous for me as a cyclist because I'm turning from the proper lane, but don't want to be trapped in the left lane going across the bridge because there's someone turning to my right.

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Does anyone know why Boston seems to be singularly opposed to making a right turn on a red light? Virtually every frigging intersection prohibits this, making ordinary traffic and flow grind to a halt. I assume it is just a revenue generator for the Dorchester District Court?

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and they did it only because the Feds threatened to withhold highway funding, like they did for the 55mph NMSL and the 21 drinking age. After MA legalized RTOR, they put up "NO TURN ON RED" signs at damn near every intersection in the state, so the Feds had to come in *again* and say "You need to come up with engineering warrants for all these signs or take them down, or you're going to lose highway funding." The signs came down but the resistance to RTOR persists.

Even where RTOR is legal, I've seen an annoying number of people who don't take the turn when it's safe to do so. Legally, that may or may not constitute "obstructing traffic", but to not move when it's safe to proceed is rude.

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The reason they were reluctant to legalize ROTR was because they knew that Massholes would turn right on every red light, whether or not it was posted, or whether or not it was safe to proceed. And based on my experience in the following thirty years, they were 100% correct.

I don't know who these unicorns are who you're describing, sitting at red lights and refusing to turn red, in case they're members of the tiny population who actually wait until it's safe to proceed before hitting the gas.

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Less than a week ago, where Route 3 joins Mass Ave. in Arlington. Idiot sitting in right-turn lane through this excruciatingly long light. About 10pm, no cars coming from the left at all.

Obviously a single anecdote isn't data but I thought it was pretty amusing this just happened to me and you have to bloviate that this never happens ever in MA.

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where Route 3 joins Mass Ave

Assuming you're referring to Mass Ave & Mystic St (as opposed to Mass Ave & Alewife Brook Pkwy, which is in Cambridge), that intersection actually has posted NO TURN ON RED signs in every direction. Or at least it did in April 2016, when Streetview last came through.

So next example, please!

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So that "idiot" was actually obeying the law. Or, more specifically, YOU are the idiot here.

A good idea, since that intersection is very tightly controlled with right turn lanes and the cops do pull people over for making right turns on red in Arlington - particularly at that intersection, which has a long history of protected crosswalks.

Suck it up, watch the signs, and stop being such a baby. That "idiot" saved you a ticket.

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When the Feds first permitted RTOR on a national basis, Massachusetts responded by posting signs at locations re RTOR was allowed - which was opposite of the "RTOR unless there's a sign prohibiting it" standard the rest of the country was using. A little over a year later, the Feds came in and told Massachusetts to conform to the national standard.

Note that the majority of the No Turn On Red signs put up immediately thereafter by the NTOR fairies were installed by local cities and towns, not the state. Like 15 mph speed limits on through streets and Slow - Children Playing signs, politicians consider NTOR another "magic bullet" that will instantly solve every traffic safety problem in the community. It's also one of the reasons why NTOR restrictions are ignored by so many drivers.

And yes, the Federal MUTCD does give guidelines for the placement of No Turn On Red restrictions. However, unlike standards for traffic signal installations, they are guidelines, not actual "you SHALL meet these requirements first" warrants.

Personally, I believe the national standard for RTOR should be "can make right turn on red WHEN there's a sign posted." This change would be consistent with the national standard for right turn on red arrow, which prohibits RTOR at an arrow unless there's a sign posted that allows it (although Massachusetts RTOR law does not distinguish between a red 'ball" and a red arrow, but just states "red indication").

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I can't speak for every intersection, or even most, but RTOR is inherently anti-pedestrian.

(RTOR is banned throughout NYC, even in the more suburban parts, unless signs say otherwise.)

Cambridge just retooled the Broadway/3rd Street intersection at Kendall Square.

When drivers turning left from 3rd onto Broadway (towards the Longfellow) had their green light, drivers going westbound on Broadway (deeper into Cambridge) had a solid red, and pedestrians waiting at the median would cross. Now they have a right-turn arrow. Yet that intersection is so dominated by pedestrians that few drivers would be able to turn anyway.

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Boston (and other cities around it) post No Turn on Red for two main reasons: (1) poor visibility, where a driver wouldn't be able to see clearly enough to safely make the turn on red, and/or (2) pedestrian safety, often when the intersection has an all-walk phase when all traffic has a red light and pedestrians all have a walk signal. If they allowed turning on red here, the pedestrians would not be protected from traffic during the all-walk phase.

I would personally add a third reason: Most Boston drivers don't seem to understand that turning on red requires them to stop first. Not just slow down, and certainly not fly around the corner at full speed. Stop. Behind the stop line. And then slowly inch up and turn when it is safe to do.

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"I would personally add a third reason: Most Boston drivers don't seem to understand that turning on red requires them to stop first. Not just slow down, and certainly not fly around the corner at full speed. Stop. Behind the stop line. And then slowly inch up and turn when it is safe to do."

A million times this. I have seen a rare few sit at a red light (most of the times when I'm nearby with a stroller waiting for the pedestrian light) but in most cases people just fly through, even if the pedestrian light is on (why can't we have a NO TURN ON RED light up boards when the pedestrian sign is on like Belmon has on Leonard st.?)

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Unfortunately, our natural sense of morality is not a good guide to what makes for good traffic flow.

http://www.edmunds.com/driving-tips/car-merging-psychology-dont-hate-the...

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This is true when it is truly a merge, as on a highway when a lane ends or when construction has a lane temporarily closed. This is NOT what drivers should do when there is a right turn only lane or left turn only lane. Drivers should be in those lanes well in advance of the turn, or at least before the solid striping begins.

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Is this when driving my the Museum of Science? I always drive in the middle lane because when you take a right onto Storrow there are two lanes on the ramp by the police station to Storrow. Long time drivers remember how this intersection worked before they took down the pedestrian overpass. The two lanes then became two lanes on Storrow. It was a little dangerous for the left lane because you merged into oncoming traffic already on Storrow. Now the two lanes from the ramp merge into one on Storrow. There's no reason not to fill both lanes on the ramp though.

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Except for the fact that that is only legal when the lanes are actually marked that way. The law says that you may only turn right from a lane other than the furthest lane on the right when that lane is marked to do so. Same thing for left turns.

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