Woman on scooter killed in collision with Duck Boat

Scooter under a Duck Boat on Beacon Street.

The remains of the scooter. Photo by dd808.

Around 11:30 a.m. at Beacon and Charles streets. WCVB reports a passenger on the scooter survived, but was rushed to the hospital.

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Safety

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Condolences to the family and friends.

Has someone studied safety of those duck boats in street collisions? That bumper looks pretty high for pushing a car rather than riding up over it, and especially dangerous for bicyclists, mopeds, motorcycles.

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They create dangerous conditions

There are several reasons that I would like to get rid of these monstrosities:

1. they really are not designed for anyone's safety - drivers don't seem to see what's directly in front of them and often abruptly weave or change lanes without regard for vehicles which are right next to them.

2. I have seen these and the boats operated by the original operators and other tour operators for many years. Many of their drivers simply do not respect the rules of the road and the conditions that they operate in. There are two crosswalks on State Street where I've seen them barrel through without so much as noticing that people are walking in them - and they probably can't see those people from the cab.

3. The drivers are constantly distracted by their tour-blather stream and some are using hand-held PAs, meaning one-hand driving.

It isn't limited to the ducks, either - those fake trolley things have similar issues.

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Original operators?

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You mean, the army in the 1940s? Care to sell me that time machine of yours?

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rolls eyes

Original tour operators, ducks.

QUACK! QUACK!

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Because it's the driver's fault?

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Why? Because his vehicle is bigger? Size matters? Not blaming either side, but why do you always immediately blame the driver 5 seconds after an accident?

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Well

The duck boat crushed the woman, not the other way around. From a physics sense, the duck boat is the object which indisputably ended the woman's life.

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So by that logic

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If a person throws themself in front of a moving train and dies it's the train's fault s/he is dead? Physics.

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I never seem to see this

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I never seem to see this logic consistently applied when for example someone walks or drives onto train tracks and gets hit.

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Inference

Is an art. Projection is not inference.

I never said that this incident was the driver's fault. I'd put money on it, but we don't know all the details. My main point is that these vehicles are inherently unsafe in an urban environment and not fit for the purposes that they are being used for. Ditto for the fake trolleys. In both cases, the drivers are so busy misinterpreting history for tourists and putting on their show that they fail to do their primary job, which is to drive safely.

The old school duckboats do a pretty good job, and their having long-tenure drivers helps a lot, but they still ignore walk lights and crosswalks and gun lights at times. The Other "duck" boats and their drivers are pretty lousy overall when it comes to paying attention and following road rules, and they seem to be very bad with the blind spots. Those stupid fake trolleys should just drive into the harbor and sink.

There needs to be a comprehensive standard for tour vehicles operating in an inter-urban area, including driver training and not having the driver narrate the tour, and some enforcement of the road laws, too.

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Yeah right

By on

Your meanings are as transparent as Donald Trump's.

We knew what you meant and you even state it in your 4th sentence. Apparently I'm a Rembrandt of inference at least when it comes to your posts.

Projection is for movies.

As for your opinion that these are inherently unsafe vehicles, which is your opinion about everything bigger than a bicycle, where are your stats to back this up? If that were true, how would they stay in biz? They wouldn't be able to get insurance for any reasonable rate if at all.

The duck boats have been around by the dozens plying city streets for about 2 decades. Are they mowing down people and vehicles? My guess is no more than anyone else given that you rarely hear about it and Duck Boat accidents tend to be news.

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Your first sentence might be

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Your first sentence might be right...

...or you could take a deep breath, calm down, and read the part of the article where the police say they're gathering all the evidence to try to determine exactly what happened and figure out if there's any chargeable offense involved in this.

Looking at some photos (including some with the articles on this crash), I see that the Ducks are equipped with parabolic mirrors similar to what you see on school buses these days. I wouldn't be astonished if one of the critical points of the investigation is whether or not the mirrors were properly adjusted for whichever blind spots they're intended to minimize.

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the images in those mirrors

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the images in those mirrors are so small, and the mirrors so far away from the driver that the driver might not see a pedestrian or bicycle or scooter. This happened on a bright, clear, sunny day in spring. On a day like today, when the conditions are worse and everything is gray, and water drops are sticking to the windshield and to the mirror surfaces, the driver probably would not see the images in the mirrors.

A major factor in this death now appears to be the duck boat driver not using his mirrors and being unaware of his surroundings.

I'd ban duck boats from the streets of Boston. This death and other accidents around the country and many more to come, should be enough to stop these, at least in Boston.

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Oh do shut up

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We knew what you meant

Got a mouse in your pocket? You speak for yourself, you don't speak for anyone else.

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Read her 4th sentence

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She says this just about every time something like this happens before all the facts are gathered. I "inferred" what she meant because this is a pattern of (bad) behavior. Then she proved me right. Then she tripled down.

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No

But seeing a psych might help you with your hallucinations. And your obsessions/compulsions, too.

I don't see you going after the other posters below who basically said exactly the same things.

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Because

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You make a habit of immediately blaming the driver - plus I don't feel an urgent need to make the same point to multiple posters.

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no - because we've all seen them on the street

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The driver shouldn't also be the tour guide and the tour guide shouldn't be driving. They're mainly concerned about entertaining the people on board, including making eye contact, rather than the road. Not sure how this is legal but may this will force something finally. They all do it. Boston is not a city you can drive distracted and these operators are super distracted trying to be entertaining. Surprised accidents don't happen more often.

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Of course your observations

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Of course your observations are anecdotal. Yet, I've seen the duck boats run the light many times at the very same light where the accident happened. Yesterday's accident likely wasn't driver error and may stem from a lack of visibility because the driver of the gargantuan vehicle couldn't see the bright shiny red Vespa. So, I recommend 1. banning the driver and the vehicle after a traffic infraction for a financially painful period and 2. signage plastered on the duck boat that says keep a distance of 50 feet.

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These duck boats should be

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These duck boats should be banned on city streets, it's like the width of a crane going 40 mph down Charles street, yes the width of a crane usually when a crane truck drives down a city street it is accompanied by a car right behind it. These vehicles are classified as military vehicles they are not made to be on a public road..

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hmm

yea, no military vehicles should be on the interstates either. eisenhower was a fool!!!!!!!!!!!

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But in a bus the driver has

By on

But in a bus the driver has pretty excellent frontwards visibility, what with the giant windshield and all. Duck Boat drivers can not see anything directly in front of the vehicle due to the prow. I've almost gotten in the same situation as the scooter driver, but on a bicycle, because the driver can't see anything unless it is at least 10 feet or more in front of the duck boat.

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There are similar blind spot

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There are similar blind spot issues with school buses (and absurdly large SUVs).

For school buses, they use parabolic mirrors to minimize the blind spots.

The Duck Boats appear to do the same. See the photo link in my comment you were replying to, as well as this photo I linked in a comment elsewhere in the thread: http://melrosemirror.media.mit.edu/servlet/pluto?state=30303470616765303...

(good luck with the absurdly large SUVs)

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Mirrors Only Work If You Look At Them

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Because you are not too busy telling your passengers incorrect historical facts and making them quack.

But regardless its a matter of scale too. The prow of a duckboat is about 10x more vision obscuring due to height and shape than the front of a truck, bus, or SUV.

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Confusion

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The headline says the rider died but the body of the text says she died. Which is it? Or was it Schrodinger's scooter rider?

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Driver died

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Driver was a woman. Her passenger, a man, was rushed to Mass. General.

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Thanks

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Clearly I shouldn't comment before adequate caffeine kicks in.

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zero vision

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It's time that no one dies on our streets. It should not happen.

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There are ways

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to minimize risk but no way to eliminate it.

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Tourists love them. These

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Tourists love them. These things have no business on a narrow busy pedestrian street like Charles and neither do those god-awful double-decker tourist monstrosities with the huge ads on the sides.

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Wrap everything in bubble wrap

By on

I drive one of those "god-awful double-decker tourist monstrosities with the huge ads on the sides" They help us show off the city you supposedly love. The one that is a world class city that is rich in history and was the place that our country began. If it weren't for these vehicles the visitors would have a much more difficult time seeing the sights and would not come to Boston and support local businesses where they spend their money and help make your city the vibrant, popular place that it is today.

Thirty years ago tour options in town were limited. As these companies began to operate and grow, so too, did the city itself. The drivers are well trained, the vehicles inspected daily and safety is a priority. Accidents happen.Sadly this one was tragic and thankfully a very, very rare occurrence. Banning tour busses will do nothing to change that. Your logic would mean we should then also ban all large vehicles. If that is the case, good luck having a world class city.

Yes, the streets of Boston are narrow. Narrow streets maybe a contributing factor but if all people, bike riders and pedestrians included, followed the rules accidents would be much less likely to occur. But even if you wrapped everything and everyone in bubble wrap and went two miles per hour, accidents will happen. That is what this was. An accident.

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Probably safe but...

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I am sure your safety record is fine, but:

1) I am sure those blue man group and legal seafood ads are putting money in someone's pocket, but 'helping the local economy' might be a stretch... I think decent jobs for local drivers are good, but the ads don't seem like some great social boon.

2) narration while driving is distracted driving. What WOULD be good for the local economy is if the historical aspect of these tours went to some college kid or whatever while the drivers focused on driving. Raise your prices and blame the city.

3) Defending a safe driving record in Boston is a little funny anyway as I am not actually sure BPD actually tickets for moving violations. I have never heard of it within city limits anyway, and besides

3.5) we have all had to swerve to avoid commercial drivers several times. Part of the percieved safety of these vehicles is that most local drivers just back off... which is good, but scews the record on safety away from the reality of it.

And then I wonder about pollution in the off season when much emptier buses run the same routes for the sake of stability.

Still, i honetly think most of these drivers are probably pretty okay to very good, and I think we have a lot of other drivers to worry about first (though the whole narration while driving thing bothers me profoundly when I witness it). Honestly, I would be much more happy to see the T start self driving (so an operator can't let it start moving as he gets off) than go after our tourism, as justifiably anoid as many locals are about certain aspect of that industry.

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Who benefits and who pays?

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1) I am sure those blue man group and legal seafood ads are putting money in someone's pocket, but 'helping the local economy' might be a stretch...

A stretch indeed. The next time anyone wants to make the case of tourist-focused business "helping the local economy", I'd like to see them provide a breakdown of where the money goes.

i honetly think most of these drivers are probably pretty okay to very good

Maybe, but as you point out, how would we know? As you yourself pointed out, where moving violations are concerned in Boston, absence of evidence (citations) is not evidence of absence. I also agree with others who have said that there are certain streets and intersections where these vehicles simply do not belong. If that means that your guests have to get off and go a block out of their way to see certain historic sites, so be it.

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Charles Street is narrow

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Charles Street is narrow compared to what else around there?

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What narrow pedestrian street

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What narrow pedestrian street are you talking about?

Charles Street is one-way, three or four lanes wide plus parking (except maybe one or two blocks that look like they're wide enough for three lanes but I can't see the lines), plus sidewalks that range from "decent" to "wide"

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One of most dangerous things on Boston's streets.

By on

I drove a taxi for 31 years in Boston. Retired and now Uber a few hours daily. Cabs get a (deserved) bad rap, but in all honesty, over the years some of the most dangerous/scary things I witnessed were these duck boats. I had said for years that they should have one person as the "guide"/host/comedian whatever, and another to drive the boat - and DRIVE IT, period. Instead you have a driver yapping away, joking, pointing out sights along the way. Society is worried about "distracted drivers", yet these Duck Boat drivers are also conducting tours as they're driving.

Example: If you're riding down Beacon Street, approaching the intersection of Charles, where this happened, yet the example could happen anywhere, how can you POSSIBLY be fully focused on the road (and the pedestrians/bikes/motorcycles/scooters/all of the other aspects of city life/etc) while still "entertaining" your riders, pointing out "and over there is the Frog Pond and it looks like there are several people out there today and..."

(WHAM!! SCREECH!!!!! "OH MY GOD"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

"Oops, are you OK Miss Scooter driver? Excuse me....Miss Scooter driver??

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If I were the Mayor I would

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If I were the Mayor I would banned these monsterous duck boats immediately!!
These owners are making a killing, and their drivers speed down the streets of Boston. I see them all the time going over speed limit, sometimes I think one day a duck boat will crash onto a sidewalk full of people.

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Boston mayor ban duck boats?

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During Menino, duck boats were the friends of the mayor, trotted out for PR parades.

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That's all these vehicles are

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That's all these vehicles are good for , the parades, other than that , they should be only allowed either on the Boston harbor or Charles River, these vehicles are so wide and extremely tall , making it extremely difficult for the drivers of the vehicles to see pedestrians crossing in front of it, how does something like this pass mass inspection, someone is greasing the palms of politicians up on beacon hill.

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A reasonable accomodation

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I'm not in favor of banning the Duck Boats from Boston streets, but I can whole-hardheartedly get behind a regulation which demands that there be separate guides and drivers. This seems to be just common sense.

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That is the law

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in other cities: one to drive, one to talk.

I don't know why it's not the law in Boston, given Boston's love of making rules.

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I'm generally pro driver

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And I think there's an anti-driver sentiment in Boston that's counterproductive. That said, I think we can all agree these vehicles are a menace and we should get them off the road. I've been cut off by them using just about every mode of transit - I can only honk when I'm driving, and when you do that, the drivers do this obnoxious thing where they encourage the riders to quack in response.

They put drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians in danger, and for what? To entertain tourists that would have a fun trip here anyway? There are plenty of other ways to get out on the charles/harbor. I would recommend a kayak or canoe, but the T or shuttles (or, ugh, booze cruises) will take you there.

There was a high profile accident in Seattle last summer where multiple people were killed by one of these. It's time to shelve them. Keep them in drydock and pull them out for parades/etc, but get the beasts off the road. The duck boats are not the reason people visit Boston - it's just something they do while they're here that makes our lives worse.

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Dangerous DUCKS

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I know. They hit a man a few years ago. He was walking. A driver lost control and hit several vehicles. A woman posing for a picture fell off the DUCK. They settled out of court and the news. She died.
On the water they have had a few accidents as well. Involving young kids learning to sail.
They have crashed into the bridge, sheared off the top. Broken down in the water.

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duck boats in the water

i had a duck boat sever an anchor i had off the stern of my boat because they decided they needed to come close enough to my swim platform to quack at me. this put my boat, the boat that was rafted up next to me, and the boats surrounding us in danger of collision for absolutely zero reason.

they don't care what the quacks potentially cost, be it lives nor millions of dollars.

E: mind you, this was on the charles during the 4th of july celebration and i was tied off to one of the little islands with trees on them. no reason to be that close to where i was. that place is a zoo already and its already practically a full time job making sure something catastrophic doesn't happen.

i've never had issues with them on the streets but usually once a year i see them sever somebody's anchor rode.

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Yep.

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Welcome to life.

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This is Boston. We ban things...

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Agree these drivers are more distracted and should have a separate guide. But we throw "ban" around way too easily.

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Tragic example

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This is a dangerous intersection and with no enforcement of traffic laws, I am, unfortunately not surprised that something like this has happened. Too bad the cops are too busy with details to bother with those pesky traffic laws.

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you realize

that thats not at all how details work, right? f the police, i think a lot of them are shitbags. but you're a moron.

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No he's not

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Why do we pay.police to talk on their cell phones and shuffle around construction zones while people break the laws in front of them with impunity, when we could have the contractors hire trained flagging crews to actually direct traffic, and let the police actually ticket one or two of the people who pull into an intersection on Mass Ave after a light turns red but before they can actually clear the intersection?

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What does that have to do

With what he or i said? He suggested that fewer cops on details = more on patrols. That isnt the case. Deal with reality please, not with whatever the hell is going on inside that dome of yours :-)

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More Details Suggest Bad Intersection Partly To Blame

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A story in today's "Boston Globe" adds a few more details about the circumstances of this tragedy:

The duck boat Penelope Pru was stopped at a red light on Charles Street waiting to head up Beacon Hill with a load of tourists on board. Just ahead, also waiting to turn, was a motor scooter with two riders out to enjoy the crisp spring morning.

It was a familiar Boston scene. Then the light, and everything, changed.

"The duck boat just took off and actually went into the back of the people on the scooter," said Graham Foster, recounting the scene that unfolded before him around 11:30 a.m.

The scooter operator tried to accelerate, Foster said, but could not get out of the duck boat’s way in time. He said witnesses yelled at the duck boat operator and tried to alert him.

"The [scooter] flipped on the side and the next thing you know [the duck boat] ran right over [the scooter]," Foster said.

IMAGE(http://www.universalhub.com/files/uhub215_0_0_1_1.png)

At that intersection, there are two lanes of right-turn-only traffic queueing for the light on Charles Street:

IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/c-b-1.jpg)

IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/c-b-2.jpg)

However, Beacon Street has only one traffic lane, so the two lanes of turning traffic are forced to merge into one as they're rounding the corner — and there are no signs or pavement markings indicating this is happening.

It's easy to imagine how — if the duck boat was in the lane closest to Boston Common, and the scooter was in the lane closest to Beacon Hill, and both start moving when the light turns green — such a horrible accident could occur.

IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/c-b-e.jpg)

Instead, the two lanes on Charles Street should merge into one lane, before reaching the traffic signal.

IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/c-b-e2.jpg)

It would be such a simple solution to have the two lanes merge before stopping at the traffic signal, so there would be only one lane of traffic turning on to the one lane of Beacon Street.

This particular traffic signal has a relatively short red phase to begin with, because it only controls conflicts with pedestrians and traffic turning left from the other side of Charles Street. Allowing two lanes to turn right while forcing them to merge into one doesn't help the overall flow of traffic at all. — The real choke point is further up Beacon Street, so trying to cram more vehicles around this corner all at once when the light turns green achieves nothing; it's just a setup for disaster!

Additionally, when Beacon Street is backed up, those two lanes of turning traffic will "block the box" after their traffic signal turns red — obstructing the crosswalks and other traffic that has a green light — for a much longer period of time than if it were just a single lane of traffic turning right.

This can be fixed immediately with pavement markings and bollards.

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Parked cars

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Just eliminate the parked cars on the edge of the Common at the Charles St. end of Beacon Street so that two lanes can turn at the same time.

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No! — Beacon Street Backs Up At Park and Bowdoin Streets

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IMAGE(https://elmercatdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/b.jpg)
That's the real reason why the flow of traffic is restricted on this section of Beacon Street. Removing parking would make the street more pleasant, but adding a second travel lane would not alleviate congestion — the bottleneck at Park Street will still be just as narrow.

Another lane for traffic would just result in another lane of vehicles stopped and/or moving slower than one lane of traffic does. What's the point in that?

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He didn't call for another

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He didn't call for another lane of traffic.

He suggested removing a couple of the parking spaces at the Charles Street end of Beacon so that there's a short length of Beacon where two lanes can reduce to one.

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But Why? — That Doesn't Accomplish Anything

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What is the purpose of having two lanes of turning traffic, when it's only going to be stopped by backups further up Beacon Street? The green phase for traffic turning from Charles Street is long enough not to be restrictive, so one lane of turning traffic instead of two would not reduce the overall flow through the intersection — it would just make it safer.

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The intersection was to blame?

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Thanks for the details about the intersection design and the problems that it creates, but...

"The duck boat just took off and actually went into the back of the people on the scooter," said Graham Foster, recounting the scene that unfolded before him around 11:30 a.m.
The scooter operator tried to accelerate, Foster said, but could not get out of the duck boat’s way in time. He said witnesses yelled at the duck boat operator and tried to alert him.

Look, the intersections are what they are, and every other road user is expected to deal with them and operate with an understanding of the limitations of their vehicle in the given conditions. Operate SAFELY. You can say that the intersection should be redesigned, but there will always be an intersection that's not optimal for use of a large vehicle never designed to be on a city street with mixed traffic. If the ducks can't operate safely in those conditions, and this case demonstrates that they can't, they need to be off the road. And I honestly hope that the driver of this duck, and all his quacking passengers, lose a great deal of sleep over this at the very least. I hope they're sickened for the rest of their lives.

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I Said The Intersection Was "Partly" To Blame

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I'm not excusing the driver of the duck boat for being oblivious to the surrounding traffic. Anyone operating such a large vehicle with restricted visibility needs to take extra precautions and plan for other vehicles that may be in their blind spots.

Nonetheless, forcing two lanes of traffic to merge into one lane while turning a tight corner is a bad idea that serves no purpose — it just makes the intersection more dangerous for everyone.

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Agreed, but...

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Nonetheless, forcing two lanes of traffic to merge into one lane while turning a tight corner is a bad idea that serves no purpose — it just makes the intersection more dangerous for everyone.

Absolutely, but I don't think that an intersection, being an inanimate object, can be "to blame" for an accident. Only a human can be. So, you might assign some blame to the intersection's designer, but again, only a little bit. This was presumably not the driver's first goat rodeo through this dangerous intersection.

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I Agree Too — People Are Responsible For Dangerous Intersections

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"Blaming the intersection" is essentially placing that blame upon the people who designed and maintain it; engineers, mayors, and other government officials who travel through the intersection without recognizing its inherent dangerous design, and/or care enough to try and make it safer — until something horrible happens.

It took the death of Anita Kurmann to get the city to recognize how dangerous the intersection of Beacon Street and Massachusetts Avenue was. There too, it was the hit-and-run truck driver who was ultimately responsible for operating his vehicle safely, but the hazardous intersection configuration made it more likely for the tragedy to occur.

People shouldn't have to die in order for these things to get fixed!

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