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Citizen complaint of the day: Crosswalk complaints the city does nothing about

Lewis/Commercial Street Crosswalk

After a pedestrian was run over at the intersection of Lewis and Commercial streets in the North End on May 15, the city banned parking right at the intersection, to improve sight lines for the motorists who are supposed to stop there (but generally don't). Adam Balsam compiled this video report after he filed 311 reports about cars parked in that spot and the city did nothing.

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I have no problem with the space being no parking, but the issue is with the drivers ignoring the stop sign and the stop line.

Look, I see this as both a driver and a pedestrian. Yes, the drivers need a good sight line, but they also need to respect the stop sign, which means stopping before the sign. There are many intersections I drive through where I need to stop (at the sign) then go a little bit into the crosswalk (when there are no pedestrians present, of course) before knowing if I can safely proceed. Just by looking at the video, this seems better with BPD enforcement (educating the drivers about their moving violations) than with BTD enforcement (not that ticketing wouldn't help.)

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at a stop sign controlled intersection is primarily intended to improve sight lines of approaching traffic for the pedestrian preparing to cross the street, not the driver approaching the crosswalk. Insuring adequate sight lines of people approaching the crosswalk for drivers is more of an issue for uncontrolled mid-block crosswalks.

And I agree 100% with Waquiot. The problem here is the drivers disregarding the stop sign/stop line, as well as the lack of BPD enforcement of traffic violations.

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Videos like this could be made at every stop sign in Boston. It is very rare for Boston drivers to follow the law and come to a complete stop.

I live near a 4 way stop sign and frequently see drivers go through it without even slowing down. When I mentioned this to 311 a cop emailed me and said he was aware of drivers speeding through this intersection and asked what time of day this is happening. "All day every day" was the most I could narrow it down. Still have yet to see a cop there enforcing laws. They need to hire more officers and have them focus on dangerous drivers. The tickets they could write would pay their salaries in no time.

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The tickets they could write would pay their salaries in no time.

The city gets $25 per ticket. The state takes the rest.

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At 4 tickets per hour (easy) the city would be netting $100/hr. Is the city paying more then that per cop? That's $208,000/year assuming a normal 8 hour workday.

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Funnel the cash to the MBTA then.

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Once revenue becomes a consideration, you've corrupted the system.

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The financial impact to those ticketed and the knowledge that the city will ticket for this will lead to better driving habits. It's like what they did (at least at one time) about blocking the box in the LMA. I agree with you that the end shouldn't be the revenue, but it is also a reminder to city officials that the enforcement costs have an offset, at least at first.

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Well to start, the city needs to put in raised crossings here so that the crosswalk is flush with the sidewalk level. Perhaps even an entire intersection speed table. This is pretty much common practice in traffic calming (except in Boston it seems)...

Nicely done video!

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I'm not convinced that raised crossings help in this situation.

A raised crossing means everyone who sees it will go less than 5 mph to avoid scraping their car. But everyone already goes 5 mph or less at this location, even people who disobey the stop sign.

It also means people will be focused on negotiating the bump to avoid scraping their car, rather than watching for pedestrians.

And poorly designed or maintained raised crossings give hard jolts at any speed, which is a big problem for people with neck and back issues. They're a hazard for bikes. And they make a lot of noise, which is a nuisance for neighbors.

I think the right solution here is a curb bulb-out in the former parking space at the corner.

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It also means people will be focused on negotiating the bump to avoid scraping their car, rather than watching for pedestrians.

If you are that horribly impaired, then you shouldn't be driving.

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Isn't that what everyone does? In fact, isn't that the whole point of speed bumps -- to make you go slow enough to avoid scraping the ground or bottoming your suspension?

How do you propose a driver makes sure they're moving at such a speed without it taking some of their attention?

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No, I'm not horribly impaired, but I'm the first to admit that I have a limited amount of attention to go around. I've run a few lights at Powderhouse in Somerville because I'm watching cars to see that I don't bump them, cars to see that they don't bump me, sidewalks around me to place pedestrians . . . I don't look up all that much, too, and notice that the red went from blinking to solid.

Just yesterday, I noticed a pedestrian (still waiting on the curb) at a random crosswalk I should have stopped for but I'd just given that momentary sigh of relief for getting through some other situation and wasn't in a state of mind (just for that instant) to process that & react. Other times, I've been watching someone doing some maneuver in a car near me (e.g. parking, pulling out, etc) that could present a direct threat to me if they make an error, and only when I'm safe from them to I see I didn't notice something smaller (bike, pedestrian) or in a different direction. I could go on and on.

I don't pretend to be the world's best driver, but I'm by no means the worst. And for all those "could have beens," I've never had an accident or hit anyone. Human brains just aren't made for what modern city driving presents us with. Anyone who says they can handle it perfectly is lying or, much more likely, fooling themselves.

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Patients and others crossing the challenging Stuart Street, Kneeland St, Washington St intersection to and from Tufts Medical Center need improved markings. An awkward drop off/pick up in front of 1 Kneeland Street Tufts School of Dental Medicine needs improvement. 311 failed !

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Cambridge St near MGH is also shameful! People roll in and out over the crosswalks, sick people be damned.

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Next time the space is empty, some guerrilla cones (or pickle tubs, or the like) should be installed by rightfully angry citizens. Also, the city should be enforcing this, of course.

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Ultimately this comes down to drivers failing to obey the posted signs, but the intersection design itself is problematic. Lewis St is a one way towards Commercial St. Commercial St is one way away on the left and two way on the right. As pointed out in the video, it is peculiar (though predictable) that motorists only look left, even though traffic can't come from that direction. A raised crossing across Lewis would be helpful here as that is the stop controlled approach.

An unintended consequence of removing the spot on the left though is that drivers on Lewis St would have better sightlines for the non-existant traffic approaching on the left and may feel more comfortable coasting through instead of stopping first.

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city should put semi permanent cones in that spot. They also should invest in pedestrian crossing flasher lights and make that stop sign be a flashing one.

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needed to do anything special about that spot.

From https://www.cityofboston.gov/images_documents/Traffic%20Rules%20and%20Re...

ARTICLE IV
STOPPING, STANDING, AND PARKING
Section 1. General Prohibitions
No person shall allow, permit, or suffer, any
vehicle registered in his/her name to stop,
stand, or park in any street, way, highway, road, or parkway under the co
ntrol of the City in violation of any of the Rules and Regulations
of the Transportation Commission and/or the Commissioner of Transportation of the City of Boston. No driver shall stop, stand, or park a
vehicle in any of the following places, except when necessary to avoid
conflict with other traffic, pedestrians, or in compliance with the lawful direction of a police officer or official traffic sign, signal, marking, or device.
1. Within an intersection, except in those areas where the installation or
erection of parking meters have been approved by the Boston Transporta
tion Commissioner.
2. Upon any sidewalk.
3. Upon any crosswalk.
4. Upon any street or way within twenty (20’) feet of an intersecting way, except alleys.

MA 220CMR 9
http://www.mass.gov/courts/docs/lawlib/700-799cmr/720cmr9.pdf

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Imagine this being enforced anywhere in Boston, especially in the North End. On certain streets, they have to install "no parking here to corner" signs just to allow enough space for fire trucks to negotiate turns.

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Somerville has a policy of writing tickets for parking less than 20' from corners, but they refuse to post signs.

Every time they write a ticket, it demonstrates that this policy is a failure. The true purpose of the law isn't to write tickets -- it's to keep people safe by keeping parked cars out of that space.

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When I first moved to Boston from Seattle. I was shocked at how many drivers parked in that 20 foot zone. Now after 7 years, I've become jaded. I don't even notice it anymore. I'm too busy looking out for the idiots who double park . . .with their hazards on. Or who pull a u-turn across 4 lanes of busy rush hour traffic.

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Given that it's a parking lane on the left hand side of a one way street, a bulb out is a great option.

You physically make it impossible to park there without mounting the curb, and you move the pedestrian more clearly into the approaching auto's line of sight, and you reduce the distance to cross, which also improves safety.

It's not a free solution, and can get expensive if storm drainage modifications are required, but what's the cost to society of a person with legs run over? Far more than $25k -- $50k, that's for sure.

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How are you supposed to know that Commercial is one-way northbound north of this intersection? The city didn't bother to post a sign. https://goo.gl/maps/gWuacc4EwGS2

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Bring back the yellow painted curbs! Curbs used to be yellow painted 20 feet in from every intersection: simple, cheap, visual, not language-based, not hidden by shrubbery. It was probably the first traffic law most children learned, based on that visual cue. "No, Mommy you're too far up." Great generational behavior mod.

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People create new ones to suit their parking needs.

My husband had a neighbor who did this (painted her "own" spot with yellow paint) even though the "new" people all parked in their own garage. Then she got into a fight with a different old-time neighbor when she called a cop to make that neighbor get out of "her" spot.

The other problem: paint wears off pretty quickly.

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What do you mean bring back? We never had yellow curbs as an official no-parking indicator in Massachusetts.

It's a big thing in states out west, but not here, for obvious reasons. The biggest one being snow -- you don't want your parking control devices to be buried 3-4 months of the year.

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I got ticketed for it. My defense (yes, I challenged it) was that the yellow was scraped off and mostly covered by snow.

That's why you don't see it too often.

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There's no law here defining the meaning of yellow paint.

And you don't see it anywhere. Even if it had been decades since it was official, and it faded or got partially scraped off, you'd still see it all over if it had once been a thing.

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The stupid maneuver where a driver zooms through a stop sign or red light while looking out their left window to make a right-hand turn is super dangerous. Sometimes the driver doesn't even look in front of their vehicle, never mind to the right.

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I once had a neighbor almost squash me because she was doing this very move. She was horrified. Perhaps she learned her lesson and is more careful now...?

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Chips on signs and walks that talk to cars - these would force cars to keep to designated limits, to stop at signs and red lights, and make everything scream in the car if the vehicle is parked in a bad spot.

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I have been driving and walking through this intersection (near my office) for 25 years. There have been times when a police officer was stationed right after cars took the right turn and would give moving violation citations for failure to stop; usually doing the evening rush hour. (I hate to admit that it is) because of that, I especially try to come to a complete stop at this stop sign.

I am so sorry that a pedestrian got hurt by a car there just recently. It is my impression that there have previous such injuries (or even a death?) there in the past, which is what led to stationing the officer on Commercial, just after the turn.

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Thanks BTD! BPD???

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